Writing Effective Grant Proposals

The CAAA offers four research grant programs in cooperation with our generous sponsors. Our Research Committee reviews many applications for these grants. This article will help you write effective grant proposals.

Our grant programs have a two-stage application process. You must submit a letter of intent, which is evaluated by the sponsoring organization. Successful applicants are invited to submit a full grant proposal, which is evaluated by the CAAA Research Committee. It’s important to remember your audience:

  • Letters of intent are reviewed by the sponsoring organization, whose reviewers may be experts in accounting practice but unaware of the current literature in your research area.
  • The full proposals are reviewed by the CAAA Research Committee, comprising active researchers using a variety of research paradigms.

Some Recommendations

Both the letter of intent and the full proposal must be understandable to a knowledgeable person who is not an expert in the research area. Use common language, not jargon, and describe your research tools. For example, an empirical model familiar to you may be unknown to a behavioural researcher. Define essential acronyms and avoid using any others. We encourage you to have a colleague working with a different research paradigm review your letter and proposal to ensure they are easily understood.

The letter of intent is limited to one single-spaced page, so you must be clear and concise. You can also include a cover page with project title and contact information. The letter should focus on three issues: research question, research method, and relevance. There is no need to review the related academic literature or provide a budget and timeline, as these items belong in your full proposal.

  • Clearly describe the research question.
  • Concisely describe the proposed research method. For example, are you using archival data, a questionnaire, or an experiment where will you use subjects and/or data?
  • Clearly describe the project’s relevance, focusing on practice and on the sponsoring organization’s criteria.

The full proposal should address all of the relevant issues noted in the Terms and Conditions for Financial Support of Article-Length Research document.

  • There are no limits on a proposal’s length, but most successful proposals have had fewer than fifteen double-spaced pages (including the bibliography, budget, and timetable, but not including the curriculum vitae).
  • Missing information or cursory discussion of an issue reduces the probability that your project will be funded.
  • All members of the research team must be CAAA members.
  • The description of the research question and method should reference the existing literature. It should demonstrate how the proposed research represents a contribution to the literature and explain the significance of the proposed research.
  • The proposal must include a realistic timetable. Timely completion is important to our sponsoring organizations and to the study’s contribution to the literature.
  • Provide a thorough justification for each item in the budget and the amount of money associated with that budget item.
  • Describe how this grant proposal links to other funding obtained or applied for. Past CAAA research grants have been used as seed funding to start a project, and also by others to fund a clearly defined segment of a research program.
  • Applicants may not submit identical or substantially similar projects to concurrent CAAA Research Grant programs.

The maximum grant is $10,000. The committee’s practice has been to allocate $1,000 of the grant for travel to present a related paper at a future CAAA conference. Practically speaking then, budgets have been limited to $9,000.

As an example, from June 2003 – May 2004, 33%–60% of the research teams submitting intent letters were invited to submit full proposals. About 30%–50% of the proposals were funded. These success rates highlight the importance of ensuring that your intent letters and proposals are complete, relevant, accurate, understandable, and in compliance with all of the Guidelines.

CAAA members across the country conduct much interesting research. We both feel that a great benefit of Research Committee membership is our exposure, through the granting process, to this high quality research. We encourage you to consider CAAA Grant Programs when you apply for project funding. If you follow the Guidelines and our recommendations, we firmly believe that you have a good chance of getting your project funded. The Research Committee looks forward to receiving your proposals now and in the future.

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