January 30, 2018

Invest in Your Idea!: Concept Papers Save Time & Grief when Deadlines Loom

Ball State’s Donna Browne led SPA’s latest colloquium on Wednesday, January 17, 2018 in the Arts and Journalism Building.

Browne's lecture focused on concept papers and the importance of creating one.

What is a Concept Paper?

Browne introduces herself to the audience.
A concept paper is not the same as a full grant proposal, but rather it is more of a condensed project pitch.

Attributes of a concept paper:
  • Brief overview of project
  • 2-3 pages & budget page 
  • Condensed texts
  • No budget narrative 
  • No attachments 
  • All opportunity - no risk 

Parts of a concept paper:
  • Introduction/Alignment with funder's goals
  • Background/Statement of need
  • Project description/Goals and objectives
  • Methodology 
  • Personnel/Organizational information/Resources
  • Evaluation plan
  • Benefits/Intellectual merit/Broader impacts
  • Contact information

The audience listens to Browne.

Why write a Concept Paper?

You should consider writing a concept paper if your research project is covering new ground and you need to determine the background data, a work plan, collaborators, a timeline, and the costs.

A concept paper can also help you answer important questions such as:

  • How will you benefit from this project?
    • Research goals
    • Professional development 
    • P & T requirements
    • Personal satisfaction

  • How will the funder benefit from this project?
    • Alignment with mission, goals, and values
    • Already supported similar projects
    • Currently supporting similar projects 

A concept paper will not only allow you to flesh out your research goals and project plans more thoroughly, but it will also help you stand out in highly competitive grant competitions. A concept paper will put you ahead of the game when the time comes to write a full grant proposal. 

Why a Concept Paper can make a Difference

A concept paper is an investment in time now that will save you time later...when it really counts!

This paper can serve as a draft for future grant opportunities. This draft can then help speed up the application process as grant opportunities are often unpredictable and deadlines are short.

A concept paper will allow you to put time and energy into your idea at your own pace before deadlines. This paper forces you to think critically about your idea and whether you want to pursue it without wasting a lot of time and energy; it is very low risk.

For more questions reach out to us or Donna Browne! 

Browne is a grant writer for Ball State University. She works specifically with the Center for Energy Research Education and Service, but is more than willing to help those from other departments. Brown can be contacted at dbrowne@bsu.edu.

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