Below are some tips we’ve compiled from years of reviewing and advising on research proposals submitted to our grants programs. We hope they’re helpful for you!


Study Design

  • Mix perspectives and methods: blend first-person and third-person measures whenever possible.
    • First-person can be more than a questionnaire. Be creative about collecting subjective information. Avoid using only self-report measures like questionnaires.
    • Use second-person measures when possible, surveying a friend, partner, teacher, or someone else close to the participant. This adds a great deal in terms of validation of outcomes outside the lab.
    • When possible, use a variety of third-person measures, including behavioral, cognitive, physiological, clinical, and/or social measures.
  • If you’re designing a brain study, correlate neural changes with something meaningful in daily life (e.g., clinical outcome, behavioral, social, etc.). This helps ground the research in terms of real-world impact.


  • Include only relevant, clear, and integrated information in the proposal. Add supplemental information (e.g., actual measures, instructions, etc.) in the Additional Materials task.
  • Adhere to font size, margin, and page limits.
  • In the methods section, be sure to clearly state participant population (with N and power analysis if possible). If using an underserved population, state how you will be sensitive to particular needs, possible adaptations of intervention, etc.
  • If your project involves qualitative research, be sure to include specific methodology and a clear analysis plan, with evidence that you (or your team) has the expertise to do this kind of work.
  • If the project is meant to test the efficacy of an intervention, make the case about why this is important to the larger field and not just your specific/customized intervention. Can your study help you understand mechanisms that may be more broadly applicable?



  • Have your budget reflect only the realistic costs needed to complete the work. (If you need less money than the maximum funding amount, this can be a big advantage to your proposal!)
  • If this work is part of a larger, already-funded project, be sure to explain how this project fits in, and why/how it will go beyond the existing work. Be clear about what this money will be used for within the larger project.