Skip to main content

Grant Writing in the Sciences: Introduction

OWL logo

Welcome to the Purdue OWL

This page is brought to you by the OWL at Purdue University. When printing this page, you must include the entire legal notice.

Copyright ©1995-2018 by The Writing Lab & The OWL at Purdue and Purdue University. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, reproduced, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our terms and conditions of fair use.


This resource provides general guidelines for grant writing in general and in the scientific disciplines. While grant proposals are almost always overseen by a faculty member serving as the primary investigator (PI), this resource is intended primarily for graduate students and junior faculty seeking to learn more about grant writing in their fields. It is organized according to the following stages of the writing process: I) project planning; II) researching funding opportunities; and III) writing and submitting the grant proposal. Note that the specific requirements of funding agencies vary significantly, and should always be consulted carefully before a grant proposal is begun. It also discusses a number of language considerations regarding grant writing.

Researchers apply for grants for several reasons: grants provide funds to conduct research; they help support graduate students and postdoctoral fellows; they can allow researchers to delegate responsibilities to others (e.g., testing participants, coding data); they can provide researchers with a summer salary; and, importantly, they can be critical for promotion and tenure decisions (Sternberg 4-5).

To be competitive for funding, researchers must demonstrate that their project will make significant contributions to the field and has a high likelihood of success. Grant proposals typically describe in detail how the grant funds will be used, what the funds will allow the researcher to accomplish, and who will undertake the research activities. They are generally written in the following stages:

  1. Plan your project
  2. Locate funding opportunities
  3. Determine funder's requirements
  4. Write your grant proposal