Report on “Writing successful project proposals – 2023”

Mahaut de Vareilles

photo: Friederike Hoffmann

The CHESS workshop “From idea to project: Writing successful project proposals” was held on 1. – 2. June 2023. A total of 12 participants joined the workshop, coming from the universities of Bergen and Oslo.
The main objective of the course was to enable early-career climate scientists to successfully apply for external funding of their research. Participants should gain competence to plan, write, and submit a successful research project proposal.
Participants gained knowledge about the different components of a project proposal, and about the most relevant funding sources for early career climate scientists. They obtained skills to present a project idea shortly and concisely (pitching), to develop the different components of a project description, to plan and structure the project description, and to draft a project budget. The newly generated knowledge and skills should enable the participants to independently write a project proposal, and to identify relevant funding opportunities.

The workshop included lectures, group work and plenary discussion. At the beginning of the workshop, seven participants presented their project ideas in the form of a short pitch. All participants then voted to select only three of these ideas, to be developed step by step into draft proposals in group work during the workshop. Results from each group work were presented and discussed in plenary, and each of the three groups got feedback from the workshop instructors and the other groups. Background knowledge about the respective proposal sections and instructions to develop them during group work were given by the instructors in plenary lectures.

Several measures were taken to enable a smooth workflow during group work: The group developed the work tasks using an online document with templates and instructions which was also used for plenary presentation. To enable active participation of all group members, they took specific roles such as note keeper, presenter, and time-keeper which they swapped for each group work session. One teacher joined the group work to answer questions and to moderate the work if necessary.
The three participants whose ideas were chosen for development into draft proposals, confirmed that their ideas were developed substantially during the workshop, and felt confident to submit them as full research project proposals within the coming year. The other participants felt that they had obtained the skills and competence necessary to develop research ideas into proposals.

The feedback from the participants was very positive, both during, directly after the course and in the course evaluation.

Text: Friederike Hoffmann, Nadine Goris and Mahaut de Vareilles