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Develop your proposal

Once you have found a funding opportunity, connect with the Research Development team to ensure that all requirements are met, or the with Partnerships and Innovation team to formalize an agreement through a contract. Don’t forget to familiarize yourself with the ethics compliance process, as well as how to build a research project budget.

1. Familiarize yourself with the application process and timeline


2. Develop your proposal

Work with your advisor to:

  • Map out the research proposal, ensuring that it meets the objectives of the selected program, and that all evaluation criteria are well addressed.
  • Avail of assistance with grant writing and/or address an evaluation criterion (e.g. equity, diversity and inclusion, GBA+, Knowledge mobilization) by hiring a PhD student or postdoctoral fellow through the Grant Writing Assistant (GWA) Registry. Read more about the registry
  • Verify if your application - or part of it – must be submitted in French.
  • Develop a draft budget, making sure that it respects funding agency-specific regulations for eligible and ineligible expenses.
  • Applicants should consult university policies and Faculty guidelines on budget expenditures such as: hiring students, research personnel, equipment purchase, travel, and overhead costs/indirect costs of research.
  • Identify special support required from the university to carry out your proposed research, such as: financial contributions, matching funds, additional space, renovation cost, installation and acquisition cost, technical support, administrative support or course releases.
  • Gather supporting documentation such as letters of support from university administrators, co-investigator and collaborators, as well as curriculum vitaes, quotes for equipment and other necessary goods or services.


3. Prepare your application for submission

  • Connect with your advisor for grantsmanship at least two weeks prior to the agency deadline.
  • Update and upload supporting documentation to the appropriate agency website.
  • Submit application through ConRAD for final program review as well as to obtain official signatures.

Research grant writing tips

Here are some simple suggestions that all researchers should take into consideration when preparing their next proposal.  

Planning phase
  • Start early!
  • Read the guidelines (and the Peer Review Manual if available)
  • Look at sample applications
Writing phase
  • Be clear and concise
  • Avoid using jargon and acronyms
  • Keep your audience in mind
  • Make the reviewer “happy”: stick to the format indicated by the agency
Submission phase
  • Have your proposal reviewed by colleagues
  • Allow for sufficient time for feedback (from colleagues, the Advisors, Research Development and the Research Grant Staff)


Reminder: Avoid cutting and pasting sections from other/previous applications in most cases reviewers can spot this as the text does not have the same flow. 


Where to start

Before you enter into any contractual activities, always call the Research Partnerships and Innovation team of the Office of Research to inform them of your project. Your contract will be included in our pre-contract database and the progress of the activity will be disclosed to your Dean and/or designate on a quarterly basis.

If we can't answer your question, we will do our best to put you in touch with the appropriate individual or unit.

Find sponsors to support your research

Networking is the most successful method of obtaining research contracts. Most faculty members belong to associations and external committees which are often comprise of members from the academic, public and private sectors.  By making your research expertise and willingness to collaborate known within these groups you will become more attuned to the types of contracting activities available. Former students, colleagues at other institutions and research centres and alumni also provide good contacts.

Approaching contracting agencies

Whenever a contracting agency is approached it is done so in the name of the University.

You must keep the Research Partnerships and Innovation unit informed at the initial stages of negotiation. Proposals to a government agency, research institute, non-profit organization or a private industry, may be submitted as a result of any of the following situations:

  • An unsolicited proposal;
  • Direct negotiations with a governmental department, a public agency or a private firm;
  • Negotiations initiated or undertaken by the Research Partnerships & Innovation unit (OOR);
  • A subcontract from another sponsor
  • Public knowledge of Concordia’s expertise in a given field.

In each case the proposal should be structured into three parts, namely:

  • Technical Proposal
    Please include a precise description of the work to be undertaken so that the agency or firm can determine if the proposal is technically feasible and if the results will be useful.
  • Statement of Qualification
    Your statement of qualification should consist of the following:
    • A brief outline of the background and experience of the Principal Investigator (P.I.) and/or the Co-Investigators particularly as they relate to the tasks to be performed. An updated curriculum vitae should be attached for each faculty member.
    • If other parties are to be subcontracted for a portion of the work, their curriculum vitae should be included as well as the nature of their interest and expertise in the project.
    • A description of the University facilities required for the undertaking of the contract should be included.
  •  Price Proposal
    The estimated cost of the project should include a detailed breakdown of expenses.

The Research Partnerships and Innovation unit/OOR strongly recommends that all contracts indicate the following statement in the budget:

The Principal Investigator reserves the right to redistribute the funds among these categories so long as he/she stays within the total contract budget.


Important things to remember when preparing contract proposals:

  • Never sign any document prior to obtaining university approval, e.g. confidentiality or secrecy agreements or purchase orders;
  • Ensure that your proposed budget has adequate provisions for employer benefits, GST and QST on all materials, supplies and equipment, and the appropriate rate of overhead;
  • Since proposed budgets are always an estimate, it is advised to always mark-up the total cost by at least 10%. It is far easier to decrease the budget during the negotiations process rather than attempting to increase the amount after the fact to cover unforeseen expenses;
  • Whenever possible, present the sponsor with a firm lump sum price. In this way, any surplus at the end of your contract can be reinvested in your research or creative endeavours;
  • Ensure that any special intellectual property rights are clearly indicated in the proposal, e.g. a student will be using the intellectual property for their thesis.
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