Transferable Skills Course: Proposal Writing

  • Start: Oct 12, 2023
  • End: Oct 13, 2023
  • Speaker: Science Craft
  • Dr. Brian Cusack & Dr. Babette Regierer
  • Location: Seminar Room S2, Tower 2, Ground Floor
  • Host: Anne-Dominique Gindrat
Transferable Skills Course: Proposal Writing
This workshop takes a practical approach to teaching researchers in the life sciences how to apply for third-party funding.

Through examples and relevant exercises as well as class discussions, each participant learns how to develop their funding idea by matching it to the goals of a targeted funding program. As a starting point, the workshop uses participants’ written outlines of their own funding ideas in the format of a short “mini-proposal” (2 pages). Group exercises help participants not only to structure proposals that comply with funding agency requirements but also to write proposals that reflect the reading behaviour of reviewers. The interactive nature of the workshop is designed to pool the experience, ideas and opinions of the instructors with those of the students in order to enhance the learning experience for all participants.

During the workshop, participants will learn how to:

  • View proposal writing as a competition in a marketplace of research ideas and as an instrument for career advancement.
  • Develop and sell a research idea by matching it to the goals of the targeted funding body.
  • Convince reviewers of the relevance and importance of the research idea.
  • Develop a work plan with milestones, deliverables and contingency plans.
  • Understand reviewers’ reading behaviour.
  • Engage the reviewer to advocate on their behalf to the review panel.
  • Comply with formalities and manage timelines and deadlines.

When and where?

The training will be conducted in-house at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Genetics on 12-13 October 2023 over 1.5 days, with follow-up individual online feedback sessions (30 minutes) to be held 2-3 weeks thereafter via Zoom. These sessions allow more detailed discussion of the mini-proposals and remaining questions as well as next steps related to future funding plans.


Thursday 12th October (in-house)

09:30 – 11:30 : Introduction to the workshop, participant introductions

  • Introduction to Proposal Writing, context, processes and perspective of the funder
  • Writing style, language use
  • Planning of project and writing process

11:30 – 11:45 : Break

11:45 – 13:00 : What are the typical sections of the proposal? Purpose, writing and design of:

  • The Introduction
  • Aim & Objectives
  • Research Concept & Methodology

13:00 – 14:00 : Lunch

14:00 – 16:00 : Purpose and design of:

  • The Work Plan
  • Work Packages
  • Visualisation tools for project planning (PERT & Gantt charts)

16:00 – 16:15 : Break

16:15 – 17:30 : Description of Homework. Purpose, writing and design of:

  • The Abstract
  • Proposal Title & Acronym

17:30 : End of day 1

Friday 13th October (in-house)

09:00 – 10:45: Feedback on homework: “in the reviewer’s shoes”. Group exercise: Mini-proposal evaluation.

10:45 – 11:00: Break

11:15 – 13:00: Purpose, writing and design of:

  • The Budget Plan
  • Impact & Exploitation
  • Risk assessment & Contingency Plan
  • Ethics & Data Management

13:15 – 13:30: Closing remarks

Tuesday 24th October - Online feedback sessions

Feedback sessions (30 minutes) on submitted and/or improved mini-proposals will be held with individual participants online. Further details on time-slot allocation will follow shortly.

Preparation, Deadlines and Requirements

Before the workshop, participants are asked to submit a 1-2 page "mini-proposal" that outlines their funding idea. Participants improve their mini-proposals throughout the workshop and receive instructors’ feedback on their proposal’s structure, content and language use as well as the overall research concept.

The deadline for submission of your 2-page mini-proposal is 25th September 2023.

No previous experience is necessary to register for the workshop which is open to PhD students and postdoctoral researchers.


Dr. Brian Cusack,
Dr. Babette Regierer,


Please email to register for this course.

Before signing up for this workshop, please make sure that you can attend all the dates and write them in your calendar. If you do not show up or cancel at very short notice, other interested students will not be able to participate.

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