SOAS University of London

Research Office

Proposal tips and budgeting

  • Check you are eligible to apply.
  • Read the scheme notes and guidance documents (including assessment criteria) – does your idea fit within the funder's remit?
  • Read previously successful applications and speak to previously successful applicants (the Research Office can help you identify these).
  • Get your proposal peer reviewed.

In the 1970’s George H. Heilmeier developed a set of questions that he expected every proposal for a new research program to answer.  He referred to them as the "Heilmeier Catechism".  It's important to answer these questions for any individual research project, both for yourself and for communicating to others what you hope to accomplish.  These questions are:

  1. What are you trying to do? Articulate your objectives using absolutely no jargon.  What is the problem?  Why is it hard?
  2. How is it done today, and what are the limits of current practice?
  3. What's new in your approach and why do you think it will be successful?
  4. Who cares?
  5. If you're successful, what difference will it make?   What impact will success have?  How will it be measured?
  6. What are the risks and the payoffs?
  7. How long will it take?
  8. What are the midterm and final "exams" to check for success?  How will progress be measured?
  9. How much will it cost?
    1. Consider the staff resources (including your time) and the practicalities of space, management of those staff, where they are going to be based i.e. SOAS or overseas etc.
    2. Will you be doing fieldwork? Travel, subsistence, insurance, visas, immunisations, security etc.
    3. Will you be interviewing people? Transcription, translation, digital recorders, cameras, secure storage devices, ethics, data consent. (For advice on the management of research data and costs involved contact SOAS Library
    4. What events will you be holding? Room hire, catering, travel/accommodation costs for speakers & participants, printing, advertising, websites etc.
    5. What outputs will you be producing and how will you manage these? Open access, publishing, data management, printing, films, music etc.

Other considerations:

  • Are there any ethical considerations regarding the research project and/or collaborators?
  • What impact would you like your research to have at the end?
  • Are there any Intellectual Property issues?
  • Could there be any enterprise potential if the research is successful?
  • What contracts will I need to put in place?

Useful links: