In this section, you will develop the final sections of your proposal. The content of this sections is summarized in Table 8. Specifically, information on the project summary, table of contents, appendices, and the CVs of your researchers will be covered. You will prepare these aspects, review all the previously completed components and update and align your entire proposal.

Project summary

An IR project summary (sometimes called an abstract or an executive summary) briefly describes the entire proposal. Researchers often write their summary or abstract last, when they are best able to concisely describe their research proposal. The summary should include a description of the problem under investigation, a rationale for why the research is needed or important (situated in the literature), the participants, the methodology, the research activities to be undertaken and the expected outcomes or implications of conducting the research. Depending on the requirements of the funding agency, your summary/abstract may be limited to anywhere from 150–200 words (abstract) to a page (summary). Like a research report or journal article, your proposal summary or abstract might be the most important paragraph/page of your proposal because it will be the first thing most reviewers come into contact with when reviewing your proposal. The summary will create the ‘first impression’ with reviewers and may influence whether reviewers choose to fund your proposal or not.

Project summary checklist

The summary should be informative to those working in the same or related fields. A good summary makes it very easy for reviewers to comprehend and evaluate your proposed project according to the review criteria. Although the criteria for a research proposal will vary depending on the funding agency, a summary typically will include a brief description of each of the following:

  • The problem (what problem are you trying to solve?).
  • A convincing rationale for why this problem is important (i.e. how the proposed research will advance knowledge, improve health care practices etc.).
  • Where the research will take place and with whom (sites and participants).
  • How the data will be collected and analysed.
  • The extent to which the proposed research is innovative.
  • The expected results or the impact of conducting the research.
  • How the findings will be disseminated.
  • The implications (change policy, improve health care practice etc. and who will benefit).
Table of contents

The table of contents organizes the proposal by outlining what is in the proposal and where each item can be found. It presents a convenient list of the topics and sections in a logical sequence ‘at a glance.’

Word processing software such as Microsoft Word and Open Office, have the ability to automatically generate a table of contents. You can tag your headings with the appropriate heading style (e.g. Heading 1, Heading 2, Heading 3) and use the Insert > Table of contents features (or similar).


Appendices include those aspects of your project that are of secondary interest to the reader. The reader should be able to obtain all the necessary information from the body of the proposal and will go to the appendices if they need or require additional information. Appendices may include things such as the CVs of members of the research team, research instruments, or letters of support. This section is also appropriate for any additional information you would like the reviewers to have access to but which the length restrictions in the body of the proposal may prohibit.

The CVs of investigators will influence the reviewer’s assessment of your proposal. You may want to ensure at least one member of your team has IR experience, a good track record and a strong publication record. Complementary qualities such as credibility in the community are equally important.

Usually agencies have a limit of 1–3 pages for an investigator’s short curriculum vitae. Therefore, investigators will need to shorten their CVs and highlight the most relevant aspects of their professional/academic life to the project to align with the scope of the funding agency. A template can help investigators shorten their CVs and to keep them uniform.

TDR Implementation research toolkit(Second edition)

© 2024 TDR. All rights reserved