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The concept paper is a three page document that enables the Executive Committee to assess how well the proposed research fits with the Fund’s interests. The three pages will be read together, although the Structured Scientific Summary is directed to the scientific members of the Fund’s Executive Committee, and the Structured Lay Summary is directed to the non-scientific members of the Committee. Concept papers should be emailed as a Microsoft Word attachment to firstname.lastname@example.org. Concept papers that do not follow the guidelines below will not be reviewed. Download a template for the concept paper here. Page One: Administrative Information 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Title of the Study Principal Investigator Length of Study (Maximum 3 years) Estimated Total Budget (Does not need to be itemized) Supervising Institution Project Site(s)
Page Two: Structured Scientific Summary The scientific summary should be no longer than one page using 12-point Times New Roman font and one-inch margins all around. The following information should be incorporated in the scientific summary: 1. Background: Describe the significance of the medical problem under study. Include information on incidence or prevalence and severity of the problem in children. Describe what is not known about the problem that the proposal intends to address. Include any preliminary data or additional background information indicating the rationale for the proposed research. 2. Objective(s) and Hypothesis(es): Describe the precise objective(s) of the proposed research. State the specific hypothesis(es) to be tested. 3. Design: Describe the basic design of the study. As applicable, include information about study subjects, sample size, enrollment criteria, or other sample material to be used in the study. Indicate the primary outcomes and how they will be measured. 4. Potential Impact: Discuss where the research is leading and in what ways and in how many years the findings might potentially influence the prevention, diagnosis and/or treatment of the particular medical problem in children. Page Three: Structured Lay Summary The lay summary should be 250 words or less and is intended as a brief, simplified summary for those who may not have scientific training. It should include three sections:
1. Background: Provide a lay summary of the Background from the Scientific Summary. 2. Objective(s) and Hypothesis(es): State each of the main objectives and or hypotheses in a single sentence (one sentence per objective/hypothesis). 3. Potential Impact: Provide a lay summary of the Potential Impact from the Scientific Summary.
Concept Papers: What They Are and How to Write Them?
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What Concept Papers Are
Concept papers are summaries of projects or issues that reflect the interests, experience and expertise of the writer or organization. Concept papers generally serve the purpose of providing in-depth discussion of a topic that the writer has a strong position on, usually with the intent of obtaining funding for that project from donors. The terms "concept paper" and "proposal" are often used interchangeably as they can be used for the same function. The concept paper may also be used as an instructional tool that may have developed as a result of extensive research, committee input and/or as a result of the outcome of a current project. In addition to providing guidance for implementation of a program, a concept paper could also discuss best practices, philosophies and other related issues that the writer believes action should be taken on in the near future.
How to Write Concept Papers
In the cases where the concept paper is written with the intent of receiving funding, most grantors publish guidelines that instruct the writer(s) on how to write the concept paper that they will consider funding. Despite the individual guidelines that may be published, the format and many of the key elements are consistent between organizations. Therefore, it is suggested that writers develop "boilerplates" or standard templates of concept papers that they can personalize and submit based on specific guidelines. This practice eliminates the extra time added to the process by completely starting a new concept paper from the beginning each time. For concept papers that are used more as an instructional or educational tool, the format may be similar with the exception of the exclusion of charts, graphs or budgets that may be geared toward the solicitation of funding.
Concept Papers - Writing Steps
There are steps to concept paper writing that are universal and can be applied in most situations in order to develop the boilerplate. First and probably most important, the writer must ensure that the mission, requirements, funding patterns and other specific information about the target grantor or audience match with those of the organization or individual project in need of funding or assistance. Grantors are very specific about what types of organizations and projects they do and do not fund so, it is important to understand that thoroughly in advance to avoid wasting time. The second step would be to summarize the project by stating the problem to be discussed/solved, the goal of the project, the objectives, the anticipated outcomes, procedures for determining whether the goals and objectives have been achieved, the population served and the theoretical model upon which the project is based. Third, the writer must develop a list of references that discuss the model to which the project will be directed. Fourth, there should be a budget developed for the project, if applicable. This would include all billable costs associated with planning and executing the project. Whether the concept paper is for the purpose of obtaining funding or merely for the purpose of conveying information, a budget may be necessary if there are costs and resources associated with the project, such as hours devoted to research and information gathering. The fifth step could entail obtaining the necessary approvals by individuals authorized to do so prior to submission. In the case of a purely informational concept paper, this may be committee input. This step may occur much earlier in the process. In addition, one must consider the timing and deadlines that submission of the concept paper must adhere to. Expect deadlines to be strict whether funding is being sought or not. There may be a bit more flexibility in due dates for those concept papers that are designed solely for disseminating information.
Sample Concept Paper
The Virtual Community Group, Inc. Enterprise 2000 The Virtual Community Group, Inc. is recruiting partners from the funding community to help launch an exciting new initiative that will create lasting, future-oriented employment for residents of low income rural communities: Enterprise 2000. Leveraging rapid advances in technology and the Internet, Enterprise 2000 will provide key training and support to low income entrepreneurs, including welfare recipients, that will enable them to build sustainable small businesses and service the world-wide cyber market. We anticipate that within 3 years Enterprise 2000 will create and sustain at least 1200 new businesses in rural New Hampshire; and establish a model that will contribute to the revitalization of rural communities throughout the U.S. As elsewhere in the U.S., the economic health of New Hampshire's rural communities has suffered steady decline since the early 1900's. Family farms, which once formed an economic base supporting large numbers of rural inhabitants, have been all but eradicated by largescale agribusiness. Since 1960, New Hampshire has lost xx% of its manufacturing jobs, as corporations or local factories have shut down or moved operations out of state. In the absence of such base industries, traditional small businesses also have trouble surviving: in the best of times, the distance between households and towns already limit commerce; in troubled times, this problem is greatly compounded by depressed family incomes. As a result, many thousands of individuals from New Hampshire -- particularly our young people -- are moving to cities to seek jobs, not only depopulating and further
impoverishing rural communities, but contributing to the growing pool of urban unemployed. By tapping the energy of the small local entrepreneur, and linking it to the explosion in communications technologies, we believe it is possible to reverse this trend, enabling rural inhabitants to retain viable, highquality jobs far from industrial and urban centers. Small towns would again offer a wide spectrum of employment opportunities -- from small manufacturing to services to retail -- and develop sound, diversified economies for the first time in generations. Unfortunately, many small entrepreneurs cannot afford either the training or equipment needed to participate in the rewards of the Information Revolution. Enterprise 2000 was designed explicitly to address this lack of parity, and help level the communications playing field. Working in collaboration with microenterprise organizations, community colleges, and agencies which recycle computer hardware, Enterprise 2000 will offer disadvantaged entrepreneurs the following services at low or no charge:
Day-time or evening classes in basic, intermediate, and advanced computer skills
• • •
Training to use the Internet and other information networks Assessment of MIS needs Access to reconditioned computer hardware
The Virtual Community Group, Inc. brings a very unusual combination of expertise and experience to bear on the Enterprise 2000 initiative. On both the staff and board, successful high tech entrepreneurs
provide a command of cutting-edge technologies; while leaders from the community contribute a strong understanding of and credibility within the constituency we serve. This team created the groundbreaking HAL Anti-Poverty Project, which has supported technology internships and secured employment for over 200 low income high school drop-outs from inner cities in Massachusetts, and was awarded the Al Gore Medal for Creativity in Technology and Social Service in 1993. With the backing of the funding community, the same team will pilot Enterprise 2000 in New Hampshire, a focused employment training model that will generate genuine, future-oriented businesses and job opportunities for low income rural communities throughout the U.S.
(This sample concept paper was created for AGM by Molly Clark Associates.) Other Sample Documents: Sample Cover Letter Sample Letter of Inquiry
Writing a Concept Paper
Many private foundations have always required a concept paper be submitted for review prior to the submission of a full proposal. In recent years federal and state agencies have begun to encourage the use of concept papers as a way for applicants to obtain informal feedback on their
ideas and projects prior to preparing a proposal. Some of these agencies now require a concept paper be submitted as part of the formal submission process. The purpose of a concept paper, from the funding agency’s point of view, is to help applicants develop more competitive proposals and to save time by eliminating proposals that are not likely to be funded. The applicant’s purpose in developing a concept paper is to capture the interest of the funding agency and demonstrate that the idea they are proposing is worthy of further consideration. Therefore, the first sentences of a concept paper are very important. You want the funding agency representatives or board members to continue reading! The first section (Introduction) should include some information about the funding agency. You need to demonstrate that you have done your homework and understand the mission of the funding agency and the types of projects that they support. Then you need to identify the agency you represent and how the missions of your agency and the funding agency mesh. Describe any partner agencies that will be involved and their interest in the project. Next describe the question, problem or need that needs to be addressed (Purpose). Briefly provide supporting documentation for the importance of addressing this question, problem or need. If you have statistical data, use it; numbers are always convincing. In short, indicate why anyone should care! This may sound harsh, but when you are close to a particular issue, it is easy to forget that everyone does not understand the situation as well as you. Make sure that you cite or refer to what others have accomplished relative to your project or research so that you convince the funding agency that you are an expert on this particular issue and more needs to be done. Beware of stating that you are the only person who has ever proposed such a project. Even the most brilliant and innovative concepts are based on the work of others from related fields. Next describe your project: what your agency plans to do, why this is a unique approach, and
who will benefit (Project Description). Briefly describe your basic goal/s and objectives or state your research questions. (A goal is statement describing a broad or abstract intent, state or condition. An objective is a statement of measurable outcomes that relate to the goal. An objective includes “who, what, and when” information. It is not a statement about “how.”) Give an overview of your methodology--how the project will be carried out--and any innovative approaches, techniques, or processes that will be used. Make sure that the goals, objectives, and methods relate to each other. Include general timelines for what you hope to accomplish. Describe the anticipated benefits and who will benefit. (If your project is basic research, the impact of the research may not be as easy to describe, however you should be able to describe how your research will add to the body of knowledge of a particular scientific discipline and the numbers of students who will gain scientific knowledge from working on your project or in your lab.) Try to be brief, concise, and clear. Concept papers should not be longer than five pages. Don’t overwhelm the reader with detail, but avoid sounding vague or unsure about what you want to accomplish. Be positive and definite. Instead of saying an objective “may be accomplished,” indicate that the objective “will be accomplished” by a certain time. Avoid requesting money for “planning” unless that is the purpose of the funding program. Most funding agencies want to fund a project that is beyond the planning stage. Consider your audience. If your concept paper is going to be reviewed by scientists in your field, scientific terms and technical jargon may be acceptable. However, if your proposal is being reviewed by generalists or lay persons, this type of language will not communicate your ideas effectively. Only include budgetary information if it is specifically requested (Support). If you are asked to provide specific dollar amounts, make sure that you work with the Office of Sponsored Projects in LM 132 x-5203 to develop your budget. Otherwise, generally describe the types of support you need, e.g, personnel, travel, equipment, etc.
Finally, appearance is important. This concept paper represents you! The type size should be large enough to read easily, and margins should be standard size. Check for spelling errors before submission. Attention to detail is important. Number all pages. Place your name and date in the header. Include your contact information with the concept paper (Contact). The following is a suggested outline for your concept paper. If the agency provides a different format—use it! “He that has the gold makes the rules!” Suggested Format for a Concept Paper (See discussion above.) Introduction Purpose Project Description Goals and Objectives/Research Questions Methodology and Timelines Benefits/Anticipated Outcomes Support Needed & Costs (if requested) Contact Information
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