ENVISION is a semester-long research competition that encourages female high school students interested in STEM to apply their scientific knowledge in an area of their interest. Competitors must work in groups of four or less to write a research proposal. This includes designing a scientific study for it, and communicating their ideas in the form of a paper, often known as a grant application. ENVISION is hosted by the Women In STEM, an organization run by female students that aims to empower and encourage young girls to pursue STEM by providing mentorship and networking opportunities.
WHAT IS PROPOSAL WRITING?
In order to acquire funding for research scientists would like to conduct, scientists must apply to grants, which are sums of money donated to various scientific communities for the purpose of furthering science. These grants are awarded to the winning scientist so that that scientist may conduct their study.
A research proposal is the main component of applying for a grant. The proposal is a piece of scientific literature that attempts to convince the grant review board why the board should give the grant to him/her.
First, the proposal must show that the proposed study will have a large positive impact on the world if it is conducted successfully. This means that the research either targets a large, life-altering issue affecting a small amount of the population, or a small issue affecting a large population. Of course, a large issue affecting a large population is the best outcome.
Second, the proposal must show that the proposed study is feasible, and will give results if the scientist acquires proper resources. Therefore, the scientist must use current scientific studies to back up his decisions throughout the proposal.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
Learning proposal writing, especially in high school, is important for numerous reasons.
First off, proposal writing is a key skill to successfully applying to grants and attaining funding to conduct research as a scientist. Therefore, without understanding how to write proposals, scientists will neither have the opportunity or resources to conduct any research.
Second, proposal writing is almost never taught. Instead, scientists learn through trial and error, which means they almost always start writing their first proposal when they need a grant. And, of course, this means that they will make many mistakes along the way, and most likely miss multiple opportunities they could've won had they learned earlier.
Third, writing proposals improves critical planning skills. In order to write a research proposal, scientists must be capable of thoroughly planning their research, expressing what they want to do in a way that seems clear and feasible to the judge and anticipating any and all obstacles they may face. Not only is this skill useful in writing grants, it's also applicable in numerous ways in day-to-day life.
Finally, it practices comprehensive literature review Literature review is the process of looking through previously published scientific literature to gain insights which may support your proposal. It is a unique skill set which combines the ability to comb through information quickly and the ability to use literature sources. Not only is this useful in proposal-writing, this skill is often also required to write published research papers where collecting background information frequently involves literature review.
Not only is ENVISION an excellent opportunity to learn proposal-writing ahead of the generation of budding scientists, we also give out awards to the top three proposals we receive every semester. Not only is this a college-application enhancing opportunity, it is also accompanied with cash prices. We also give out gifts including bullet journals and gel pens for all participants.
Additionally, all ENVISION participants will receive personalized critiques from their judge, who are professors at prestigious universities such as Northwestern and the University of Chicago.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
1. I am a rising freshman in high school/college. Can I enter?
2. Can I work alone?
Yes! You can work in groups of up to 4.
3. Can you hold a workshop for...
Sure! Request a workshop here!
4. What are some resources that can teach me more about proposal writing and grant application?
There are many resources available with a simple Google search, but some of our favorites includes this basic guide to proposal writing by the University of South Carolina and these annotated undergrad proposals from Northwestern. Don't forget to check out our resources blog and our sample entries!
5. Do you have any resource recommendations?
Of course. We recommend googling "free research journals" or something similar to find open access studies which you can use to reference and guide your project. Reach out and let us know if you are looking for access to some specific publications, and we'll see what we can do for you!