Pacific Rim (Pac Rim) Proposal Preparation Tips

November 7, 2011

We had a good turnout at last Friday’s Pac Rim Information Session. For those of you who couldn’t make it, I’m posting some of the tips that Dr. Fruhstuck gave us:

Write for an Interdisciplinary Audience – Proposals are screened first here at UCSD, and then UCSD’s nominated proposals are screened at the program level. At the program level, each application will be read by 2-3 reviewers. Dr. Fruhstuck tries to assign each proposal to reviewers who will know something about your subject area, but that’s not guaranteed. Therefore, write for an educated but generalist audience. Your readers might not be specialists in your host countries, and they most probably won’t be in the same discipline as you. (A list of the review committee is available on the Pac Rim website.)

Explaining your Project – Be sure you can explain your project and its significance clearly and persuasively. Your proposal should explain 1) what you are going to do, 2) how you will do it, and 3) why anyone should care. (I’m not saying you have to divide your proposal into those sub-sections.) Make sure that your proposal is feasible. If you speak the language of the country or countries you’ll be visiting, state that! Don’t make the committee wonder if you’ll only be able to speak with English-speaking academics.

Importance of International Aspect – Pac Rim prefers to fund multi-country proposals. However, single-country proposals do get funded, as long as they have an international application. Therefore, if you’re only going to one country, explain the project’s broader implications outside of that one country.

Letter(s) of Recommendation – First, be sure your recommender understands your project! Give them a draft of your proposal to make sure they know what you’re doing. Second, while you are allowed to submit more than one letter, keep in mind that additional letters aren’t that persuasive. It’s more important to make sure that your one letter is strong. (Of course, multiple strong letters are a plus.)

Budgets – There were lots of budget questions at the meeting. First, you don’t have to ask for the maximum funding. Second, if your project will cost more than the maximum, just ask for the maximum, and make sure you explain how you plan to get the rest of the funding, even if you’ll be taking out a loan. Be sure to justify all your expenditures, and don’t lie about the cost of anything. Note that the committee may ask you to cut your budget, but they won’t specify how you should cut it. They’ll just tell you how much to cut, and then you figure out where to scrimp.

If you would like to see a successful proposal, email Lisa Nishioka, the Pac Rim program coordinator. If you look up the list of past awards, you can request one that’s similar to your project.

You might also ask past Pac Rim evaluators at UCSD to read through your proposal and give you comments.

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