This is not a prescription. Rather, this is a guide to use as a starting point for your concept paper. Always follow a sponsor’s guidelines, but in the absence of any direction from the sponsor, consider using this document as a beginning.
The purpose of a concept paper, from the sponsor’s point of view is to determine if the proposed project fits with the sponsor’s goals and has a chance for success. The applicant’s purpose in developing a concept paper is to capture the interest of the funding agency and demonstrate that the idea she is proposing is worthy of further consideration.
Concept papers should be clear and concise. Keep to fewer than five pages--three pages if possible. Obviously, use a font large enough not to strain the eyes and avoid the use of industry-specific jargon if submitting to a sponsor who may not be dedicated to your field.
Concept Paper Outline
You want the sponsor to be interested in reading the whole concept paper so try to gain the reader’s interest. You need to demonstrate that you understand the mission of the funding agency and the types of projects that they support. Identify how the missions of your project/WCW 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 to be addressed.
Briefly provide supporting documentation for the importance of addressing this question, problem or need. If you have statistical data, use it. Cite significant and compelling sources. Why does this project matter? Make sure that you cite or refer to what others have accomplished relative to your project.
Concisely describe what you plan to do, your approach, who benefits and potential impacts.
Goals and Objectives/Research Questions
Outline your goals, objectives and research questions. Goals are simply a clearer statement of the vision, specifying the accomplishments to be achieved if the vision is to become real. The target objectives are clearer statements of the specific activities required to achieve the goals. 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.
Methodology and Timelines
How will the project be carried out? Make sure you have connected goals and objectives to your methodology/timeline. In many cases a table or visual in this section helps.
Who benefits? What are the outcomes to be expected? How are the results disseminated? How does the project/research add new knowledge to the field?
Support Needed & Costs
State the total dollar amount and general idea of type of support needed--usually a detailed budget is not required at this stage and in some circumstances you may leave this section out all together.
Name, Contact info, e-mail, telephone, website