I am working on a research grant proposal and the funding agency requires us to turn in a white paper before the actual proposal. I have no clue how a research grant white paper should look like. I tried googling and searching in the university library, but could not find anything similar. Will somebody be able to give me a link to a research grant white paper, something which I can look at and learn the format? (my field is computer science)

  • In what field? For what funding agency?
    – JeffE
    Commented May 17, 2012 at 21:51
  • 1
    What's a white paper? Commented May 18, 2012 at 8:12
  • Hi @JeffE, this is in computer science, and this is for a government funding.
    – picmate
    Commented May 21, 2012 at 1:19
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    @picmate: I haven't ever written a white paper myself, but I'm sure the required structure depends on the specific funding agency. NSF? DARPA? DOE? NIH? DHS? The main trick is to find someone who has written a successful white paper or proposal for that agency (if not the specific program director).
    – JeffE
    Commented May 21, 2012 at 7:43

1 Answer 1


Based on a little Googling, his white paper sounds like a preproposal. It is likely a short overview over your research project: the problem you are working on, your approach to solving it, how much it will cost, and what you and/or the agency will get out of it. Consider this white paper an outline of your full proposal.

Many agencies will ask for these if they expect a particular program or funding opportunity will have a high response or if the purpose of the program is to provide a single large award to one project. The prepreposals are used to narrow the field before they ask for full proposals from a smaller set of submitters.

I have not been successful at finding examples, since proposals and affiliated documents are almost never released unless they are funded. However, I have found some tips for preparing white papers from Rochester Institute of Technology and Purdue.

  • 1
    Well, the funded ones are the ones you'd want to see as examples. Commented May 28, 2012 at 6:19

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