I am currently preparing a research proposal with limited number of pages. As a picture is worth a thousand words; I was wondering if a graphic illustration could be provided that could highlight the different steps involved in the project. Would providing such an illustration enhance the proposal? I never came across such illustrations. Any directions for the same?

  • 2
    Note that the answer will surely depend on the policies for the institution reading the proposal. Whether sensible or not, if there are restrictions that the submission must be text only, you don't have much choice.
    – Bryan Krause
    Jul 31 '17 at 18:57

We have used several graphics in a proposal:

  • to illustrate the problem to be solved
  • to illustrate extensions of the state-of-the-art,
  • to illustrate dependencies and relationships between several subprojects.

This was a large joint project (collaborative research centre) in computer science sponsored by DFG (German Research Foundation). The application was successful, but I don't know whether the taste of reviewers for other disciplines or funding agencies differs.


Disclaimer: I have not had the pleasure of being on the reviewing end of the grant process.

It is not only acceptable, but may be a good idea. First, remember that your proposal is not being read in a vacuum. The reviewer is sitting in front of their assigned pile and, depending on how long they've been at it, may be feeling a bit fried. Anything which helps them quickly get to the stage where they 'get' the point of the proposal is helpful.

You will want to include accompanying text, but it's hard to imagine a situation in which graphically showing, for example, your overall experimental design won't help the wad of text listing factors/levels/replicates etc. make more sense.


I have been reviewing a lot of proposals and dissertations in my field looking at exactly this! I wanted examples of how people scope their work in the Intro and the illustration they provide for it.

Many of them have a chart. This chart provides a map of their work that they can then refer back to (for example, each element in the chart is a chapter). It seems to work much better than just using words. I will be writing mine soon and have been considering having two flowcharts, one that breaks down the problem into different pieces and one that maps out my solutions.

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