issues in grant proposal writing

Fri, 14 Jan 1994 14:28:51 -0500

fashion of "when x, then y" and with the promise of testability
in the field a necesity when writing research proposals for
submission to foundations such as Wenner-Gren or NSF?

Such an approach seems to me somehow misplaced when drawing
up the purposes and methods of a research project in symbolic and
social anthropology--in my case, one dealing with aspects of
change in the social organization and cultural content of the
shamanism of an indigenous Mexican people. Yet, every one of the
few examples that I have seen of grant writing, even in the vein
of symbolic anthropology, get to the gist of the project
description(usually in the first paragraph of the "objectives and
significance" section) via use of language such as, "I
hypothesize that..."

I suppose that the use of such language allows for a
condensed presentation of what kinds of data one plans to look at
while alluding to WHY, but even so, wouldn't it be just as
legitimate to spell out the empirical focus of fieldwork
activity, general lines of inquiry (perhaps in the form of
questions), and the general anthropological issues that the
results will speak to?

The use of a "hypothesis" in my case would seem to require a
commitment to a specified dynamic theory of social and religious
change, whereas I would prefer to make promises--and shape a
research design--more along the lines of descriptive analysis,
albeit of a kind useful for comparative purposes.

Is it that the kinds of differences I intuit and allude to
here are really only problems in choosing amongst rhetorical
styles? Are ther more substantive issues involved and at stake in
this, and if so, how do these relate to the conventions (whatever
they are--an inventory would be useful) in grant writing?