Unit #4
Grant &
Proposal Writing
Technical Writing
Goals; Guidelines; Team Project;
Two broad goals for this unit
To gain an understanding of the genres
associated with the social act of
“proposing,” especially proposing
projects in organizational settings
To gain an understanding of how best
to coordinate the various genres of
proposing in order to successfully
persuade others to support our projects
“A Genre System View”
“Connor’s (2000) study hints at this interactive nature
of grant funding genres, as she claims that the
genre of a grant proposal does not exist in isolation
but is part of a system of interacting genres” (pp.
22-23). Connor’s statement suggests that grant
writers require knowledge of multiple genres
spanning a variety of rhetorical contexts and
discourse communities. Yet, despite the crucial role
of grant genres in the production of knowledge and
the complexity of the grant-writing genre system,
these interacting genres have yet to be studied.”
Tardy, p.2
Tardy & You…
“Exploration of this [grant proposal] genre
system is the focus of this article.”
Tardy, p.2
In the midterm, you will conduct your own exploration of the
genre system of proposal writing, choosing a site to investigate
that will inform your own forays (present or future) into grant
Tardy’s Questions
What genres and communities interact to form the
genre system of proposal writing for seeking
space in…
What are the roles and functions of this genre
What type of knowledge does participation in the
text genres and genre system require of grant
writers and how do these writers develop such
You’ll want to modify and add to these
to suit your own project
What’s a “genre system?”
3 key assumptions for Tardy:
• Genres are social action; typified responses to recurring
• Genres are used and work together, creating a kind of
interactive system
• Specialized knowledge is required to use genres and to act
within genre systems
How do you study genres as
social action?
Tardy used the following methods
• Interviews with writers
• Analysis of documents – samples of the various genres used
Note that these methods tend to yield a retrospective
account of the social action. That is, we see and learn
from the results of action or from accounts of action
given by the writer.
What should you watch for
in your future career?
Evidence of…
The specialized knowledge required to use genres and act in
genre systems.
Individual moves
• what genres are used?
• in what sequence?
• for what purposes?
• in what situations?
Community rules
• what genres are required or
• what patterns of use lead to
Propose a Midterm Project
Your goal in this assignment is to identify
a major project. You will be responsible
for defining the project, thinking about
different sources of support, and
creating all the necessary materials to
secure support from those sources.
You may seek support for a project of your
own, or you may do so on behalf of an
organization you have a relationship
Your deliverables…
1. Letter of Introduction, Title Page, Table of Contents
2. Background, Methodology, Qualifications, Benefits
I will be sending a second PPT this week. It will explore the six
generic slots of the proposal genre (listed above). For now,
decide which of the team’s project ideas you would most like to
use as your team’s midterm assignment.
Choose something small
The issue you choose to build your proposal around
should not be a major one. You will have to wrap
it up in a short amount of time.
I will send examples via email.
When is it due?
June 23rd, 11:59 p.m.
Note: this means that the proposing should be
wrapped up in time for you to edit and revise.
Instructor’s Caution:
Proposals are not Reports
Proposals argue “here is how we would go about
answering your question.”
Reports (e.g. recommendation reports) argue “this is
our answer to the overriding question”
The lesson: proposals explain how to answer a question…they don’t
give the answer. A report gives the answer.
Choose something
Option 1: Proposing a new review process ISUComm
center technical reports series.
Not “here’s what the process should look like” but
“here’s how we should go about determining the
best process”
Option 3: Proposing a cleaning schedule for
fraternity house public rooms, kitchen, and
Not “here’s the new cleaning schedule” but “here’s
how we can create a cleaning schedule that
everyone can live with”
Communication for Two Student Teams
Red team
These teams were writing a proposal for a new technical product.
Their task was to show that their design was state-of-the-art.
You know your idea is good
You are proposing methods to answer a question,
not reporting results that come from performing
those methods.
You don’t know the answer already.
You can’t get to the answer by yourself; you need
the cooperation of the people you are proposing
the idea to.
Tardy: a good guide
“grant proposals function within a larger system
of documents with which writers interact as
they navigate through the grant-writing
process. Documents such as letters of intent
and grant-writing guidelines, as well as faceto-face interactions with program officers,
are all interconnected genres within the
grant-writing process.”
Tardy, p. 11
How should I collect documents?
What should I watch for?
What Motivates Writers of
“The sense of purpose that shapes strategy is something
more concrete, more immediate, and less encompassing:
it is not generic but operational. Generic purposes are
ideal and therefore simple…Operational purposes are
specific to real situations and often quite complex.”
What Motivates You?
•Solving a problem or performing a task according the instructor’s
•Impressing (or refusing to impress) the instructor
•Receiving an acceptable grade
•Revealing or concealing real attitudes, opinions, beliefs
•Creating or sustaining an acceptable self-image
•Receiving peer approval or avoiding disapproval
Logical Structure of Proposals
Introducing The Baseline Logic
Current situation
Desired Result
More to come on Baseline Logic
The “slots”
Assessment Plan
All slots must be filled, but slots
are not always sections and they
don’t necessarily proceed in this
Drafting your p1 proposal
Slots in yellow are well-defined
by the project description in
your notes.
Slots in white are made up of
new information that you must
The Situation slot is a
combination of info you were
given, and info you must
Style: PIP : A fractal organization
scheme for proposing
Try it: proposing an activity
To ensure that our visualizations are usable, we will invite two
expert reviewers from the field of information visualization to
comment and give feedback on the design. Paul Dourish &
Barbara Mirel are two leading researchers in the areas of
information visualizationa and computer-supported cooperative
work. Both have agreed to support this project by serving as
reviewers. We believe that with the help of Mirel & Dourish, our
visualization tool can be integrated into the work practice of
proposal writers who have not previously used self-analytic tools
to improve their performance.
Scaled up: PIP for methods slot
Line of Argument: Here is a methodological approach that has
been shown to be sound in these previous studies/projects.
Line of Argument: We are using the methodological approach,
adapting for our specific project in these ways.
Line of Argument: Based on our pilot study and previous
published work, here are the positive outcomes we expect that
match with the goals stated in the RFP. (e.g. replicability, validity,
Scaled down: PIP elevator speech
Some colleagues of mine and I are working on a way to improve
proposal writing success by visualizing the proposing process.
We depict proposing process as chains of communication events
rather than tasks.
Task-based visualizations are not detailed enough, we find,
because knowledge work tasks are themselves made up of
communication events - sometimes many of them!