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You Need to Convince the Funders

Posted on March 1, 2006

Stephen Moore (bio) and Peter Mangione (bio) state that you need strong rationale when proposing a new measure to a funding agency.


Mangione: Whenever you propose something to a funder that involves the use of a measure that's going to be created as part of the funding, I think you're at a disadvantage. Funders want to go with the tried and true generally. That's their attitude. Unless you're in that fortunate circumstance where you find a funder who wants to create something new.

But usually, most funders are conservative. They want something that has some proven track record with it, and they want to see research build on existing research. Unless you can use that theory and conceptual basis as your basis for building on existing research, I don't think you can make a very strong argument for the new measure.

If you're going to make an argument to a funder of 'I need this new measure,' you better have a pretty good rationale built up based on existing data and existing theory for the reason why you need this measure and how it would flow from the theory. I think that kind of thoughtful approach will get funders to consider you more seriously if you are going to develop a new measure.

Moore: Very often in behavioral research there are measures of interest, theoretical measures of interest, that are not well measured by existing instruments, so when you're competing for the grant you can always propose to use the standard instruments, but if you're experienced with this sort of collaborative logic of assessment that we're describing and can say to the funder in your proposal that there are a couple of areas here about which you have research questions that are not well-measured by traditional devices. We propose that in addition to using the standard methodology, we will, as an adjunct, create this measure to specifically focus on this research question. Then that is a distinct advantage, at least potentially, in getting funded for that grant.

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Excerpted from interview with researchers in April 2005.


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