The majority of Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) peer reviewer criteria starts with the words, “The extent to which…” and the reviewer’s score will reflect this extent.   Therefore, if you plan on getting even close to maximum score, you had better provide details for each criteria.  It is not one, two, skip a few!  Address all of the relevant information exactly in the order that it appears in the selection criteria.

Do not think you can take shortcuts and provide fluff that sounds good (after all it came straight off the Internet).  Most Peer Reviewers have been around the block and they recognize a snow job (even an impressive one) when they see it.  For example, when you are asked to describe need, do not describe national need unless you are going to serve the nation.  Tell the reviewer about the need in your targeted area.  Start with cold hard facts.  Exactly how bad is the problem you are going to proposing to address?  Provide current data/statistics with sources and if there are no available statistics, do the leg work.  Get out and do surveys and interviews.  Convince that reviewer that you have a serious problem that your proposed program will fix within the guidelines of the funding program.

Many departments have workshops explaining what they are looking for in a proposal.  Go to as many as possible and make yourself visible.  Ask questions to make sure that you totally understand the FOA criteria. If you still do not understand, call the department that is funding the program and talk to them. After all, they wrote the application.  They will be glad to explain the criteria and tell you what they want to know from your application.    Sadly enough it may not be anything like the wording of the criteria.  Plus, it never hurts to get to know those people.  They are not the first line of fire (that would be me, the peer reviewer, looking down the barrel at you) but they are the big guns and they hand out the money. 

Most applications have limited pages so use your words economically.  Speak directly to each criteria, then ramble if you must. Once a reviewer is convinced that you have satisfied the criteria, they will allow you a little creative writing. However, that is another topic for another day.  Be here on time or class will start without you.