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Writing implementation research grant proposals: ten key ingredients

Enola K Proctor*, Byron J Powell, Ana A Baumann, Ashley M Hamilton and Ryan L Santens

Author Affiliations

Center for Mental Health Services Research, George Warren Brown School of Social Work, Washington University in St. Louis, Campus Box 1196, One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, 63130, USA

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Implementation Science 2012, 7:96  doi:10.1186/1748-5908-7-96

Published: 12 October 2012



All investigators seeking funding to conduct implementation research face the challenges of preparing a high-quality proposal and demonstrating their capacity to conduct the proposed study. Applicants need to demonstrate the progressive nature of their research agenda and their ability to build cumulatively upon the literature and their own preliminary studies. Because implementation science is an emerging field involving complex and multilevel processes, many investigators may not feel equipped to write competitive proposals, and this concern is pronounced among early stage implementation researchers.


This article addresses the challenges of preparing grant applications that succeed in the emerging field of dissemination and implementation. We summarize ten ingredients that are important in implementation research grants. For each, we provide examples of how preliminary data, background literature, and narrative detail in the application can strengthen the application.


Every investigator struggles with the challenge of fitting into a page-limited application the research background, methodological detail, and information that can convey the project’s feasibility and likelihood of success. While no application can include a high level of detail about every ingredient, addressing the ten ingredients summarized in this article can help assure reviewers of the significance, feasibility, and impact of the proposed research.

Implementation research; Grant writing; Preliminary studies