Updated version, 23rd May 2017: Sparks & Co are now currently offering a free workshop to expand on the points mentioned below to help you write the best Impact section and achieve your H2020 goals. Register now to reserve your seat!
When writing a proposal for the H2020 programme it is important to remember that the vast majority of the time it is not just you who is vying for funding. This means that your proposal is in competition with other scientists/researchers/institutions for the same goal. The beauty of Horizon 2020 is that all proposals must follow the same format¹ . This is, however, not to say that all proposals are equal. You must win over the evaluators, and one way to do that (if you already have robust science) is in how you write the impact section.
We have already discussed what the impact section is, now here are some tips on how to write it! A big part of my job as International Cooperation Manager is to write the Impact section, helping you to score the best result (the 5/5 we received on Impact in some of our projects isn’t bad!). Therefore, I think we have enough expertise to share some of our tips with you!
1. Be Relevant
Read the call text carefully and deliver what they are asking for. This cannot be stressed enough (it is already mentioned in some of our other blog posts!). This is not just in terms of science or methodology but also when writing the impact section of the proposal. Use the words from the text to show that you have read and understood what challenges you should be tackling. “Community building”, “stakeholder engagement” and “Open Source” are not just buzzwords you should include in your proposal text, but have meaning behind them. This can be different for different projects; a healthcare project may want to form patient focus groups and a Big Data project may make provide training to end-users of the data to be able to use it. These are both forms of stakeholder engagement (with some community building and Open Source relevant here too!).
2. The “Just-Right” Rule
Even though you may desire to demonstrate your stupefying and inordinate penchant for superfluous vocabulary to assert your mastery of the principal impact challenges specified by the H2020 call transcription, this would ultimately impair the statement that you are endeavouring to make.
The opposite is true too.
The two juxtaposed examples above are the “don’ts” in writing the impact section. Language too complicated or sentences too simple will not convey your message in the way that will result in a successful project. A happy medium is what is called for: language that is simple yet conveys impact and excellence of your project.
3. Convince your evaluator
Be assertive. Your impact will “make a difference in (insert relevant field here)”. Your methods of achieving impact are “beyond state-of- the-art”. Back these assertive statements up with proof and you have now confidently presented your work. This assurance in the quality of your impact conveyed in the proposal will show the evaluator that you (and your consortium) really believe in your project.
Make your proposal a joy to read. You want to really excite the evaluators.
Dipti Pandya, Proposal writing and evaluation Consultant, 2014³.
4. Don’t Exaggerate
This is a caveat to the point above. No your project won’t make everyone understand how to code by 2020. It probably won’t get every single person to believe in climate change at the end of the project either. There is no point in exaggerating or inflating the claims that you are making for your project or impact. The evaluator is an expert in the scientific or societal field² : they know exactly what impact can and cannot be achieved in the timeframe and the methodology you are using.
Keep these simple steps in mind when writing your next proposal impact section. If you have good content then all that’s left is a great way to present it!
Have you found certain tricks to use when writing H2020 (or other grant) proposals? Let us know your suggestions in the comments! If you have expertise you would like to share, drop us a line at email@example.com, we run a guest blog series so let us know if you think you could feature!
¹ H2020 Programme Proposal template 2016-2017: http://ec.europa.eu/research/participants/data/ref/h2020/call_ptef/pt/2016-2017/h2020-call-pt-ria-ia-2016-17_en.pdf