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When writing your proposal to observe with the FCRAO 14m telescope (or any facility), one needs to convince the time assignment committee that the observations are important, and will lead to a tangible astronomical results which will be be published promptly. The time to think about the observational program and analyses is BEFORE you write the proposal and collect the data.

  • it is important to describe in detail which astronomical problem or question you are addressing and HOW the proposed observations will constrain current models.
  • Your program, as written in the proposal, should be designed to achieve a result whether or not the observations confirm what you had anticipated. Limits can be used to set some contraints on models so your time estimations should reflect achieving important limits.
  • To further justify time request, one should convert the corresponding sensitivity to physical parameters. For example, with a rms/channel of 0.025 K, one should be able to detect a 10^5 Msun GMC at the distance of M33 at the 3sigma level of confidence.
  • If you are submitting a proposal to continue a program which previously received time, demonstrate that you have analyzed these observations and have applied these measurements to the astronomical problem at hand.

Here are some simple principles for writing good proposals. They were given by an investigator who also participated in a number of review boards.

Good Timing

Will the idea be understood by others? Does it build upon existing knowledge? Does it build upon similar ideas? Do you have preliminary data? How will the idea be received?

Good Presentation

What do you want to do? Why do you want to do it? How are you going to do it? What is the expected outcome? Why is it a good thing?

Address the review criteria

Significance - commercial, social, scientific, technological, competitive

Approach - integrated, feasible, adaptable, ambitious

Innovation - challenging, novel, original

Investigator - capable, appropriate, relational

Environment - resources, stimulating, unique

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