I saw a presentation by Prof. Sheldon Jacobson yesterday, and he mentioned following Heilmeier's Catechism as a criteria for successful NSF proposals. I had not heard of this, so looked it up, and it is worth repeating:
A set of questions credited to Heilmeier that anyone proposing a research project or product development effort should be able to answer.
- What are you trying to do? Articulate your objectives using absolutely no jargon.
- How is it done today, and what are the limits of current practice?
- What's new in your approach and why do you think it will be successful?
- Who cares?
- If you're successful, what difference will it make?
- What are the risks and the payoffs?
- How much will it cost?
- How long will it take?
- What are the midterm and final "exams" to check for success?
We have an insufficient number of Catechisms dictating the practicalities of academic research.