12.S593 (Fall): Proposals and Pathways

Class description

This seminar will build skills for writing scientific proposals and facilitate investigation of career pathways. Topics covered include scientific writing and graphics, proposal writing for grants and fellowships, and exploration of academic and non-academic careers.

Format and assessment

Readings will be assigned before each class. Class time will involve discussion of readings lead by a different student each week and a follow-on class activity. Career section involves presentation to class at end of semester and written summary. Graded P/D/F. Units 2-0-3.


• Meets in 54-517 on Thursdays from 3-4.30pm
• Download the class syllabus


• Schultz, Eloquent science: A practical guide to becoming a better writer, speaker, and atmospheric scientist, AMS Books, 2009: available to download through MIT
• Robertson, Russell and Morrison, The grant application writer's workbook NSF Fastlane Version
• Tufte, The visual display of quantitative information 2nd Edition
• Feibelman, A PhD is not enough, Basic Books


1. Introduction (pdf)
2. Writing basics (pdf)
3. Choosing a proposal topic (pdf)
4. Effective writing (pdf)
5. Scientific graphics (pdf)
6. Funding landscape (pdf)
7. Proposal basics (pdf)
8. Overview and objectives (pdf)
9. Research plan and broader impacts(pdf)
10. Budget, background, summary and title (pdf)


1. Chapter 6 from Feibelman (Sept 13th)
2. Sections 4.2,5,6,7,15.2,15.3 from Schultz (Sept 20th)
3. Sections 8,9,10 and 12.10 from Schultz (Oct 4th)
4. Chapters 4 and 8 and page 183 from Tufte (Oct 11th)
5. Chapters 19,20,21 from Schultz (Oct 18th)
6. Chapter 6 from Grant Application Writer's Handbook and Chapter 2, section 2d from PAPPG (Oct 25th)
7. Chapter 7 and page 57 from Grant Application Writer's Handbook (Nov 1st)
8. Example research plan on pages 76-78 of "The Grant Application Writer's Workbook", "Writing a strong broader impacts statement" (link), and the examples from page 7-11 of "Perspective on broader impacts" (link) (Nov 8th)
9. Budget development (link) and overhead (link) using MIT as an example (Nov 15th).