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Tony Linde :: Blog :: Mark ye well

September 04, 2007

I have marked a number of JISC bids in the past and have talked with a few potential project teams, helping them to build the best proposal possible. Since I'm unlikely to talk to everyone, I'll post as much of the advice here as I can remember in one post. Any others who have acted as JISC markers before, please also add your own views. And remember that this is only my personal view.

Firstly, it is not JISC who decide the proposals to be funded but the marking panel and they will be drawn from all over HE/FE: some will be JISC employees working on other programmes but most will be people like you and me who have volunteered to do the marking.

Down to the advice:

1. Read the call: both the main document and the appendix for this strand (F) plus all the annexes and links. Then read it all again and highlight the areas that the call is asking to be addressed. Make sure you address all the highlights in your proposal.

2. If you don't think your proposal is within scope of the call then you can be sure the marker won't. Don't submit it just on the off chance it'll get funded - it won't. Don't waste the marker's time - they might remember you next time!

3. The markers have to read at least five of these proposals and sometimes more. Make it interesting and easy to read. Sell what you want to do and why it is a brilliant idea. Don't be boring.

4. The marker will likely not be familiar with your domain of expertise so make your proposal clear to a non-expert. The harder your proposal is to understand, the less likely the marker will bother to figure it out.

5. Make the proposal easy to mark. Section F29 shows the criteria used to mark bids and section F30 the structure - use that structure to lay out your bids and address each criterion under its section. If the marker has to hunt around to see if you meet the criteria, they'll likely figure that you don't meet them.

7. DO NOT EXCEED 10 PAGES. Anything over 10 pages for the formal proposal will be considered to be inessential - only use the appendices beyond 10 pages to back up what you've said in the bid.

Some more specific advice based on the criteria in this call:

a. Cover sheet: I'd suggest using the Outline Project Description section to really grab the marker's attention: make it short and make it interesting but show how the proposal will meet the core requirements of the call.

b. Fit to Objectives: make it clear, in detail, how you have addressed the call requirements: maybe use subheadings of those requirements.

c. Value to JISC: show how you will disseminate the results (more than just sticking a document on a website) but, more importantly, how your work is transferrable to other institutions and other domain areas.

d. Quality and Robustness: include a clear outline project plan showing who will do what (ie, tie it up to the people involved) and deliverables; include a realistic risk assessment (table with assessment of likelihood & impact of risk plus mitigation activity); show how your project outcomes will be sustained beyond hte life of the project - if possible include a letter of commitment to this effect.

e. Engagement: if you've not figured this out from all the work George and his team have done then I'd say you're in trouble!!

f. Budget: this should show institutional commitment through contributed personnel, equipment, resources etc. If you expect JISC to provide all the project funding you'll have trouble getting a decent value-for-money rating.

g. Project Team: these projects will be short-term so indicating reliance on new hires will escalate the risk to your project - if possible name existing staff and use the money you get to hire people to cover them or demonstrate that you can get people quickly. If you have people working for fractions of the project, show in the project plan where and for how long they are employed.

OK, it is late and I cannot think of anything else to put down. I hope this helps you all to write the best bid possible and really do justice to your ideas.

Overview for Keywords: advice, bid, call, marking, proposals

Blogs with Keywords: advice, bid, call, marking, proposals

Posted by Tony Linde


  1. Thanks, Tony, that's really helpful!

    George RobertsGeorge Roberts on Tuesday, 04 September 2007, 22:43 UTC # |

  2. Strong and good advice from Tony. One gloss that is worth noting. Tony says:

    7. DO NOT EXCEED 10 PAGES. Anything over 10 pages for the formal proposal will be considered to be inessential - only use the appendices beyond 10 pages to back up or expand upon what you've said in the bid.

    As a marker, my heart sinks when I get a bid to review that is "appendix heavy". I think you should take great care with appendices, and, in particular, not use them for "overflow content" from your bid, which, ideally should stand on its own. So, for my money, if you use appendices, have them back your bid up, not expand upon it. 




    Seb SchmollerSeb Schmoller on Wednesday, 05 September 2007, 05:43 UTC # |

  3. Absolutely right, Seb - I'll modify the main text.

    Tony LindeTony Linde on Wednesday, 05 September 2007, 07:55 UTC # |

  4. In the last Capital call meeting I was involved with the Risk Assessment was given more prominance, I'd suggest that this area is given a lot of attention. An area that's come up in the last couple of bid marking meetings I've been to is the risk of appointing staff as it is a high risk area. If you need to advertise and appoint a number of staff this will take time and can delay a project.

    It might be worth looking at http://www.elearning.ac.uk/features/bidwriting Myself and Mark Stiles both undertook an analysis of different Strands a while back. Whilst most of the finding were commonsense it was interesting to see how many bids were out of scope, over length, missing sections etc. 

    Consortia agreements need to be mentioned and a letters of support provided from all partners, where the letters of support aren't just a generic "I support this project" type but they show institutional committment to the proposal. Costings need to be realisitic, there are guidelines on FEC and the FEC must be shown.




    Neil WittNeil Witt on Wednesday, 05 September 2007, 21:15 UTC # |

  5. Do markers follow up or read citations in footnotes?  I'm writing a bid which inevitably has to refer to various reports, other websites, existing services, and there obviously is not enough space to explain about these fully in the text, so I've used footnotes with links to the full text of reports, websites, and some papers.  I'd like to think that the markers will at least glance at some of these, which lend support to the main thrust of the bid.  Will they, though?


    Roddy MacLeodRoddy MacLeod on Monday, 10 September 2007, 19:01 UTC # |

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