How to write a good task description for a consortium project

Water wheel made from natural materials outside of Kranjska Gora SloveniaWith some of the first project proposals I helped to write we wrote the tasks out last, just before finalising the proposal. This was a mistake.

When you write a task description for a consortium project it is about more than describing a technique or methodology.

There are 4 things you need to accomplish with a task description.

  1. Convince a reviewer that you know what you need to do.
  2. Define the scope of a project and the resource you will need to achieve project objectives.
  3. Communicate to others what you will be doing and when.
  4. Identify risks that may hinder project implementation.

When you write a description that only explains why the technique or methodology is important and some of the technical details, you only partially accomplish the first.

It is important to describe the concrete steps you need to take to accomplish a task. This can be difficult. It requires a bit of imagination.

You have to imagine yourself and your team working on the task in the future. What do you need to do first?

You can also go backwards and begin with what do you have to do just before you deliver the final output of a task and then work back from there.

Even if you do not have the space in your proposal to be so detailed there is an advantage to listing out all the steps.

It makes it easier to judge the amount of resource you will need. It will make it clear to others what you will be doing. And, as you imagine what you will be doing, it is easier to identify risks.

The key is to think of it as an iterative process. Begin with an outline. As you begin to list out steps new aspects will come to mind.

Share early versions as widely as possible.  Unlike the first proposals I supported, I now think of task descriptions as something to start as early as possible.

Once you have it clear what you are going to do, the rest of a proposal is easy.

Scott Wagers

"The Consortium Whisperer" Physician and researcher who has spent the last 12 years engaged in developing biomedical R&D consortia, as well as designing and supporting the delivery of consortium based projects.

No matter who you are, you can, and you should innovate through consortia. They are the only way to make a big difference to the future of medicine. Want to find out how? Get in touch.