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You are just starting to write a new Horizon Europe proposal by tackling its objectives. Here is a guide on drafting the perfect objectives by a professional grant writer.

1. Start with the context

It is good practice to write an introductory paragraph before providing the objectives. In this paragraph, explain to the reviewers why they should bother with your project, which problem(s) you are trying to solve, who are facing the problems and why the current solutions, if any, are not addressing the problem properly. Then, your objectives flow logically because they address directly the challenges you have introduced. Make sure that they fit with the challenges specified in the work programme though! Also make sure the challenge you want to address fits with European policy priorities.

2. Define one overall objective then several specific objectives

You will define only one overall objective that is simply addressing the challenge you just described. The overall objective goes beyond the project duration. However, be a little precise about its scope, do not try to solve the whole societal challenge in one project.

Then, define the specific objectives, that will be addressed during the project duration. With your specific objectives, you generally outline the steps to achieve the overall objective, but they are not always sequential. In any case, the specific objectives allow to achieve the overall objective.

The most important aspect to remember is that specific objectives are narrower in scope than the overall objective and are described in a more precise way (see below).

3. Make your objectives SMART

It is not necessary to write too much text about your objectives, but make sure that for each of them you provide a quick description of how they are SMART, i.e. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timebound:
Specific means two things: first, that you define clearly what is going to be achieved; second, that it is unique, i.e. not shared with other objectives. This is your opportunity to describe the expected results of your project in a compelling and detailed way.
Measurable means that you will track the successful achievement of your objective with key performance indicators. Clearly define them and their targets.
Achievable means that it is possible to attain your objectives. Describe why by providing evidence (i.e. state of the art, consortium competence etc.) but do not give too much detail here: you will have more space in the concept and methodology sections. Remember that if your project is selected, your proposal becomes the grant agreement, which is legally binding so make sure you can deliver what you promise!
Relevant means that the objective addresses at least partly the challenge you have defined.
Timebound means you set a time line for the achievement of the objective.

4. Do not confuse objectives with methodology

One common mistake made in designing objectives is to describe what will be done in the project. This is a misunderstanding of what objectives are. Objectives are meant to be the achievements of the projects, its outcomes. The objectives answer the question “what” and not “how”, which is addressed by the methodology.

5. The whole proposal will be linked with your objectives

​Starting with defining your objectives is very important because the whole proposal relies on them. The approach/concept of your project and its methodology will allow to achieve these objectives. The expected impacts of your project depend directly on the achievement of your objectives. The work plan, i.e. the work packages will directly detail how you achieve each objective. It is actually advised to define one work package per specific objective. This simplifies the definition of the work package’s objective. The deliverables are the expected results of your objectives.

You now know more about how to define your project objectives. This is a challenging and critical part of writing a proposal so make sure not to rush on it. By carefully designing your project’s objectives, you will have much less difficulty with the rest of your proposal.