If given complete freedom, I would set up some preliminary notation, explain the problem while referring to past endeavours and achievement of many people and potential application and relation to others work and suggest future direction of research in an organic fashion.

Well, hell no in reality. I need to cut up my proposal into parts to fit into a framework that the fund administration forces upon everybody. What's the aim? What's the background? What innovation is there? How's feasibility? What's the benefit?

I understand why people want to know the answers to these questions except that they don't get answers by asking. How do I adequately answer the questions without explaining the problem under study first? I feel they are best answered by reading the organic version of my proposal, if the readers really care about the answers. To address broad questions, I guess the best way is to go through the motions of answering while meandering here and there until the reader forgets the question completely and feels content with all the information overload.

Problems we face are generally complicated and take time to communicate. Most often people won't appreciate the problems and it is natural not to appreciate them. People hold us in awe or in disdain depending on their mood... I'm not certain of the significance of my work either, to be honest as I don't know enough to have a big picture. I need support to learn, to explore, to solve problems on my quest...

There's bound to be waste. There's bound to be individuals who cheat the system. However tightening up the system so that the burden on every individual is heightened is not a sound solution. Waste may be reduced; so may overall productivity.

Honest and direct answers from me would be:

  • I want to study foo because this looks within reach and once it is cleared up may be useful for bar or completely unrelated. No very precise aim though.
  • List of people's work, my mentors' work and also my work.
  • Well, it has not been done before...
  • I have done some related research. If foo is a project to generalise previous work to other parallel cases, I think it should be feasible though who knows what tricky things may crop up. If foo is moving to a grander case, cannot I just try my hand before declaring defeat? Guess I'm not going to achieve victory easily. Best I can hope for is some minor progress in short term.
  • Major benefit: I get to secure my job and have a good life. Guess that's too blunt. Major benefit: Make our field more complete. Guess that's too vague.