The only thing to do with good advice is pass it on.
It is never any use to oneself. (Oscar Wilde)
So with this in mind I am, of course, going to pass on a few thoughts on how to approach writing a bid for research funding – based on my own recent experiences.
In a world where there is increasing pressure on academic staff to generate research income, competition for funding is fierce. Pat Thomson has a lot to say about what NOT to do (read Pat’s blog here).
My own reflections:
1. It takes time. Probably much more time than you think. Bid writing is an iterative process that involves liaising with a number of colleagues as well as time spent on your own deciphering the particular needs of the funders. You need to do a lot of homework – there’s no point being half-hearted about it.
2. Seek help with developing your initial idea. Even if you have an interesting idea it will still need a great deal of ‘fleshing out’. Talk to your colleagues and other researchers who have experience to draw on. Most academic institutions, the University of Huddersfield included, have a dedicated team of people with specific roles to help develop research proposals and support external income generation – seek their help early on in the process rather than expecting them to be able to help at the last minute.
3. You will have to provide a lot of information. There’s probably a template to complete that requires: your details, CV, details of collaborators, synopsis of the project, methodology, data gathering methods, approach to analysis, potential impact (beyond the timescale of the project), potential outputs, timescale, budget, justification of budget/activities and ethics. I’m not trying to put you off (really!) but it can be helpful to be reminded of how much information and thought is going to be required (see point 1. again).
4. If there’s an online submission process, start writing in word and transfer it later. This also helps because there is usually a word limit or character limit – stick to it.
5. You may need to nominate a referee, diplomacy skills are good too!
6. Just because you have a good idea doesn’t mean your department or institution will support it. It is an extremely competitive environment with wider institutional expectations. Consider how your project contributes towards meeting your organisation’s priorities or targets. Funders are also interested in knowing that the project will be supported, not just in terms of your time, but with appropriate expertise and commitment from the university. The money awarded may not cover the full economic costs; you will have to justify this in your organisation.
7. Don’t be too disappointed if your application isn’t funded. It might still be a good idea. Seek feedback from the funder – use it to develop the bid and seek funding elsewhere. If at first you don’t succeed …
I’ll leave the last word to Oscar –
Posted in Research funding