A panel of experts during a Guardian HE live chat were asked to share tips on how best to secure research grants. Eliza Anyangwe of the Guardian has collated the best bits of this online discussion and I have cherry-picked some interesting tips for this blog. The link to the rest of the tips is provided at the end of this post.
It is frustrating not to be able to tell immediately what a project is about: Make sure the following are clear:
• What your research question is.
• Why it’s important.
• How you’re going to answer it.
• How you’re going to disseminate the findings.
Develop a thick skin and an inquisitive mind: Researchers need to keep trying in the face of decreasing odds, to not be disheartened, and to be willing to take on board a bit of ‘tough love’ feedback while they search, submit, and resubmit. Couple this with an ability to identify promising and interesting research questions, to be able to structure their projects and talk convincingly and clearly to people outside their discipline, and they’ll be well on their way. Phil Ward, Research Funding Manager, University of Kent.
Don’t get obsessed with finding research funding: One thing that social science researchers (especially early career researchers) must do is to think hard about whether applying for research funding is the right decision. Even a fairly modest grant application is very time consuming, and it’s time that could be spent doing other research. It’s easy to get obsessed, especially as securing funding has become more and more of a mainstream activity, and has been written into promotion criteria and incentivised in other ways. But my advice is not to get rushed or pressured into it. Adam Golberg , Research Development Officer, Nottingham University Business School
Smaller universities and early career researchers must work collaboratively with the bigger fish: Judging by some of the delivery plans released late last year, focusing resources on a smaller number of institutions is pretty much an explicit goal of some research councils. This makes collaboration essential for smaller institutions. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s a shift away from perhaps what some academics are used to and it means you have to identify what you’re good at – what is unique that you could bring to a project – and pitch that to potential partners. David Young, Senior Research Facilitator, University of Lincoln.
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