Most researchers rely on grant money. And to win a grant you need to write a good application. But how does this work? In this post, we offer a few tips on preparing a research grant application.
1. Plan a Schedule
If you need funding, start planning early. Look for organisations that fund research in your subject area, find a few likely candidates and check when their application deadlines are.
Once you’ve done this, you can plan writing applications for each one. And remember to leave plenty of time for revisions and proofreading! Errors in a grant application will count against you.
2. Talk to Colleagues
When you know which grants you’re applying for, ask your peers and colleagues whether they have applied for similar grants in the past. Chances are they might have some advice for you.
And don’t forget to ask for feedback when you’ve written a first draft of your application. A fresh pair of eyes at this point will help you spot anything that you could improve.
3. Read the Rules
All funding boards have rules that applicants must follow. These range from eligibility guidelines (e.g. who the board will fund and how grant money should be spent) to rules about how applications should be organised. If you read the rules carefully, you can tailor your application to match.
4. Keep It Simple
Try to explain your work as simply as possible in your grant application. This means avoiding unexplained jargon and keeping it concise. In addition, most grant applications have a basic structure:
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A title page
An introduction (e.g. problem statement and research goals)
A review of relevant literature
An overview of methods, objectives and expected outcomes
Unless the funder’s rules state otherwise, focus on these details.
5. Emphasise the Value of Your Research
What funding boards really want to know is why your research is worth funding. Your grant application should therefore stress the value of your work, including:
What you expect to learn and how this fills a gap in the existing research
Why this is worth knowing (e.g. its academic significance or practical applications)
How you will show that your results are valid
Convince the reviewers you’ve considered these points and your application will be much stronger.
6. Dealing with Rejection
Not every application will be successful. But don’t let this get you down! In some subject areas you will have a right to reply or appeal. This lets you address questions raised by the reviewers. Use this as a chance to respond to criticism or clarify your ideas, not to dismiss your reviewers.
Even if you don’t get a chance to respond, you can still use the feedback you receive to help you improve your next application. Treating each application as a learning process will increase your chances of winning a grant in the future.