Presentation on theme: "Dr Luke Strongman / Aaron Jarden | 2009 Guide to making research grant applications."— Presentation transcript:
Dr Luke Strongman / Aaron Jarden | 2009 Guide to making research grant applications
How grants fit in the research program for the researcher Grant applications form one part of a planned research program They may compliment existing research projects as a separate and distinct effort Each application and project may be a stepping stone to the next Having decided to make a grant application, they require a systematic approach They can be seen as an integral part of a researcher’s professional responsibilities They are part of the researcher’s professional growth strategy to: 1.) Build credentials 2.) Establish a track-record of funding 3.) Work on teams with more experienced researchers 4.) Are a part of long-range personal development
Background: Approaching grant applications Each grant agency sets its own priorities for research and educational programs. Many have specific areas to award funding applications to. The researcher has his or her own interests. Often it’s a matter of finding where they intersect. Often you have to modify your research proposal area to match the interests of the grant agency. Research Interest + Grant Agency + Proposal = Application
Approaching funding agencies: Grant agencies vary in the information they require Basic information such as names, addresses, contact details, present occupation, present employer/CV/ information about educational background is often needed A statement of purpose or objectives for study and a rationale is often required Background context Related research/Literature review Description of how study is carried out Significance of study Resources needed Benefits of study – don’t exaggerate
Background questions to approach grant applications with: Is there an underlying legislative purpose for the grant organisation? Is there a background statement from the grant organisation of national need? Is the background statement and rationale of the grant organisation appropriately researched and referenced? Is your research project appropriate, innovative and effective? What are the objectives of your project? Are the project objectives concisely stated? Is the research measurable? Are the project goals and terms of reference clearly achievable? Is the methodology integrated and compatible with the objectives? What is the budget justification? Have you drawn-up a project management plan?
Selecting a funding agency There are different kinds: Government targeted/ bequests/ community trusts/prizes/awards/scholarships/private contracts Develop knowledge of funding sources Find the information you need to know from funding agency: Purpose for funding Closing date for receiving applications Length of consideration process The form and duration the grants take: seeding grants, project grants, targeted grants, consultancies, scholarships Application procedures (conditions under which grants are made) Accountability for money / reports on progress / termination conditions / Acknowledgment of funding agency in publications / Clarify ownership of data/results
The grant/topic match Identify your topic area Develop a list of potential funding agencies Evaluate resources Narrow your area of interest Write abstract or contract paper What organisational support is there? Internal: RF, CAD, DEAN. External: Peer review, referees Be prepared to reshape ideas based on conversations and literature reviews. Be prepared to write several drafts Work collaboratively where possible
Constructing an application framework: Each body has its own criteria Ask what will your research add to overall body of knowledge? What are the research questions to be addressed, or problems explored, in the course of research? What are the objectives in terms of answering the hypothesis questions? What is the research context – why is it important for these questions to be answered? Will the research confirm what we know already, will it deepen our understanding? Will it invalidate existing evidence or interpretations or substitute a new paradigm? Will it provide practical application of the knowledge? What other research has been done in the area?
Project concept checklist: Overview What is your project about? Why is it important? What will you do? What are the objectives? How will you do it? What will it cost? Why will it cost what it does? Why are you the best person/team to do it?
Key considerations: Aside from the basic idea, methodology and dissemination strategies are the most important aspects of your grant application. Follow research funders’ guideline for applications – if it says ‘set out your research methodology in detail’ do not write in brief Is the methodology feasible? Are the timescale and budget realistic? Be realistic in your assessment of the grant proposal aims and specifications Have a strategy for handling problems and set backs Pay attention to the aims of the research funder – grant bodies want different things, look for clues as to their requirements, be literal in your response to them Increasingly you need to justify the findings to all audiences, focus on main themes, make research accessible and useful, applied and practical Include imaginative ways of disseminating research. These days research is not just for other academics, make the research available to other user groups Generally those just out of PhD will be more suited for small grants. Don’t apply unless you have a clear idea in your head Grant applications take a long time to finish. Prepare to have your application bounced – only about 5% are ever successful
Project concept checklist: Detail Are the goals/objectives/aims clearly defined? Do the objectives taken together, define the goals of study? Are the aims written as concise, testable statements? Are the key concepts defined? Does the hypothesis when tested, address the aims of the study? Are the dependent/independent objectives operationally defined? Is the terminology used for definitions clear and unambiguous? Are the hypotheses/objectives stated in reasonable terms? Are the hypotheses/objectives based on sound theory? Are the hypotheses/objectives stated as measurable ideas? Do the hypotheses clearly predict a relationship between variables?
Necessary Conceptual Elements An innovative idea or approach A significant question Familiarity with other work in the field A clear statement of the research question A theoretical framework A methodology which matches the question A clear understanding of methods A vision for use or for benefits of research Does the project: - Add significantly to present knowledge? Does it: - Improve ways of doing things? - Provide ways to use fewer resources without loss of efficiency or efficacy?
Grant application contents checklist: Title Abstract Introduction Goals/Objectives/Specific Aims Background/Significance/Importance Literature review/Theory Methodology/research plan Grant management plan Dissemination plan Investigate team credentials/qualifications/research history Budget/budget justification References Appendices materials
Guidelines for statement of project methods: Are the methods/activities clearly related to the objectives of the project? Are the methods/activities to accomplish the objectives clearly stated? Do you have letters of support? Are there commitments for co-operating institutions with letters of support? Are the methods/activities outlined in the proposal effective to accomplish the objectives? Have the methods/activities been assigned to responsible staff? What is the timetable for research?
10 Top Tips Read the application form and take it seriously Pay attention to the granting objectives and criteria Write clearly Be succinct Avoid ambiguities Package the application material well Be honest Have your application critically reviewed by colleagues Spend time of the application
Literature review and study questions Does the literature review present important background information about the proposal? Does the literature review critically evaluate and synthesize existing knowledge? Are study gaps in knowledge addressed by the study program? Does the literature review provide the basis of support for the hypothesis or research question? Has the need for the proposal been documented? Does the literature review appear complete and up-to-date? Is the literature review logically and systematically developed and presented?
Research methodology: Design Overview of research design –scientific relationships between variables, to test hypotheses and observations/ internal consistency between method, phenomena, research question. Sample description and selection: a.) inclusive and exclusive criteria b.) recruitment plan Materials, procedures, data collection Human subjects – Ethical approval? Study validity and reliability Assumptions and study limitations Time table of key research activity A statistical analysis for each study aim?
Research methodology contd: What methods are to be used in the research? Why have they been chosen? How will you set about answering the questions? Are the research aims clear, can they be realised? Management: Does the research team have the requisite knowledge and experience? Are the necessary facilities available? Have the ethical and confidentiality issues been addressed? Is the budget realistic? Are the reporting arrangement satisfactory?
Research methodology contd: Value for money: Will the knowledge gained justify the money spent? Will the hypothesis be sufficient for a rigorous research design? Background research: Do your objectives tie-in with those of the funder? The actual idea is the key to the proposal’s success? Is it innovative, imaginative, does it make a real contribution to knowledge. Talk to people Have your own peer review process
Research methodology: Data collection instruments What is the data set’s published reliability? What is the data set’s published validity? Are they extensively used in research? Why did you chose them? Data collection strategies How will you collect them? If you are conducting interviews, what procedures would you use? Have your proposal read by colleagues in your department and colleagues in your research office.
Preparing budgets: Equipment – purchase or hire, fees, costs Computing – charges for access time, purchase of PC/software Communication – telephone/fax Salaries and wages: Researcher/ research assistant/secretarial services/consultants/data entry & analysis Stationary – paper or consumable products/printing and photocopying cots/postage Travel – Fuel Overheads – 10-20% is usually charged by recipient institution for accommodating the grant Audit fee – may be required if institution requires accounts to be audited
Preparing budgets continued: Keep salary costs limited to appropriate award for type of skills sought On-costs are included in calculations: Payroll tax, superannuation, leave loading and workers compensation insurance Contract arrangements for short-term employment flexible Current rates quoted for all consultant or professional service fees Equipment costs should be based on actual quotations at current prices
Preparing applications: Applications always take longer than you think – seek help from colleagues; read successful applications; check criteria/guidance carefully Consult sources of external funds; discuss project, funding source, timing with the Research Facilitators; Centre manager’s; Dean; Chair of Research Committee Make sure you have identified the right grant for the project Read guidelines/notes for applicants Obtain at least one copy of a successful application to your chosen scheme Identify any additional documentation required: Case for support, list of publications, CV – begin preparing Will you need referees/ nominated assessors? Identify an appropriate person – it is not a good idea to use referees only from your own organisation
Preparing applications continued: Build-up application in a series of word files and load onto form Obtain advice on your draft, send to RF, CM, Chair of the Research Committee for review Redraft in the light of criticisms received – view criticisms positively Submitting the application: Make sure you make at least two copies of the printed form A successful outcome: Money used for replacement teaching is usually managed by the centre, other monies through the research committee An unsuccessful outcome, resubmit: Don’t be disheartened, you may be funded next round Not successful: Consult colleagues, obtain advice, send proposal to a different funder, reconceptualize project, bring in co-investigator
Preparing applications/ Managing the grant Develop a grants calendar Build a track record Pre-develop your proposals Make multiple applications if necessary Follow-up on success – review why you think the grant was successful Follow up on rejection – ask the agency for feedback on application Managing the grant If successful, it is a matter for the funding agency to decide how the money is to be paid Accountability of researcher: Keep a record of what is expected (contract)/Make copyright arrangements/keep financial statements
Common failings Applicants do not have a profile for the work Applicants are from a state/city/institution that has already had a lot of contracts and the national body needs to award to a different source. Applicants fail to demonstrate knowledge of a specific context (for example current policy, or institutional hierarchies) Regardless of what is in application, the known profile of the researcher or research institution is politically less attractive than from another source Application does not address all elements of the project brief The design of the approach does not appear convincing in its ability to address objectives or appear to general reader as reliable Application itself is academic rather than ‘real world’ Application is not well presented or appears ‘sloppy’
References: Yates, L. (2004). What does Good Education Research look like? New York: Open University Press. Gitlin, L., & Lyons, K. (2004). Successful Grant Writing. 2 nd ed. New York: Springer. Hamilton, H. (1996). A guide to successful grant applications. Deakin: Royal College of Nursing, Australia.