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Writing Research Grants Dr John Burden Research Support Services.

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1 Writing Research Grants Dr John Burden Research Support Services

2 Research Grants About a specific piece of research Ideas driven Responsive – Bottom up, researcher driven Thematic – Top down, specific area Success rates – higher than fellowships

3 Eligibility “Can I apply for a grant if I don’t have a permanent contract?” “Can I apply for a grant as PI if I don’t have a permanent contract?” Yes Maybe…..

4 Eligibility The Standard Model – i.e BBSRC, EPSRC Cannot apply as PI or Co-I without permanent contract Research Co-Investigator is possible “identified in the application as a key contributor to the project” Employed on the project Track record of bringing in funding

5 Eligibility Arts, Humanities & Medicine – More flexibility, but open competition i.e. MRC, some NIHR, ESRC, AHRC, (Wellcome) Can apply as PI or Co-I if no permanent contract Will be judged by same criteria as all other applicants, however experienced “Proposals by ECRs in such cases would be considerably strengthened by the inclusion of established academics as Co- Investigators”

6 Elements of an Application Online or paper application form Affects deadline Signatures needed? Registering on system Many pages Forms are always long Many different boxes asking for similar sounding info Need to understand what each bit is asking for Takes a lot of time

7 Elements of an Application Case for Support Background –What is the context of the research? –Why is it important (fit with the funder aims)? –What preliminary work? Aims –Research Question? –What do you want to do? –Why? (funder aims, methodological appropriateness) Methodology –Detailed multi-page programme of research –Technical (not too technical) Outcomes –What will the research deliver (funder priorities) –Be realistic, you are committing to deliver this.

8 Costing –From RSS (or other institution) –Well thought through –Realistic (ask for what you need) Justification of Resources –Why do you need what you have asked for? –Link costing to Case for Support –All costs except Estates and Indirects Pathways to Impact –Who will use your research? –How will you make sure they know about it? Management Plan –How will the project be run? –What are the risks and how are they being addressed? CVs –All named applicants Elements of an Application

9 Writing the Grant Before you start: Deadline Make sure you know exactly when (date & time) Non-negotiable Do not miss it Funder Documentation Guidelines for applicants Application process General funder documents (Mission Statements, Priorities) Give yourself enough time Writing the proposal Sign off procedures

10 Pre-submission requirements Internal Peer Review Process varies by department Initial Review (2 months before deadline – yes or no) Final Review (2 weeks before deadline – quality) FP14a / WOLF Formal University procedure must be completed BEFORE submission Managed by RSS Signatures on application Not always needed Electronic or wet-ink? Factor in people’s availability near deadline

11 Writing the Grant Never use font size or margins below minimum specified, nor web links Opening paragraph is key What, Why, How? Sets scene for rest of application Make sure proposal is easy to read  Split into sections of manageable size  Not too technical  Clear and well written  Tell a story – all the section link  “Late-night” Referee

12 Boxes with “take home” messages Use to emphasise key points Always link back to funder aims and requirements Emphasise links to strategic priorities etc Spell it out, don’t hope the panel pick it up Tables & Diagrams Need to be reasonable size Check numbers Can be very useful. Trade off against space? References Correct style and format Get feedback and use it Academics, Peers, RSS, Non-specialists Repeat process Writing the Grant

13 Philosophy of Approach – Selling to a Customer Funders are customers buying research You have to sell your proposal to them and make it stand out in a very competitive marketplace

14 Assessment Criteria: Quality (Taste, Novelty, Appearance), Impact, Track Record, Value for Money The manufacturer is applying to have its beans accepted by you. It is saying “Pick Me” Philosophy of Approach – Selling to a Customer

15 Excellent research Research has to be high quality & novel Value for money Delivers successful outcome at reasonable cost High impact Research delivers outcomes that benefit academic and wider community Strategic fitMatches what funder wants to buy Well presented Application is easy to understand and detailed What Do Funders Want?

16 Costing Research Grants Important to make sure you ask for the right amount of money Too muchNot value for money, uncompetitive, scheme limits Too littleCan’t deliver objectives, looks poorly thought out Outline Bids Many schemes have initial outline application, before main application invited Outline must be costed properly as can’t change, or stay within 10% for full application

17 Full Economic Costing Universities are required to recover the full cost of any research they undertake All grants must have a FEC budget, even if it cannot be recovered from the funder FEC has three cost categories

18 Directly Incurred Costs All costs associated with carrying out the research Staff Costs (salary, NI, pension) Consumables (reagents, glassware, computers, software etc) Travel (conferences, research travel, meetings, collaboration) Equipment (funder restrictions may apply) Other costs (equipment hire, fees, recruitment, access charges, insurance etc) Full Economic Costing

19 Directly Allocated Costs Costs incurred by the university through carrying out the research PI & Co-I time % of their time managing the project Estates Costs of running the facilities necessary to carry out the research Infrastructure Technicians etc. Not specifically for the project Costsbut supporting it Full Economic Costing Indirect Costs Other costs for running the University Library, Payroll, HR, IT, RSS etc…..

20 Cost vs Price The FEC is the amount it costs the University to do the research The price is the amount the funder will pay This varies from funder to funder Research Council Charity DI80%100% DA80%0% Indirect80%0%

21 FECRCCharity PI£10,000£8,000£0 PDRA£90,000£72,000£90,000 Consumables£30,000£24,000£30,000 Estates£40,000£32,000£0 Indirects£80,000£64,000£0 Total£250,000£200,000£120,000 Deficit£50,000£130,000 Talk to RSS about choice of funder and budget – might not be viable

22 The amount the funder is prepared to pay and the costs that will be covered will have a significant effect on the amount available for research. Make sure you know how much you have to spend on the research and tailor the project to it – offer what you can deliver with the money

23 In summary…… Start early; Talk to RSS early Give yourself time to write the grant properly Develop proposal with input from others Offer what the Funder wants; Fit research to funder criteria & budget Understand the form & fill in correctly Excellent research, value for money, high impact, well presented Work with the rules Rules on eligibility won’t change – be creative Work with others to get work funded Keep trying

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