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Grant applications and how best to write them!

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Presentation on theme: "Grant applications and how best to write them!"— Presentation transcript:

1 Grant applications and how best to write them!
Dr Paul Colville-Nash Programme Manager, Medical Research Council Scottish Infection Research Network 10th January 2010

2 Content Application Process and Tips The Right Funder? About the MRC
Funding opportunities

3 Application Process Choose the right funder and the right scheme
Complete application form (MRC: EAA or Web based form) Scientific case for support Cost application (in conjunction with Research Organisation); Obtain Head of Department approval. Own Research Organisation approval Submit application to Research Organisation for final costing/approval They submit to MRC Funding Decision Peer Review application Decision

4 Elements of successful proposals
Emphasis on potential for early career investigators A clear rationale for the research Clarity & Succinctness key Emphasize and re-emphasize important points and arguments Methodology - Preliminary Data People, environment, training for fellowships Collaborations Key measures of successful proposals

5 Making a successful application - 1
Planning & Preparation Plan your application – don’t rush! Moratoria! Talk to people in the know – funders, senior colleagues, successful previous applicants etc. Know the specific Aims, rough costs and preliminary data needed Consider regulatory approval Read & follow instructions Can take a year from submission to starting of award

6 Making a successful application - 2
What and Why? The Hypothesis What is your hypothesis? Long-term “global” objective of project Why do you want to do this research? Review the relevant literature objectively. Why now? Background to problem, significance; Present knowledge gap to be addressed and show the uniqueness of approach.

7 Making a successful application - 3
Be Focused!: Specific Aims Well-defined objectives and/or criteria from which the rest of the project is derived and the level of success is determined. Not too many unrelated questions Relationship with experimental plan should be clear; methodology can be introduced. Presented in a readable, often outline, form so that readers can see the precise questions to be answered and the outcomes anticipated. Aims should be “SMART”

8 Making a successful application - 4
Methods: The “Killer experiment” Prove hypothesis; conclusive approach, e.g. functional knockout Statistics and power Present a detailed plan of attack for each specific aim Should support costs proposed in the budget Describe how you will evaluate success in achieving your aims Provide a flow of logic for each experiment’s results and the subsequent steps in the research plan Address sub-optimal methodologies and offer rationale for their use ?Include timetable/ or timeline, often at the end of the section, to make organisation apparent

9 Making a successful application - 5
Preliminary Data Shows that the project is realistic and feasible Shows that you/your team can successfully do the proposed work Convinces the reviewers that your hypothesis should be tested Case for support Address all the relevant questions Take account of what reviewers will be looking for Write clearly and economically

10 Personnel & Collaboration
Making a successful application - 6 Personnel & Collaboration WHO proposes to do a project is just as important as WHAT is being proposed because a grant is an INVESTMENT not a contract. Evidence must be presented that the research team is capable of delivering a return on that investment Evidence includes: Education and training Scientific track record Specific expertise Appropriate time commitment Use of appropriate collaboration

11 Making a successful application - 7
Resources Is your research space adequate? Do you have the necessary equipment? What shared/core resources are available? Fully justify resources requested. What is allowed? Travel? Publication costs? External contract costs? Training Fees? Justify why needed –don’t just list; you’ve already done this! Do not under/over fund! Remember it is hard to get supplements for grants once awarded The Big Question: Are there “unwritten” limits to funding? Value for Money!

12 Making a successful application - 8
Appendices Often contain publications, manuscripts, surveys, questionnaires, data collection instruments, original glossy photographs or colour images of gels, micrographs etc NOT to be used to circumvent page limits elsewhere BUT CHECK THEY ARE ALLOWED! They maybe removed!!

13 Making a successful application - 9
The Abstract Summary of the entire proposal – write it last! Understandable by researchers outside the field – don’t underestimate the importance of the lay abstract either! Will be the first thing read by primary reviewers May be the ONLY thing read by other committee members; but not at MRC of course!! Will influence the way reviewers approach the rest of the proposal

14 Making a successful application - 10
Last but not least - REVIEW internally! Mentors for new applicants Get a second opinion Proof read & spell check – remember the little things count!

15 Making a successful application - 11
Response to reviewers comments - if you get past first base! A measured response that addresses important concerns can make all the difference Stick to the key issues Refer to parts of the application which may address concerns Use references Opportunity to add in extra data, publications to reassure

16 An application will fail because:
Unfocused, overambitious project Unoriginal, pedestrian approach No clear hypothesis, or not hypothesis-driven Methodology not sufficiently detailed Project not intellectually challenging Centre has no international standing in research area Lack of infrastructure/facilities Training element incomplete/unclear; poor training environment Right person - wrong project! And vice versa!! Key issues causing applications to fail

17 Content Application Process and Tips The Right Funder? About the MRC
Funding opportunities

18 The Right Funder? Many opportunities
Get to know likely sources in your field – what do they do? Keeping up to date is another skill for the researcher Sign up for information feeds Regularly visit key websites It’s good to talk! This is our mission as reproduced from our Royal Charter. The [and worldwide] is a different colour because it is not officially part of our mission – but needs to be stressed particularly as we are now the lead for global health.

19 The Right Funder: MRC mission
Encourage and support high-quality research with the aim of improving human health Produce skilled researchers Advance and disseminate knowledge and technology to improve the quality of life and economic competitiveness in the UK [and worldwide] Promote dialogue with the public about medical research This is our mission as reproduced from our Royal Charter. The [and worldwide] is a different colour because it is not officially part of our mission – but needs to be stressed particularly as we are now the lead for global health. 19

20 MRC funding MRC operating expenditure - £625.4m in 07/08
300 new grants to researchers £236 million on grants and training awards in universities and medical schools £343 million for over 500 programmes in our research units and institutes over 2000 publications in peer-reviewed journals Licensing income receipts of £85.4 million through MRCT £384 million total cash generated since 1998 People Over 4000 people in our own units, institutes and centres £72.2 million on training and career development 107 new fellowships, 450 new post-graduate students Where these figures are from and what they mean: £625.4M operating expenditure: Total Operating Expenditure from 07-8 annual report (p83) 300 new grants to researchers, £236 million: 300 new grants started in 07-8, total supported during this period is over £178M on grants + £58M on training awards = £236M. Annual Report Exec Summary (p8) £343 million for over 500 programmes: This is intramural spend. P8 Annual Report. £85.4M licensing receipts: Receipts from commercial activities and capital disposals, managed by MRCT. In MRCT filed 21 patent applications and 15 progressed to granting. Overall patent portfolio contains 130 patent families. P7 Annual Report. £72.2 million training: new commitments during post grad does not include masters. 62 new awards for clinician fellowships (not referenced in slide) – Figs from Annual Report Exec Summary (p7) and p33

21 A new Strategic Plan for the MRC
Consultation with over 500 stakeholders A non-prescriptive agenda

22 Research changes lives
Strategic aim 1 Picking research that delivers: Setting research priorities which are most likely to deliver improved health outcomes Strategic aim 2 Research to people: Bringing the benefits of excellent research to all sections of society Strategic aim 3 Going global: Securing progress in international medical research Strategic aim 4 Supporting our scientists: Supporting and sustaining a robust and flourishing environment for world-class medical research

23 The Delivery Plan and major foci of MRC activity over CSR period
Discovery Delivery MRC Translational MRC lead NIHR lead Genetics/genomics Structural biology Imaging Systems medicine Global health Ageing: lifecourse Stem cells Infections Population science Pharmacogenomics Animal/human models Regenerative medicine Experimental medicine Methodology Global health HTA Trials EME Trials (Late stage III) Public health E-health

24 Content Application Process The Right Funder? About the MRC
Funding opportunities

25 Our website www.mrc.ac.uk should be your first port of call to MRC

26 Thank you! Contacts Ourresearch/Boardpanelsgroups/index.htm)
General Enquiries Scientific queries via Programme Managers Details on MRC web-site under each Research Board: (http://www.mrc.ac.uk/ Ourresearch/Boardpanelsgroups/index.htm)


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