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-NashProgramme Manager, Medical Research CouncilScottish Infection Research Network10th 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 supportCost application (in conjunction with Research Organisation);Obtain Head of Department approval.Own Research Organisation approvalSubmit application to Research Organisation for final costing/approvalThey submit to MRCFunding DecisionPeer Review applicationDecision
4 Elements of successful proposals Emphasis on potential for early career investigatorsA clear rationale for the researchClarity & Succinctness keyEmphasize and re-emphasize important points and argumentsMethodology - Preliminary DataPeople, environment, training for fellowshipsCollaborationsKey measures of successful proposals
5 Making a successful application - 1 Planning & PreparationPlan 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 neededConsider regulatory approvalRead & follow instructionsCan take a year from submission to starting of award
6 Making a successful application - 2 What and Why? The HypothesisWhat is your hypothesis?Long-term “global” objective of projectWhy 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 AimsWell-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 questionsRelationship 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 knockoutStatistics and powerPresent a detailed plan of attack for each specific aimShould support costs proposed in the budgetDescribe how you will evaluate success in achieving your aimsProvide a flow of logic for each experiment’s results and the subsequent steps in the research planAddress 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 DataShows that the project is realistic and feasibleShows that you/your team can successfully do the proposed workConvinces the reviewers that your hypothesis should be testedCase for supportAddress all the relevant questionsTake account of what reviewers will be looking forWrite clearly and economically
10 Personnel & Collaboration Making a successful application - 6Personnel & CollaborationWHO 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 investmentEvidence includes:Education and trainingScientific track recordSpecific expertiseAppropriate time commitmentUse of appropriate collaboration
11 Making a successful application - 7 ResourcesIs 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 awardedThe Big Question:Are there “unwritten” limits to funding? Value for Money!
12 Making a successful application - 8 AppendicesOften contain publications, manuscripts, surveys, questionnaires, data collection instruments, original glossy photographs or colour images of gels, micrographs etcNOT to be used to circumvent page limits elsewhereBUT CHECK THEY ARE ALLOWED! They maybe removed!!
13 Making a successful application - 9 The AbstractSummary 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 reviewersMay 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 applicantsGet a second opinionProof 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 differenceStick to the key issuesRefer to parts of the application which may address concernsUse referencesOpportunity to add in extra data, publications to reassure
16 An application will fail because: Unfocused, overambitious projectUnoriginal, pedestrian approachNo clear hypothesis, or not hypothesis-drivenMethodology not sufficiently detailedProject not intellectually challengingCentre has no international standing in research areaLack of infrastructure/facilitiesTraining element incomplete/unclear; poor training environmentRight 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 researcherSign up for information feedsRegularly visit key websitesIt’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 healthProduce skilled researchersAdvance 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 researchThis 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 journalsLicensing income receipts of £85.4 million through MRCT £384 million total cash generated since 1998PeopleOver 4000 people in our own units, institutes and centres£72.2 million on training and career development107 new fellowships, 450 new post-graduate studentsWhere 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 stakeholdersA non-prescriptive agenda
22 Research changes lives Strategic aim 1Picking research that delivers: Setting research priorities which are most likely to deliver improved health outcomesStrategic aim 2Research to people: Bringing the benefits of excellent research to all sections of societyStrategic aim 3Going global: Securing progress in international medical researchStrategic aim 4Supporting 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 DiscoveryDeliveryMRC TranslationalMRC lead NIHR leadGenetics/genomicsStructural biologyImagingSystems medicineGlobal healthAgeing: lifecourseStem cellsInfectionsPopulation sciencePharmacogenomicsAnimal/human modelsRegenerative medicineExperimental medicineMethodologyGlobal healthHTA TrialsEME Trials (Late stage III)Public healthE-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 EnquiriesScientific queries via Programme ManagersDetails on MRC web-site under each Research Board:(http://www.mrc.ac.uk/Ourresearch/Boardpanelsgroups/index.htm)