As a researcher, you know what questions you want to address and which problems you want to solve: The key hypotheses that you want to test and why these issues are important to you and your colleagues. One of the major barriers to writing successful funding applications is transferring your own passion for a particular research question to a wider audience: why should a funding agency or a set of reviewers find your research important and significant?
I worked as an academic for almost 15 years and was very successful at winning funding from both the government and the European Union. I remember that one question on an Irish Government funding application form asked: ‘Outline the significance of this research to the people of Ireland’. This seems trivial but is actually a hugely important question, critical to the success of your funding application: the money available to fund your research is sourced from national taxpayers, so you have to be able to explain why your questions are both locally relevant and of interest to the people paying the bills. What impact will my research have on the taxpayer funding it?
This issue is one of our core teaching messages when delivering Charlesworth Knowledge workshops on grant writing: You know why your research is important but are you able to clearly explain what you are working on and why it’s necessary to someone who might know little, if anything, about your research areas. Think about people you meet every day, like the bus driver or members of your family: Developing clear, unambiguous messages that sell your ideas to everybody is one key technique that will help you become a successful researcher, winning funding and enabling you to write up your ideas for publication.
How do you do this?
Think about the basic components of the research you want to complete over the period of the funding you are requesting.
Write down the key question that you are planning to address.
Break this down into no more than three associated sub-questions, or hypotheses.
Think of interesting and creative ways to explain your question or proposal objective using images rather than words.
One top tip for writing grant applications is to keep the message simple: What is the hypothesis that you plan to test and why is it important. Reviewers will not always want to read large amounts of text, so keep in mind that ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ (as we say in English). Combine this with a fundamental, simply-defined question that is easily understandable and you will be making the first steps towards a successful grant application!
The Charlesworth Group team can help you develop effective grant funding applications via our Charlesworth Knowledge workshops. We are also excited to announce the launch of our new Grant Proposal Editing Service.
These services can enable you to ensure that your funding proposals are written in clear English so that the focus of reviewers will be on the scientific content, not the language. Winning grant funding is often the most difficult and uncertain aspect of life as a professional academic. We can help.
Join us for a free webinar on Tuesday April 30th @ 10:00am or @ 14:00pm BST and learn how to put together an effective (and hopefully, successful) grant application.
Winning funding is a critical step for any research project, often the critical step!
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