Many research projects don’t get off the ground due to lack of funding. As budgets are squeezed, it may seem like an enormous challenge to find funding for your project.
However, a wide range of funding sources are available to young researchers – be resourceful and persistent to ensure your research gets funded.
- Utilise the networks you’re already tapped into (See ‘Getting Networked’). People who know your work or the research of other people from your institution who have worked on similar projects are more likely to provide funding than if you approach someone who has had no contact before.
- Start by finding out if your university or organisation offers funding, or keeps a database of grants. Speak to your supervisor/mentor to see what grants current/recent students have applied for and whether they have been successful, and get in touch with graduates who have recently finished your course to see how they funded their research.
- If existing grant programmes don’t look suitable, be resourceful: local organisations may be interested in supporting work related to their interests, or supporting a worthy local person. Make sure you do your research on the organisation before contacting them and tell them how they would benefit from the research.
- If you’ve received grants in the past, keep in contact with the grant provider to ensure you keep abreast of any other future opportunities. This may involve sending regular updates on your research to show you’ve used the grant effectively and that you’re grateful for the support provided.
The RGS-IBG maintains a database of grant giving organisations – have a look to see if any of the organisations listed are appropriate to your circumstances (see useful links).
Writing a proposal
A significant proportion of grant applications are rejected immediately because the applicant has applied for the wrong grant or has not included all of the necessary information. You want your proposal to be judged on the research you’re putting forward, not jettisoned because you’ve forgotten to include vital information. Here are ten points to keep in mind when making an application:
- Review the criteria carefully to make sure you are eligible – don’t waste time applying for grants that clearly aren’t suitable for you
- Answer all the questions asked
- Have a purpose (aim, objective, question, hypothesis) set in a broader context
- Provide enough detail and evidence to convince the reviewers you know how to achieve your purpose and you/your team have the training/expertise to do it safely
- Consult widely – talk to experts in country and through other networks
- Show you are prepared – make contacts, get permissions, develop a timeline; develop a realistic budget
- Referee Statements – do not leave this to the last minute – make sure referees are informed!
- Be safe and responsible – develop a risk assessment and crisis management plan; identify environmental, social and cultural impacts and strategies to minimise and mitigate these
- Demonstrate you will share your findings/give something back