Support for prospective grant applicants and recipients.
To apply for a grant, please complete the RGS-IBG grants programme application form and send this by email to the Society’s Grants Officer (email@example.com) by 11.59pm on the deadline date stated on the grant’s page.
When submitting an application, please read the guidance on the page of the grant for which you are applying, as well as that provided on the Advice and Resources pages.
Applications for some grants have specific application forms, requirements and questions of referees. Please refer to individual grant pages for more information:
30th International Geographical Congress (conference travel) Award
Frederick Soddy Schools Award
Geographical Fieldwork Grants
Innovative Geography Teaching Grants
Journey of a Lifetime
Land Rover Bursary
Please do not send supporting documents such as previous reports, these will not be used when screening the applications.
Applications will be assessed by an external panel of experts. Interviews are held for some grants. If this applies, it is stated on the page for the grant.
Some grants have specific questions we ask of referees and requirements of who should act as a referee. Please refer to individual grant pages for more information (30th International Geographical Congress (conference travel) Award, Fieldwork Apprenticeships, Geographical Fieldwork Grants, Innovative Geography Teaching Grants).
Two referee statements are required. Referee details are submitted as part of the application form.
If you are a PhD student, one referee should be your supervisor.
Please send each of your referees a link to the Referee Guidelines and ask them to send the references directly to the Grants Officer (firstname.lastname@example.org). Applications will be jeopardised if referee statements are not received on time. References form a critical part of the judging process.
Receipt of all materials will be acknowledged.
Applications are assessed by an external panel of expert reviewers. Reviewers are asked to pay particular attention to the following aspects of an application when undertaking their review:
The project’s contribution to the advancement of geographical knowledge.
The degree to which the project is innovative and original.
The feasibility of the project within the time frame and budget suggested.
Whether the applicant has the necessary experience, skills and qualifications to complete the programme of work within the time and budget proposed.
Evidence of sufficient planning in terms of health and safety, ethical clearance and permissions.
Awareness shown of the relevant environmental, social and cultural responsibilities and impacts of the project.
Justification of resources and the degree to which the budget is reasonable, appropriate and sufficiently detailed.
Below is guidance we offer in terms of applying for a grant from the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG). Many of these ‘tips’ apply to grant writing more generally and other funding schemes.
1. Is this the right funding body and grant to be applying for?
Do you meet the eligibility criteria for the grant? Is what you want to do within the remit of the grant? Read all the guidance before you start your application. You can contact the funding body if you are unsure but be specific when you get in touch. What career stage are you at? Where are you working? What are you trying to do and why is it important? Vague enquires which suggest that you have not read the guidance will not be well received! If you know of someone who has received the grant (or a similar grant) in the past, ask them if they would be willing to share their proposal so you can learn from it – how it’s pitched, the level of detail etc.
2. Have you made the case that your project is original, innovative and will advance geographical knowledge?
What are your aims and objectives? State these clearly. What are you trying to achieve? What steps will be taken to achieve your aims? Is it clear in the rationale for the project, what is known and what the gaps are that your project will address? Have you referenced the appropriate literature/past studies to make the case?
How is your project innovative and original? How will it advance geographical knowledge? Be specific. Is this a new topic? New methods? An application of an existing method to a new topic or a new location?
For Society grants, pitch your application at people who have expertise in your field as well as those who have broader research experience. Reviewers will be experts in your broad research area, however, this is the first time they will be reading about your research project, so provide a balanced overview of the background and rationale to set up the research. You should show that you have an in-depth knowledge of the research topic, methods and study location. Use clear and concise language (don’t use jargon). Stick to the word limits and check for poor spelling and grammar.
Before you submit, get someone else to read your application and get constructive feedback from your peers, supervisors or colleagues.
3. Is the methodology – field methods, subsequent analyses, timelines – clear? Is it feasible?
Make sure the approach you are going to take is explained clearly and the timeline is sufficiently detailed. Reviewers want to know the details of what you are doing and how you are doing it, when and where. This allows them to judge whether the methods are appropriate to fulfil the project’s aims and whether you will be able to practically and realistically carry out what you plan to do.
Show you have the necessary knowledge, experience, skills and qualifications to deliver what you are proposing. This may take the form of a CV. If you do not yet have all the necessary experience to complete your project, explain how you will account for this. If you are working with others, what’s their role? How is this complementary? How will you work as a team?
4. What outputs (presentations, reports, papers, data…) do you plan to generate? How do you plan to disseminate these? Are there likely to be broader impacts? For whom? Impacts are particularly important in some grants schemes.
How can you make the most of your research? How will you share it with other researchers? How will you disseminate key findings more generally? Is your work relevant to local communities, organisations, authorities or governments? Could you turn your research into a teaching resource, or communicate it to a broader audience through videos, articles, blogs and social media?
5. If you need a reference, make sure you plan for this early on. Have you spoken to your referees about your project and the funding scheme and its criteria? Are they well prepared, and do they have enough time to write a reference (they will have lots of demands on their time too)?
Some grants have specific requirements of referees so make sure you read the guidance carefully and highlight any key elements to your referee.
6. Have you provided evidence of sufficient planning in terms of health and safety?
Have you thought carefully about all the risks associated with the project, and to you and to others in undertaking it? What procedures do you need to go through for approval of your risk assessment? Specific guidance and links to external resources can be found here.
Do you have all necessary permissions in place? If not, have you provided evidence that you know what permissions are needed and how you will get these?
7. Have you thought about the relevant environmental, social and cultural responsibilities and impacts of the project?
How have you shown this? What procedures do you need to go through for ethical approvals? If you will be flying, or using a significant amount of carbon to do this project, are there alternatives? Can you justify the carbon used?
A wealth of helpful resources and information are available. Specific guidance and links to external resources can be found here.
8. Is your budget appropriate, comprehensive and realistic?
The budget should show a clear breakdown of how funds will be spent, including where multiple costs fall under the same heading (e.g. consumables), and showing volume and numbers of units where appropriate. All aspects of the project should be budgeted for and link directly to your project design, methodology and timeline. It is a key part of your application in allowing reviewers to establish whether your project is feasible and good value for money.
Have you documented all the costs you will incur? Can you justify each item in relation to your aims and methodology? Does the output of your project justify the cost?
Are these real costs/estimates that you can provide evidence for? Are all of these costs eligible? Read guidance carefully. You may not be able to apply for funding for certain elements, and the amount you can spend on equipment or lab work may be limited.
If your costs exceed the amount to be awarded by the grant, how will you cover the short-fall?
If you are a PhD student, DO NOT include the budget of your whole PhD, just the elements for which you are seeking support. For Society grants, do make clear your main sources of funding though (university, UKRI, self-funded, other …).
9. Have you followed all the guidelines?
Have you answered ALL the questions that have been asked? Have you kept within any word limits? Have you included any additional documents which may be required such as a CV? Have you reread (and reread) your proposal? Reading a document out loud is a good way to edit and reduce repetition. Always, if you can, get someone else to read the proposal to make sure it’s clear and answers the questions.
10. Give yourself plenty of time.
It takes time to write a strong proposal. And remember if you are unsuccessful, learn from the feedback to make your proposals stronger in the future.
There is a wealth of guidance to help you write a good research grant proposal. Bear in mind, some of this advice may be specific to a certain grant-giving organisation or subject field. However, a lot of the advice linked below applies to any funding application you may write.
Mendeley Blog: How to write a good research funding application
Nature: Secrets to writing a winning grant
Victoria University Melbourne Australia: Writing a successful grant proposal
UKRI Economic and Social Research Council: How to write a good research grant proposal
Wellcome: How to write a Wellcome grant application
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