Winning Research Funding

Posted on behalf of Emma Compton-Daw

Background

Winning Research Funding is a full day workshop for postdoctoral research assistants, fellows and early career academics who are just starting out on their independent research careers. Participants attend the courses to learn more about the UK/EU research funding landscape, how to tailor funding applications effectively and to discuss how to manage rejection. Alongside the external trainer and an experienced academic who facilitate the day, participants also hear from a range of academics from St Andrews, both those early in their careers who have recently been successful in securing funding and also senior academics who are experienced in assessing funding applications.

Two workshops, one for the Sciences, and one for the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (AHSS), have been held during each of the 2014/2015, 2013/2014 and 2012/2013 academic years, with a total of 57 people attending.

Results

All 57 participants were asked to complete a survey about how what they felt the long term impact of this course was, if any; approximately 40% (23) of participants responded to the survey. They were asked to rate how well they felt the workshop had on the following areas for them on a scale of 1 and 6 (1 = not at all and 6= to an extremely large extent):

  1. increased understanding of the EU/UK funding landscape – almost all the responses were 4, 5 or 6, with an average of 4.7
  2. increased confidence in writing funding applications – almost all the responses were 4, 5 or 6, with an average of 4.5
  3. increased competence at writing funding applications – almost all the responses were 4, 5 or 6, with an average of 4.5

Four of the respondents had gone on to secure research funding and in some part attributed their success to attending the course:

“It contributed somewhat in that:
– it focused my mind on tailoring my application to what the funding body wants
– and the most important bit I got from the workshop is that you should apply to everything possible, and seek out opportunities”
Early Career Industrial Fellowship from the Scottish Funding Council, via SICSA

…”making me think of what the experience of reviewers/panel members is like and how I can tailor my application to make it easy and convincing for them” BBSRC New Investigator Award

“Better understanding of details to provide in the application.” Successful application to Carnegie Trust’s Small Research Grants scheme.

Even some of those who have not been successful in securing research funding since attending this course have found it useful in the longer term with respondents reporting that it has helped them in shaping proposals, clarifying the differences between funding bodies, understanding expectations of interview committee panellists and giving them the confidence to apply at all:

“Following this workshop I did submit an application for funding under the AHRC’s Digital Transformations scheme. Although the application was unsuccessful, I wouldn’t have had the confidence to attempt it at all if I hadn’t attended this session.”

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