Funding your Research Blog

How do you find researchers who want to collaborate?

A great summary of the benefits of sites like Piirus. Collaboration remains key to the research landscape in the future and Piirus offers an easy way to make connections. Well worth signing up and seeing who is out there!

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Europe in a changing world – inclusive, innovative and reflective societies

The European Commission has recently announced the latest Horizon 2020 work programme and I wanted to draw your attention to a particular strand of calls that should be of interest to academics in the social sciences and humanities. Often seen as the poor cousins in funding and especially some of the European streams this latest call provides an opportunity to develop exciting partnerships and proposals that address some of the biggest challenges facing Europe at this time.

There are four themes that will be of particular interest. Full details will be released along with detailed calls on 26 October but preliminary information can be found on the commission website for the following streams:





It is worth exploring the sub-themes on each page and making a note of priorities and any additional information. If you are interested in exploring a proposal then now is the time to start talking to potential partners and your university research support team.

Horizon 2020 – Work Programme 2016/17 approved

13th Oct

The European Commission has now released the work programme for the 2016/17 Horizon 2020 research programme. The areas of focus (perhaps not surprisingly) are European growth, jobs and competitiveness. Migration also features prominently in the new call. Further details will be released over the coming days but the overall rationale and description of the programmes can be found on the commission website.

Make sure your research project is eligible!

28th Sep

Every now and then I am approached by an academic with a full first draft of an application for funding for me to look over. I’m always happy to do this, even if I haven’t heard about the application before and the deadline is looming. I’ll always do my best to try and give some feedback.

One of my key pieces of feedback will always be to encourage them to get in touch with me (or their research office) as early as possible in future. This should be as soon as they have an idea or think they have found the ideal funder. One of the reasons for this is simply so we can help check that the academic and the research are actually eligible for funding under a particular scheme. Now this may seem pretty basic but submitting applications that are not eligible to be funded is more common than you might think one will always pop up when I least expect it. This can lead to a lot of heartache if proposals are rejected purely on technical / eligibility grounds. The idea may be great but the funder may be wrong. Often much of the work is then wasted as remodelling an application to another funder can take a considerable amount of time. Examples of the types of mistakes I have seen recently include:

  1. Applying for a travel grant to a conference within the UK when the funder only funds overseas conference travel.
  2. Looking to undertake policy analysis research overseas when the funder wants UK based research. In this case the topic was right, the location was wrong.
  3. Developing a large research application and the budget didn’t meet the scheme criteria. In this case the budget and scope of the project was actually too small for the funder concerned! For this reason I also suggest starting the budget nice and early!

In all cases drafts were written and in one case it was submitted and rejected. So next time you have a great research idea and think you have found the perfect funder do contact your research office and double check your eligibility, it can save a huge amount of heartache and pain!

Newton Fund: Latest Opportunities

25th Sep

This is simply a reminder that there are a range of funding opportunities currently open as part of the Newton Fund. The latest live opportunities can be found here. The Newton Fund’s aim is to develop science and innovation partnerships that promote the economic development and welfare of collaborating countries.

To be eligible to apply the activities funded under the programme need to demonstrate that they are aiming to contribute to a reduction in poverty, and aim to further sustainable development (development that is likely to generate lasting benefits for the population of the country to which it is provided) or improve the welfare of the population of Newton Fund countries. More information about this criteria can also be found on the Newton Fund website.

If you have a potential partner in mind and you wish to explore an application then now is a good time to start talking to your research office!

Have an idea – how do you start the application?

17th Sep

So you have an idea for a research proposal but now you are sitting in front of a blank computer screen waiting for the words to magically appear. This should be easy right? We all know it isn’t but we all know time is precious too, especially when developing a research proposal as well as continuing with day to day teaching and academic work. So where do you start?

Someone recently sent an interesting web-page to me which has a useful schematic on it that provides a quick pointer on what your research proposal needs to cover and it challenges you to produce a short summary, a couple of paragraphs long, that will form the basis of your proposal. I think that irrespective of whether you are stuck for inspiration or not this is a good place to start. The website itself is a resource targeting early career researchers and is US based but lots of the messages and ideas on it are useful wherever you might be based. You can see the website here.

The website author, Dr Karen Kelsky, has produced a grant proposal template and you can see that here. I would suggest that before you get too bogged down in funder guidance or drafting the application form I would write out the research, using the structure Dr Kelsky has provided. Once you have this, share it with someone, a colleague, a research officer, your family or a complete stranger! They will soon tell you whether it makes sense or not. Pay particular attention to the ‘Gap in knowledge’ section which is essentially the ‘Who cares?’ question. Be clear about why your research is important and should be funded.

After you have this summary you are in a good position to launch into the full application, making sure you start that budget early and make sure you give yourself plenty of time too! What do people think of the template? Is it a good place to start? Is it missing anything important?

Updates to website!

17th Sep

After a quiet (ish) summer I have started to update some of the material on the website. In particular I have added a new ‘Useful Links’ section where I have included websites that may not all be directly related to HE and research (although many are) but may be of interest as you develop your academic and research careers.

I have included a number of networking sites, ones which if used well can really raise the profile of your research and help you make connections that may lead to new collaboration and research opportunities. I’ll continue to update this as the new academic year progresses and if you do have any suggestions as to other resources that I could put on the site then please do get in touch.


Really important advice! think about the way you structure and present your research. Ask yourself the question, are you really the first? And even if you are, is that a good thing? I know it is a question I ask all the time when reading proposals that make such claims.

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