Make sure your research project is eligible!

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!