The chair for the event was Prof Peter Taylor Gooby, who has been involved in a number of funder panels, and was able to give useful insight into how they work. Some of the points he raised included:
- it helps if your project can 'press' both theory and practice buttons. Show that your project will be useful to both academics (and your discipline more broadly), as well as having applications outside of academia;
- For the ESRC, you only have 6 pages for your Case for Support. Make sure you get on to the methods/design/analysis section as quickly as possible. As a broad rule of thumb, you should be on to the methodology by p2. Funders want to know what you're actually going to be doing during the project.
- Try and get a balance of qualitative and quantitative research. Both can inform each other, and you can avoid being shot down in flames by a panelist who only works with one or the other.
- Be aware of - and be honest about - any weaknesses or potential difficulties. They will be picked up straight away by the panelists, so it's good to be up front, to demonstrate that you recognise them, and to show that you have in place mechanisms to overcome any problems in the research methodology.