Friday, 31 May 2013

Recycling your Proposal

Paper, glass, metal...but where's the slot for proposals?
Given the shrinking success rates, it makes sense to consider whether - and where - you should recycle your funding proposal. At the penultimate Grants Factory event yesterday Prof Ray Laurence and Prof Peter Taylor-Gooby encouraged people to consider doing this, but sounded a note of caution.

  • Most applicants would consider recycling an application because they are passionate about the project and want to get it funded. However, their passion might blind them to its shortcomings. Make sure you take on board the feedback offered with the rejection. A dose of tough love will make your new application stronger. 
  • Similarly, a rejection might be a good opportunity to step back from your project and really think about why you're doing it. Are you passionate about the project, or have you just got on the 'funding treadmill', believing you should be submitting funding bids without really thinking whether it's what you want. If you're just doing it through a sense of obligation it's actually 'hugely depressing' when you get the funding.
  • If you are serious about getting funding, and are willing to take on board feedback, be alert to the different guidelines between the funders. It's easy to assume they're all much of a muchness, but there are key differences, and funders get angry with 'lazy' resubmissions from elsewhere.
  • Think imaginatively. In many disciplines there are a limited number of funders to whom you can submit essentially the same project. You might have to think about carving up the project into smaller sub-projects, or seek funding for a pilot to demonstrate potential which will, in the long term, strengthen your hand. Sit down and consider your project, dividing it up into activities for which funding is essential, and those for which it is desirable. Alternatively, if your application was for a visiting fellow, say, you could think about expanding the scope of the project to a network, which would increase the possible sources of funding, and potential value of exchanges.
  • Finally, consider collaboration. Not only will this change the nature of your project, and potentially strengthen it, but it may also open up alternative avenues - for example if your collaborators are in different countries. 
The final session this year is an ECR Network meeting, looking at 'balancing the conflicting demands of academia'. Get in touch if you want to come along.

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