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1, 2, 3……Got the Grant!

Find the right sponsor! Support for educational projects comes from a large variety of sponsors, many of which are listed in our Educational Sponsor Database. Before you start with the application, read carefully the funding guidance on the sponsor`s webpage and liaise informally with the sponsor to find out whether your grant idea meets the funding criteria. It is always worth developing a personal contact with a sponsor very early in the application process as many common mistakes can be ironed out before the submission.

FEC – what is this? Full Economic Costing (FEC) has to be done for all grants. It calculates the full financial impact of your project. The Finance Office requires the completed, or partially completed, FEC spreadsheet (which can be down-loaded from the Finance Office webpage [please insert link here]), at least 2 weeks before the application deadline. Tip: start very early with the FEC costing!

There are three types of costs:

  • directly incurred costs (all expenditure directly for the project, e.g. a phd studentship or consumable costs);
  • directly allocated costs (e.g. some of your staff time, the use of a facility or shared support staff);
  • indirect costs (e.g. space and utility costs for the University).

Charity-funded grants only pay for the directly incurred costs, while UK Research Council, Government and European grants pay for the directly and indirectly allocated costs. Hence, all projects make a smaller or larger deficit since no sponsor pays for all costs (up to 80% of the costs can be obtained). This has however no impact on the type of grant for which you can apply!

Register early with the electronic grant application system! Many big sponsors use an electronic application system, for example the Je-S system in the case of UK Research Councils. Register early and get familiar with the system. The Research Office offers guidance on the more complicated systems used by the European Union and the UK Research Councils. For many smaller charities you may only need to complete an application form on-line.

Capture the reviewer's attention! Answer the following three questions as clearly as possible at the start of your proposal:

  •  Why is it worth knowing?
  •  How will we know that the conclusions are valid?
  •  What are we going to learn as the result of the proposed project that we do not know now?

Aim for clarity! Your application may be reviewed by committee members which are not in your field. Hence avoid jargon, always clearly explain technical terms (use as little as possible) and emphasise the novelty of your approach to the problem.

Establish the context! Your application should explain what will be learned from your work what is not yet known. It is essential that the proposal summarizes the current state of the relevant knowledge in a precise and succinct manner. Do not use outdated references and do not exclude key publications which are relevant to your application. Make clear reference to the remits of your sponsor or the needs of the application call!

Have a plan B! Good proposals demonstrate awareness of alternative viewpoints and possible risks. Explain what you would do if the first approach were to fail (i.e. what is plan B?). This is very important as all sponsors need to ensure to get `value for money`.

Build a Team! If your project requires expertise which you do not have, look for a co-applicant with the appropriate expertise. Networking is often a key requirement to be successful.

Describe your methodology! Explain how the outcomes of the project will be achieved, define milestones and include a time frame for the key stages. Methodology is not just a list of research tasks but an argument as to why these tasks add up to the best attack on the problem. Keep in mind that the reviewer may not be an expert in the field, hence explain key methods briefly.

Specify your outcomes! Clearly explain the outcomes and impact of your work with reference to the remits of the sponsor and the wider public. Discuss how your research results will connect with the central question of your project? Explain how will you analyse the results and how you will disseminate them? Take into account modern, social communication methods and do not forget to cover your publication fees!

Good luck!