A research grant is a financial award allocated by a funder to a specific research project.
Grants are allocated to a Principal Investigator (PI), as well as multiple Co-Investigators (CoI) in the case of collaborative grants.
The PI is usually the researcher at the origin of the project idea and is responsible for the general management of the project.
The CoIs assist the PI in managing the project and are often responsible for separate aspects of the work. The CoIs can be based in different institutions and bring complementary expertise to the one of the PI.
In contrary to Fellowships, grants do not include the salary of the PI and CoIs, who need to be already employed by a research organisation.
For this reason, postdocs, who are employed on a fixed-term contract, can not apply for grants as PIs or CoIs.
Grants often include the salaries of research staff who will be hired to carry out the research, such as postdocs. Postdocs can be "named postdoc" on a grant, which means that if the grant were to be awarded, the role would be theirs.
However, being "named" on a grant doesn't automatically imply that a postdoc was involved in developing and writing the grant, which is often the case.
To address this issue, UK Research and Innovation have created a new status for some of their funding schemes: Researcher co-investigator (RCoI). A RCoI is a person who is not eligible to be a PI or CoI, but who is significantly involved in the design and writing of the grant proposal. Postdocs can be RCoIs on applications. At the time of writing, this role was supported by the MRC, BBSRC, NERC and EPSRC.
The benefit of getting involved with grant writing of course depends on your career plan. It is mostly beneficial for those seeking to become an academic PI, but can also be relevant in other sectors depending on the role considered.
Prepare for an academic career and improve your CV:
Additionally, contributing to the grant could secure your next contract if you are "named postdoc" or "Researcher CoI" on the grant, which also gives you the opportunity to negotiate the level at which you would be hired and, as such, increase your salary (this needs to be done when costing the proposal; in accordance with the PI).
Designing and writing grant applications is very different than writing a paper.
Learning how to do it takes time and there's no better way to learn than to actually get involved in the process:
Learn about grant writing at this workshop provided by Research Development
Queen's University Belfast is committed to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.
For more information please read our Equality and Diversity Policy.
Queen's University Belfast is registered with the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland NIC101788
VAT registration number: GB 254 7995 11