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Funding

Applying for funding is a great way to get to do what you want, whatever it is working on a specific question or attend a particular conference, but also to demonstrate your ability to secure funding on your CV.

Grant writing is an important skill in academia and other sectors. It involves developing a sound project and a proposal aligned with the objectives of the funder. It is a very different exercise than writing a paper and requires practice and support.

You don't have to start with a multi-partner grant or fellowship but can get used to the process and develop your skills with smaller pots of money, such as conference travel funds.

This page includes:

Note that we have separate pages for Fellowships and Practicalities of applying for funding at Queen's.

Information related to training and resources to develop applications can be found in the Leadership and vision development page.

Understanding funding in the UK
UK Research Funding landscape
Support with funding at Queen's: the Research Development Team

The Research Development team supports academics and researchers applying for a range of grants and fellowships. They are in contact with funders, advertise opportunities, advise and provide training.

The Research Development team members all have their areas of expertise, supporting with UK, EU or international funding and research aligned with the MHLS, EPS or AHSS Faculties (see contacts at the bottom of this page).

They provide:

  • Newsletters: they cover up-coming funding calls in your area as well as events and training opportunities (MHLS Newsletter, EPS Newsletter, AHSS Newsletter, EU Funding Newsletter, International funding Newsletter)
  • Information sessions and funders showcases: these events provide information on some specific funding opportunities and internal selection processes ("managed bids", for which funders limit the number of applications that can come from a single institution)
  • Project design and/or writing workshops, often aligned to a specific funder call (MHLS training, EPS training, AHSS training)
  • one-to-ones: meet with a member of the team to discuss your specific situation, including recieving feedback on your draft. We advise you to have a chat with someone from the team at the start of your journey, to ensure that you are aware of all the support available to you, potential managed bids, and develop your application timeline
  • Guidance notes: these documents have been designed to help applicants with specific aspects of the process (MHLS guidance notes, EPS guidance notes, AHSS guidance notes)
Identifying funding opportunities
Finding the right call for you

There are A LOT of opportunities to fund research, travel, training, secondments, all with their own process and specificities. It can be confusing and it is impossible to know about all of them!

Thankfully, there are some ways and tools to refine your search.

Examples of where to find funding opportunities:

  • Funding Newsletters from the Research Development team (see above)
  • Research Professional database: as Queen's staff, you have access to this database of funding opportunities for free. You can search funding by using key words relevant to your research as well as the type of funding (fellowship, travel grant...) and limit responses based on the application deadline, amount of money, country etc. The database regroups information on each call, including deadlines, contact and link to the founder's website, and you can save searches and set notifications (Demos: video 2 of the Fellowship¬†Application videos and on Youtube)
  • ECR Central: this database allows you to search for funding calls for Early Career Researchers around the world, like fellowships and travel funds
  • Identify the main funders in your area of research, visit their websites and follow their social media accounts (includes big research funders but also field-specific societies and charities aligned to your work)
  • Talk to people around you, like your PI, fellow postdocs and former postdocs from your area; they likely have searched or applied for similar opportunities before
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Interested in fellowships?
Visit the Fellowships page

Contributing to grants

A research grant is a financial award allocated by a funder for a specific research project. 

In contrary to fellowships, grants do not classically cover the cost of the applicant's salary; they have to be already employed by a reasearch institution. They however often include funding to employ researchers to do the work, such as postdocs.

A grant is usually led by a team of academics from different groups, Faculties and Universities, with the lead applicant being called Principal Investigator (PI) and co-applicants Co-Investigators (Co-I).

  • Why should you get involved in grant writing?

    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:

    • Get a better understanding of the grant writing process
    • Get some actual grant writing experience
    • Get a track-record of being awarded funding
    • Develop your leadership: in some cases, you may be in charge of the management of a part of the project you were involved in designing and writing (this should be discussed with the PI when preparing the application)

    Secure future employment:

    • Secure your next contract if you are "named postdoc" or "Researcher CoI" on the grant
    • 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, your experience and contribution)
  • How can you get involved in grant writing?

    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.

    You can get involved in grant writing in many ways: proof-reading drafts, generating preliminary data, writing part of the application, co-designing aims or part of the project, liaising with collaborators etc.

    Tips:

    • Let your PI know that you are interested in getting involved; they can help you access the following points and talks through how they approach their applications with you
    • Read successful grant applications (and unsuccessful, especially with reviewers' comments), and familiarise yourself with the language used, the structure of applications and how they fit the funder's call
    • Proof-read applications and, when possible, get involved in designing and writing parts of a proposal, interacting with stakeholders etc.
    • Apply for conference travel awards, small pots of funding for public engagement activities etc.
    • Engage with training on the subject, accompanying your PI to specific workshops or online
    • When your contribution and the funder allows it, work to be listed as Researcher CoI or CoI
    • Get involved in reviewing applications (this often is only possible when you have reached a certain level of esteem in your field)

     

  • Are postdocs allowed to apply for grants as principal applicant?

    This is usually possible for small pots of money but not for bigger grants.

    It depends on a range of factors, including funders policies, and we provide more information on this in our "Applying for funding¬†guidance page".

    We advise you not to get too caught up with that; it is a very well-known fact and what matters is your contribution, not the "title". Whatever you have done for an application, you should include details on your CV to demonstrate your experience.

Other types of funding

As mentionned before, traditional research grants are not the only funding opportunities you can apply for or contribute to.

Here are other examples leading to separate pages:

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