Best practice

Writing a grant application is a complicated task and the area of fierce competition for funding. It is crucial to submit a strong proposal the first time around. Below, we offer general recommendations and tips on submitting, writing style, and presentation.

This section is designed to act as a brief guide for researchers in the preparation of research grant applications for submission to external funding bodies, including the internal IAR&FR procedures and requirements. These procedures also apply to applications and proposals made by external collaborators with an IAR&FR component.

Step 1 – Identify  a potential funder and funding scheme

Please visit our Funding Opportunity Area and remember to consider the key following issues:

a) Program of work – is your area of research within the funder’s area of interest/funding remit and/or does it meet a particular scheme’s requirements?

b) Eligibility – are you personally eligible to apply? Is the IAR&FR eligible to hold the award?

Step 2 – Plan the application process

Read the guidelines of the scheme you intend to apply for.

Note any deadline for submission. Do you have enough time to prepare the application and meet internal deadlines?

Application route. Is the application electronic or paper?

Step 3 – Prepare the costing

Every research proposal that applies for external funding needs a budget. If you intend to apply for an EU grant funding opportunity, contact Research Support Office for the budget planning.

Step 4 – Write an application

Throughout the writing process you should be addressing any specific points requested by the funder:

Note the selection criteria for the call, including the weight applied to each, and how your proposal will be assessed (and by whom).

Ensure that the proposal is well-structured and addresses the expectations and selection criteria of the funder.

Use the advice and expertise of colleagues, especially those who have had successful proposals with the funder. Many funders also provide application writing guides/hints and tips on their website.

Care must be taken to ensure the case for support meets the funder’s particular requirements, such as page limit, font style and size.

In addition, you should ensure that any other documentation required is properly prepared in accordance with the funder’s specifications: e.g. CVs, justification of resources, knowledge exchange or impact statements, letters of collaboration, quotations, etc.

Final step – When you hear the outcome After the application has been submitted to the funding body, please let us know the outcome and send a copy of any correspondence you receive from the funding body to enable us to fulfill any criteria set by the funding body for the award.

Best practice in preparing a grant application

Twelve tips on how to prepare an ERC grant proposal

In 2011, I have been lucky to obtain an ERC Advanced Grant.

The European Research Council (ERC) is an EU institution that promotes high-quality research in Europe.  It funds individual investigators in any field of research – and it does so substantially: With up to 3.5 Million Euros, an ERC grant is Europe’s highest research funding for individuals – and a very coveted prize: Only about 12% of proposals get funded, so competition is fierce.

Since I got my grant, other applicants have asked me again and again for hints and samples on how to prepare a proposal.  Of course, there is no single recipe for success, but there were a few points that I found useful in preparing my proposal.  While specific to ERC proposals (and from a computer scientist perspective), these tips should generalize to several other high-profile funding programs.

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