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  1. Research funding
  2. Preparing your proposal

Preparing your proposal

Here are some useful tips for anyone considering a making grant application.

Understand the funder and the funding call

A funder may issue a call under a particular theme so you should read about it first before writing anything. Grant-giving trusts and foundations have often been founded by individuals or organisations with specific objectives in mind and you need to take these into account in your application.

Funders are usually happy to discuss proposals informally with potential applicants. They can also indicate whether or not a proposal is worth pursuing.

Read all the documentation

You should not assume anything, even if the funder or funding scheme is familiar to you. Application criteria and forms can change without warning.

Be realistic

You have to write the application, prepare the budget, obtain internal approval and have your budget checked. You need to allow yourself adequate time and you should plan accordingly. You should also make yourself fully aware of the internal approval process.

Get advice

Someone else in your School or elsewhere in the institution may have succeeded in getting funding from a particular body and be able to offer some advice. City's Research Office can put you in touch with people to whom this applies. Even if you have many successful grant applications behind you, if a funder is unfamiliar to you it's worth finding out more about them. We're always happy to answer questions and provide assistance - the earlier you speak to us, the more help we'll be able to give.

Check the date and time of the application deadline

Research Council deadlines are usually 16:00 on the day. Applications to the EU are usually but not always Brussels time (GMT/BST +1). Online application systems can become overloaded close to deadlines so you should submit in good time.

Use the correct application method

If you're applying to a Research Council, make sure that you have a Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) account. Other funders may require you to register on an electronic system before making an application - check with us first to see if City already has an account. Don't leave it to the last minute as a registration can take longer than you expect, even for online accounts.

Many funders will specify the length and format for any additional documents: word and page length, type and size of font, margin widths, types of electronic files, etc. If the funder asks you to structure a document under certain headings in a specified order, you should follow this. Ignoring these requirements may lead to your application being rejected.

Make sure you have all the correct and relevant information

Funders may ask for registration numbers or specific details about City. We already have a number of registrations with the UK Government, the EU and the US Government which can be obtained from City's Research Office.

Be clear on intellectual property rights (IPR)

You should agree from the very outset who has or who shares the IPR from a project. This will save a great deal of stress and potential argument. City's Research Office can provide advice along with our colleagues in the Enterprise Office.

Sort out the management plan

You need to set up a management plan on how different workpackages are to be handled and who oversees their delivery.

Write in clear, plain English

Reviewers, even those for the Research Councils, are unlikely to be experts in your specific field. Don't assume that they'll be familiar with your terminology. They will have many applications to review so you should make it easy for them to understand what you want to achieve. Also, reviewers for EU applications are likely to have English as their second language.

Provide the information requested and no more

Extraneous information may irritate reviewers or even disqualify an application. You should only provide additional paperwork if you have checked with the funder beforehand.

Think about the impact your research could have

Increasingly, public and private funders are seeking to evaluate the impact of their funding. You need to think beyond your personal benefit and consider the potential impact of your research on your discipline, your academic colleagues, policy-making, the economy and society at large. Research Councils in particular require applicants to think carefully about impact and guidance is provided on how to write statements on impact. Even though a funder may not ask you specifically about the impact of your research, it could strengthen your application if you include your thoughts on it.

Think about the costs early on

The amount of money you can get may be restricted, necessitating budget revisions as you work out the research programme. Budget cuts will impact on the amount of work you can deliver.