Obtaining funding is often considered the most difficult parts of the research process. Even successful faculty sometimes fail to get funding, says Analytical Chemistry Editor-in-Chief Johnathan V. Sweedler, Ph.D., James R. Eiszner Family Endowed Chair in Chemistry and Director, School of Chemical Sciences, University of Illinois. His advice is to develop thick skin regarding rejection and to cast a wide net when it comes to funding sources.
Visualize your audience before creating your proposal, Olaf G. Weist, Ph.D., Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Notre Dame says. They aren’t always in the best mood, so take that into account when visualizing. More importantly, don’t try to make your research fit a foundation mission. It never works out, he says.
What makes your research exciting? What are you going to discover? These details help the reader visualize the benefit your research will have, says The Journal of Physical Chemistry A/B/C Letters Editor-in-Chief George Schatz, Ph.D., Charles E. and Emma H. Morrison Professor at the Department of Chemistry, Northwestern University.
Get feedback from people who’ve secured funds before, says Weist. Find out what they had in their proposal and what the agency liked. Schatz simplifies it even further. At the end of each research paper, he says, the funding agency is listed. This gives you an idea to which agencies support your field the most.
To take that a step further, Inorganic Chemistry Editor-in-Chief William B. Tolman, Ph.D., Chemistry Professor and Associate Dean of Arts & Sciences at Washington University, St. Louis, recommends serving on study sections and panels to see what makes a good grant. Seeing good and bad makes you a better grant writer. Also, it’s good to call up agency program officers to pitch the idea and have them tell you if it’s a good fit, he adds.
Checking current literature helps you target agencies that are funding in your field. Serving on study sections will further hone your writing skills for when you apply for the perfect grant. And don’t forget to try applying to smaller funders and industry!
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