Steps for Wining a Research Grant

Imagine if you have research aptitude and you are aiming for higher goals in research, then what should you do to accomplish your passion for research! There are a number of ways to remain in touch with research. The research enthusiasts after completing their degrees need to focus on new research grants that will make them productive (vis-à-vis research) and financially self-sufficient. As interest in research is growing in our youngsters in recent times, it is high time that proper guidance is given to them so that they achieve their innate research goals. While discussing this matter with new aspirants, I observed that most of them seem to be unaware about the preparation of competitive research grants and also do not have proper guidance to take right directions in research. In the West proper training is given to young researchers to compete for the research grant. Unfortunately, we do not have any professional training in our part of the world to guide budding researchers in order to make them eligible for competitive research grants. However, in recent years funding agencies and voluntary grant experts have taken some steps to build confidence among youngster to write innovative research proposals. In last 20 years Govt. of India has also taken various initiatives to inculcate scientific and research aptitude among youngsters, and for achieving these goals there are various schemes for various age groups. To maximize your chances of winning these awards/grants, systematic efforts are needed during the preparation of your proposal. It is important to note that chances of acceptance of particular research grant are very low as hundreds of proposals are in the pipeline and therefore it is important that your proposal should be extremely good enough to impress the experts.

Grant writing varies from one discipline to another, and one must be aware about various criteria for different subject areas. It is important to mention that research intended for arts needs different assumptions and criteria than the research that is intended for medical and policy making (applied research). However, there is a common framework for the preparation of research grant across the disciplines. In this write-up I will provide some tips for young researchers, which are essential for winning a research grant.

1.            Creation of Innovative Ideas: One of the primary requisite for making innovative research is the generation of ideas. The creation of the human intellect is one of the inherent capacities of human beings which has helped humans to discover fire in ancient time, to invent the steam engine during the beginning of the industrial era and more recently to invent most sophisticated artificial intelligence. The beginner in research should make sure that no one else can beat you in designing an idea. It is pertinent to mention that mere possession of academic degrees doesn’t entitle one to hold or create ideas. Sometimes, extraordinary ideas can emerge from layperson which can be transformed into if properly channelized into an industrial application. During the 19th and 20th century, the USA used the ideas of a layperson to boost their inventions. Following the ways by which you can formulate a brainstorming idea:

             An innovative idea only exists in your mind. You are the owner of your idea and you need to express this human intellect into an invention. Always stick to single most important idea which has great significance

             Your task is to present the idea in a fundable proposal. This aim can be achieved if you have identified the applications of your idea.

             Identification of problem is one of the important steps in designing an idea. The solution of a problem must be also addressed while proposing an idea

2.            General steps for preparation of Research & Development Grant proposal: As independent funding is important for carrying out innovative research, there is need for budding researchers to compete for R&D project. As researchers from our part of the world are not economically sound, the importance of the fellowships is important for carrying out innovative research. For making your case strong for R&D, one has to make proper planning. Writing a grant is just like playing a game; one has to get the guidelines, read them and follow the norms. The grant agency always wants you to identify answers which have relevance to your proposed project. You have to communicate and address ‘What’, Why’, ‘Who’, ‘How’, and ‘When’ of the proposal.

Following are the steps to make attractive and catchy R&D Grant proposal:

             The title of the proposal is very important and make sure your title is the reflection of whole proposal. The title should be catchy, creative and concise. It is important to use keywords that show the novelty and innovativeness of the proposal.

             The proposal summary is another important step where the grant applicant can attract the attention of reviewers. In proposal summary, applicant can demonstrate that the need is pressing. It should be a story telling by building your case drawing to a logical conclusion.

             The objective of the proposal is an essential feature which can draw the attention of fund provider about your aims and ambitions. An innovative and well thought out proposal has either couple of goals nor several objectives related to the goals

             Designing of methodology or study design is another important step for R&D project. It is essential that you demonstrate all the steps necessary to complete a project with each flowing logically from the previous to the next. Pertinently, 2 out of 5 proposal are being rejected because of poor formulation of methods.

             The outcome and opportunities of the proposed proposal is an essential feature of your proposal. It is important for the applicant to mention the specific, measurable and realistic outcomes of the project.

             To make more attractive and novel, you need to mention whether there is an opportunity for creating new intellectual property (IP). In addition, there is need mention which aspects of your project have the potential for getting a patent.

3.            Revision of your proposal: Revise your proposal at least three times to check errors made at different steps. Systematic revision of your proposal will lessen the chances of any major mistake that may hamper the selection of your proposal. It is always recommended to revise and proof read your proposal on hard copy.

4.            Seek expert opinion: It is must for new comer to take advises from the expert while framing a proposal. It is better to seek suggestions from an expert before submitting your upcoming proposal. It is also pertinent to mention that you should always trust few experts who have good understanding with you and are ready for help. In some cases experts having overlapping research interest with you will never guide you (properly) in order to win a research grant, and also keep in mind you should not share your concept proposal with a research colleague whom you don’t trust.

5.            Rejection of proposal is not the end. There are only 10-15% chances of acceptance, and in some research schemes chances of acceptance is very low. Under such circumstances one should keep in mind that rejection of your proposal is on cards. Once your proposal is rejected, one should take positive steps to address all the queries raised by the reviewers, and try to amend as per suggestions made by experts. The more you try, the more are chances that your revised proposal will be accepted.

In conclusion, there is an urgent need to transform academic research into the applied endeavor in order to utilize the innate potentialities of young researchers into positive direction. It is also important that budding researchers need to learn the language of grant writing so that they can pursue research independently. Let us hope that our think tanks will work towards this direction and take important decisions towards harnessing the human intellect of our region.

Dr Ummer Rashid Zargar is Assistant Professor (Zoology), Govt. Degree College Anantnag