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British Society of Gerontology Pre-Conference early career workshop Writing Successful Research Proposals in Ageing Studies


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Title: British Society of Gerontology Pre-Conference early career workshop Writing Successful Research Proposals in Ageing Studies

British Society of GerontologyPre-Conference
early career workshopWriting Successful Research
Proposals in Ageing StudiesThe Research
Journey and the Art of Securing Funding
  • Monday 5th July 2010
  • Teresa Waller

What are your career goals?
  • PhD Student Postdoctoral Researcher
    Lecturer / Postdoctoral Research Fellowship
  • Either way
  • Need to develop independent research direction
  • Will be expected to apply for funding

Role of 21st Century Researchers
  • Shift to knowledge-based economy
  • Global, contemporary challenges (e.g. ageing
  • Contribution to society as thought leaders and
    providers of new knowledge

Research Excellence Framework
  • The quality of research outputs
  • The vitality of the research environment
  • The wider impact of research

Research Councils Pathways to Impact
  • Who might benefit from this research?
  • How might they benefit from this research?
  • What will be done to ensure they have the
    opportunity to benefit from this research?

Early Career Researcher Development Needs
  • June 2009 - Report commissioned by Brunel, Royal
    Holloway and Westminster universities to review
    training and development needs of early career
    academics (IFF)
  • A total of 30 telephone interviews were completed

Members of Committees Professors
Heads of Department Early career academics
Business leaders Government/HEFCE leaders
Group Priority Development Needs
Early Career Academics securing funding managing people / managing time reputation building networking
Senior Academics wider skills (management, decision making, influencing) networking securing funding
Business / Funding bodies / Government vision communication understanding end user needs
The Art of Securing Funding
  • Personal journey of development
  • Starts long before you begin to write a proposal

7 steps to success
  • Spell out your Vision
  • Understand your Environment
  • Cultivate Mentors
  • Communicate Effectively
  • Empathise
  • Secure your Networks
  • Stay Resilient

Spell out your Vision
  • Prepare a Research Plan
  • Set out your intellectual vision and aspirations
  • Demonstrate independent thinking
  • Be strategic and creative

Understand your Environment
  • Interdisciplinary
  • Competitive
  • International
  • More Directed Funding streams

Cultivate Mentors
  • Crucial qualities
  • successful, accessible, critical, generous,
    balanced, insightful, mutual respect
  • Support
  • career advice, navigating university politics,
    introductions to partners, scientific guidance

Communicate Effectively
  • Target communications to your audience
  • (potential partner / collaborator / funder)
  • Everyone is busy
  • Be engaging and clear
  • Your research might be ground-breaking but
  • people need to want to listen to you.

Empathise 1
  • Become T-shaped,
  • especially in interdisciplinary fields
  • deep problem solvers in home discipline but with
    ability to interact with and understand
    specialists from a wide range of other
    disciplines and strong socio-political skills

Empathise 2
We look for people who are so inquisitive about
the world that theyre willing to try to do what
you do. We call them T-shaped people. They
have a principal skill that describes the
vertical leg of the T theyre mechanical
engineers or industrial designers. But they are
so empathetic that they can branch out into other
skills, such as anthropology, and do them as
well. They are able to explore insights from
many different perspectives and recognize
patterns of behaviour that point to a universal
human need. Thats what youre after at this
point patterns that yield ideas. IDEO CEO
Tim Brown
Empathise 3
  • Key Qualities and Skills
  • Lateral thinking
  • Emotional intelligence/ Empathy
  • Socio-political awareness

Research is different today, its very
competitive you have to have an awareness of
who will be using your knowledge and why, you
have to be connected, its not enough to be good
at research, you have to be a jack of all trades
and a master of them all Head of Department
Secure your Networks
  • Research is a contact sport!
  • Find synergies Find chemistries Be
  • Colleagues (e.g. Brunel Collaborative Research
    Network in Ageing)
  • Conferences
  • Knowledge Transfer Networks
  • they are saying how do I get my next grant in a
    week rather than how do I get and maintain a
    pipeline of good contacts? Government leader

Stay Resilient 1
Funding scheme Success Rate
Royal Society University Research Fellowships 5
British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowships 5
ESRC Fellowships 17
Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowships 15
Stay Resilient 2
  • Competitive process
  • Good research fails to attract funding all the
  • The best researchers are consistently rejected
  • Success in winning funding is judged over a cycle
  • About an agenda, a context and building a track

Characteristics of Successful Grants
  • Promise excellent, original research
  • Use an appropriate methodology
  • Demonstrate impact
  • Convince of capability of research team and
    ability to deliver
  • Demonstrate value for money

Useful Self Tests 1
  • Does the proposal convey the significance and
    contribution of this research ?
  • Does it tell the story I want?
  • Will reviewers want to read it?
  • Is jargon kept to a minimum?
  • Will a non-expert understand it?

Useful Self Tests 2
  • Have I made a convincing case about why this
    research should be funded now?
  • Is the research methodology appropriate?
  • Is the work programme realistic?
  • Are the outputs and dissemination plans well

Useful Self Tests 3
  • Is it clear why I should lead the research?
  • Is the role of end users clear?
  • Are the requested resources sufficient?
  • Does it offer good value for money?
  • Does it address all the funders assessment

Golden Rules of Proposal Writing
  • Know your funder
  • Set out a clear and compelling narrative
  • Convey your enthusiasm and vision
  • Get lots of people to read it

In summary
  • Be passionate about your research
  • Be dispassionate about your proposal

  • Teresa Waller
  • Research Support Development Office
  • Michael Sterling Building, ML259
  • Tel 01895 266206
  • Email