Tagged / proposal writing

BUCRU – not just for Writing Week

We’re coming to the end of Writing Week in the Faculty of Health and Social Sciences and by now you will have made a good start or have put the finishing touches to your academic writing projects. Over the last week, we have given you some tips on writing grant applications and highlighted some of the expertise within BUCRU. If you didn’t get the chance to pop in and see us we thought it would be useful to remind you what we’re about and how we can help.

Bournemouth University Clinical Research Unit (BUCRU) supports researchers in improving the quality, quantity and efficiency of research across the University and local National Health Service (NHS) Trusts. We do this by:

  • Helping researchers develop high quality applications for external research funding (including small grants)
  • Ongoing involvement in funded research projects
  • A “pay-as-you-go” consultation service for other work.

How can we help?

BUCRU can provide help in the following areas:

  • Study design
  • Quantitative and qualitative research methods
  • Statistics, data management and data analysis
  • Patient and public involvement in research
  • Trial management
  • Ethics, governance and other regulatory issues
  • Linking University and NHS researchers

Our support is available to Bournemouth University staff and people working locally in the NHS, and depending on the support you require, is mostly free of charge. There are no general restrictions on topic area or professional background of the researcher.

If you would like support in developing your research please get in touch through bucru@bournemouth.ac.uk or by calling us on 01202 961939. Please see our website for further information, details of our current and previous projects and a link to our recent newsletter.

Interreg Visit BU

interreg

On Tuesday the 21st February 2017 Interreg will be visiting BU 10.30-16.00 at the EBC.

Interreg is an economic development programme that funds innovation, low carbon, climate change and resource efficiency projects which take place across EU countries and regions. These projects aim to find common solutions to common problems which exist in multiple countries. BU has been awarded and is involved in projects from the Channel, 2 Seas and Atlantic schemes.

This event is aimed at people in the Dorset, Hampshire, Wiltshire and Isle of Wight areas and nearby cities that are new to the Interreg programme, who are confused about which programme is which, or who are just beginning to develop a project idea.

For people who are drafting an application, or who want feedback on an application they have submitted, the programmes offer other workshops. For example the 2Seas cross border programme will run a Step 1 applicants’ workshop on 27th January 2017 in Bristol, and a step 2 applicants’ workshop on 13th February, also in Bristol. These are open to all applicants in the eligible area. See www.interreg2seas.eu for further information.

Our event will be split into two parts.

The first part will include;

  • An introduction to Interreg: The Interreg programmes, how they are different from each other and from other EU funds. This will also cover the types of project that are funded.
  • Tips on how to develop a good Interreg project: Lessons from the selection process by Sallyann Stephen from The Department for Communities and Local Government, based on her experience on the Interreg project selection panel.
  • How to apply: the two stage process going through the selection criteria and the key documents involved.

The second part will have a more informal set up with interactive exercises to get you thinking, collaborating and developing project ideas.

Throughout the afternoon there will also be one to one appointments on specific project ideas with one of the Interreg facilitators. This is an excellent opportunity to develop a project and get feedback from the experts. If you would like to book a one to one session you will need to email Dianne Goodman at dgoodman@bournemouth.ac.uk. Places will be allocated on a first come first served basis, if you have specific preferences on the time we recommend you contact Dianne as soon as possible so your request can be accommodated.

Please note that to attend the one to one session you are required to send a 1 page project summary to Paula MacLachlan, 2 Seas Territorial Facilitator p.maclachlan@interreg2seas.eu no later than 14th February. Apologies, without this ahead of time they will be unable to prepare adequately for your personal one to one session.

The presentation is open also to the regional university network, known as the M3 group, which includes: AUB, Bournemouth, Brighton, Portsmouth, Reading, Southampton, Southampton Solent, Surrey, Sussex and Winchester. All academics and research offices are welcome to attend. BU will host a networking lunch for all attendees. This is a great opportunity to learn about Interreg and how you can strengthen your applications for funding. If you would like to attend, then please book through Eventbrite.

For further information on this event please contact: RKEDevFramework@bournemouth.ac.uk

*Please note as Interreg programmes operate in set geographical areas you must check the programme websites to ensure eligibility.

From research proposals to job applications: Writing tips from the European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grants workshop

Yesterday I attended an ERC Starting Grants session at the London School of Economics. Although I may never reach the heady, research heights of submitting a proposal to the prestigious, ERC Starting Grants Call (let alone progressing past Step 1, with 9% success rate!), the workshop provided a range of advice equally applicable to preparing: i) funding proposals and, ii) job applications. From the background search to the interview presentation, in many ways job applications are similar to research funding applications.

Firstly, the background search: if possible, find out who has recently received funding in your field. If applying for a position, identify previous successful candidates. What skills and experience did they have? Appreciating these will allow you write your application accounting for your own capabilities, whilst also identifying how the project or position can further your professional and personal development. Awareness of how the project/position can create opportunities to turn your weaknesses, to strengths, is an important advantage at the interview stage. Next, what are the priorities of the funder, company or institution? Does your CV fit the job roles and responsibilities? Does your project proposal satisfy the call?

Secondly, the writing: be ambitious, but avoid sounding unrealistic. Adhere to the application criteria and submission guidelines (even font-size, line-spacing, etc). Provide evidence of how your project is innovative, what makes you stand out, or what specific skills you can contribute. These should relate to the criteria of the position advert or the research call. Preparation is key; start writing as soon as possible, and expect multiple drafts. Build your proposal (or Personal Statement) logically, based on your previous research (or experiences and skills). Make the application a pleasure to read, but stick to the specific guidelines. If preparing a research proposal, use data and graphs; if preparing a Personal Statement, tell a story expanding on your CV. Ask friends and/or colleagues for comments on your application – informal peer-review in preparation for formal peer-review (the same applies when practicing your interview presentation). Importantly you want to convince those outside of your field how you (or your study) can provide a long-lasting difference.

If you are invited to interview, do your research, again. What are the values of the funder, institution or company? Who is on the panel? What is their background? Next, structure a convincing presentation aligned to your application; support each claim with an example, but be succinct and to-the-point. Maintain focus and momentum, but communicate your enthusiasm. Once finished, expect a range of technical and non-technical questions. Ultimately, interview questions will relate to the application criteria, and range from your subject-specific knowledge to transferable skills (i.e., project management skills). Finally, use questions as an excuse to show your audience what you know; view your ‘weaknesses’ as opportunities. If successful, celebrate; if unsuccessful, view as an opportunity. As the ERC Officer mentioned ‘many successful applications come from investigators who were unsuccessful with a previous application and subsequently improved their submission’.

So regardless as to whether you are an undergraduate looking to secure a placement/ postgraduate position, or a Senior Lecturer applying for research funding, translate what you have learnt from previous writing experiences to the opportunities presenting you here and now.

ERC Starting Grant Call

ERC Starting Grant – Funded Projects

EU Funded Projects – Host Countries

James Gavin, Lecturer (Exercise Physiology) – Faculty of Management

Next Grants Academy – Apply now!

The Grants Academy has been described by members as ‘brilliant’, ‘excellent’, ‘extremely educational and stimulating’ and ‘very beneficial’. It has also increased bids submissions from members acting as a Principal Investigator by 41% and 20% as a co-Investigator. Members have significantly increased their funding successes too and obtained funding from organisations such as the AHRC, European Commission, ESRC, British Academy, English Heritage and Burdett Trust for Nursing.

How does the Academy work?  Members attend an initial two day training course off campus, facilitated by an external expert bid writer with a well-developed draft proposal. The training days will cover the art of proposal craftmanship, the rules of the writing game and other invaluable information to help you perfect your proposal during the days. Feedback on these days from existing members have been very positive, ‘the workshop was the best I have ever attended’. 

Members can then further develop their proposal over a couple of weeks, gaining unlimited support from the external facilitator in doing so and the cohort re-gathers for a mock peer review panel of each other’s applications. This gives a unique insight into this process in a supportive environment and helps further refine the proposal. One member has described this session as ‘[I now have] profound insights in[to] how the system works…and to realize how that must be for professional reviewers’.  The cohort will also receive guidance about BU’s processes for applying for grants, to make sure they are aware of the support available.

What other support is given? Throughout the 18 month membership of the Grants Academy, members benefit form UNLIMITED support from the external facilitator (and in some cases additional external reviewers) which has been invaluable in helping members secure external funding ‘[His] input enabled me to produce a clearer, more logical and convincing proposal. He also alerted me to issues I had not previously considered and encouraged me to think about ‘impact’ and value for the UK in new ways’.

Members also have bespoke assistance from R&KEO in finding funding and collaborators. They also have access to a library of successful proposals from BU, a travel grant (£250), guaranteed places on Funder visits organised for them and surgeries with external facilitators. Funder visits coming up include the British Academy in early 2015.

How do I apply? To apply for a place, please contact your DDRE in the first instance.  The first cohort dates are: January 26/27 and follow up day February 16.  There will then be a second cohort: March 11/12 and follow up day April 1.

What’s the small print? When making your application, you must ensure that you are available for the 3 dates in their entirety. Membership is only obtained once all training days have been attended. Obligations of membership are that at least one proposal for external funding must be submitted within the first six months of membership. As the training days are attended with a draft proposal, this should be obtainable. Within 18 months at least three proposals for external funding must have been submitted. Failure to meet these obligations will lead to membership being revoked.

If you have any questions about the Grants Academy please contact Giles Ashton (scheme administrator) or Jennifer Roddis (scheme manager).

September: A good month for CMMPH publications

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Centre for Midwifery, Maternal & Perinatal Health started well this September with four publications in academic and practitioners’ journal.  Starting with final-year student midwife Joanna Lake who just had an article published in The Practising Midwife.1

Secondly, BU midwifery staff Jen Leamon and Sue Way together with HSC Visiting Fellow Suzie Cro also have had an article published this month in the same journal.2

Susanne Grylka-Baeschlin, a midwife from Switzerland who spent time at BU as an international visitor (see http://blogs.bournemouth.ac.uk/research/2014/07/02/latest-hsc-midwifery-paper-in-open-access/) had her paper published in BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth this month.3

And last, but not least, Wendy Marsh, based in HSC’s Portsmouth office had a paper in the September issue of the British Journal of Midwifery.4

 

Congratulations,

 

Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen

 

 

References:

  1. Lake J., 2014. Witnessing the art of woman-centred care by and exceptional mentor. The Practicing Midwife. 17(8), 24-26.
  2. Leamon J, Way S. & Cro S., 2014. Supervision of midwives and the 6Cs: exploring how we do what we do. The Practicing Midwife. 17(8), 41-42.
  3. Grylka-Baeschlin  S., van Teijlingen,  E. & Mechthild, G.M., 2014. Cultural differences in postnatal quality of life among German-speaking women: a prospective survey in two countries. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 14:277    www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2393/14/277
  4. Marsh, W. 2014. Removing babies from mother’s at birth: Midwives experiences. British Journal of Midwifery. 22(9):620 – 624.

Grants Academy to the Rescue! Last chance until the Autumn!

The Grants Academy has been described by members as ‘brilliant’, ‘excellent’, ‘extremely educational and stimulating’ and ‘very beneficial’. It has also increased bids submissions from members acting as a Principal Investigator by 41% and 20% as a co-Investigator. Members have significantly increased their funding successes too and obtained funding from organisations such as the AHRC, European Commission, ESRC, British Academy, English Heritage and Burdett Trust for Nursing.

How does the Academy work?  Members attend an initial two day training course off campus, facilitated by an external expert bid writer with a well-developed draft proposal. The training days will cover the art of proposal craftmanship, the rules of the writing game and other invaluable information to help you perfect your proposal during the days. Feedback on these days from existing members have been very positive, ‘the workshop was the best I have ever attended’. 

Members can then further develop their proposal over a couple of weeks, gaining unlimited support from the external facilitator in doing so and the cohort re-gathers for a mock peer review panel of each other’s applications. This gives a unique insight into this process in a supportive environment and helps further refine the proposal. One member has described this session as ‘[I now have] profound insights in[to] how the system works…and to realize how that must be for professional reviewers’.

What other support is given? Throughout the 18 month membership of the Grants Academy, members benefit form UNLIMITED support from the external facilitator (and in some cases additional external reviewers) which has been invaluable in helping members secure external funding ‘[His] input enabled me to produce a clearer, more logical and convincing proposal. He also alerted me to issues I had not previously considered and encouraged me to think about ‘impact’ and value for the UK in new ways’.

Members also have bespoke assistance from R&KEO in finding funding and collaborators. They also have access to a library of successful proposals from BU, a travel grant (£250), guaranteed places on Funder visits organised for them and surgeries with external facilitators.

How do I apply? To apply for a place, please contact me Dianne Goodman and I will send you a Membership Agreement Form that will need to be signed by you, your line manager and your DDRE.

The next training sessions due to take place on the: 12th and 13th of May and the 9th of June 2014 and will be the last until the Autumn

Due to our Grants Academy scheme’s success you may be added to a waiting list if no spaces are available on this training session. We are hoping to announce further Grants Academy sessions in the Autumn. You are welcome to apply and register for these Grants Academy sessions and we are happy to put your name on our list.

What’s the small print? When making your application, you must ensure that you are available for the 3 dates in their entirety. Membership is only obtained once all training days have been attended. Obligations of membership are that at least one proposal for external funding must be submitted within the first six months of membership. As the training days are attended with a draft proposal, this should be obtainable. Within 18 months at least three proposals for external funding must have been submitted. Failure to meet these obligations will lead to membership being revoked.

If you have any questions about the Grants Academy please get in touch with Dianne Goodman (scheme administrator) or Rebecca Edwards (scheme manager).

Grants Academy Next Workshops – get yourself booked in today – I have only a few spaces left!!

More about academic writing

Earlier this year (13th Jan. 2014) we wrote a BU Research Blog under the title ‘Writing about academic publishing’.  We can now add two further contributions this body of work.  The first article in Nepal Journal of Epidemiology offers some advice on how to construct a title for an academic article.  The authors (BU Professors Edwin van Teijlingen and Vanora Hundley; BU Visiting Faculty Ms. Jillian Ireland and Dr. Padam Simkhada and international collaborator Dr. Brijesh Sathian) have a wealth of experience reviewing papers and all have experience as editor board members and/or editors.  The authors are associated the editorial boards of the many journals, including: Birth, BMC Pregnancy & Childbirth, Medical Science, Nepal Journal of Epidemiology, Essentially MIDIRS, Sociological Research Online, Hellenic Journal of Nursing Science, Midwifery and Asian Journal of Health Sciences.  In our joint capacity as reviewers and editors we have seen some great and some awful titles.  The paper in Nepal Journal of Epidemiology is an attempt to improve the appropriateness and usefulness of titles chosen by budding authors.

Editorial Midwifery 2014

Editorial Midwifery 2014

The second addition is an editorial in the international journal Midwifery published by Elsevier.  Together with HSC Visiting Faculty Prof. Debra Bick we address the question: ‘Who should be an author on your academic paper?’   Still too often we hear about worrying stories from fellow academic s and postgraduate students about inappropriate behaviour related to authorship of academic journal papers.  The Midwifery Editorial advises academics to discuss authorship and authorship order early on in the writing process.  At the same time, it highlights that authorship ‘rules’ or ‘traditions’ can vary between different academic disciplines.  Thus when working in a multidisciplinary team, issues of authorship of any papers which arise out of the study should be discussed before problems or concerns arise.

 

We would like to take this opportunity point our readers to another interesting and useful BU Research Blog written by Shelly Maskell under the title: ‘How to design a completely uninformative title’ (7th Feb. 2014).

 

Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen & Prof. Vanora Hundley

Centre for Midwifery, Maternal & Perinatal Health, Bournemouth University

 

References:

  1. van Teijlingen, E., Ireland, J., Hundley, V., Simkhada, P., Sathian, B. (2014) Finding the right title for your article: Advice for academic authors, Nepal Journal of Epidemiology 4(1): 344-347.
  2. van Teijlingen, E., Hundley, V., Bick, D. (2014) Who should be an author on your academic paper? Midwifery 30: 385-386.

 

HSC Writing Retreat: Freedom to write

Today saw the first of two Writing Retreat workshops organised by HSC.  The intensive writing day was led by Ms. Caroline Brimblecombe.  Caroline is a Norwich-based training consultant and project manager, who leads workshops in the technique of freewriting, as well as on academic writing.  She holds an MA in Public Policy from the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota, and spent many years as a public sector manager and policy analyst.  She used a combination of exercises based on notions of creative writing and free writing.  The Writing Retreat offered advice and a dedicated space and time to practice academic writing.  Today’s intensive session was attended by the first cohort of HSC academics, who considered some of their challenges to writing and some of the rewards.  Not surprisingly there were more challenges than rewards, and the former included lack of time, high workload and interruptions.   Personal satisfaction and a sense of achievement scored high on the list of rewards.

Caroline suggested the participants considered ‘Serial Writing’.  This is the notion that you write regularly, hence the ‘serial’.  The idea is to create a flow of writing to help you generate content as well as a habit of writing. This will be a valuable tool for workshop participants who have committed to working with a mentor to produce a manuscript for submission by the end of July.

For those motivated staff members who would like to have a go at this.  The next session is planned for the 28th of May and there are still a few free places available.  Please contact Jo Temple if you would like to sign up.

We both participated ourselves and we would highly recommend this Writing Retreat!

 

Edwin van Teijlingen & Vanora Hundley

CMMPH

Deadline! Panic. Click Submit: Grants Academy Diary Part 3

Email flurries. Cut-and-paste frenzies. Forgetting if draft v3.1.5 is most recent despite diligent attempts to effectively dropbox. Sound familiar? Grant deadline time demands we are at our sharpest, but more often finds us high on caffeine and flung headlong into chaos. Whether one clicks submit with confidence, hesitation or blind faith, when the closing hour comes, we breathe a sigh of relief. It’s out of our hands and into the 1 in 12 success rate abyss.

Like many colleagues, I’ve been on grant teams where ‘click submit’ was done with varying shades of satisfaction. But this time, something felt different. This wasn’t any ordinary bid. This was my Grants Academy bid. A bid that had gone through three days of extensive surgery via R&KE OP’s staff development programme on bid writing run by expert consultant Dr. Martin Pickard. It benefited from Martin’s expertise, as well as the critical eyes of five interdisciplinary BU colleagues also attending the workshop. Further developed by two CI collaborators,  two external peer reviewers,  BU Quality Approver Richard Berger and the devoted attention of my research officer Pengpeng Ooi, never before had I been on a grant handled with so much personalised and professional care.  This time when I clicked submit, there wasn’t a sentence worth changing.

In two earlier diary posts I discussed the daunting task of getting started with bid writing and my (somewhat unfounded) fears of impact agendas. After the first two workshops we each went off, brains buzzing with new tips and tricks, to independently work on our bid drafts. But rather than spend hours crafting confident cases for support, those two weeks during the start of spring semester saw little time to devote to redrafting. Like the students we sometimes bemoan, most of us ended up in a last minute ‘meet the deadline’ whirlwind, turning in work we were only half proud of.

Building on session one’s tips about project formulation and session two’s insights on expressing the wider value of our research, session three provided a simulated peer review process to help us better understand how bids are evaluated and scored.  This final stage of the Grants Academy began with a discussion of review criteria, followed by a tally of the scores we gave fellow academy members, and then individual rounds of feedback on each of our six draft bid submissions. While none of us broke most research funder’s thresholds of 70% approval, few of us felt we deserved to, at least not yet.

Offering a supportive environment to watch our work get torn apart — a necessary if uncomfortable part of the bid enhancement process — day three of Grants Academy proved as beneficial as the first two. Rather than disheartening, the patterns and repetition of criticism shared across our cross-disciplinary colleagues’ reviews helped us to hone in on what desperately needed fixing. This peer review process was topped off with one-to-one feedback from Martin on where to go next with our bid’s development.

After the session a few of us stayed behind, manically typing away, not wanting to forget any of our colleagues’ sage advice. I knew my deadline was only a few weeks away and I wanted that 60 up to a 90, to fill the gap of the 1 in 12 success rate with sure-fire reasons why we deserved funding. Over the next two weeks my CIs and I racked up 57 emails, 3 hours of skype meetings and 5 budget drafts — all for just a £10,000 bid. In the words of our Grants Academy Guru, “To compete, we train.”

My biggest takeaway tip for colleagues registered in an upcoming Grants Academy session, or those thinking about enrolling, would be to come with a bid in the early to mid-stages of development. (NOT something either brand new or nearly finished.) This will allow you to get the most out of the developmental process of the workshops. Attending the sessions forces you to make time for drafting by providing structured deadlines and feedback to carry forward. I chose to develop a small Fusion Funded pilot project. 

Anna Feigenbaum is a Lecturer in CMC group at the Media School. As part of her CEMP Fellowship she created this diary of her time at the Grants Academy.  You can read her Day One Diary post here and Day Two here.  

 

“Six-hit” for PR History

Collating and editing six books on the history of public relations is one of the main projects being undertaken by Professor Tom Watson of the Media School during his FIF-supported study leave.

The books will be the first-ever study of PR’s history outside North America. Collectively the series is entitled “National Developments in the Development of Public Relations: Other Voices” and is being published by Palgrave in its new Pivot model.

The first book, Asian Perspectives in the Development of Public Relations: Other Voices, is now in production and will be published in May. It will be followed by Eastern Europe and Russia (being edited), Middle East & Africa, Latin America & Caribbean, Western Europe and a final book of essays on the theorisation of public relations history.

“In public relations literature for several decades, it was assumed that PR was an American invention,” Prof Watson said. “And American scholars nationalistically purveyed that world view. Since the start of the International History of Public Relations Conference at BU in 2010, it was evident that PR and informational/promotional communications have many sources which depend on social, political and cultural influences.

“This series will shift the historiography of PR and related methods of communication away from the US to the ‘other voices’ of the series title. It is an important development that keeps BU as a world leader in PR and media/communication history research, alongside the work of the Centre for Media History.”

Prof Watson says publication of the series should be complete by mid-2015. Each Pivot volume is up to 50,000 words and is published by Palgrave in e-book and print-on-demand formats. The publisher undertakes to publish each book within three months of its submission.

One last 1-2-1 Appointment available with Martin Pickard – Wednesday 5th March!

 

These appointments are generally offered to Grants Academy members only however we have 1 slot left. If you feel you would benefit from a ‘face to face’ meeting with Martin in relation to any bid/proposal you are currently working on please contact me Dianne Goodman  preferably today!

Martin currently has the following appointment available on the 5th of March at the following time in the EBC on Lansdowne Campus in Room EB603:

Morning

  • 10:00am – 10:45am

The appointments are approx 45 minutes long

Martin Pickard

With a career background in both Academia and Industry Dr. Martin Pickard of Grantcraft is a specialist in writing and supporting research grant applications and tenders as well as providing administrative and management support services for ongoing projects. During the last 20 years Martin has worked extensively across Europe with a large number of universities, and research institutes as well as industrial firms, ranging from small SME’s to major international companies.

Martin is providing individual 1-2-1 surgeries with any BU academic staff member and works individually and confidentiality with each Principal Investigator as the project is structured and prepared in order to optimize the application documentation from every aspect of the Funders perspective; guiding, steering and showing how to optimize the application throughout the bid process.

Academics at BU who have undertaken his guidance have stated:

 ‘his support and direction was invaluable – Martin gave me some pragmatic suggestions which really helped to shape the bid. His eye for detail made the document much easier to read and the message much clearer. I was very grateful for his input’  Assoc. Prof Heather Hartwell School of Tourism.

The process, although labour intensive, works; with a proven historical average success rates of close to 1 in 2 against norms of (1 in 8 to 1 in 10)

Book Now through me Dianne Goodman 

 

Next Grants Academy – apply by 12th of March for March/April session – only a few spaces left!

 

The Grants Academy has been described by members as ‘brilliant’, ‘excellent’, ‘extremely educational and stimulating’ and ‘very beneficial’. It has also increased bids submissions from members acting as a Principal Investigator by 41% and 20% as a co-Investigator. Members have significantly increased their funding successes too and obtained funding from organisations such as the AHRC, European Commission, ESRC, British Academy, English Heritage and Burdett Trust for Nursing.

How does the Academy work?  Members attend an initial two day training course off campus, facilitated by an external expert bid writer with a well-developed draft proposal. The training days will cover the art of proposal craftmanship, the rules of the writing game and other invaluable information to help you perfect your proposal during the days. Feedback on these days from existing members have been very positive,  ‘the workshop was the best I have ever attended’. 

Members can then further develop their proposal over a couple of weeks, gaining unlimited support from the external facilitator in doing so and the cohort re-gathers for a mock peer review panel of each other’s applications. This gives a unique insight into this process in a supportive environment and helps further refine the proposal. One member has described this session as ‘[I now have] profound insights in[to] how the system works…and to realize how that must be for professional reviewers’.

What other support is given? Throughout the 18 month membership of the Grants Academy, members benefit form UNLIMITED support from the external facilitator (and in some cases additional external reviewers) which has been invaluable in helping members secure external funding ‘[His] input enabled me to produce a clearer, more logical and convincing proposal. He also alerted me to issues I had not previously considered and encouraged me to think about ‘impact’ and value for the UK in new ways’.

Members also have bespoke assistance from R&KEO in finding funding and collaborators. They also have access to a library of successful proposals from BU, a travel grant (£250), guaranteed places on Funder visits organised for them and surgeries with external facilitators.

How do I apply? To apply for a place, please contact me Dianne Goodman and I will send you a Membership Agreement Form to be signed by you, your line manager and your DDRE. Applications close on Wednesday March 12th 2014 for the next training sessions due to take place on the: 24th and 25th of Mar and the 22nd Apr 2014

If there is a waiting list for spaces on the Grants Academy due to its success and you will be added to this if no places are available on the next cohort. If you find that you are unable to make these dates you may find it helpful to know that we have 1 further Grants Academy session which will be held on the:

12th and 13th of May and the 9th of Jun 2014

You are welcome to apply and register for the next Grants Academy session (March/April) or the session listed above (May/June) and we are happy to put your name on our list for a future session provided you can confirm at the time of applying that you have blocked out these dates in your calendar and we receive your application signed by your line manager and DDRE.

What’s the small print? When making your application, you must ensure that you are available for the 3 dates in their entirety. Membership is only obtained once all training days have been attended. Obligations of membership are that at least one proposal for external funding must be submitted within the first six months of membership. As the training days are attended with a draft proposal, this should be obtainable. Within 18 months at least three proposals for external funding must have been submitted. Failure to meet these obligations will lead to membership being revoked.

If you have any questions about the Grants Academy please get in contact with Dianne Goodman (scheme administrator) or Rebecca Edwards (scheme manager).

Grants Academy Next Workshops – Deadline for your Application to join for the March/April Sessions – 12th March 2014 – get yourself booked in today – only a few spaces left!!

Grants Academy Diary – Day Two

After completing my homework, I arrived for day two of Grants Academy ready to watch my ‘one page proposal’ get ripped apart. Day one provided a new bag of tricks and background knowledge on funding bodies and their remits. Yet, rather than feeling more confident, I seemed to have developed a sudden outbreak of academic imposture syndrome. Taking a seat around our workshop table, I quickly realised I wasn’t alone. It seemed most of us participating in the Academy went home for a round of self-doubt:  Did our research really have any benefits? Were there enough people in our research networks? Do any of us actually have the skills (or time!) to coordinate a major research project?

Day two’s session was focused on locating benefits and articulating impact. Facilitator Martin Pickard once again dove right into the murky grant-writing world: The days of academic freedom are long gone. The only way to win funding is to wade into the dark waters and train for competition.

Our first job of the day was to learn how to uncover and articulate the outward-facing values of our research. While many of us in the Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities fear that impact must be financial, Martin showed us RCUK’s list of possible beneficiaries and impacts to diversify our thinking. These include the environment, health, society and citizenship among others. While all bids must clearly identify impacts to beneficiaries, our job is to ‘potentially impact,’ not to promise world change. Most of our research is making a minor contribution to a bigger problem. The task then is to make a strong case for the minor contributions we make.

To examine how an impact agenda reshapes the ways we present our projects, we workshopped Dr. Hywel Dix’s research proposal. Hywel and his collaborators are bidding for a BA/Leverhulme Small Research Grant for a pilot study. Their research plan proposes to re-evaluate the tacit assumptions that work produced by contemporary authors late in their career is of inferior quality to their earlier work.

Martin put Hywel on the hot seat, asking him to identify impacts and beneficiaries.  At first it seemed difficult to think about this English literature project through the business-oriented language of impact agendas. But through collaborative brainstorming we came up with concrete ways groups of people would potentially benefit from Hywel and his team’s research:

Beneficiaries – Re-evaluating Literary Production in Later Life

  • Academic: scholars in literary studies
  • Cultural sector: contributes a new evaluative framework for making aesthetic judgement around authors work (i.e. impact prize competitions, Arts Council grants)
  • Students/Teachers: inform ways canonical literature is selected for curriculum and testing
  • People in later life:  placing value on these literary productions has the potential to impact people in later life with dementia and Alzheimer’s as writing and reading improves health and wellbeing

After lunch it was time for the dreaded peer reviews of our ‘one page proposal’ homework. Working in the silos of our own departments, on a day-to-day basis we rarely exchange ideas with colleagues across schools. As Communication Scholars read a Computer Science bid and a Business researchers evaluated a Social Work proposal, we realised what it takes to write clearly and convincingly outside our comfort zones. Having seven pairs of interdisciplinary eyes on each of our proposals was terrifying but invaluable. The peer review highlighted the importance of Martin’s advice to give reviewers exactly what they want to see. Use the remit and criteria to structure your arguments so a reviewer does not need to search through the document with a fine tooth comb to find key elements.

The peer review also pushed us to explain the basic tenants of our research. We easily come to take the big picture of our research for granted, when this is often what actually needs the most justification in our proposals.  We are accustomed to disciplinary conferences and peer review journals where we argue the fine points of theory, method and approach. While this does belong in the application to show rigour and expertise, without a clear case for why our research matters, we can’t win.

Anna Feigenbaum is a Lecturer in the Media School. As part of her CEMP Fellowship she is creating a diary of her time at the Grants Academy.  You can read here Day One Diary post here

Grants Academy Diary – Day One

For most of us the world of grant-making elicits more fear than inspiration. Like many colleagues, I struggle to keep up with the ever-changing cycles of remits, impact guidelines and highlight notices. Carving out the time to write a journal article already feels like a feat. So it is difficult to imagine spending months writing a document that will never be published, to enter into a competition with 1 in 12 success rate. But, whether we like it or not, the reality of budget cuts, promotion tracks and ever-growing data sets has made grant-writing an essential component of research activity.

While I’d like to claim enthusiasm brought me to the Grants Academy, it was more this ambivalent combination of frustration, fear and facing reality. Grants Academy is a staff development programme on bid writing offered to us by R&KE OPs.  After acceptance, an 18-month long membership kicks off with a two day intensive training workshop providing background knowledge and strategies for bid development. The workshop is currently run by Dr. Martin Pickard, a highly experienced and trained consultant.

Arriving at our first session, Martin began by exploiting our fears and delivering some harsh truths: Grant writing is a competition. Funding bodies are businesses. We have to sell our research. For those of us academics who still carry a critique of the marketisation of Higher Education, these words are difficult to swallow. If there ever were good old days of scholarship for scholarship’s sake—they’re certainly over.

But, Martin reassured us after dramatic pause, this doesn’t mean we can’t do the research we want. It just means that if we want funding, we have to learn how to play the grant writing game. Like all competitions, to win we need to train.

Throughout the first day of the workshop we learnt a number of different skills, including how to: use grant language, structure our research projects into measurable tasks, and move from sounding interesting to sounding necessary. For one of our hands-on activities we were asked to write a 10 point summary of why we should get grant funding. Below I offer a glimpse into how much changed in just a few hours:

Here’s an excerpt from 10:30am:

This project is on less lethal weapons which are used on a daily basis around the world to quell protest and dissent.  There is a lack of information on the human and environmental impacts of less lethal weapons in real-world situations. Through a collaborative research network, the project bridges quantitative and qualitative methods, bringing together researchers with medical practitioners, lawyers, investigative journalists and humanitarian field workers.

By the end of the day, this was shaped into my Unique Selling Point (still a work in progress):

To respond to the need for more cross-sector knowledge exchange and publicly accessible information regarding the effects of less lethal technologies, this AHRC Research Network project brings together, for the first time, a cross-disciplinary team of researchers from Communications, Geography, Law, International Relations and Medical Sciences. Employing a stakeholder-oriented approach to research networking, the project is designed to connect academic researchers with those who regularly face the real-world impacts of less lethals on civilian populations: medical practitioners, security professionals, journalists and humanitarian field workers.

While it was a long day of attempting to move from interesting to necessary, there was plenty of caffeine and amusing anecdotes to get us through. Plus, in place of triangle sandwiches, we were treated to a hot lunch in lovely Green House Hotel dining room.

Anna Feigenbaum is a Lecturer in the Media School. As part of her CEMP Fellowship she is creating a diary of her time at the Grants Academy. 

Grants Academy book yourself into the Feb Sessions – Apply by Friday 24th of Jan !!

The Grants Academy has been described by members as ‘brilliant’, ‘excellent’, ‘extremely educational and stimulating’ and ‘very beneficial’. It has also increased bids submissions from members acting as a Principal Investigator by 41% and 20% as a co-Investigator. Members have significantly increased their funding successes too and obtained funding from organisations such as the AHRC, European Commission, ESRC, British Academy, English Heritage and Burdett Trust for Nursing.

How does the Academy work?  Members attend an initial two day training course off campus, facilitated by an external expert bid writer with a well-developed draft proposal. The training days will cover the art of proposal craftmanship, the rules of the writing game and other invaluable information to help you perfect your proposal during the days. Feedback on these days from existing members have been very positive  ‘the workshop was the best I have ever attended’. 

Members can then further develop their proposal over a couple of weeks, gaining unlimited support from the external facilitator in doing so and the cohort re-gathers for a mock peer review panel of each other’s applications. This gives a unique insight into this process in a supportive environment and helps further refine the proposal. One member has described this session as ‘[I now have] profound insights in[to] how the system works…and to realize how that must be for professional reviewers’.

What other support is given? Throughout the 18 month membership of the Grants Academy, members benefit form UNLIMITED support from the external facilitator (and in some cases additional external reviewers) which has been invaluable in helping members secure external funding ‘[His] input enabled me to produce a clearer, more logical and convincing proposal. He also alerted me to issues I had not previously considered and encouraged me to think about ‘impact’ and value for the UK in new ways’.

Members also have bespoke assistance from R&KEO in finding funding and collaborators. They also have access to a library of successful proposals from BU, a travel grant (£250), guaranteed places on Funder visits organised for them and surgeries with external facilitators.

How do I apply? To apply for a place, please contact me Dianne Goodman and I will send you a Membership Agreement Form to be signed by you, your line manager and your DDRE. Applications close on January 24th 2014 for the next training sessions due to take place on the: 3rd February, 4th February, 24 February 2014.

There is a waiting list for spaces on the Grants Academy due to its success and you will be added to this if no places are available on the next cohort. If you find that you are unable to make these dates you may find it helpful to know that we have 2 further Grants Academy sessions which will be held on the:

24th and 25th of Mar and the 22nd Apr 2014

12th and 13th of May and the 9th of Jun 2014

You are welcome to apply and register for one of the future Grants Academy sessions (either February or the sessions listed above) and we are happy to put your name on our list for a future session provided you can confirm at the time of applying that you have blocked out these dates in your calendar and we receive your application signed by your line manager and DDRE.

What’s the small print? When making your application, you must ensure that you are available for the 3 dates in their entirety. Membership is only obtained once all training days have been attended. Obligations of membership are that at least one proposal for external funding must be submitted within the first six months of membership. As the training days are attended with a draft proposal, this should be obtainable. Within 18 months at least three proposals for external funding must have been submitted. Failure to meet these obligations will lead to membership being revoked.

If you have any questions about the Grants Academy please get in contact with Dianne Goodman (scheme administrator) or Rebecca Edwards (scheme manager).

Grants Academy Next Workshops – Deadline for your Application to join for the Feb Sessions – 24th January 2014 – get yourself booked in today – a few spaces left!!