- Funders look for a research application that is novel and that addresses an important research question pertinent to their strategic aims. Check funder’s websites and research their current priorities.
- They need to be convinced of the Principal Investigator’s ability to deliver and are thus keen to see clearly described aims and a well thought through project plan.
- Funders are also increasingly looking for a clear indication of what the likely impact of the research will be.
How does the funding decision process work?
- On receipt of a grant proposal, funders will identify UK and/or international academics with appropriate expertise to provide written assessment of it.
- On the day of decision-making, there is rarely enough money to fund every grant considered to be fundable and so often a ranking/scoring system is adopted such that only those ranked in the top grouping get funded.
- How far the bar comes down depends on the committee’s budget – you just have to present the best case you can to catch the eye of the funding committee.
What are the typical reasons for proposal rejection?
- Applicant is not eligible to apply/exceeding the page limits/missing documentation
- Uninvited/undeclared resubmissions which fail to meet the criteria after revision
- Lack of clearly stated hypothesis/research question
- Research question not considered to be novel
- Insufficient reference to previously published research
- Importance of research question not well argued
- Project too vague in its objectives
- Not clear how the methodologies/work plan will provide the answer to the question posed
- Unconvincing track record of applicant
- Proposal is over-ambitious
- Lack of sound methodology
- Not value for money (i.e. a quicker/cheaper way to answer question exists)
- Outcome unlikely to have much impact on the field or impact of outcomes not explained
- Proposed research would be run in isolation/in an unsupported environment
Who can I ask for further help?
Contact Caroline O’Kane in the Research Development Unit for advice on what makes a good proposal.
Caroline also runs the University’s Research Proposal Review Service (RPRS), and can advise on funding criteria, funders and eligibility issues. For the best results please get in touch with Caroline as soon as you start developing a funding proposal – the RPRS can support your bid in more ways than you think.