Tagged / Grants Academy

Book Now! AHRC visiting BU – Monday 20th Jan and British Academy in Feb and Leverhulme Trust in March 2014

Attention!! Funder visits – many of you may have missed this Blog post sent by Corrina at the end of November 2013 however it is not too late to get yourself booked in….

Working on a variety of initiatives in R&KEO over the years, one element of development which we receive consistently excellent feedback, is the events we arrange where funders to come to BU and present their organisations funding priorities and advice on making an application. We have arranged for several funders to visit BU in 2014, and are re-advertising the first three in order for you to block out time in your diary now!

On Monday 20 January 2014, the AHRC will be visiting to discuss their research priorities, calls and their top tips for making a submission. On Wednesday 19 February 2014, The British Academy will be visiting to discuss proposals they fund and share their tips on making an application. On Wednesday 19 March 2014, The Leverhulme Trust which funds all academic disciplines will be visiting to discuss their grants and give advice on making an application.

Spaces on all these events are limited due to the rooms available so booking is essential! Grants Academy members can be guaranteed a space by emailing Dianne. The booking hyperlinks are:

AHRC funder visit

British Academy funder visit

Leverhulme Trust  funder visit

AHRC, Leverhulme Trust and British Academy visits to BU in 2014

Working on a variety of initiatives in R&KEO over the years, one element of development which we receive consistently excellent feedback, is the events we arrange where funders to come to BU and present their organisations funding priorities and advice on making an application. We have arranged for several funders to visit BU in 2014, and are advertising the first three in order for you to block out time in your diary now!

On 20 January, the AHRC will be visiting to discuss their research priorities, calls and their top tips for making a submission. On 19 February, the British Academy will be visiting to discuss proposals they fund and share their tips on making an application. On 19 March the Leverhulme Trust which funds all academic disciplines will be visiting to discuss their grants and give advice on making an application.

 

Spaces on all these events are limited due to the rooms available so booking is essential! Grants Academy members can be guaranteed a space by emailing Dianne. The booking hyperlinks are:

AHRC funder visit

British Academy funder visit

Leverhulme Trust  funder visit

Grants Academy – Deadline for your Application – 1st of November 2013

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, guaranteed places on Funder visits organised for them and surgeries with external facilitators.

How do I apply? To apply for a place, please notify Dianne Goodman who will send you a Membership Agreement Form to be signed by you, your line manager and your DDRE. Applications close on November 1st 2013 for the next sessions due to take place on the: 18 November, 19 November, 10 December 2013.

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 the further Grants Academy sessions will be held on the:

3rd and 4th of Feb and the 24th of Feb 2014

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 November 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 Dr Corrina Lailla Osborne (scheme manager).

Last Minute 1-2-1 Appointments Available Today with Martin Pickard – 24th October!

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 Today!

Martin currently has the following appointments available on the 24th of October at the following times at Lansdowne Campus:

Morning

  • 10:45am – 11:30am

Afternoon

  • 14:45pm – 15:30pm

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 – Martin’s appointments are always popular.

 

Boost your bid writing confidence – the Grants Academy way

Before arriving for the Grants Academy day, I had had little interaction with this group at BU. I had procured some experience with small grant writing, but it is a lonely affair and it wasn’t always clear where to go for advice amongst colleagues or exactly how to go about pitching particular ideas to targeted funding bodies. The first day arriving for croissant and coffee, ice was broken very quickly as academics chatted about their interest research ideas and general experience at the university. It’s always amazing to me just how relevant distant subject areas of enquiry can be to your own area of expertise and talk of possible collaborative work soon emerged.

Martin Pickard, then launched into his explanation of the art and approach to guiding funding applications through the hidden maze of funding bodies’, expectations, remits and landscapes. It left me with a sudden realisation that there were indeed straightforward ways to fundamentally alter my approach that could lead to much greater chances. It was like having always played chess rather badly, but being shown just 5 key moves that conferred dramatic changes to your chances of winning. It was quite an eye opening and positive experience.

In addition to this sea change in approach, the venue, food, coffee, chocolate biscuits (particularly) and atmosphere of openness and support from Dianne and Caroline and the other participants enabled relaxed and informative discussion and a real boost in confidence concerning writing grants.

The support has kept coming and follow up workshops are in the offing. I can’t recommend this support opportunity at BU enough.

Submitted by Dave Newell (AECC)

Dave joined the Grants Academy in January 2013, and attended a 2-day bid writing workshop led by Dr Martin Pickard.    For more information about the scheme please visit the Grants Academy page on the research blog.

Time for research? Or how I stopped worrying and learned to love writing

If I could just work out that perfect sentence I would start writing. Well, if I had the time to think of the perfect sentence that is, because I have emails to answer, and teaching (and emails) and marking (and emails) and meetings and students to see (and emails). But that’s ok, I’ve got a research day later this week, I’ll start writing then.

 With apologies to Jane Austen, it does seem to be a truth universally acknowledged, that there are (at least) 101 reasons why we don’t write. The biggest one perhaps for me, is that fundamentally I find writing hard.  That’s not to say I don’t do it. But there is definitely more (and better) that I would like to write if only I had the time. This blogpost itself is something that I may have put off until an absolute deadline, or until I’d worked out perfectly what I wanted to say (I don’t want to show myself up in front of my lovely new colleagues) but I am happily writing the first draft of this, without waiting for that perfect starting point, sat in the library with a couple of friends, who are also writing. So what’s happened?

I have been reading and thinking a lot about writing for quite a while. Indeed for a long time I have really enjoyed thinking about writing; I had a romantic Sartrean ideal of sitting round in a cafe, thinking wise things, smoking, drinking coffee, and producing works of utter brilliance. (That I wasn’t writing like de Beauvoir and friends was also another source of frustration!!).  Some of the reading and thinking I did was about style; how could I improve the quality of my writing? I came across this book by Helen Sword which has already been blogged about here. But I was also thinking about my motivation for writing and how I could improve it. I love George Orwell’s Why I Write but I felt he didn’t really give me any practical ‘top tips’

In my previous academic job, my ‘research day’ was often a Thursday.  Some Thursdays I was super productive. Fine and good. But some Thursdays I’d start the day listening to the Today programme, with a cup of coffee and mulling over what I was going to do that day. So I’d do my emails. And while doing that the radio would segue into In Our Time, and then of course Woman’s Hour (it should be said these were both programmes I was oblivious too until I had research days). I’d be doing emails, admin, dealing with students etc, so was technically working. I just wasn’t doing any research writing. I would get started maybe late morning, just before lunch. Or maybe I’d have a walk and then start after lunch. Or maybe I’d do a bit more reading first. Now don’t get me wrong, I do have publications, and I do get my writing done, but I’ve never really found it enjoyable.  Writing was something I could very easily procrastinate over (a friend sent this amusing video on procrastination) which of course would then mean I’d also then beat myself up at the end of the day.  This wasn’t every time I sat down to write, but it certainly did happen more often than I felt comfortable with. And then, during one of my research related procrastination detours, I was on a website when I came across this book called How To Write a Lot. Written by an academic, this book helped me rethink my working practices in respect of writing (and was probably the best £6 I have spent in a long time!).

And then a second stroke of luck.  Last week, supported by the Politics Research Group in the Media School, we ran a writing retreat. The first day was run by a facilitator. Now I have been on training sessions where I am feeling I already have too much to do, and that working time (and especially that elusive writing time) is being lost while I am in the session. Yet the beauty of the retreat was that we were encouraged to take along a piece of writing that we were working on.  What was important too was that it didn’t matter that in the session we had different research interests or that we were writing on different topics.  A colleague produced two book proposals and a grant proposal. In one day! Another colleague wrote 4200 words. And I managed just over 3000 words. And this wasn’t 7 or 8 hours solid writing. This was in less than 3 hours in total.  Now these weren’t perfect words, well mine certainly weren’t. And I also didn’t have my perfect opening sentence. But I did have something to work with. And now less than one week later, I have an 8000 or so word chapter that I have sent across to my co-editor. In short we all produced MORE on a training session than we would have done if we had been working in our offices for the day.

 I have written everyday since that retreat and am now starting an article and a research proposal.  I don’t feel daunted by the prospect; in fact I am really enjoying it. It’s just lovely typing away with my writing friends and I am also happy writing on my own. It’s a great combination. I have discovered that I actually like writing and a whole world has opened up to me.  I am not religious (apart from our census form on which all of my family are heavy metal), but it does feel strangely like some kind of Damascene conversion.

Heather Savigny

Senior lecturer in politics

Media School

How to network workshop – places available

Networking is crucial in academic life and critical for participation in funded research. In today’s world, to develop a strong academic career, publications aren’t enough; network relations can play a huge role.  Being well connected and carrying out research in cooperative partnerships significantly increases your chances of attaining a professorship and will allow you to grow your research career by participating in a range of multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary projects.

Networking can be daunting and exhausting. To help you identify key players and how best to approach them as well as learning  how to network effectively with a range of stakeholders, expert Dr Martin Pickard of Grantcraft will deliver 3 hours (9.30am-1.30pm, which includes an hour for lunch) of  fantastic guidance in this session on Lansdowne campus (Studland House), on Wednesday, 20th February.

Important booking information:

Booking is essential through the Staff Development website.

The link should be now be working correctly however if you have not received a reminder from Staff Development prior to the event please feel free to also email Dianne Goodman direct.

If you have already booked on to this session please note:

As you may be aware Staff Development encountered some problems with their main booking site around Oct – Nov 2012. So if you have previously booked onto this Networking session we recommend you email Dianne Goodman to check your name is on our current list.

Dr Maharaj Vijay Reddy to assess the impact of the Japanese Tohoku Tsunami

Congratulations to Dr Maharaj Vijay Reddy from the School of Tourism who has received a small grant from the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation (GBSF) London for his pilot research on the impact of the Tohoku Pacific Tsunami.

The Tohoku Pacific earthquake (8.9 magnitude) and the tsunami that followed have had catastrophic impacts on Japan creating economic, nuclear and humanitarian crises in 2011. It has made detrimental impacts on the infrastructure, economy, environment, society and culture of North Eastern Japan. The forthcoming pilot project by Dr Reddy aims to explore the nature of the impact on the tourism industry of the North East Japan, identify local collaboration and the priorities for future in-depth research to benefit the socio-economic revival of the tourism dependent communities and local businesses in North East Japan.

Dr Reddy commented ‘the small grant from the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation will hugely help me to investigate the Japanese tsunami impacts on tourism and develop local collaboration with researchers in Japan for in-depth research’. Dr Reddy is a member of BU’s Grants Academy and is an expert working on natural disasters. He has successfully conducted larger projects for international agencies including UNESCO HQ Paris on the 2004 Asian tsunami, the worst natural disaster in the recent history.

RCUK success rates published! Exciting news!

RCUK logoLast week the Research Councils published their success rates for the period April 2011 to March 2012. The key message seems to be that demand management measures are working; most Councils have seem a decline in the number of applications and a rise in success rates, despite a decrease in the amount of funding allocated.

Demand management, the term given to the steps taken by RCUK and the Research Councils to reduce the amount of applications they receive, now features in the plans of all of the Research Councils. This is because the Research Councils are receiving more applications that they are able to support and research institutions currently submit more applications than are likely to be funded. The costs of administering such large quantities of applications is a huge burden for the Research Councils and reduces the amount of money available to fund research. Large quantities of applications also place a heavy burden on the peer reviewers, thus increasing the risk that the quality of decision-making could be compromised. RCUK note that “there are some proposals submitted which have little or no chance of success” and that steps should be taken at both applicant and institution level to pre-sift these proposals prior to submission, therefore reducing the volume of applications submitted to Research Councils.

Read more about the demand management measures that the Research Councils have put in place here: Demand Management

The table on the right shows the success rates over the past three years for the four main Research Councils to which BU makes applications – AHRC, EPSRC, ESRC and NERC. For all Councils, bar the ESRC, the success rate has increased year on year although it is worth noting that the ESRC claim that since they started requiring institutions to sift applications prior to submission (June 2011) it has recorded an overall success rate of 24%. We will have to wait until the 2012-13 success rates are published to see if this trend follows through into the statistics for the year, but the early signs are promising.

In 2010-11 BU’s success rate with Research Councils was 0%, despite 16 applications being submitted. This year we have submitted less applications (10) and our success rate has increased to 10% – which is excellent news! The successful application was written with advice and guidance from Dr Martin Pickard who facilitates our Grants Academy workshops. Whilst there are many reasons why grants are awarded this is a good sign that the advice given during these workshops and on individual proposals is beneficial and can help make your proposal a success. BU has had more grants awarded from the Research Councils over the past year, however the stats only show against the lead institution so successful bids where BU is the collaborating institution are not shown against BU in the data.

The key message here is to spend time writing and refining fewer applications, making use of the support available (such as the internal peer review and the Grants Academy), and making sure your applications are of as high a quality as possible prior to submission.

BU is especially keen to reduce the number of bids submitted to Research Councils whilst significantly increasing the quality of those which are submitted. BU initiatives, such as the internal peer review scheme (RPRS) and the Grants Academy, have been specifically established to support academics to design, write and structure competitive, fundable research proposals and to maximise their chances of being awarded funding. It is excellent to see that these initiatives are so popular amongst academic colleagues and I would encourage you to make use of the support available.

Read more about the 2011-12 success rates on the Times Higher website: Limit on demand lifts grant award success rates and Hard line pays dividends (but not hard cash

 

Pool of external bid advisers – nominations sought!

As part of the Grants Academy programme we’re looking to set up a pool of external experts who can provide reviews of drafts of funding proposals for Academy members which will help develop bid writing skills and hopefully increase our chance of winning grants. Dr Martin Pickard (who facilitates the Grants Academy workshops) will provide some of this support, particularly for EC bids, however we are also setting up a pool of external reviewers with experience in different disciplines and of different funders who can be called upon to offer their advice.

I am interested to know whether any BU academics would be willing to nominate any of their external peers to potentially be invited to join the pool of external reviewers.

Nominations should be for senor academics who are experts in their field with significant experience of winning grant funding and/or significant experience of sitting on review panels. To avoid potential conflicts of interest it would be ideal if these people are recently retired or semi-retired, however this is not essential.

If you can think of anyone who would be suitable please could you email me their details.

Joseph Rowntree Trust session – slides available

Thank you to everyone who came to the Joseph Rowntree Trust session yesterday, presented by Tony Stoller – Chair of the Board of Trustees.  Tony gave an extremely informative overview of the varied and fascinating work of the JR Trust and Housing Foundation.

 Please click here to access the slides:   JRF presentation – 10th October 2012

Funding:  It is worth re-iterating that the Joseph Rowntree Foundation is not a grant-making organisation and generally does not accept speculative enquiries for funding.The JRF issues ‘calls for proposals’ and invites submissions to them.   Via the JRF website you can sign up for alerts – this is the best way to keep in touch with the latest funding opportunities.

If you have any questions about JRF and their work please contact Tony Stoller himself:

tstoller@bournemouth.ac.uk

 or even better,  Emma Stone who is the Head of Research:

Emma.stone@jrf.org.uk

September Early Career Forum – How to get that first grant or paper…..

In September we held the second of our open forum meetings for Early Career Researchers (ECRs).  These meetings provide  an opportunity to ask for advice and guidance from a team of experienced academics and research managers in an informal setting. Questions can be about anything related to research – from publications to projects to funding to research strategy! The Forums also provide an opportunity for ECRs to network with colleagues from across the University.

The September meeting was well attended by ECRs from Schools across the University, and they met with Prof Bogdan Gabrys, Assoc Prof Richard Berger,  plus Jennifer Roddis and myself from the Research and Knowledge Exchange Office.

The discussions related getting started – how to get that first grant, or first paper when you don’t have a track-record (apart from your Phd research). One of the key messages here was to work on your profile, and there are various ways you can approach profile-raising.  Here are some of the key messages that emerged from this theme:

Publishing: Remember, your Phd is a valid piece of research!  You might want to talk to your supervisor about targeting likely publications and jointly publishing on your Phd topic or theme.  Regularly publish if you can.  Get your name out. 

Don’t be afraid to take a tangent:  A useful message from this meeting was don’t be precious about your research area.  You may miss opportunities if you are not prepared to follow a research path on a tangent.  After completing your Phd it can be challenging to find topics to research or publish on.  Take a look at your literature review and early drafts of your Phd.  Examine the abandoned strands of argument and research questions you decided not to pursue.  These could present themselves as great opportunities for research and publication, as they are related to your Phd topic, but not restricted by it.   This is one way that you might expand your research out of your Phd subject.

For example, Richard Berger won a BBC grant that was not strictly in his subject area.  He felt out of his comfort zone for the 8 weeks of the project.  However, he learned enormous amounts about new methodolgieis, delivering research, and presenting his work, which has stood him in good stead for his further research work.

Networking: Getting involved in networks is an effective part of raising your profile.  Attending conferences is a good start. You might start by choosing conferences with the best repuation, or by going to small conferences, where you may find other academics like you!  Over time, you will naturally get to know the other conference attendees (peopl you sit next to etc).    If you find someone you like, you might want to start presenting together. 

This was the experience of one of the senior academics – they started presenting together, then started to write together, then started their own journal on the subjects that they are interested in.   Starting your own journal is not as hard as it sounds.  You could publish online, and academics from around the world like being invited to be on editorial boards.  Its worth a thought. You can try submitting papers to conferences – but bear in mind that there is a lot of competition, with probably a 20% chance of your paper being accepted, but if you don’t try, you won’t know!

Networking funds?  Ask in your School if there are funds available for attending conferences.  Each School has a different way of doing things, so it is worth asking around. Investigate the research councils and other funders, which offer networking grants.   You could organise your own conference – this would be a great opportunity to generate some funds, plus a fantastic way to create your own network.  Host it at the EBC, write about it on the reserach blog, write about it on other blogs, advertise it through online networks.    

Cold calling:  When you are cold-calling, make sure you have something to offer – be honest and be upfront.  The worst that can happen is that you receive a polite no, or are ignored!   Maybe don’t always email potential collaborators. If they are within BU knock on their door and be pursuasive!  Research groups at other institutions may well be looking for speakers on certain topics.  Do some research, find out, offer yourself as a speaker.

Online communities: there are networks of excellence that operate online.  Join in and find like-minded people.   A good opportunity to make connections and raise your profile.

Research Grants:  Take advantage of schemes such as the Grants Academy and Research Proposal Review Service.   Subscribe to the research blog for news on internal funding opportunities.  Bid for Phd studentships. Talk to colleagues – maybe you could collaborate?  Use Research Professional and look for open calls.  Don’t focus only on the big research council grants – these are highly competitive, and generally are looking for a research grant track record.  Look for smaller funding opportunities – charities, foundations and even regional funding agencies are often good places to start.  A good piece of advice:  stay away from scary deadlines until you are ready!   

Prepare to fail! You will get rejections – because everyone gets rejections for papers submitted to journals, and for research grant applications.   When you suffer a rejection your first reaction will be emotional.  Take time to reflect.  Then go back to your proposal and take a constructive look.  The work won’t be wasted, as you will be able to re-work it for another journal or another funder.

BRIAN: make sure your profile is up to date.

Make the most of internal support available:

One of the ECRs who attended has helpfully set up a Facebook page called ECR BU – here is the link:

http://www.facebook.com/groups/265825716854423/

What next?

If you’re interested in coming to one of the next ECR Forums you will need to book to confirm your attendance (this is so we can order enough food and refreshments in advance). The next Forums are scheduled as follows (rooms to be confirmed):

19 November 12:30 – 15:00 on the Lansdowne Campus

11 December 12:30 – 15:00 on the Talbot Campus

Grants Academy bid writing surgeries ‘It couldn’t go better’…..

One of the excellent benefits of being a member of the Grants Academy is access to our bid writing drop-in surgeries.

These surgeries are held more or less fortnightly over lunch and are facilitated by Matthew Bennett plus other experienced senior academics.   

They have been designed to offer members of the Grants Academy the opportunity to come along and to talk to experienced colleagues about their research, for example, getting advice on their ideas, how to strengthen their bids, etc.

I wanted to share some recent feedback from our latest session:

We got some very useful feedback and support.  It couldn’t go better. 

A group of two having 20 minutes each to explain about our interests.  That was a tutorial!

The manner in which it took place was really very helpful with full attention being devoted to our two proposals in that time.

I would say that it was a great bid writing surgery!

If you are a Grants Academy member, and would like to attend any of the other sessions planned for this term, please contact Caroline O’Kane

Next dates:

10 Oct:  1.00 pm to 2.00 pm  –  Studland House, S401, Lansdowne

24 Oct:  1.00 pm to 2.00 pm – Casterbridge Room, Talbot

5 Nov:   12.00 pm to 1.00 pm – Casterbridge Room, Talbot

26 Nov: 1.00 pm to 2.00 pm – EBC, EB702, Lansdowne

10 Dec: 1.00 pm to 2.00 pm EBC, EB203, Lansdowne

Want to find out more ?  Find out more from the Grants Academy page on the blog.

 

Grants Academy 2012/13 – now open to new applicants!

What is the Grants Academy?  The Grants Academy is an excellent opportunity to develop the skills and expertise required to design, write and structure a competitive, fundable research proposal.   The Grants Academy is open to all academics – regardless of seniority or discipline.

How does it work? Academics initially attend an intensive two-day training workshop delivered by Dr Martin Pickard which looks at how to write a winning grant proposal and then receive dedicated support afterwards for a period of 18 months to write research proposals.

What do current members have to say?  “I think I speak for all of us when I say that this has been the most valuable research-focused ‘training’ the university has offered so far and it is definitely an initiative that should be encouraged.”

How to apply?   We have scheduled the 2-day intensive training for  2012/2013 as follows:

  • 17th – 18th October 2012
  • 23rd  – 24th January 2013
  • 24th – 25th April 2013  

To apply you will need to:

  1. Complete the form at the bottom of this post.  If you are available for more than one of the training dates,  please state any preferences (if applicable).
  2. Forward to Caroline O’Kane an email from your line manager or DD R&E, which states their support for your application.

Applications will be accepted on a first come, first served basis.   There is availability for 15 participants for each 2 day training session.   Grants Academy membership begins with the 2 day session.  All applicants will be notified of the outcome of their application during the week of the 23rd September.

Want to find out more?  Find our more from the Grants Academy page on the blog.

Still have questions? Please contact Caroline O’Kane

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)

Which of the following date/s can you attend?:
a) 17th+18th October 2012b) 24th+25th January 2013c) 24th+25th April 2013

If you have selected multiple dates, please specify your preference:

Grants Academy activities for 2012/13 – watch this space…..

The next round of Grants Academy applications is just around the corner and will soon be advertised on the Research Blog – be sure to watch this space !

We’ve also been busy planning sessions for the new academic year.   Details will be advertised shortly, but we will be offering lunchtime sessions on a variety of topics:  Sandpits (what are they? how can you get involved?), public engagement,  building a collaborative bid, networking, ethics and more.

Another extremely useful element of the Grants Academy is weekly bid writing clinics  – these are taking place from mid-September, again, a schedule of dates, places and times will be published v. soon.  

What is the Grants Academy?  The Grants Academy provides an excellent opportunity to develop the skills and expertise required to design, write and structure a competitive, fundable research proposal. Academics attend an intensive two-day training workshop delivered by Dr Martin Pickard which looks at how to write a winning grant proposal and then receive dedicated support afterwards for a period of 18 months to write research proposals.

If you have any questions, or would like to express your interest in joining the Academy then email Caroline O’Kane and she’ll provide further details.

 

Key messages from the July ECR Forum! Winning grant funding and writing papers for publication.

We’ve started a series of open forum meetings for academics at an early stage in their research careers (ECRs) to provide an opportunity to ask for advice and guidance from a team of experienced academics and research managers in an informal setting. Questions can be about anything related to research – from publications to projects to funding to research strategy! The Forums also provide an opportunity for ECRs to network with colleagues from across the University.

The first Forum meeting took place on Wednesday this week and provided seven ECRs with the opportunity to meet with Prof Stephen Page (School of Tourism), Dr Robert Britton (School of Applied Sciences) and Julia Taylor and myself from the Research & Knowledge Exchange Office (R&KEO). The main discussion points were around writing and submitting a first research proposal and writing papers for publication. The key messages were:

First research proposals – The key message here is collaboration! You need to work collaboratively with others (both at BU and external) to learn and to be successful. Ideally you should have an internal mentor in a similar research area to you who you can talk through your ideas with, who can comment on your draft proposals, and who can advise you on your career.

For large grants there are two main ways in: as a Principal Investigator (PI) on your own proposal to a dedicated ECR call or as a Co-Investigator (Co-I) on a colleagues’ proposal to a standard call. You will need to select the right scheme for you and your research. Many funders offers schemes specifically targeted at ECRs (e.g. ESRC’s Future Research Leaders scheme or EPSRC’s First Grant scheme). You will need to identify at least one experienced academic who will mentor you if the proposal is successful and to identify a suitable mentor you need to network and build relationships with experienced colleagues with similar interests. Ideally the mentor will be someone you can meet with regularly, so a colleague at BU or a University nearby is perfect. You can also submit a proposal to a standard call as Co-I with a more experienced colleague as PI. To identify a colleague to work with you need to network and meet colleagues with similar interests. Prior to submitting a collaborative bid it is beneficial to have previously worked with, or at least know, your collaborator – this is reassuring to funders as they can see evidence of an existing, productive relationship and also gives you both the confidence that you know you can work well together (this can save problems down the line if you prove to be incompatible!). Start early when writing proposals as the process will take much longer than you initially anticipate and you will need enough time to ensure your proposal can be reviewed and refined and improved throughout the writing process to ensure the best chance of success.

Also vitally important is gaining experience by submitting proposals for small research awards such as travel grants and small grants offered by charities.  The application forms are usually short so do not take a lot of time to prepare and they give you vital proposal writing practice and experience and often you receive feedback that can help develop your skills further. Small research awards are important in building and progressing your research career as they indicate that you are continuing to undertake research and that you are gaining valuable experience in budget management, project management and delivery. This is essential experience to be able to demonstrate to funders for larger funding calls that you are a capable researcher and have a track record of successful project delivery; they will also help to build your confidence as a researcher. Smaller calls often have quicker response times meaning you can use the awards to continue your research whilst you are waiting for award decisions from larger funding proposals, such as to the Research Councils.

Prior to submitting your bid externally you are strongly advised to put your draft proposal through the University’s internal peer review scheme (the RPRS). You will receive feedback from two experienced academics and from the Research Development Unit. This can help you to shape your final proposal and to ensure it stands as good a chance as possible of being awarded. At a more local level bid writing need not be a lone activity – ask more experienced colleagues in your School for their advice and guidance.

BU’s Grants Academy provides an excellent opportunity to develop the skills and expertise required to design, write and structure a competitive, fundable research proposal. Academics attend an intensive two-day training workshop delivered by Dr Martin Pickard which looks at how to write a winning grant proposal and then receive dedicated support afterwards for a period of 18 months to write research proposals. The dates for the next academic year are currently being finalised and will be published on the Blog soon however if you’d like to express your interest in joining the Academy then email Caroline O’Kane and she’ll provide further details.

Writing papers for publication – again the key message is collaboration! Single author journal papers, especially as an ECR, are becoming increasingly rare and you will need to collaborate with colleagues (at BU and at other institutions) to produce papers, particularly people with skills you don’t have. Each author should bring a new perspective and skill set to the paper. One of the benefits of collaborating with co-authors is that more experienced colleagues can offer advice and guidance and revise the paper prior to submission to the journal – this will ensure your paper has the best chance of being accepted. The different perspectives of co-authors are also very useful in developing and refining your paper. It is critical that the submitted paper is written in excellent English and many papers are rejected on the basis that the language, grammar, etc are not up to scratch. Colleagues can help with this and you should always proof-read your paper prior to submission. Match the standard of the published articles you have read in journals and use this as a guide. Always take time to craft something good – it is quality over quantity. Having 3 or 4 strong papers is much more beneficial to your career and enhances your ability to get grant funding than 10 poorer papers. Be ambitious and challenge yourself! Try submitting to a journal with an excellent reputation – if you’re not successful then try a different journal.

open access logo, Public Library of ScienceOne way to get your paper published more quickly and make your results available to a larger audience is to publish via an open access outlet. There are dedicated open access journals or you can publish via a hybrid journal (a traditional print journal that also offers an open access option). BU has been running a successful Open Access Publication Fund for just over a year now to support academics and researchers to publish via this route.

Don’t just have one thing on the go at once! – you should build a portfolio of your research and have lots of activity (papers and proposals) going on at the same time. For example, if you are awaiting a decision on a Research Council proposal then keep submitting small grant applications in the meantime, or be working on your next journal paper as soon as you’ve submitted your current one. To build your academic career you need to demonstrate consistent performance with grants and outputs and also excellence in teaching.

If you’re interested in coming to one of the next ECR Forums you will need to book to confirm your attendance (this is so we can order enough food and refreshments in advance). The next Forums are scheduled as follows (rooms to be confirmed):

17 September 12:30 – 15:00 on the Talbot Campus

19 November 12:30 – 15:00 on the Lansdowne Campus

11 December 12:30 – 15:00 on the Talbot Campus

AHRC presentation – slides now available

Last week, Professor Mark Llewellyn – Head of Research for the AHRC came to BU.  

He spent the day with us, meeting with our AHRC peer reviewers,  Arts and Humanities Profs, Deputy Deans and AHRC grant holders.  Professor Llewellyn also addressed a well-attended public meeting.    We gave Professor Llewellyn a good introduction to BU and our work – and I’m delighted to say he found the day extremely informative.

The slides from the open meeting can be accessed here: AHRC presentation 2012

If you are thinking about applying to the AHRC for research funding please contact Caroline O’Kane, to ensure you have access to all the support that is available for grant development.