Tagged / proposal writing

Research Ethics: Insights from the Centre for Midwifery, Maternal & Perinatal Health and the Centre for Social Work, Sociology & Social Policy

Ethics contributions

Collage of research ethics contributions

Academics based in HSC have experience in a wide-range of research.  In the process of reflecting on all aspects of the research process several members of HSC have published about ethical issues that they have had to address in their own research.    This BU Blog highlights some of these key HCS papers which may help fellow academics and students across the globe address similar ethical questions.  HSC has a history of publishing on research ethics, Professor Emerita Immy Holloway wrote about the researcher who may have a dual role, or even conflicting role, as researcher and health care professional (1).  More recently, several midwifery researchers in the Centre for Midwifery, Maternal & Perinatal Health wrote about the issues facing practitioners doing research in the field where they work, especially concerning the similarities and differences between professional ethics and research ethics (2-3).  Negotiating ethical paths cleaved by competing concerns between protecting research participants and over-managing the ethical process is tricky.

In her book Rainforest Asylum: The enduring legacy of colonial psychiatric care in Malaysia Dr. Ashencaen Crabtree in the Centre for Social Work, Sociology & Social Policy, addresses the problematic issue of gate-keepers in research together with the ethics of critical observation of abuse (potential or actual), as well as the ethics of advocating on behalf of research participants (4).

The fear that the ethical application process in the UK is becoming more and more cumbersome and bureaucratic has been widely recognised as highlighted by Prof. van Teijlingen and colleagues (5-6).

Research ethics review processes are also considered in terms of access to participants regarded as ‘vulnerable’ in a recently published paper by Dr. Ashencaen Crabtree (7) of ethnographers working in health settings who are seeking to understand the context of care and patient/service user experiences.  She concludes that paternalistic control of participation on the grounds of ethical protection of vulnerable people seriously disenfranchises potential participants in preventing them from being able to share their relevant, lived experiences as recipients of service provision.

Prof. van Teijlingen and BU Visiting Fellow Dr. Padam Simkhada highlighted that the social, cultural and economic contexts in which research is conducted often differ between developing and developed countries.  However they stress that researchers need to apply for research ethics approval to the relevant local authority, if national legislation requires one to do so (8).

A new and challenging area of research is the use of discussion boards as a source of research data.  In their paper Dr. Bond and BU colleagues discuss both practical and ethical dilemmas that arise in using such data (9). In earlier research, Prof. Parker of the Centre for Social Work, Sociology & Social Policy, highlighted some of the benefits and dangers of using email and the Internet for research as the potential for electronic media continues its rapid growth (10).

Obtaining informed consent is something that all researchers need to consider. However, in some research situations obtaining consent can be particularly challenging.  Prof. Hundley and colleagues discuss the ethical challenges involved in conducting a cluster randomised controlled trial, where consent needs to be considered at a number of levels (11).  In a second paper issues of consent during pregnancy, where there is the potential for harm to two participants, are considered (12).

In research into the implications of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 for social research, Prof. Parker explored the contested meanings and difficulties associated with informed consent in social research, highlighting some of the challenges raised by an almost unquestioned acceptance of biomedical research ethics in social research and questioning whether potential ‘harm’ is different in this context (13, 14). This research has led to further explorations of the potential for ethical covert research by Prof. Parker and Dr. Ashencaen Crabtree.


The way forward

There a plenty of challenges to research ethics in both the health and social care sectors.  Ethical considerations relate to technological developments such conducting research over the Internet or the analysis of tweets.  HSC staff will continue to publish on a range of moral dilemma as well as practical issues related to research ethics.  Moreover, academic from the two centres are planning a Masterclass on research ethics to be held in early 2014.




  1. Holloway, I., Wheeler, S. (1995) Ethical Issues in Qualitative Nursing Research, Nursing Ethics 2: 223-232.   Web address:  http://nej.sagepub.com/content/2/3/223.full.pdf+html
  2. Ryan, K., Brown, B., Wilkins, C., Taylor, A., Arnold, R., Angell, C., van Teijlingen, E. (2011) Which hat am I wearing today? Practicing midwives doing research, Evidence-Based Midwifery 9(1): 4-8.
  3. van Teijlingen, E.R., Cheyne, H.L. (2004) Ethics in midwifery research, RCM Midwives Journal 7 (5): 208-10.
  4. Ashencaen Crabtree, S. (2012) Rainforest Asylum: The enduring legacy of colonial psychiatric care in Malaysia, London: Whiting & Birch.
  5. van Teijlingen, E., Douglas, F., Torrance, N. (2008) Clinical governance and research ethics as barriers to UK low-risk population-based health research? BMC Public Health 8(396)                            Web address: www.biomedcentral.com/content/pdf/1471-2458-8-396.pdf
  6. van Teijlingen, E. (2006) Reply to Robert Dingwall’s Plenary ‘Confronting the Anti-Democrats: The unethical Nature of Ethical Regulation in Social Science, MSo (Medical Sociology online) 1: 59-60  Web address:  www.medicalsociologyonline.org/archives/issue1/pdf/reply_rob.pdf
  7. Ashencaen Crabtree, S. (2013) Research ethics approval processes and the moral enterprise of ethnography. Ethics & Social Welfare. Advance Access: DOI:10.1080/17496535.2012.703683
  8. van Teijlingen E.R., Simkhada, P.P. (2012) Ethical approval in developing countries is not optional, Journal of Medical Ethics 38 :428-430.
  9. Bond, C.S,  Ahmed, O.H., Hind, M, Thomas, B., Hewitt-Taylor, J. (2013) The Conceptual and Practical Ethical Dilemmas of Using Health Discussion Board Posts as Research Data, Journal of Medical Internet Research 15(6):e112)  Web address: http://www.jmir.org/2013/6/e112/
  10. Parker, J.  (2008) Email, ethics and data collection in social work research: some reflections from a research project, Evidence & Policy: A Journal of Research, Debate & Practice, 4 (1): 75-83.
  11. Hundley, V, Cheyne, HC, Bland, JM, Styles, M, Barnett, CA.. (2010) So you want to conduct a cluster randomised controlled trial? Lessons from a national cluster trial of early labour, Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice 16: 632-638
  12. Helmreich, R.J., Hundley, V., Norman, A., Ighedosa, J., Chow, E. (2007) Research in pregnant women: the challenges of informed consent, Nursing for Women’s Health 11(6):  576-585.
  13. Parker, J., Penhale, B., Stanley, D., 2010. Problem or safeguard? Research ethics review in social care research and the Mental Capacity Act 2005. Social Care & Neurodisability, 1 (2): 22-32.
  14. Parker, J., Penhale, B., Stanley, D. (2011) Research ethics review: social care and social science research and the Mental Capacity Act 2005, Ethics & Social Welfare, 5(4): 380-400.


Vanora Hundley, Sara Ashencaen Crabtree, Jonathan Parker & Edwin van Teijlingen



Bournemouth University Clinical Research Unit (BUCRU) Annual Report

At the Bournemouth University Clinical Research Unit (BUCRU) we think it is important to review our activities on a regular basis, to document our achievements and to outline our plans for the future. We have decided that the best way to do this is to prepare an Annual Report. It was completed some months ago and now we would like to share it more widely with our colleagues in the University. It can be found on our microsite at http://microsites.bournemouth.ac.uk/bucru/news/ we hope it is of interest.

The support and collaborations we offer are available to staff within the University, and to staff in the NHS. In the next year we will be particularly trying to develop new collaborations between University and health service staff that will lead to high quality grant applications.

If you would like further information please contact Louise Ward (wardl@bournemouth.ac.uk Tel: 01202 961939)


1-2-1 Sessions with an Expert Bid Writer at BU Available!

The RKE Development team have organised a unique experience for BU staff; a 1-2-1 with a leading grant writer. 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 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.

In this highly competitive environment, many strong applications pass the threshold but fail to reach the funding level not because of their science or what they say, but because of their structure and what they omit to say.  The science and art of Martin’s assistance directly addresses this major hurdle to success from innumerably perspectives; enabling demonstrated significantly higher success rates. Even experienced staff at BU who have utilized his services, have called Martin’s approach, refreshing and helpful and renewed my energies in the arduous search for funding. He has had a major influence on the structure and presentation of my recent bids’ Prof Barry Richards, Media School.

Martin will work with you through a process of successive discussions and iterations of the application document, identifying and optimising as many of the weaker aspects as possible, starting with your 1-2-1 session. Identifying these weaknesses is important and takes considerable experience to be fully encompassing but the unique aspect of this approach is the direct provision of solutions and alternatives assembled from a lifetime career involvement, understanding and practise.  This way, not only are you made aware of the problem but given a direct improvement solution It is only at the latter stages that effective grant-writing becomes evident with tweaks to phrases and styles as well as implementation of key/typical standards and texts. Results confirm that without this build of research structure behind and throughout the application success is always limited. This unique experience is valued by academics who have undertaken this process with him ‘Martin makes you think differently about approaching bid writing, constructing a bid and how to build up an argument throughout the various boxes; without changing the actual content he makes you think how to make key points jump out at the reviewer’, Dr Darren Lilleker, Media School.

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. You can take up this unique and valuable experience, by booking a session now. 

Appointments are approx 45 minutes long and you can book multiple sessions. You will also have unlimited telephone and email support to progress your application after meeting with Martin and you can discuss several applications with him. 

Martin is at BU on the following dates and times and sessions must be booked through Dianne Goodman

Upcoming dates:

  • 27th March 2013, 1:15-5pm (Talbot Campus) now full

Newly available dates (please note – limited availability):

  • 15th April 2013, 9-11am and 2-5pm (Lansdowne Campus) now full
  • 16th April 2013, 16:15-5pm (Lansdowne Campus) now full
  • 16th May 2013, 9:15am- 5pm (Talbot Campus) now full
  • 10th July 2013, 9:15am- 5pm (Talbot Campus)
  • 4th September 2013, 9:15- 5 (TBA)


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

Launch of our new Research Council Application Guidance webpages!

We have recently launched a new section on the Blog that focuses specifically on providing guidance and information about writing applications to Research Councils – you can access the information here: Research Council Application Guidance. The pages contain information about the different sections required when writing a proposal to a Research Council, including guidance on writing: the impact sections, the data management plan, and the justification of resources documents. Where possible examples of good practice are also provided. We really hope this will be a useful resource 🙂

We aim to develop this into a comprehensive suite of information for academic colleagues writing proposals to Research Councils. If you have any feedback on the pages or if there is anything you’d like to see that isn’t there yet then please let us know so it can be added.

You can access the information from the Research Toolkit link in the top menu bar of the Blog (just beneath the picture of the books) or from this handy link – Research Council Application Guidance.

BU Studentships Competition 2013 – Project Proposal Writing Workshop

The 2013 BU Studentships internal competition is open with opportunities for up to 50 matched funded PhD projects.

To support academics in seeking matched funding and in preparation of their project proposals, the Graduate School will be following up on the two workshops run over the summer with a further two one day project proposal writing workshops delivered by John Wakeford, Director of the Missenden Centre

There will be two workshops to help supervisors to develop and strengthen their project proposal applications to the internal competition on:


  •  Tuesday 23 October (9:15am – 16:30pm, in Studland House – S217 + S219)
  • Friday 2 November (9:15am – 16:30pm, in Tolpuddle Annexe – TAG20)

 It is an excellent chance to glean some expert advice from John on bid writing in general as well as honing your application for the 2013 Studentships Competition. Participants will be expected to submit a draft proposal to the Graduate School one week in advance of the workshops in order to get bespoke feedback as part of the workshop.

 A provisional programme for both days will be as follows: 

9:15 Coffee and Registration
9:30 Institutional context – information on the studentships and the support of the Graduate School. Questions. Prof Tiantian Zhang – new Head of Graduate SchoolDr Fiona Knight – Graduate School Manager
10:00 Agenda sharing (participant introductions and identifying concerns and priorities to be covered).
10:30 Introduction – National policy and recent developments. Questions and discussion.
10:45 Coffee break
11:00 Reviewing good research bid.  Teams act as reviewers and prepare outline of comments.  Plenary feedback from John Wakeford and teams.
12.00 What to do before applying.
12:30 Lunch. (Groups discuss bidding narrative)
13:15 Plenary discussion of points arising from narrative.
13:30 Advising colleagues on draft applications.  Teams act as critical colleagues and prepare advice on drafts direct at different agencies.  Plenary feedback.     Questions and discussion.
14:30 Coffee break
14:45 Writing a good application.
15:30 Reflecting after having an application turned down.
16:00 Action planning: individual participants draw up plans for progressing own research.  Participants make suggestions to the university to help those bidding for funds.
16:25 Evaluation
16:30 Close

 Similar sessions have been very well attended previously and spaces are limited. To book a place on either session, please email the Graduate School: graduateschool@bournemouth.ac.uk


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

Winning EU R&D Funding – Framework Programme 7 (FP7) Forming a Team and Writing a Proposal Masterclass….

A free one day masterclass on FP7 has been organised by Enterprise Europe Network South West, the ICT Knowledge Transfer Network and Bishop Fleming . The session includes:

  • Taking the right approach to minimise the cost of participation
  • Working with the EU Commission on your proposal
  • Available support
  • Building a team
  • Work integration
  • Matching roles to partners
  • Consortium organisation
  • Partner search methods
  • Building a proposal
  • Proposal section by section view

This event will offer an opportunity for in depth examination of the task of putting together a winning proposal under FP7 and provide you with all the information you require to make strategic decisions about participation.

The Master Class will be delivered by Eddie Townsend, our collaboration domain expert. Eddie has based the material for the workshop on his experience of successful proposal submissions and management in FP6 and FP7.

Places are limited so book your place online now!

Grants Academy: 1st round applications are now closed

The first round of applications for the Grants Academy has now closed.

The assessment panel,  made up of the PVC and four senior academics,  is now considering applications. 

All applicants will be notified of the outcome of their application on Monday 30th April. 

The criteria for assessing applications broadly includes: 

  • potential for generating research and KE income in future
  • scope of future research plans
  • ambition, motivation and engagement
  • experience of bidding and success to date

The outcome of the assessments will determine the first members of the Grants Academy, and who will be attending the first two-day training session in May.

Next round

There will be further Strand One training sessions scheduled for later in year (between August 2012 and July 2013).  The dates of these sessions are not yet fixed, and will be advertised on the Research Blog in due course, along with details of the next round of applications. 

Watch this space for more information about how you can take part in this exciting initiative.

Any questions?  Please contact Caroline O’Kane

The Grants Academy launches today!

The application process is officially open!

Last week on the blog we outlined what the Grants Academy is all about.  Clicking on the   tag is a good way to refresh yourself of the relevant information.

Here are the things you need to know if you are thinking of applying:

First two-day training

The first two day training programme (Strand One) is scheduled for the 9th and 10th May.  This training is taking place off-site, at a Lansdowne Hotel.  There will be homework (!) to do on the 9th May, so you will need a clear evening too.

Further dates

There will be further Strand One training sessions scheduled for later in year (between August 2012 and July 2013).  The dates of these sessions are not yet fixed, and will be advertised in due course.  

Application process

  • In the first instance, we are interested in applicants who are available to attend the first two-day session on 9th and 10th May.  Please make sure you state your availability to attend the first session on your application.     There will be an opportunity to apply for membership and future Strand One training sessions (and Strand Two sessions), later on in the year.  


  • We are looking for no more than 12 participants at any one Strand One training session


  • The criteria for assessing applications will broadly include: 
    • potential for generating research and KE income in future
    • scope of future research plans
    • ambition, motivation and engagement
    • experience of bidding and success to date


  • Applicants will complete an application form, and send this to the RDU


  • The deadline for applications is midnight, Tuesday 17th April


  • All applications will be forwarded to the assessment panel, which is made up of the PVC and  four senior academics


  • All applicants will be notified of the outcome of their application on Monday 30th April


  • The application form is below.


Any questions?  Please contact Caroline O’Kane

Application Form

What is the Grants Academy?


The Grants Academy – Strand Three: Post-award training

Strand Three – post-award training

  • The third strand of the Grants Academy will focus on post-award project management for Principal Investigators new to managing a grant.


  • The administrative specifics of managing a grant at BU will be covered in the awards information pack sent by RKE Operations to the PI prior to the start of the award, and for larger and/or more complex projects this will be discussed at the project kick-off meeting, led by the Research Development Officer (Research Conduct).


  • Strand Three is based on Vitae’s Leadership Development for Principal Investigators Framework and focuses on the skills required to successfully manage the grant, including:
    • What is expected of a principal investigator
    • Research environment and legal requirements
    • Impact and public engagement
    • Managing people
    • Project management
    • Network
    • Publishing outputs


  • Strand Three will offer new PIs with limited experience the opportunity to be mentored by a PI with significant experience who can advise and guide them on all aspects of research and project management.


  • Support will be provided to the mentor and mentee by the Research Development Officer (Research Conduct).


  • As part of Strand Three, the mentees will be required to complete the Vitae online resource for new PIs and their progress will be discussed during their meetings with their mentor, who will also advise where they might benefit from additional training to obtain the skills required to be a successful PI.

How to apply

The Grants Academy will officially launch on Monday, 2nd April.  Details about how to apply will be posted on the Research Blog on Monday.  Watch this space if you’re interested in joining the Academy.

Want to find out more?

If you would like to find out more please contact Caroline O’Kane

The Grants Academy – Strand Two: Bespoke training

Todays post will tell you all about Strand Two of the Grants Academy.  

Strand Two: Bespoke training and development programme

  • In essence Strand Two of the Grants Academy will follow the same format as Strand One.  


  • Strand Two will be a bespoke programme tailored to a specific group of academics (Research Centres, research themes, etc).  For example, the BU-wide scheme would offer advice and training on general research funding bodies whereas the bespoke scheme would offer advice on funding bodies that fund research in that particular field.


  • More importantly it is directed towards groups of staff who would be working together on a bid and subsequently ‘hunting as a pack’.


  • The provision of Strand Two could be requested by senior academic managers (e.g. UOA Leaders, Heads of Academic Group, Deans, etc.) and could also be initiated by the Pro Vice Chancellor for example, where a Research Centre has had limited success in attracting external research funds. 


  • Completion of Strand Two will entitle the group to all of the resources listed for Strand One, and will also entitle the group to dedicated support from the Research Development Unit for a period of three months to prepare bids for external funding. This support will depend on the specific skills requirement of the group, but may include support with EU funding, collaborative grants support, or support with bids for fellowship / early career funds.


  •  Strand Two of the Grants Academy will run as and when required, and it is anticipated this will be twice during 2012-13. The number of attendees per session would be discussed with the academic lead as part of the bespoke design of each Strand Two programme. As with Strand One, all attendees  will be required to work on a proposal after the session and to submit this proposal for external funding within six months of completing the training programme. They may remain part of the Academy for a maximum of 18 months during which time they will be expected to have submitted a minimum of three external bids.

Want to find out more?

If you would like to find out more please contact Caroline O’Kane

Tomorrow: learn about Strand Three (post-award training).

The Grants Academy – Strand One: The Training Programme

The second of our posts on the new Grants Academy is all about Strand One.  

What is Strand One?

This is the BU-wide development and training programme linked to grant writing support in the form of access to a pool of contracted external bid advisors. 

Intensive training

Strand One of the Grants Academy will be an intensive training programme run over two consecutive days, held off campus.  Academics must attend both full days in order to join the Grants Academy. The sessions will be delivered by an external facilitator with support from the Research Development Unit. 

Attendees will be required to come to the session with a draft proposal that they consider to be ready to submit for external funding (including CV). Each attendee will swap his/her proposal with another attendee on day one and will be required to read their colleague’s proposal before the second day when there will be a mock peer review panel where attendees will be required to lead a discussion on the proposal they have reviewed, taking into account everything they have learned the day before.

All participants of the Grants Academy will be required to work on a proposal after the session, using the resources and support listed below, and to submit this proposal for external funding within six months of completing the training programme.  They may remain part of the Academy for a maximum of 18 months during which time they will be expected to have submitted a minimum of three external bids. 

Extra training and resources for Academy members

Completion of Strand One will result in individuals becoming members of the Grants Academy; as members they would be able to access additional training and development resources including:

  • An internal grants mentor: This person will be assigned after the training programme and will be responsible for supporting the mentee with the writing and development of their proposal.  
  • Access to an external bid advisor: The University will contract the services of a number of sector renowned and successful bid advisors who will be available to support Grants Academy members with the development of their proposals.
  • Specific funder events: The Research Development Unit will arrange specific funder events for members of the Grants Academy to find out more about funding bodies, for example, specific schemes, priorities, bid writing hints and tips, etc.
  • Funding drop-in surgeries: These drop-in surgeries will be held fortnightly over lunch and will be facilitated by the Pro Vice Chancellor plus three experienced senior academics. They will 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.
  • Find a funder service: This service will be provided by the Research Development Unit and will help to match academics and their research ideas and strengths with external funding bodies and open calls. The service will also advise on how proposal ideas can be tweaked so they are more closely aligned to funder priorities, and will also support academics in identifying researchers at other institutions who are researching similar areas for future collaborations. 
  • Access to a library of successful bids: The Research Development Unit will provide access to Grants Academy members to a library of successful bids, and provide support to academics in accessing this resource.
  • Access to a small travel grant to support academic networking.  Each member of the academy will have access to up to £250 to support travel in order to talk to potential collaborators, establish/join networks, etc.

The support listed above will only be available to those academics who have completed Strand One of the Grants Academy.

Want to find out more?

If you would like to find out more please contact Caroline O’Kane

On the blog tomorrow, we’ll be telling you all about Strands Two and Three.

The application process will be launched on Monday, 2nd April 2012.

Coming soon….The BU Grants Academy

On Monday, 2nd April we will be launching a brand new training programme – the BU Grants Academy – to sustain research and invest in early career researchers to boost BU’s collective research output. 

Every day this week there will be blog posts focussing on different aspects of the Grants Academy.  Today its The Overview.  To find out more, please read on………

What is the Grants Academy?

It is a development programme for academic staff, with three distinct strands:

  • Strand One:    BU-wide development and training programme linked in 2012/13 to external grant writing support in the form of a contracted bid advisor.
  • Strand Two:    Bespoke intervention for key research groups and clusters (e.g., Research Centres, BU Research Themes, etc.) based on a bespoke version of Strand One.
  • Strand Three:  Post-Award support in the form of direct mentorship for new investigators with limited experience of research management and project delivery.

How will the scheme benefit acadmic staff?

Membership of the Grants Academy will enable academic staff to:

  1. improve their understanding of the research funding environment;
  2. increase the quality of their research funding proposals;
  3. unlock staff potential, confidence and motivation;
  4. enable staff to develop the skills required to design, write and structure a competitive, fundable research proposal; and
  5. to then manage awarded contracts, effectively leading to further funding.

Want to find out more?

If you would like to find out more please contact Caroline O’Kane

On the blog tomorrow, we’ll be telling you all about Strand One.