Time! There’s never enough but there are ways to avoid that sickening feeling as an application deadline approaches…
We all know how the funding application process usually ends up going something like this:
Allowing such a short period of time is not fun for anyone and is one of the common problems we encounter whilst providing application support.
Our funding success rate (around 1 in 3) is achieved through understanding that there is a lot more to completing an application than the words within the final document.
Read on to discover our suggested timeline and how to ensure that sleep doesn’t have to be optional when applying for funding.
12-18 months from a deadline
I know what you’re thinking…really, 18 months?! Are you mad?! However, planning this far ahead is the only reliable way to get everything in place in time.
We aren’t saying that the application needs to be written a year before but having a plan on what and where you are applying is vital. The main aspects to focus on are:
The eligibility of the PI/research team is a primary hurdle which must be cleared before embarking on the roller coaster ride of an application. The variety of funding opportunities available means that each opportunity will be accompanied by different guidance/criteria. Even within the same research councils, eligibility criteria can differ between two separate funding opportunities.
Make contact with your Support Office and School. Let them know you are considering applying for a funding proposal. You’ll often be able to access additional support.
Application numbers may be restricted by your department/institution or by the funding body. Certain funders place restrictions on institutions depending on the quality of funding application they receive – so internal peer review and quality checks are often a prerequisite.
So it is essential to find any restrictions out before embarking on the detail of the proposal.
6-12 months from a deadline
This is the point where the hard work really begins. Fully costing budgets and crafting the detail of the application takes time and multiple iterations. You need to build in enough time to get sick of the application, walk away and then come back!
Many Project Support Offices will compile a budget in conjunction with you. For your part it is essential to identify all budget needs for collaborators and contributors, and also ensure that you have remembered to allow for equipment and also travel-particularly for dissemination events such as conferences.
Begin your writing process by checking the guidance and start your document in the required page layout style to begin with. This will provide a much more accurate idea of layout options and space restrictions, saving lots of time later.
It is a common mistake to try and squeeze in as many words as possible onto the application document leading to an unreadable block of test. Remember the old advertising saying – “the white space sells the product”
0-3 months from a deadline
At this stage you want to have a strong draft completed. Peer review at this stage is essential-the more people who read your proposal the better, find out your weaknesses before submission, not after!