3 Must-do’s for your next grant application

All too often the grant application deadline creeps up. We get so busy trying to finish off previous grants, manage our teams and publish our research in order to attain funding. With all this going on it’s not surprising that the process of developing strategic collaborations and valuable non-academic partnerships can fall by the way side, or become an activity left to the dying hours prior to submitting the grant.

Collaborations and networks take time to build, particularly the more valuable ones. It is important determine what it is you need and are looking for with regard to who gets involved on your next grant. This process should not be taken lightly, with limited funds to go around, limited time to get work done, and increasing pressure to create impact we need to consider these relationships very carefully.

There are many things that you need to do to achieve high quality collaborations for your next grant, but here are the three you can start to do right now and that will help you determine your next steps.

  1. Assess the project needs – Plan your research strategy.

    What is the long term goal/vision of your research?

 Often research is being undertaken for a great reason but without any bigger picture thinking. This is an unfortunate side effect of time restrictions in doing the research, but also time to plan future research. This has also been highlighted as an increasingly limiting factor in why philanthropic funders do not want to put money into research.

Try to develop a goal other than publishing a paper or “determining the effect of A on B”.

What staff and equipment will you need to achieve your research goal?

Considering this will help you to assess the external collaborations and partnerships that may be of value. Consider multidisciplinary partnerships and non-academic involvement.

  1. Determine the value of the collaborators.

    What is the value that each collaborator and co-investigator brings to the grant?

Often collaborators remain the same and the relationships and vision can become stale. Take the opportunity to map out the skills and expertise that the collaborators have for the new project.

Outline the expectations.

Too often this is a step that can be overlooked in the rush to submit. Good planning and some specific guidelines as to the expectations of each collaborator are vital in ensuring smooth sailing through the process.

Carefully consider how the money gets used or divided up, who will provide overall management of the collaboration, what are the responsibilities of each collaborator on the grant, and simple tasks like meetings and stakeholder engagement responsibilities throughout the project.

  1. Find alternative collaborations

Make new friends

You may well find that once you have determined your goals and the expertise needed to achieve them that you are missing some valuable collaborators. This is usually the non-academic links but can also be other multidisciplinary collaborations.

Think outside the box

If your goal is to change a way something is delivered in practice then submitting a report is not likely to achieve that, perhaps working with people in computer science to develop new programs or an app would be better, or working with someone in education to deliver an outcome to practice, or working with the arts to develop a more innovative solution to the delivery of practice change.

Consider what you need and what will provide the best opportunities to achieve your “big picture” goal. Doing this before you get the funding will help in setting the vision.

 

So you’ve decided you need some fresh eyes and new collaborators, now what, how should you go about finding them? Stay tuned, next week I will provide some insights into developing new networks and collaborators, but be warned it takes time!