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Getting Funding for a Student Research Project: A Complete Guide

Getting Funding for a Student Research Project: A Complete Guide
LiveWebTutors 30 Oct, 2021

A student research project is a proposal submitted to institutions for interested students to complete the project's research within the time frame given. It outlines any training methods that students might have access to.

PhD funding is a bit more challenging than funding for other degrees. A student is sponsored in various ways, and circumstances may change over the course of the 3-4 years (or more) it takes to complete a doctorate. Furthermore, earning enough money to live on while pursuing your PhD is practically impossible. So, how do you go about finding financing for research projects?

This guide explains how to apply for PhD funding and how it works for different projects and students. We have also outlined the recommended steps you can take in your sponsorship search, as well as other suggestions to keep in mind.

What are Research Grants & How Do you Get One?

Research grants are monetary awards provided to qualified researchers for the aim of carrying out research activities. The researcher who receives a grant is not obliged to repay it as long as the funds are spent on a specific research topic following the granting agency's requirements. The majority of research funds seek to contribute to society's intellectual, social, and economic progress.

The amount of money they donate ranges from one-time prizes to multi-year fellowships that cover all research and the cost of living.                

In the United States, there are two funding sources. The first category contains all government and non-profit entities, whereas the second category includes for-profit corporations. The following criteria will determine your success irrespective of which grant you apply for:

What are Research Grants & How Do you Get One

  • Have you completed all of the requirements on the application form?
  • Is the funding organization interested in the study proposal?

Overview of the research grant Lifecycle

Pre-award, award, and post-award are the three primary stages of the grant life cycle. Each stage has its unique responsibility for the applicant/recipient and the awarding agency. Depending on the nature of the project, the duration of an award may vary. The following sections provide general descriptions of each level; however, assistance grants may change due to individual circumstances or legislative requirements.

For an in-depth knowledge look at the grant application procedure, go here.

  • Funding Opportunities and Application Review During -Pre-Award Phase
  • Award Decisions and Notifications are part of -award phase.
  • Implementation, reporting, and closeout- post-award phase
Lifecycle steps

1-Pre-award phase- The pre-award phase begins with the agency's planning for the solicitation via Notices of Funding Opportunity (NOFOs) and finishes with the application review and scoring.

life cycle

  1. Embracing Possibilities: This step involves awarding agency. Based on their mission, the Administration, and congressional objectives-the grant-making agency prepares and creates a financing program.
  2. An Opportunity is Announced: Following that, the grant-making agency officially announced the funding opportunity, which advertises it to applicant communities and invites ideas tailored to the program's purpose.
  3. Searching for an opportunity: Potential candidates will use the search engine to locate funding opportunities that are eligible and that align with their organization's mission.
  4. Filling out an application: A grant application can take weeks to complete. Everything from organizational information to explanations of project activities-financial data is required in these categories. Any funding organization can submit an application package that is completed according to the requirements, and errors are double-checked.
  5. Retrieving the Application: Once the agency has retrieved an application form, the applicants are notified through e-mail. The grant application processing begins at this step.
  6. Keeping in the Loop: Applicants can communicate with the grant-making agency to check the status of their application. Each agency handles the application status procedure differently.
  7. Completing the Review Procedure: The review process takes time and differs depending on the type of grant. Grant-making agencies may provide applicants with updates on the status of their application as the evaluation process progresses.

2-Award phase-The granting agency will decide whether or not to give an award after reviewing all submissions. If an application is accepted, the agency will send a Notice of Award to the applicant (NoA). If the candidate is not selected, the agency will contact them through letter and provide certain information about the choice.

  1. Notifying the award recipient: The funding agency notifies the applicants whether or not they have been given a grant after the screening procedure. The agency also begins working with the awardee to prepare the funding agreement's legal framework. After then, the money is distributed.
  2. Beginning of hard work: After an applicant receives a Notice of Award and the funds disbursed, they can start working on their project. The award winner is responsible for meeting the award's administrative, financial, and programmatic reporting requirements.

3-The post-award phase- This phase begins when a successful application, also known as a beneficiary, spends the cash provided to them and gets to work on attaining the grant's goal(s). This phase entails continuing to monitor the sponsored project.

After the performance, the term has ended, closeout operations get completed, and the post-award phase comes to an end.

  1. Providing assistance and oversight: Following the disbursement of an award, the funding agency's grant management officer checks the awardee's reporting compliance. This procedure entails examining reports produced by the grantee. Auditing can also be used as a type of oversight.
  2. Making progress Reports: Regularly, award recipients submit two reports to the granting agency: financial reporting and programmatic reporting. These reports provide information on the grant project's overall financial state and program performance.
  3. Awards Closeout: The program stakeholders guarantee that all standards get completed as reports and financial data are sent to the granting agency. The award lifecycle comes to an end once all closeout requirements are met; this is a procedure that verifies that the recipient has completed all financial and reporting obligations.

How to apply for a Research Grant

When writing a research grant application, there are various elements to consider. The following are some of them:

  1. From the outset, plan the application process. It entails devoting time to researching funding options and figuring out the fundamentals of your idea (e.g., proposed budget and timeframe).
  2. Carefully read the submission rules of your funding organization and follow them while writing your proposal. Throughout, try to use clear and simple wording.
  3. Justify every aspect of your application, including your methods, costs, timetable, research goals, and why you requested a grant to help you fund your project.
  4. Make sure your application is error-free.

1. Looking for a Research Grant

When developing a grant proposal, identify a funder that fits your situation and research interests to increase your chances of success. To do so, you'll need to:

  1. Make a plan for the application process that you can stick to.
  2. Prepare your basic proposal, including the budget and research objectives.
  3. Seek funding opportunities in your field. Check the eligibility requirements as well as the goals of the financing organization.
  4. Discuss your grant request with co-workers, especially if you know somebody who has previously obtained funding for a related project.

The goal is to locate the most suitable funder for your project. Once you've completed this, you can move on to the next step.

2. Selecting the Best Grant

If you have ever looked at your scholarship, you know that there are an astonishing number of community-sponsored awards available. When you know what you're looking for, this daunting task becomes a lot easier. Take some time to establish the needs and emphasize your research before diving into public grants:

What will you achieve with your research? Who can benefit directly from the results? It may seem like a no-brainer, but having a clear picture of the value of your research will make the appropriate research area much easier. Choosing the right audience from the start will also improve your chances of success.

What qualifications do you have? If you're a fresh researcher, there are funding possibilities available that are specifically designed for you! To assist you in starting up, these grants normally have modest amounts and schedules. If you are a renowned professor, on the other hand, you most certainly have a large staff to assist and a lengthy project to complete. This implies you'll need a more competitive grant that provides significant funds and support over a longer time.

Fortunately, your previous experiences have prepared you for a larger project. To help you be more discriminating of different grants, consider what size of funding and timeline matches well with your present professional stage.

3. Composing Your Application

Golden tips for preparing an impressive proposal

You'll need funding to excel in academics. And you'll need to be able to draft a killer research proposal to acquire financing. This blog will give you a quick rundown of the important elements you'll need for a successful research proposal, as well as a few tips and methods that may help you write a proposal.

As a result, the first thing you should do is plan your research findings. If you follow the steps below, all the remaining items will fall into place.

Before you begin, make sure to:

Base your opinions

Make a list of who, what, where, and why you're conducting research. Before you start crafting your proposal, spend some time thinking about these questions.

Write down the first words that spring to mind when you ask yourself these questions:

  1. What is the topic of my research?
  2. Who is involved in this?
  3. When and where will it happen?
  4. What is the purpose of it?
  5. Make a plan for the research's logical progression:
  6. Determine why this research should be supported and/or why you are the ideal person to carry out this project by being clear, objective, brief, and realistic in your aims. Consider why this study is essential timely. Declare and justify your goals (simply because intriguing isn't enough!)
  7. Make sure you respond to the following questions: how will the research help society as a whole or contribute to the research community?

Look for eligible grantors as soon as you've narrowed down the scope of opportunities.

Know Your Audience

It is now time to choose appropriate grants and funding organizations. Look for the following questions in mind while writing;

  1. Who is the intended audience?
  2. Who will be examining the application, and who will be the financing agency?
  3. When evaluating your proposal, think carefully about who will be examining it, what they want to hear, and what type of experiences they may have.
  4. When you're writing about something, consider whether the people reading it will understand what you're talking about. There is a narrow line between being overly complicated and being very simple.

However, be aware of every detail of your investigation. Explain the details that you find difficult. It's important to note that reviewers don't read every word of a student's proposal. They typically go over the abstract, study design parts, methods, budget, and resume. Make these portions appear to look best by polishing them.

Include an Impactful Line

Can you summarise what you said in three sentences within a single sentence? Probably yes! If an outside reader is reading your proposal for the first time, including one clear sentence describing your findings will be helpful.

Ask yourself questions like;

  1. What is the topic of your investigation?
  2. Which theory is it based on?
  3. What is the framework?
  4. What triggers it to react? Combine all of these responses into a single powerful sentence.
Consider Your Style

Have you ever considered that the way you write might reveal a lot about you as a person, scholar, researcher, and expert?

Provide a descriptive project title

  1. Organize your text - use section headings if possible.
  2. Instead of a monolithic block of text, present the information in short paragraphs.
  3. Compose brief sentences
  4. Provide images/charts/diagrams to break up the matter into attractive ones if allowed.
Your Research Plan's Format

Create the text in a word processor, convert it to a PDF file, and then upload it to the application form after it's complete.

The Research Strategy can be up to 12 pages long, including one page for Specific Aims. Don't cram information into other parts that belong in the Research Plan. If you try to avoid page limits, NIH will be on the watch and may return your application.

Some pro tips
  1. Avoid sweeping broad e-mails to multiple prospective supervisors
  2. Allow plenty of time – a hasty proposal will show
  3. Identify potential supervisors and discuss your idea with them
  4. If applying to an external funding agency, keep in mind that the reviewer may not be an expert in your field of research.
  5. Stick to the rules, and don't forget the deadline.

What should you include in your proposal?

Each university's application process is unique, so make sure you follow the instructions supplied by the institution you're applying to. If you aren't provided any instructions on how to format your research proposal, you can use the structure recommended below. It's especially important if you're seeking outside financing or asking your workplace to support you in pursuing a research degree.

The following is a suggested structure for a research proposal:

  1. Background information/a brief description of existing literature
  2. Hypothesis and aims
  3. Methodology

Supervisory and expert training, as well as transferable skills training

  1. Ethical considerations
  2. Conclusions and summary
  3. How will the findings of the study be communicated to the general public?
Write your proposal

It's time to start working on your grant application, now you have chosen several grants that fit your study and needs. The second step is to read over the grant application guidelines. These instructions will address the materials that must be included in your proposal and the questions that the reviewers want to be answered.

Please note to include a table of contents and page numbers if the document is lengthy. We've compiled some tips for the most common aspects of a proposal.

Write your proposal

A) Title page
  1. Follow the instructions in your grant for what material to include and how it should be presented.
  2. Other details such as your title, affiliations, and the funding agency is necessary in addition to a clear, plain title.
B) Abstract
  1. This part of your research funding application receives the most attention.
  2. Make sure to be explicit, precise, and concise. Make it easy to locate your project's aims, significance (who will be your research helper?), and connection to the grant's subject!
  3. The first (and last) impression is produced conceptually. Before making a final decision on who would receive the award, reviewers looked at the abstracts of the selected applications.

In this section, write about the purpose, milestones, goals, procedures, study design, and justification in the future. Means, to outline your strategy for achieving your objectives, use the future tense.

C) Introduction
  1. The most effective technique to captivate your reader and provide the context for your proposed research is with a well-written introduction.
  2. Get your reader's attention right away and avoid making obvious or generic comments. The introduction is the opportunity to show that your research has never been done before and that the proposed project will add to the current body of knowledge. Your proposal does not have to be Nobel-worthy, but it must be based on proven theories and logic.
  3. This section should elaborate on what you said in the abstract.
  4. Set the tone for your research by providing background information about the research subject, the knowledge gap you're addressing, and how your research will answer it. Begin by speaking broadly about the research topic and gradually narrowing it down.

Your introduction should clearly state why your research is a suitable fit for the particular funding.

D) The Story of the Project
  1. This is the most important part of your proposal. Because there is so much information here, break it down into subheadings as needed.
  2. Explain the problem you're working on and its importance once more - after all, the funding organization providing you money for a reason.
  3. Break down how you plan to fix this problem into steps and justify each part. The more thorough you can be in this section, the more the reviewer will trust you.
  4. Concentrate on strategies that will allow you to back up your claims with quantifiable evidence. 
  5. Last but not least, double-check your grant guidelines! Ascertain that all of the reviewers' questions get answered adequately.

Avoid making overly ambitious statements about the expected research since honesty is one of the most crucial parts of proposal development; what is proposed must be possible.

It's a good idea to ask yourself the following questions while writing the proposal and try to answer them in the text:

  1. 1) Why should the government, a foundation, or a corporation pay for my research and research training?
  2. 2) Is there evidence in the literature, for example, that my research will fill a knowledge gap or meet market demand? How will it add to the corpus of knowledge that already exists?
  3. 3) Is my study relevant, original, and in response to a new trend?
  4. 4) How will my research project fulfil training needs and my existing job, if applicable?
E) Budget
  1. The more precise you can be about how you intend to use the funds, the more credible you will appear.
  2. Include an itemized list of all expected costs. Consider the instruments you'll need, the reagents you'll need, the travel costs you'll incur, and the salaries you'll get paid.
  3. Include a budget narrative that outlines why each line item is crucial to your project and why the funding agency should invest.
  4. Here, pays great attention to the funding agency's rules. Check to see what purchases they don't cover and their limits on things like plane trips.

Note that the performance-related budget can be presented in a table if there is little data, but the expense items are comprehensive and many; a spreadsheet should be used.

F) Timeline

Justify your project's timeline and set some rough deadlines for the various stages of your project. Use a visual depiction of your chronology or an itemized list.

G) Make a cover letter
  1. This is the bonus portion! Although a cover letter is unlikely to be required, it is highly recommended by many funding organizations.
  2. Treat this like your resume's cover letter; the goal is to pitch your proposal.
  3. Introduce your research team, emphasize the importance of your study, and specify the funding you're looking for.
  4. It should be revised multiple times.
  5. We strongly advise you to revise your research proposal with your professor or another expert on the subject. But, before you do it, read it through a few times.

1) Is it simple to understand?

2) Are the sections connected sensibly?

3) Are the tone and language formal and academic?

You should check it for plagiarism, just like any other work.

These are just a few of the elements that a grant application should include. Each grant application will have its own set of requirements and structure, so pay close attention to your grant rules.