On Applying for Research Funding

My research group has worked really hard with writing funding applications this last year. The applications have had different areas of research mostly related to eHealth, and many related to the DOME consortium. I would guess that we have written about eight research project applications this last year only, and this has taken us a considerable amount of effort, time and energy.

It is really hard work to write an application, and it is almost the same thing as writing a PhD thesis. You need an area of research with an overarching research question, a background section and studies that contribute to answering the research question in different ways. I have many times complained that this is too hard, too complicated and far too difficult given that my calendar is normally quite full of other activities. I have felt stupid and frustrated. 

Then all of a sudden, it was our turn to win the lottery of getting funded applications and last week TWO of the applications were granted! And probably we will also get another action research project regarding digital work environments.

Suddenly the situation is completely different, and looking back one can wonder what happened? So what did I do this time that was different from the other applications. Well, I don’t really know. I think that much of it is a lottery. However, here are a few things I think might contributed:

  1. I have learned a lot about writing funding applications from other seniors working with Image Analysis at my division, as we have a “Vi2 Grant Club” day every year that is organised by my head of division, Ingela Nyström. During these sessions we give each other feedback on the overall ideas and on the set up of the applications. Especially the area “Why this? Why is it important” was discussed during these feedback sessions given that they have another background I needed to explain my research area better.
  2. The applications that got funded were based on previous applications (that did not get funding). Writing applications is an iterative process with many cycles.
  3. I have gathered and read funded applications from colleagues in related areas and read them carefully, and many times.
  4. I have collaborated with very experienced researchers from outside my department in most of the applications. I have learned a lot from these collaborative writing sessions.  We spent whole days discussing ideas and writing texts for the applications.
  5. The applications was a joint effort with lots of people involved. I am lucky to have PhD students, colleagues and a researcher husband who helps with reading, writing texts and commenting.
  6. When these applications were sent in I felt that they were really OK quality with an interesting research area, not a quick and dirty writing.
  7. I have made a strong effort in staffing the research project with people that contribute with a different perspective than mine to the project. Trying to have good answers to the question: Why we?
  8. One of my colleagues is extremely good at making Figures and Gantt schemes that make the applications look very professional. This helps a lot and contributes to the overall impression!

Hopefully it will not be several years until I get research funding next time. It is indeed a lottery, but some things can at least make the chances a tiny bit better. The image for the blog post is from my celebration of this success with my family. It is my youngest son and me in the photo.

Good luck in the research funding lottery in the future!