Category Archives: Funding applications

Writing an Application for the South Africa – Sweden University Forum

Last year I had a great visit at the University of Pretoria, where I met Helene Gelderblom and her UX in South Africa team. I was very impressed by their work, and since then we have been looking for opportunities to continue our collaboration. Many of my research projects are in the same area as theirs, and it would be so interesting to do research together on how to improve the quality of IT system.

Now one opportunity for funding has appeared! Uppsala University and 27 other universities in Sweden has a newly started collaboration with South Africa, and they have a call for applications to join a research and innovation week at the University of Pretoria. You find information about their initiative here. Several of the challenges they are addressing in the South-Africa Sweden University forum are related to my research, and it would be great to discuss them with other researchers and look for collaborations. The week will also include some research and innovation activities, and there will be a delegation from Uppsala University going to Unversity of Pretoria.

We’ll see if the application is granted or not. There might be many researchers who are interested in joining this Please hold your thumbs! And please join me and write an application to this call for joining a research and innovation week.

Applications for Funding from an Equal Opportunites Perspective

Doing evaluations for EU applications has so far been quite a learning experience. I have been asked to do evaluations of very large applications in the ICT area, and I will be doing applications 5-6 time a year for the coming years. The competence that I am especially contributing to for the group of evaluators is the equal opportunities perspective, apart from me being a researcher in ICT.

Many in the ICT business think it is very difficult to think of ICT projects from an equal opportunities perspective. They see ICT as neutral, and hence it is not possible too talk about from a any perspective. ICT is transparent, in their view, and simply a value free tool that people can use. It is as value free as a hammer. Anyone can use a hammer. (Smile). Firsts of all, ICT technology are male coded, and it is a completely male dominated area. A hammer also has all kinds of connotations to male professions, and men who are unable to use a hammer are not seen as real men….. Doing masculinity without being good at hammering is of course possible, but you rarely find men who are proud of not being able to use a hammer. ICT has the same kind of connotations. Also, not everyone can use a hammer due to not having the physical ability, not being able to see or having hands that are unable to hold a hammer.

ICT is not neutral, and there are a few large areas to look at when thinking about it in relation to ICT projects

1) The development work. Who are on the team? What are the roles of women and men on the team? What are their salaries in the project? Who will be talking to customers? Will all men be back-end programmers? What management principles will be used? How will management make sure that every competence is seen and heard? Is the management style inclusive? Is the manager and the people on the team aware of equal opportunities and have competence in the area?

2) Users Represented in the Project. How are the users present in the development? Do the project test with users? How are users recruited? Are all kinds of users represented? How do you make sure that you listen to all comments from users without being biased?

3) Assumptions about Users. What assumptions are made about the users of the technology? Have you though of people from all discrimination grounds? We have a tendency to design technology for men, and forget about diversity in all its forms. We need to do something about that.

4) Knowledge about inclusive design, design for all etc. I think that many software developers etc need better knowledge about design for all and inclusive design. What are the recommendations for inclusive design of web applications, of user interfaces etc? How do you make sure that your system is usable for everyone? My colleague Lars Oestreicher is an expert in this area and one of our best teachers at the department. If you want to learn more read his upcoming book or take his courses.
 The above are just some of the things that are relevant when writing an application and adding the equal opportunities perspective. I really hope to see fewer of the applications saying that ICT is neutral, and that there is nothing to say about the project application from an equal opportunities perspective.

Six Good Practices to Learn from When Writing Applications with an International Team

This spring I have been working on a large EU application in the area of eHealth together with a large team of people from different countries. I’ve never been a part of such an effort before and so far, it has been a good learning experience to see how to get such a large application written. Before this writing process I knew only one of the other researchers, and Jonas Moll from the HTO group is joining me in this effort.

The writing process has been coordinated by two people who work closely together with writing everything, and sections of the text has been mailed to all the participants and work package leaders to review.

The writing process has had good support from UU innovation and the EU coordinators at Uppsala university. Among other things they have funded the application team so that we have had the chance to meet a couple of times to discuss and write.

This week the whole application was sent out to us for review, and next week it will be sent to people who will do a pre-review of the text. The deadline for the application is not until later on this spring, so there is time to rewrite and improve the text after this pre-review.

Some good practices to learn from in this application writing process are:

  1. Meet and discuss IRL. It’s really good to meet and discuss and not just using Skype. There is funding available for such meetings at our university. Perhaps also at yours?
  2. Distribute meeting notes. There are always meeting notes sent out after each meeting. These have clear indications of what is expected of you to do.
  3. Have clear deadlines. The mails with documents with sections of text always contain a deadline when the text is to be sent back.
  4. Have one person in charge. There is really one person writing most of the text which makes it look like “one voice” (of course).
  5. Have someone to do a pre-review. Having a pre-review process with an external reviewer who reads and comments is really a great idea.
  6. Start in good time. The time planning of this work is really good. We started the process already before Christmas, and we have almost 6 months to write the text.


Let’s see how the pre-review goes, and let’s hope that this project is funded 🙂

Some Thoughts after Reviewing Funding Applications

Laltely I have spend quite a lot of time reading funding applications for the Research Council of Norway. I must say that the process is very rigorous, and both criteria and evaluation instructions are very carfully described.

I thought that I would give you some advice based on the experience of reading nine applications, as a complement fo the learning experience of writing my own applications presented previously:

  1. Describe carefully what you are going to do in the project. Be very detailed and think it through.
  2. Try to illustate your ideas in different figures. It is a bit complicated to understand applications and images help.
  3. When writing text about the gender perspective of your application, do not only write the number of women and men. That is not sufficient.
  4. Explain how the different partners will contribute to the project you are applying for, and describe how the collaboration will work.

Some of the things I found very interesting were:

  1. There were indeed many action reserach projects among the applications! I didn’t realize it was such a popular methodology (or perhaps this was a strange sample that I reviewed)
  2. There are indeed many good applications out there.

I am looking forward to the discussion in Norway next week. It will be a great learning experience.