Applying for a Grant? This Research Might Change Your Approach

January 9, 2018

If you’ve applied for federal funding for your research, you know the importance of understanding your sponsor’s goals, writing clearly and concisely, and paying close attention to deadlines. Yet, a well-prepared proposal doesn’t guarantee you’ll receive funding. According to researchers Ted and Courtney von Hippel’s article, “To Apply or Not to Apply: A Survey Analysis of Grant Writing Costs and Benefits”, competition and tight federal budgets result in a 60% probability that meritorious research will go unfunded.

And 60% is a best-case scenario.

“These perceptions of non-financial benefits were unrelated to how many grants investigators applied for, the number of grants they received, or the amount of time they devoted to writing their proposals.”

von Hipple 

Their research study focused on proposals submitted by astronomers and psychologists to three US federal agencies – NASA, NIH, and NSF. With approximately 20% of proposals finding success, you should seriously consider a career change to culinary arts or music theory, right?

Wrong.

If chances are slim that your research, no matter how deserving, may go unfunded, what are the benefits in continuing to apply? Are there non-financial gains to the process? How much consideration should be given to funding rates?

The von Hippel’s goal is to examine the proposal process and provide statistical information regarding funding rates to better guide researchers through grant writing and maximize their efforts. Additionally, this data serves department heads, as well as research administrators, who provide guidance. Learn what you can do differently by reading about Ted and Courtney’s research here.

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