Research is an integral part of academia, but it can also become very costly, very fast. Luckily, researchers have access to grants, scholarships, and fellowships. In this article, we will talk about the four steps towards finding research funding, how funding is allocated, and the impact of funding on researcher productivity and performance.
4 Steps on How to Look for Research Funding
Finding funding for your research is not only extremely important but also time-consuming. One way to increase your success rate is applying to grants that best fit your needs, your team’s needs, and your research experience. Below are four ways in which to find funding:
- Find places that fund your research - Elsevier has a Funding Institutional platform that offers access to 4,300 government and private funding organizations, with over 2,800 funders in the US alone. Not all of these organizations fund research in every discipline, but every researcher can find someone willing and able to support their research.
- Find international places that fund your research - if the organizations above don’t work out, look overseas. A lot of research is international, which not only makes funding outside your own country available, but you may find that a funder is looking for an international research partner. The Open Education Database includes a list of 100 places to find funding for your research across different disciplines.
- Focus your search - use a funding search tool, such as NIH (National Institute of Health), to help narrow your search instead of having to look through thousands of results for what you need. Some grants are specifically targeted for early career researchers or people based in a particular part of the world, so it’s essential to narrow your search to exactly what you need.
- Look beyond research projects - funding for research projects is readily available to search. Still, it’s important to remember that there is funding available for other things as well, such as training or conference attendance. When travel becomes less restricted, grants to visit other countries and see their research teams in action will become available too.
How Is Research Funding Allocated?
Governments and other funding organizations devote a significant budget to funding research annually. The budget at NIH, for example, is about 41.7 billion invested for medical research alone. Although in some sectors and disciplines funding organizations have a larger budget, in general, there are limited financial resources that make it impossible to allocate the required research support to all researchers who ask for it.
Scholarships and fellowships are awarded to individuals according to their academic merit or financial need, while grants may be awarded to individuals or organizations. There are different types of grants, each with its own set of eligibility criteria, guidelines, and deadlines. All grants are divided into categories according to their funding purpose, and they are as follows:
- research purposes,
- fostering business activities,
- conducting human rights advocacy,
- preserving libraries,
- ecological activities,
- NGOs and foundations, etc.
It’s important that researchers do their homework (and their research) into which grant to apply to and how. Grants are an essential part of the academic activities of any research institute, so they are the best option to consider for individuals or institutions that search for funding. Grants for each individual or institution are as follows:
- Academic institutions or laboratories - grants are announced regularly by organizations such as the EU, World Bank, NED, National Science Foundations in different countries, NASA, space agencies, private foundations, museums, etc.
- Researchers - grants can be for research institutes and laboratories, libraries, and NGOs. They can also be for individual researchers, undergraduate, graduate, and Ph.D. students, journalists, photographers, educators, etc. Additionally, there are grants for women in research, minorities, and travel grants for students and researchers.
- Educational - these grants are given each year by the EU, UN, USAID, and other international institutions.
- Small businesses - grants are regularly announced by government bodies and international organizations to foster small and medium enterprises worldwide.
Impact of Funding on the Performance and Productivity of the Funded Researchers
Competition for funding is increasing all the time. Apart from funding, which is an essential factor for scientific development and innovation, knowledge has become a worthy capital and a new basis for competitiveness between researchers. It’s vital to strive to increase the production of knowledge, which funding can have a huge role in.
Funding has been acknowledged as one of the main drivers of scientific activities, as it can play a significant role in defining scientific projects or setting expectations for existing projects. So, while it is essential to get funding for a project, knowledge accumulation and sharing are just as, if not more, important. Funding can also influence the size, efficacy, and productivity of the research sector. Better funding allocation can result in higher scientific performance through selecting highly productive research groups, well-defined projects, supporting novel ideas, and promoting scientific collaboration networks. The committee and reviewers in your particular area must make sure the limited amount allocated is well spent.
However, different nations follow differing research patterns, and their economic and institutional structures differ greatly too. Therefore, the budget allocation for different areas varies as well. Worldwide various allocation patterns distribute the research funding among universities and research institutes. This means that the performance and productivity of researchers worldwide differ, but there is no quantitative way to measure this.
Applying for a grant can often be an arduous process for researchers, but there are tools and resources available for you to ease the process. It’s important to remember not to be put off by rejection, as almost all well-established and experienced researchers have had their work rejected. If you get stuck, take a peek at this grant writing infographic in case you need some extra encouragement.
We at Orvium always want you to “be more curious”. You can engage with other researchers to increase the interaction in your community to ultimately increase your career success on our website. Make sure also to take a look at our platform to collaborate with other researchers and discover what is important to you.