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Writing Strong Applications

Writing Strong Applications
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    The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council investing in research
    for discovery and innovation the aim of this podcast is to offer advice to new
    academics on writing strong applications for funding the initial starting point
    is to follow the guidance on the EPSRC website by putting into the search area
    preparing a proposal EPSRC portfolio managers Nick Cooper Elaine massing Adam
    luck Marnie and Richard Gunn head of peer review are going to go through some
    commonly asked questions tips and advice and some of the myths they come across
    among new academics regarding writing applications
    there's a common misconception that you need a certain number of collaborators
    or a certain number of project partners in order to successfully get funding
    this just isn't the case everything comes down to is it appropriate for the
    project is it something that a reviewer is going to read and wonder why wasn't
    this company involved or why is this company involved because they have
    nothing to do with the project itself and those are the things to keep in mind
    is it appropriate well there are certain calls where you have to have project
    partners but for many new investigators that's not something that they would be
    dealing with so it was a general rule I think it's helpful to have collaborators
    and project partners where they contribute to the project but you
    shouldn't feel that there's any preconceived target to reach when it
    comes to collaborators or project partners it's often thought that EPSRC
    is looking for proposals covering specific topics this isn't the case we
    have strategies on our website to say how we want certain research areas to go
    but for responsive mode applications the idea is that you can apply to do
    research in whichever area interests you our remit covers the whole of
    engineering and physical sciences which includes mathematics and we also have
    other research councils within UK who we Co fund with so we cover the entire
    science and innovation landscape however there are specific calls that are
    targeted to particular areas of science so it's really important again to check
    the documentation for the cool that you're applying to and just checking
    that what you're proposing fits with that scheme if you're not sure there's
    always a contact detail in the cool document somewhere and your research
    office will be able to help you as well one myth I hear is that EPSRC keeps a
    black list of academics who can't apply for further funding that's definitely
    not true something that may have caused this myth
    is that we do have something called the repeatedly unsuccessful applicants lists
    it's a list of people who have been systematically unsuccessful in apply for
    grants over a long period of time and what it will do is restrict those people
    to one application per year for a 12-month period the point behind this is
    to relieve strain on peer review to encourage the applicant to work with
    their office and colleagues to improve the
    quality of their applications if they want to put further ones in in the
    future once you are on that list you will definitely be notified and you're
    taken off that list after the twelve months some people think they can
    resubmit a project as long as they mildly change the wording of it this
    isn't the case we do have a policy that prohibits resubmissions unless it's in a
    specific case where the funding panel has asked us to invite a resubmission we
    expect you to take the comments from the reviewers on board and not just change
    the words around in the proposal but make some substantial changes to the
    content based on the feedback you've already been given high-quality
    proposals are what rise to the top of the panel list and this is what people
    need to be focusing on it's not the case that adding a multi or interdisciplinary
    aspect to your proposal will increase or decrease its chances of funding it's
    important to it bring in that the right disciplines from the start of the
    proposal when you're writing it the fact is that at the review stage we will
    ensure that every elements of the proposal is covered by the expert
    reviewers and then a panel a disciplinary panel that are best
    equipped to deal with that proposal will ultimately make a recommendation for
    funding on it take the time to understand all of the various
    disciplines that you are involving in your research because there's a good
    chance that if you're a mathematician who's involving a chemist for instance
    you may get a chemist reviewer who will see it from their perspective and you
    need to make sure that you're writing your proposal in a way that will make
    sense to a chemist as well as to a mathematician applicants often think
    they have to write their grant proposal in isolation without asking for help and
    this just isn't the case we really do encourage people to talk to others about
    their proposal whether it's colleagues or their research office or us at EPSRC
    if you want guidance about the specifics of how to apply it really shouldn't be a
    solo process it's not something that's testing your ability to write something
    by yourself it's a myth that there are certain words or phrases that will help
    your grant get funded we sometimes call this grant speak and you'll see certain
    phrases pop up in grants quite regularly you don't need to fill it full of
    technical jargon or use the word strategic in
    resentence to get your grant funded it is incredibly important when writing a
    proposal to make sure the wording is accessible and jargon free and clear to
    read it's going to be read by a number of audiences while it's going through
    the peer-review process including EPSRC staff by peer reviewers who may be in
    your discipline but on the fringes of it it'll be read by panel members who may
    not necessarily have the same depth of knowledge of your particular area of
    research another aspects of the importance of keeping things jargon free
    is that a summary of your proposal will appear on the EPSRC website it therefore
    could be read by a range of people who could provide the impact that you want
    from your research government and industry and other users and so to make
    sure the project has the success that presumably you want from it it's crucial
    to make it as clear and jargon free as possible a common mistake that I've seen
    people make in research proposals on a fairly regular basis is not to really
    emphasize at the outset what the point of the research is so people will very
    quickly go into the technical detail of what they're proposing without setting
    it in context and explaining why that research is necessary in the first place
    how it will advance the field and what the outcome might look like
    and without that clear methodology it's very difficult for reviewers to actually
    assess the quality of the project some mistakes that people often make when
    they're writing their proposals include writing a proposal which isn't in a
    novel area or which is of limited novelty and writing a proposal which has
    a weak argument for why it is a nationally important project so you need
    to write a pathways to impact document for instance but the impact that you're
    proposing should be linked to what's going on in the proposal often you find
    that the disparate documents all have different ideas of what's going to
    happen with the research and making it joined up and making a coherent proposal
    is one of the best indicators of success pathway to impact is about identifying
    potential beneficiaries of the research and trying to reach out to them this can
    include requesting funding for things like public outreach and engagement
    someone to do their social media to do workshops work with industry
    all of these things can be asked for they just need to make sure that they
    are justifying the resources and that's applicable to their project
    so on your pathways to impact document make sure that you include the resources
    you need to make that impact that you want one of the pieces of advice I give
    to new academics is to make sure that they have several other people read
    their proposal and to basically be a critical friend so you want that
    critical friend to actually look for gaping holes for things that aren't
    being answered things that aren't clear to make sure that they use the reviewer
    documentation that we do have available online so that it's actually being
    almost assessed before it goes out to reviewers and that should help make a
    stronger proposal it's really important to follow the guidelines relating to
    formatting font text size and things like that because if the font is wrong
    it will have to come back to you to be adjusted some of this is because of the
    computer system and it's how it's read we also want to make sure things are
    fair to everyone this is why we ask for it to be in the same font the same size
    same margins and the same number of pages so that people aren't getting you
    know an extra paragraph or two on an additional page
    that ends this look at advice for new academics on writing strong applications
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