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Pathways to Academic Independence: Planning for Funding Success and Writing a Professional Research Strategy

In this post Al Innes and Dr Charlotte Brady, of the Strategic Research Development Team, introduce the Pathways to Academic Independence training course, and focus on the first two modules of the course: Planning for Funding Success, and Writing a Professional Research Strategy 

Pathways to Academic Independence 

Funded Research: Pathways to Academic Independence is a new training course aimed at equipping researchers with the knowledge, skills and resources required to secure their first fellowship or research grant, or improve the quality of future applications for existing first-time grant holders. It’s designed to inform researchers from a discipline-neutral perspective, about aspects of research they can consider before putting pen to paper on fundable applications. 

 In our last blog post we introduced the course and covered the main topics, giving an idea of what to expect. You can read that post here: 

Planning for research success 

The first module in the course covers one of the core things that researchers (whether that be academic-track or technicians) struggle to make time for: planning. 

This module helps those researchers understand that making time to plan their research activity, and the funding of it, will save time in the long run. Activities like preparing Narrative CVs in advance will also take a lot of the sting out writing applications in the future. Generally, writing a proposal shouldn’t begin with focusing on a scheme or a funder, but should start with understanding your own research activity and capacity for it. From there you can find the funding method that works for you.  

With that in mind we built the Planning for Funding Success module so that it would cover the skills and behaviors of successful academics, and indeed, any researcher, in making that personal plan. These are transferable skills that can be valued in many situations, and also they allow you to take a step back and focus on what matters to you from a research point-of-view.   

A Professional Research Funding Strategy 

The second module in the course builds on the planning and writing areas covered in module one, by setting out a personal research funding strategy. Putting together a research funding strategy is crucial for being able to map out all the research activity you plan to do before you begin to think about what funders or funding mechanisms you need to employ to make your research a reality. The strategy itself can seem daunting, or even like a lot of extra work, but once designed it can reduce the amount of time you spend framing your research each time you speak to someone about – not mention taking the pain out of re-writing new applications when one is unsuccessful, or when you pivot to a new scheme.  

We’ll challenge you to write about some big-picture what do I want to be known for aspects of your strategy, but also to think about who your potential stakeholders are, and what the potential impact of your research may be. We’ll suggest some components of a research strategy that you can shape to fit your personal trajectories and really make the strategy your own. 

This module is a great way to take a step back and shape a long-term approach to your career, but will also challenge you once you’ve considered your aims, to articulate those goals out loud. A convincing pitch of your intentions will be useful practice in getting funders to engage with you. 

Where can I sign-up for the course? 

The Funded Research: Pathways to Academic Independence course can be accessed via the Learning Catalogue on People and Money. Either search for “Funded Research” in the Catalogue, or go straight to the course on P&M via




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