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Pathways to Academic Independence: Funding Landscape Module Part 2 – Navigating the Landscape

In this post Al Innes and Dr Charlotte Brady, of the Strategic Research Development Team, discuss the Pathways to Academic Independence training course, diving again into the Funding Landscape and Funders module, looking at the top takeaways from the course module and giving you a flavour of what to expect.

In our last blog post we introduced the Funding Landscape module, giving an overview of the content, focusing on the complexities of funding. You can read that post here: 

Exploring Your Funder’s Realm: Navigating the Landscape 

In the world of research funding, the journey doesn’t end with identifying potential funders; it begins! To navigate this landscape effectively, it’s essential to delve deeper into the specifics of your chosen funders, understanding their preferences, priorities, and evaluation processes. This module guides you through the process of scoping out your potential funders, ensuring a strategic alignment between your research and their interests. Here are 5 key navigation takeaways from our Research Funding module: 

1. Unravelling the Funder’s Identity: A Deeper Dive 

Once you’re familiar with potential funders in your area, it’s time to uncover the layers that define them. Begin by exploring their websites, where you will find invaluable resources such as their strategic focus areas, thematic interests, and case studies of previously funded projects. These insights provide a window into their research funding landscape, offering a clearer view of what resonates with them. 

2. Beyond the Digital Veil: Tapping into Insights 

While online resources are valuable, don’t hesitate to tap into personal connections and experiences. Reach out to colleagues who have secured grants from these funders or have served as reviewers for them. Their perspectives can illuminate the intricacies of the funder’s evaluation process, shedding light on what works and what doesn’t. 

3. Embracing the Community: Funder Events and Webinars 

Funders often host events and webinars, creating spaces for researchers to engage directly with their representatives. These sessions serve as golden opportunities to ask questions, clarify doubts, and even shape the future of funding calls. By participating, you can glean insights from fellow researchers, forge connections, and leave your mark on the funders’ agendas. 

4. Seeking Guidance: Direct Communication with Funders 

When uncertainty lingers, consider reaching out to the funders themselves. Their staff members are often approachable and willing to guide you in determining whether your research idea aligns with their funding schemes. This proactive approach can save you time, effort, and potential misdirection down the road. 

5. Leverage Institutional Expertise: Engaging with Research Office Colleagues 

Don’t forget to tap into the wealth of expertise available within your research institution. Your designated Research Funding Specialist possesses a wealth of experience working with various funders. They might even connect you with university staff who’ve been involved in funder panels, offering invaluable insights into the funder’s expectations and evaluation criteria. 

As you embark on this journey to understand your potential funders, remember that every interaction, every piece of information gathered, refines your strategy. Your pursuit of research funding is not only about your projects; it’s about finding the right home for your academic aspirations. To continue your exploration, stay tuned for our upcoming segment on crafting compelling research proposals that resonate with your chosen funders. 

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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