If you're planning a longer term academic career, be aware that academic employers will look for evidence of your ability to attract research funding. Depending on your research field it may not be easy for you to be a Principal Investigator on a grant, but it's still important to demonstrate that you have an understanding of the grant writing process and can get invloved in bids, as well as plans for future research and knowledge about possible funding sources. In the AGCAS report on Getting the First Lecturing Job that I've referenced in a previous post, responses on the extent and types of experience in obtaining research funding that recruiters would look for varied across disciplines. Respondents in Biological Sciences, Physical Sciences and Engineering were more likely to look for evidence of larger independent grants and fellowships, whereas respondents from Social Sciences gave a broader range of answers, highlighting the value of travel grants, small project grants and joint grant applications.* Before tackling a larger grant or Fellowship application yourself, it could be a good idea to bid for some smaller funding or try to be involved in a grant application another academic is writing.
Even if you're not planning a longer-term academic career, or want to stay flexible, involvement in funding applications is highly transferable to other settings and will build your skills in budgeting, planning and logical and persuasive writing, as well as your collaborative skills if you're involved in joint funding bids with other researchers.
Depending on your specialism, funding may be available from research councils, trusts, charities, or industrial partners or sponsors. It's really important to speak to academics in your field, as they are best placed to know the most appropriate funding sources for your research area, and can give advice and feedback on any research proposals.
I'd never attempt to put together a 'list' of funding sources, but here are some suggestions for starting places to look:
- Research Professional is a searchable database of both large and small funding sources from a wide range of sources
- Research and Innovation Services list funding opportunities and send out newsletters with upcoming funding sources
- The Research Councils provide small and large-scale funding for research projects, including grants and Fellowships. Some research councils only allow permament acaemic staff to be Principal or Co-Investigators on a grant, so check the eligibility criteria carefully. Even if you are not able to be a named PI or Co-I on a grant proposal, it can be possible for you to have an input into the grant writing process. Some Research Councils offer 'Researcher Co-Investigator' status to PhDs or postdocs who have made a significant contribtion to writing the funding application, so look out for this.
- Independent Fellowships (career development opportunities which give you the chance to develop, and secure funding for, your own independent research projects), are provided by the Research Councils, and other organisations including the European Commission, the Leverhulme Trust, the British Academy and The Royal Society. See this University of Manchester Guide for more sources and advice on Fellowships. Some Fellowship schemes ask for a specific amount of postdoctoral research experience first. If you're applying to a Fellowship with Bath as your host institution, our colleagues in Research and Innovation Services can provide guidance and feedback on your application.
- The vacancies section of our web pages for researchers include other places to look for funding.
- small grants, including travel grants, may be available from a range of sources including the relevant learned society/professional body relating to your discipline.
- look out for internal funding sources, such as funding for public engagment activiites, or the Researcher Development Fund.
The Researcher Development Unit runs courses on grant writiing, so do check these out too.
*Do look at the relevant sections of the report for a fuller picture and interesting qualitiative comments. Views on this will vary so do talk to academics in your Department and research area.