Sport research/Grant applications

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Research often requires funding to allow it to happen, and many research careers will be judged (rightly or wrongly) on research monies won. So grant funding can be a big deal, and it's generally competitive, so isn't the easiest thing to attract.

Planning is key to the application, ensure you complete the grant application well ahead of time offering time for a number of reviewers to add comments. Most research institutes will have internal staff dedicated to this. Support from external organisations is also important, approach them early and with a well developed proposal to maximise the chance of their support.

Grant sources[edit]

There are lots of sources of grants and any organisations or associations associated with your field of study (e.g. Diabetes Australia, Exercise & Sport Science Australia) are a good place to start looking. There are also more prestigious grant funders that will offer greater funds but are also more competitive. In Australia, category 1 grants (the most prestigious) are dominated by Australian Research Council (ARC) and National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) funding. However, all grant applications tend to be similar in regards to required information although the length of applications can vary dramatically. Generally grants take weeks, or even months to put together and get colloborators together, so don't leave it to the last minute... Your competitors won't.

To find grant funding opportunities try these tools:

Most research institutions will have their own record of potential funders, so check with them as well. It is also worth looking at research published in your field. If the research has been funded the source of funding should be acknowledged in the paper and will give you an idea of which funding bodies and organisations to target for grant opportunities.

Grant writing[edit]

Organisations offering grants are generally bombarded with applications, so make sure the first page has all the information needed and can be read by experts in the field as well as the administrators who will also influence the decision. Typical sections include:

Project Summary[edit]

The summary should contain a stand alone brief of the project. Coming at the start of the application, this may be the only section that is read, so make it count. Similar to other research proposals, you need to address all the major issues that appear in the rest of the grant application, but keep it succinct and only add the most relevant information. Consider what reviewers will deem important and highlight these aspects in your summary. Things such as:

  • clearly addressing the selection criteria
  • need for research is shown
  • significance of research to a population
  • research design and methodology is able to achieve what it sets out to

Lay description[edit]

You need to be able to describe the project briefly to the lay public.

Research Project[edit]

Background[edit]

Just like any research output you need to make a case for the research you are doing. The background of your prject should review the current literature, but go further by breaking it down to identify what else is needed. The background will generally include information such as; what is known in the area (research that has already been conducted), what is unknown or gaps in the literature (make a case for this using evidence wherever possible) and why there is a need to do the research (significance of the research to the body of knowledge on the topic).

Aims / Hypotheses[edit]

What are the aims and hypotheses of the research project? Does the research design address these? Have a look back at What is research

Designs & Methods[edit]

Address everything about research design and methods. Remember that experts will be looking at the proposal and asking whether or not the design is able to scientifically answer the questions being raised. To strengthen your application, even go as far as power calculations.

Significance[edit]

This section is crucial- why is the research important? How does it contribute to the world or a specific population? Address this clearly, showing the link between your proposal and some greater benefit with evidence and logic. Also articulate how the research is significant to the funding body's own objectives.

Addressing selection criteria[edit]

Significance[edit]

Here it is again, it's important, get it? What does the study hope to achieve or contribute towards? You do not want it to be a dead-end, satisfy a curiosity, help very few people or not be aligned to the funding body's objectives. You do want it to lead to further research, save lots of money (e.g. Health system), improve quality of life, reduce mortality, etc. Link the significance of the study to these values succinctly and with evidence.

Capacity/standing of researcher/team/institute(s)[edit]

Part of the selection criteria for most grants is standings and capacity of the researcher (team/institute) performing the research. This means a previous strong research record is a strong (sometimes critical) part of the application. This leads to strategic collaborations as well as well filled out applications. The researchers' record is fairly easy to do (publication lists, research in the area highlighted, previously successful research grant funding) but don't forget to address capacity. Does the institute already perform work in the area (either as research or consultancy), do they have the equipment and facilities required for the research already, does the research team having training in the required areas to perform the research?

Support from Partner Organisations[edit]

Applications are more powerful if others working in the area agree the research is needed and are prepared to support it. For instance, if doing work in diabetes, have the local Diabetes Association support it. This can be just in the form of a letter of support, but will say more if they agree to support the research more directly, this could be in terms of direct funds, provision of equipment, access to participants etc.

Have you consulted with the local community. Do they agree there is a need for the research or service? Get letters of support where possible to assist showing the significance of the work.

Budget[edit]

Prepare a realistic budget, include all the items you can think of, and also be prepared to alter the requirements if the funding body is only prepared to fund a portion of the work. Funders will point out what they are more or less likely to fund. Take note of this and ensure that you do not include items in your budget that will not be funded. In some cases it will be beneficial to show that the work can become self sufficient over time.

Budget items will include costs such as:

  • staffing
  • equipment
  • consumables
  • participant related costs
  • facility costs
  • transport
  • promotion/advertising
  • costs of research output (publication/conferences)

Timelines[edit]

Prepare a realistic timeline of milestones of the project. Milestones will includes events such as:

  • ethics approval
  • participant recruitment
  • data collection
  • research/report output

Task[edit]

  1. Find a suitable grant to apply for, write 200 words on why it is suitable for your project (this will come in handy later)
  2. Complete the application and have a number of others (mentors) read over and comment on it.

Resources[edit]