5 tips to find funding for your research

Research grants are competitive; these tips and resources can help you find the best funding opportunities and apply for them successfully.

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Finding funding for your research is extremely important – and extremely time consuming. According to Elsevier’s own research, the average researcher works around 53 hours per week of which 11 percent is spent on funding and developing research. In a typical week, 29 percent of researchers prepare proposals for funding. However, the success rate for funding applications is about one in five.

One way to increase your success rate is to apply for the grants that best fit you, your team and your research experience. With that in mind, here are five tips for finding funding opportunities:

1. Look under every rock.

Every researcher is aware of the major funding organizations, like the NIH, NHS and UKRI, but there are many other, smaller foundations, charities and organizations that are offering more funding than ever before. In some areas where government funding has been rolled back, these organizations are helping to fill the gaps. Elsevier’s Funding Institutional platform lists about 5,500 organizations. While not all of those organizations fund research in every discipline, it does demonstrate that there are a lot more funders out there beyond the names everyone is familiar with.

2. Look overseas.

This is related to the first point. A lot of research is international, and therefore there are funding opportunities outside your own country. Again, funding search tools can help you identify funders you’re not aware of that are looking for international research partners. They can show you how important it is to have a history of funding awards with that partner, where there are similar funding opportunities, and how active a funder is in a particular country.

3. Focus your search.

When looking for funding, it can be tempting to cast your net as wide as possible in an attempt to catch the most opportunities. Realistically, you’re better off focusing your efforts on those opportunities where you’re most likely to succeed. For example, if you’re an early career researcher, there’s little benefit in applying for grants that require a more experienced researcher. Again, using a funding search tool can help here. Funding Institutional – and other tools – will let you filter by requirements. For example, some grants are targeted specifically to women, minorities, early career researchers or people based in a particular part of the world. Just as when you’re looking for something specific on Google or ScienceDirect, it helps to narrow your search rather than have to wade through tens of thousands of results looking for what you need.

4. Use metrics to boost your funding prospects.

Article metrics show funders how your publications have performed, giving them an idea of your potential. As an early career researcher, however, you may not have a long publication history, and it takes time for papers to be cited. That’s where altmetrics come in. Rather than focusing solely on your academic reach, they track and measure the online attention your research receives. Elsevier captures these elements in PlumX Metrics, including how people mention and engage with your research in the news and social media. These metrics are integrated into Elsevier’s major platforms, including Scopus and ScienceDirect.

In this Researcher Academy webinar, Elsevier’s Hans Zijlstra explains why metrics are important and how you can use them to apply for funding.

5. Think beyond research projects.

Obviously every researcher will be on the lookout for funding for their projects, but it’s worth remembering that funding is available for many other things, such as training or conference attendance. I don’t think anyone is thinking about travel right now, but when that is back on the agenda, it’s worth remembering that there are often grants to visit of countries and see other research teams in action. While these aren’t research opportunities in the traditional sense, they can be a way of building contacts and getting your foot in the door.

Elsevier’s funding solutions

  • Funding Institutional informs your institution’s research program strategy by helping you find active, accurate funding opportunities in a timely manner from over 4,300 government and private funding organizations, and by offering insight into research that has already been funded in your area of interest.
  • PlumX Metrics helps you find altmetrics for your publications to support your funding applications.

Funding webinars

These free webinars produced by Elsevier and the Elsevier Researcher Academy, show you how to identify and apply for funding successfully:

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Written by

Jill Konieczko

Written by

Jill Konieczko

As Funding Solutions Marketing Manager at Elsevier, Jill Konieczko supports promotions for Funding Institutional, Expert Lookup, and the Elsevier Fingerprint Engine. Prior to joining Elsevier, Jill worked in training, sales and marketing for LexisNexis, Dialog, and ProQuest, and as a librarian at NASA Goddard, US News & World Report, the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the US Environmental Protection Agency. Jill serves on the Board of Directors for the Special Libraries Association, and holds degrees from the Pennsylvania State University (BA, International Politics) and the University of Pittsburgh (Master of Library Science).

Written by

Eleonora Palmaro

Written by

Eleonora Palmaro

As Product Manager for Funding Institutional at Elsevier, Eleonora Palmaro helps universities and research institutions secure research funding and get insights in the funding landscape. Prior to being a product manager, Eleonora worked on one of Elsevier’s data science teams, where she cultivated expertise in the extraction of bibliometric and scientometric indicators from big data to provide a quantitative measure to support research assessment. Prior to joining Elsevier, she worked as a research assessment data analyst at the Instituto Italiano di Tecnologia. Eleonora holds a MSc in Bioengineering from the University of Genoa and a Master in Management and Business Strategy from the 24 ORE Business School in Milan.

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