Report from Workshop: How to Frame and Write Successful Grant Applications

On a chilly November morning, colleagues from various institutions gathered in Falun to gain inspiration and tips on how to develop our ability to write successful research applications.

The workshop focused on research applications directly related to the Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet) and the Knowledge Foundation (KK-stifelsen) using Elevate Scientific's own model (PAOI) to clearly describe core research studies issues which we always struggle with:

  • Why is the research question worth investigating?
  • What are our thoughts regarding how we should investigate our research question?
  • What could be the expected results?
  • Why will our study have an impact in time and space?

The workshop alternated between a "theoretical" review and practical application where we all had to start from our own research project and help each other, through collegial feedback, to make progress. During the session, we were able to identify the main parts required in a research application based on which type of research we have in mind. We had to think through the weighting of information, ie what should we put the most focus on in research applications; preferably not the background, which was especially clear when colour coding a proposed text.

In the multidisciplinary context of the workshop, perhaps unsurprisingly, the use of ‘I’ or ‘we’ was also discussed. One thing which was interesting, as the workshop leader pointed out, is that when we use ‘I’ or ‘we’ in a research application, it shows competence and ownership of projects and concepts. We should dare to be direct in our explanations, give clear justifications in our research applications, regardless of the nature of the project. And be sure to keep track of whether the project is Uni-, Multi-, Inter- or Transdisciplinary.

I personally experienced the workshop as interesting and fun, but I was certainly tired on my way back to Borlänge from all the impressions gained. Many interesting questions were raised and my experience was that everyone was satisfied and engaged. However, I think that a certain amount of confusion remains; eg what exactly is the difference between objective, aim, research question, goal, or purpose? According to the workshop leader, eg, objective and aim drive the research forward, while research questions look backwards at the research. Although concepts can cause confusion, resulting in intense discussions, I think it is more important to remember that we need to be able to show exactly how our research project and its parts are related to each other in such a way that people regardless of background understand what we want and plan to do. A tip here is to check with the financier who has previously reviewed applications .

Although the workshop is over, we still have access to the provided educational material and there are future plans for a series of seminars to be held at Dalarna University which focus on collegial feedback on research applications.

Senior Lecturer Business Administration and Management
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