We were absolutely thrilled last month when three of the five applicants supported by us to develop their ARC Laureate Fellowship were successful.
A week later, three of the four Industrial Transformation Research Program (ITRP) applicants we supported were announced as successful. However, many applicants associate winning the grant as the only measure of success.
Winning isn't everything
By making winning the only measure of success we are ignoring other benefits to be gained from the process of developing a grant application, including:
gaining a clearer understanding of what is required for specific grant opportunities
substantially leveraging capacity and skills to address assessment criteria (highly transferable skills!)
identifying gaps in their track record through benchmarking
learning how to avoid negativity when describing career disruptions/interruptions and relative to opportunity claims
knowing if they’re applying at the right time or stage
finding out about other funding opportunities that may be aligned with their research focus.
There's also the intrinsic factors, when tapping into external support of:
relief in having dedicated support (who wouldn’t want 1:1 targeted advice and guidance to pull a grant application together?)
gratitude for receiving the ‘good, bad and ugly’ feedback from a supportive and constructive ally
pride in submitting your best work.
Some applicants we’ve worked with, regardless of being funded, have also:
been showcased in our Bright Stars program (profiling outstanding researchers from Australia, who happen to be women).
chosen to take part in our OnTrack development programs
benefited from free access to our blogs and ‘Before you Start’ guidance and followed us on social media to keep up to date with developments in the sector and our thought bubbles.
Don't get me wrong, we are among the first to jump up and down with delight when we open grant announcements and see the names of those we have been working with. However, it's important to remember that there are many benefits to be attained from working with people who can help you with the ‘softer’ success factors that could help you win future grant funding.
How do you ensure that you're well prepared for the future funding?
If you’ve been following the Matildas story, or any competitive sporting team, you’ll know they have a dedicated coach who provides targeted training to fast track their sporting prowess and address any limitations or barriers. Their training is strategic, founded on current best-evidence, and delivered by a team.
Case study: evidence our reviews increase assessment scores
Let’s use the example of NHMRC Investigator Grants that we reviewed during 2022 (for 2023 funding). Of those we reviewed that had previously been submitted, applications achieved a combined maximum increase (upper range) of 0.8, 0.6, 0.6, 1.0, 0.4 and 0.8, for the individual fields of top 10 publications in last 10 years, impact case study fields 1-3, leadership, and knowledge gain, respectively.
Given that the funding cut-points for the 2022 levels of EL1, EL2 and L1 were 5.412, 5.87 and 5.898, respectively, even using the minimum increase in assessment scores as a conservative outcome represented the difference between funding cut points.
For our clients – the many universities and research institutes that we work with –the return on financial investment is insurmountable. ‘Success’ for our clients encompasses increased staff satisfaction and morale, having ‘externals’ accountable for the extensive training needs of researchers in terms of grant development, and therefore knowing their researchers are prepared for coming funding rounds.
What’s the moral of this story? We know the importance of securing funding: after all, our business purpose is founded on the belief that good research can change the world. However, we also know that ‘success’ in the funding domain is founded on a solid base of knowledge and skills, and benefiting from well-informed, targeted support from those with proven success.