From Chaos to Control

When I was in the late stages of my PhD and a total novice at grant writing, my approach was entirely personal and emotional. Am I good enough? What will they think of my idea? How competitive is the scheme (read: am I good enough for this?).


But the more I rubbed shoulders with more senior academics who were seasoned (and successful) grant writers, the more I realised that one of the (many) differences between them and me was their impersonal approach to grant seeking. That is, they treated the whole process in a fairly clinical, rational and professional way, primarily seeing it as a question of pulling together resources for their research.


One of the takeaways from my exposure to their thinking was that I needed to trade the chaos of self-doubt and poor planning for a professional approach to resourcing my work for the coming year (or years) ahead. So rather than ask woolly questions like,


Would my chances be high in this scheme?

Would my idea be strong enough?

Would they assess this project (and me, the investigator) favourably?


I could ask questions that put me back in the driver’s seat.


Wherever you are on your grant writing journey, what I want to suggest to you is that while seeking and applying for research funding can feel like a lottery (and an exhausting one at that), there is a number of factors you can control about applying for a grant. This starts with making some smart decisions about whether you’ll even consider applying for a scheme, rather than defaulting to a knee-jerk ‘I’ll just apply for whatever and see what happens’ response. Approaching it this way also helps you to focus only on what you can control, not on the factors you cannot control.


To help you make smarter, more informed decisions about the elements you can control in applying for grants, I’ve developed a free grant decision-making sequence for you. Download it, and road test it! Tell us one decision you make about applying for funding this year that this tool helps you make. Is this decision different/new for you? Has it got you thinking in a new way about your grant plans this year?




And a little update before I go! Over on the Postdoc Solutions website, we’ve made it easier for you to get help. So if you’ve got a burning question that you’d like answered on the blog, head on over to the website and let us know. Completely anonymous, and completely free!

Leave a Comment