Collaboration is the key to research. It is not one man’s show. Applying for a research grant, getting the project selected and completing the project within the time limitations with astounding success in terms of patents and reputed publications is a dream for every researcher.
One of the parameters that can measure the quality of research work is the quality and quantity of received research grants. Grant money brings prestige to the researcher and to his institution. However, writing a grant proposal can be a challenging task, especially for an inexperienced researcher. In this post let us explore the possibilities of realizing this dream.
The research granting agencies demand new and innovative ideas which are patentable, marketable, of societal concern, and have potential Return On Investment (ROI). Nowadays research agencies have become frugal in selecting the proposal.
As research budgets are being reduced by many funding agencies and more researchers are vying for them, it is becoming increasingly important to be able to write a grant proposal of high quality.
A researcher has to interact with erudite people from various domains, take them into confidence, and explore the possibilities of collaboration for the long term.
A researcher can not keep himself in silos and can not dream of success only by reading books or implementing his own ideas. A researcher should work like a director of a movie convincing the granting agency ( like the producer of the movie ) and taking his research team (movie crew) to create great success.
A researcher has to :
- Explore new domains for research
- Know whether the idea is patentable
- Gain insights and analyze the research data in different dimensions and
- Conduct experiments with mathematical modelling
Research scholars cannot directly apply for research grants as the minimum eligibility for applying for a research grant is either a post-doctoral or a doctoral degree. However, a research scholar can learn how to apply for a research grant through his research supervisor.
Granting agencies check the competence of the applicant or project team to perform the tasks of the proposed project. Use your experience, expertise and your team strengths to show reviewers that, based on your past successes with similar research, the project team is capable of carrying out the proposed project.
If you have limited experience, complement your experience by teaming up with a team of collaborators/ contributors to enhance your expertise in certain areas. This will boost the chance of getting the research grant approved by the granting agency.
Let me list and explain these 07 key contributors who will pull the grant proposal chariot to the heaven of success with flying colours.
What is the Role of the Principal Investigator in a Research Grant Proposal?
The Principal Investigator ( PI ) completely looks after the project. PI is responsible for mapping the current technological advancements to the immediate needs of society and giving it a proposal shape for applying to the research agencies for grants.
The Principal Investigator is responsible for keeping track of the various granting agencies, their requirements and deadlines for project proposal submission. PI should have the great acumen to convert his/her research proposal draft to the problem definition of the granting agency such that the proposal gets immediate attention and acceptance from the adjudicators.
Who can be a Principal Investigator?
To take up PI responsibility one must have the following research exposures.
Preferably a post-doctoral or a doctoral degree.
- Recent publications in peer-reviewed journals related to the proposed research area
- Prior supervision of the research team
- Prior position as a key member of a research team
- Receipt of prior funding for grants/contracts in the proposed research area
A Co-Investigator is another key person who has responsibilities similar to that of a Principal Investigator on research projects. While the Principal Investigator has ultimate responsibility for conducting a research project, the Co-Investigator is also obligated to ensure the project is conducted in compliance with applicable laws and regulations and institutional policy governing the conduct of sponsored research.
Whether the Co-Investigators can be from another institute?
CO-Investigator can be from other institutes working as a Scientist/faculty members working in a regular capacity in universities, national R&D laboratories and private R&D institutes /companies. If the Principal Investigator leaves the organization in between then the CO-Investigator can take the role of Principal Investigator with the approval of the granting agency.
How one can involve an Industry expert in writing a research grant proposal?
Getting industry experts to work together on a research problem can be more effective than working in only academic circles. Many funding agencies want to see the commercialization of research discoveries and the translation of results into industrial practice, This arrangement can exploit synergies between collaborating partners (industry and academia) and build on individual strengths and expertise
Steps to involve Industry experts in writing a research grant proposal
- Find Unsolved or challenging industry problems which can be written as grant proposals
- Build new relationships and/or engage with end users of the product more confidently.
- Gain access to facilities, equipment and new ways of thinking from an industry perspective.
- Possibility of having the project at least partly funded externally from the industry.
- Chance to work in an industrial environment – broaden experience − exposure to the demands of the commercial world − sharing in the success when your work leads to new products − seeing your research bring real benefits to society
How to choose an industry expert for writing a research grant proposal?
- Persons who run startups in the specific field of your domain
- heads a division of a large organization, contributing to the research and development in your field of a research grant proposal
- Persons who can complement your expertise
- Experts who are ready to spare their valuable time on a weekly or monthly basis
Industrial Collaborators are generally researchers in your field or a related discipline who can complement your skills and expertise.
Domain experts/ mentors
How Domain Experts or Mentors can help in writing research grant proposals?
The domain expert provides the knowledge and expertise in a specific subject, domain area, or technical area for a grant proposal.
Domain experts have been in their roles for a long enough period of time for their knowledge and skills. A domain expert should know his job well enough that he/she rarely has to look up information and, if they do have to, they know exactly where to find the information.
The following steps can be taken by a researcher to get assistance from the domain expert while preparing for the research grant proposal.
- Receiving assistance while developing and exploring research ideas, hypotheses, etc.
- The sharing of personal and professional experiences while writing and submitting a research grant proposal.
- Establishing collaborative associations with peers.
- Constructive feedback on research proposals and throughout the research process.
- Assistance in the development of a long-term research and writing plan.
- Establishing a network in the domain of expertise.
To increase the likelihood of success, it is crucial to compose a persuasive email that explains the proposal and the potential benefits of collaborating. This email format is intended to assist researchers in approaching prominent researchers and asking them to collaborate on a grant proposal. It can be adapted to meet the specific requirements and goals of the research project. Please go through the template Email Template for Requesting Collaboration with a Well-Known Researcher for a Grant Proposal and tweak the template as per your needs.
Assists in determining the statistical analysis of the data obtained. A statistician gathers numerical data and then displays it, helping the Principal Investigator to make sense of quantitative data and to spot trends and make predictions.
What are the responsibilities of a statistician in research grant proposal preparation and execution?
- Assessing results
- Analyzing trends
- Applying the statistical methodology to complex data
- Identifying the proper software for statistical analysis
- Using statistics to make forecasts and to provide projected figures
- Presenting information in a variety of formats
- Conveying complex information to people who may not be specialists
- Determine the sample size needed.
- Ensure the methods and statistical analysis sections address each specific aim.
- Calculate the appropriate sample size to address the specific aims
- Discuss the variables to be measured and how they relate to the study objectives.
- Develop data collection process.
- Provide methods to analyze data.
- Interpret the results.
- Verify the accuracy of any data presented.
- Explain the analysis approach used.
- Ensure the results are correctly interpreted in the context of the research questions.
One can hire statistical consulting services from reputed organizations to prepare and present the statistical data required for a research grant proposal.
If you are well versed in statistics and have experience in representing the data with well-known data visualization tools then you can make a request to the Principal Investigator to involve you in his team by writing an Email. Please Find the template here for your reference.
The research Assistant will help in carrying out a literature survey and preparing reports, and conference/journal papers.
What are the roles and responsibilities of a Research Assistant in the execution of the Research Grant?
Typical Research Assistant duties and responsibilities involve the following:
- Helps in the preparation of Research articles and proposals.
- Visits fields for collection of data.
- Works in the office for administrative tasks such as correspondence with Research agencies.
- Helps in collecting and organizing literature reviews.
- Gathers and analyzes data and prepares results for the work carried out.
- Helps in research data labeling
- Assists PG and UG students working on assigned research projects.
- Accompanies Principal Investigator for all project-related meetings.
Patent Attorney / Patent Agent
The major driver for researchers to file patents should be the satisfaction they derive from watching a technology they developed in their own lab mature into a final product that benefits the domains.
The second benefit, there is a chance of financial gain and reputation improvement for the study team as well as the institution.
The third benefit for academics actively engaged in IP development is that research institutions are more appreciative of such activities and frequently utilise them as a metric to grade academicians when promotions or tenure positions are up for grabs.
Patent attorneys represent reputed patenting firms that specialize in the area of law protecting the property rights of inventors. Applying for a patent is a complicated procedure that requires the expertise of an attorney who is trained to interpret the rules and regulations of the patent process, negotiate contracts, file documents and provide legal representation to inventors.
Patent attorneys are involved in all aspects of law covering patents and the intellectual property rights of inventors. Conducting searches to ensure that an invention has not been previously represented in the public domain and is patentable is the first responsibility of a patent attorney; following that, he or she drafts, files and prosecutes patent applications on behalf of inventors before the Patent and Trademark Office.
The success of patenting can be attributed to the qualities of the attorneys who prepare the patent application as well as to specific patent drafting approaches. The study makes a significant point about the traits of patent attorneys that are more likely to result in successful patenting. The results may help patent applicants choose attorneys by assisting them in choosing the best service providers whose qualities are most likely to result in the patenting process’ success.