07 Excellent connects to push your Research Grant Proposal

Collaboration is the key for research. It is not one man show. Applying for a research grant, getting the project  selected and completing the project with in the time limitations with astounding success in terms of patents and reputed publications is a dream for every researcher. One of the parameter that can measure the quality of a 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 the 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, 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 researches are vying for it, it is becoming increasingly important to be able to write a grant proposal of high quality. To explore new  domains for research, to know whether the  idea  is patentable, to gain the insights  and analyze the research data in different dimensions;  a researcher has to interact with erudite people from various domains  take them into confidence, explore the possibilities of collaboration for long term.  A researcher can not keep himself in  silos and can not dream for success  only by reading books or implementing 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 a great success. Research scholars cannot directly apply for research grant as the minimum eligibility for applying research grant is either a post doctoral or a doctoral degree. However a research scholar can learn how to apply for 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 collaborator to enhance your expertise in certain areas.

Let us explore the seven horses which will pull the grant proposal chariot to the heaven of success with flying colors.

1. Principal Investigator

Principal Investigator ( PI ) completely looks after the project. PI is responsible for mapping the current technological advancements to the immediate needs of the society and give it a proposal shape for applying to the research agencies to the grants. PI 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.
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 research team
  • Prior position as a key member of a research team
  • Receipt of prior funding for grants/contracts in the proposed research area

2. Co-Investigator

Is another  key person who have responsibilities similar to that of a PI on research projects. While the PI has ultimate responsibility for the conduct of a research project, the Co-I 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. CO-I can be from other institutes working as a  Scientist/faculty member working in 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.

3. Industry Expert

Getting industry  expert  to work together on a  research problem can be more effective than working in only academic circles.  Many funding agencies want to see commercialization of research discoveries and translation of results into industrial practice, This arrangement can exploit synergies between collaborating partners (industry and academia) and build on individual strengths and expertise

  • 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 industry perspective.
  • Possibility of having the project at least partly funded externally from 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

When deciding on a industrial  collaborator, it is advisable to choose a person

  • Who  runs a startup in the specific field of your domain.
  • Who  heads a division of a large organizations
  • Who can add to your expertise
  • Who is not too busy to help you when you need help

Industrial Collaborators are generally researchers in your field or a related discipline who can complement your skills and expertise.

4. Domain expert/ mentors

Will help you in understanding the domain and core challenges in the domain The following  are some of the benefits of having a  domain expert/ mentor.

  • Having access to experienced researchers, especially in your field.
  •  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 network in the domain of expertise.

5. Statistician

Assists in determining 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.

Typical responsibilities of a statistician include

  • Assessing results
  • Analyzing trends
  • Applying 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 sample size needed.
  • Ensure the methods and statistical analysis sections address each specific aim.
  • Calculate appropriate sample size to address the specific aims
  • Discuss 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.

6. Research Assistant

Research Assistant will help in carrying out literature survey and preparing  reports, conference/journal papers. Typical Research Assistant Duties and Responsibilities involve

  • Helps in the preparation of Research articles and proposals.
  • Visits fields for collection of data.
  • Works in the office o  for administrative  tasks such as correspondences to Research agencies.
  • Helps in collecting  and  organizing literature reviews.
  • Gathers and analyzes data.
  • Assists PG and UG  students working on assigned research projects.
  • Accompanies Principal Investigator for all the project related meetings.

7. Patent attorney/Lawyer

The prime reason that should motivate researchers to be engaged in the development of IPR is that it is very rewarding to see a technology, originating from their own lab, developed into a final product that ultimately benefits the domains. Secondary to this, there is the potential for financial income and brand building  both for the research group and for the institution. A third advantage for academicians who are actively involved in developing IP is that such activities are becoming increasingly better appreciated by research institutions and are often used as a criterion to rate academicians when promotions or tenure positions are to be decided upon.
Patent lawyers 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 a lawyer who is trained to interpret the rules and regulations of the patent process, negotiate contracts, file documents and provide legal representation to inventors.
Patent lawyers 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 lawyer; following that, he or she drafts, files and prosecutes patent applications on behalf of inventors before the Patent and Trademark Office.

Vijay Rajpurohit
Author: Vijay Rajpurohit