What do I need a grant for?
In some fields, it’s obvious: You need a grant in order to purchase expensive equipment necessary for your research, run a lab, or conduct experiments involving large numbers of human subjects. In other fields, it’s sometimes less obvious. Here are some of the main reasons you really do want a grant:
- Summer salary: Depending on the granting agency, you can add up to 3/9 to your current pay.
- Sabbatical support: Take a 2/3 pay sabbatical and top off your salary with a grant.
- Travel support: Don’t limit yourself to just travel for research. You can budget for conference and other travel for the dissemination of research results, travel for training programs and workshops, for your students, or for colleagues at other institutions you’d like to have visit UC Irvine.
- Graduate student researchers (GSRs) / research assistants: By supporting a student on a grant, you simultaneously:
- Free up more resources for other students in your program
- Gain graduate student labor and expertise
- Provide opportunities for your students to work on your research project, prepare and present research findings, and receive valuable training and mentoring
- Depending on your field, gain a co-author who can help prepare and publish your results
And, depending on availability of funds, you may get to make a deal with your Associate Dean to help cost-share and make your grant money stretch further, so you may travel more, buy a new computer, hire an undergrad to do your filing, etc.
You also may need a new computer or two, an iPad, a smartpen, lots more books, and
subscriptions to journals and professional societies…
Here’s a fun podcast by a “text-based” Canadian researcher on why you need a grant (in this case, a grant you can’t get, a Canadian SSHRC grant) – worth listening to if you are thinking, “All I do is read books, think and write; I don’t need a grant.”
Where to apply?
Most faculty members in the social sciences who have received grants have applied
to the major federal agencies (National Science Foundation and National Institutes
of Health) as well as other agencies and private foundations. With the NSF in particular,
it is important to pick the right program for your research; the program in your discipline,
say, sociology, might not be the best fit for your project which might be a study
of funding agencies’ impact on scientific institution-building (for which you might
apply instead to Science, Technology and Society).
There are a number of searchable databases and an email list to which you can subscribe to help find grants and fellowships.
How do I start?
The first rule of thumb is: START EARLY. The second rule of thumb is START WITH HELP.
Do not assume that because a grant deadline is April 1, you can just write the proposal
the week before and submit it. There is an internal process that all grant and foundation
proposals MUST go through in order to secure administrative clearance.
Please read important information on the grant application process in the School of Social Sciences.
Additional Grant Writing Resources
- Social Science Research Council, The Art of Writing Proposals
- Advice on Writing Proposals to the National Science Foundation
- Twelve Steps to a Winning NSF Research Proposal
- NSF CAREER Proposal Writing Tips
- NSF Data Management Plan Tool
- NIH Grantwriting Tips Sheets
- NIH Peer Review Revealed, and NIH Tips
- Water Off A Duck’s Back (dealing with reviewers’ comments)
- Other grant proposal preparation resources from the University of Tennessee
To request access to these documents, please call 949-824-5924.