Dear Agony Aunt,
I need to get my own funding to do research, but I need to do research to get data to ask for funding! I feel like I am spending all my time applying for grants for very little return. Will I ever get a big grant to start my career, or should I give up now?
Common question with many answers. Looking for funding can feel constant and it can be demoralising at times. We’ve all been there (and many are still right there with you). Funding was one of the areas explored and Science Pathways 2018 under our theme of ‘Diversify your Thinking’.
Firstly, don’t think of academia and the grant cycle as the only way to succeed as an EMCR—there might be options for you in industry or government that suit you better. Next, think about more diverse ways of finding money, and don’t be afraid to start small. It can feel like a small return on your time if the dollar value is small, but each small grant is establishing your track record to help you get the next one.
Think about philanthropic organisations, or awards that might come with cash prizes. Crowd-funding is hard work, but it doubles as exposure and science communication. Think about working with industry; it might seem intimidating, but we have already made some how-to guides and other resources to point you in the right direction for kickstarting collaborations.
And ASK—ask your direct supervisor, your head of school/department/faculty/institute, anyone higher up the chain than you. They might have dollars to help you, or they might know who else to ask.
Yours in grant application pain,
© 2020 Australian Academy of Science