An award of external funding, through a grant or contract, is the synthesis of an investigator’s clearly defined research agenda, the investigator’s and his/her institution’s capacity, and a funder’s mission and purpose.
Aligning this trifecta begins long before the preparation of a proposal. The Office of Research Development can help investigators with framing their short- and long-term research goals, leveraging and building organizational capacity, and understanding the funding climate in order to identify the right opportunities.
You must demonstrate to program managers and reviewers that your research advances the mission of the agency. Before seeking funding opportunities, position yourself for success by considering the following:
- What shapes your research agenda?
- What resources, achievements, or “stepping stones” are needed to support your planned research/career trajectory?
- How do you know your idea is good and funders want to fund it?
- Prepare an abstract or concept paper(s) to succinctly capture your ideas, goals, and needs.
Once you have a clearly-defined concept and research question, reach out to the appropriate agency Program Officer to see if your idea is a good fit. Program Officers are tasked with managing a portfolio of projects to meet the agency’s funding mandate. Their goal is to maximize the impact of available funding. Communicating early with a Program Officer can help to establish a relationship, confirm the appropriateness of the idea with the opportunity, and gain insight into the agency’s current funding priorities.