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SECG Blog - Grants, awards..... and ABBA

Dr Samantha Fien, AAG SECG (Professional Development and Events group member)

August 2019

Warning: this blog may have you singing about grants and awards to the tunes of ABBA!

Recently progressing from PhD candidature to now early career researcher, the topic of grants and awards comes up almost daily. Hearing the words “grants/awards” has my subconscious mind screaming “FUNDING” and me singing “Money. Money. Money” in my best ABBA voice … both can be downright scary (I won’t be giving up my career to start singing).

Being a new kid on the block, I want to make good tracks in this area and so many thoughts go through my heard about “Where to start?”, “How big do I go?”, “Who do I have in my team?” … the list goes on. So, when I got the opportunity to moderate the webinar on Building an academic track record through grants/awards, I jumped at the chance.

If you did not attend or haven’t viewed the slides, do so! Listening to Dr Monica Cations, Dr Tim Schultz and Professor Simon Bell speak about their own experiences, at different stages of their careers, was fantastic and refreshing.

Sometimes, I am overwhelmed with the number of grants and awards that are out there and don’t how to approach them. Monica dived into the funding/grant world about preparing yourself for the applications by mastering that art of CV to ensure you are ready and to see what is missing or needs strengthening. Tim mentioned that a team needs the following to make a grant work: a star, a worker bee, a methods guru, a clear lead and host organisation and previous success with interconnectedness. Simon highlighted the strengths of international opportunities in the early phases of your career to invest in yourself, allow for collaboration and to network.

I really enjoyed how open and honest all the speakers were speaking about what the funders are looking for, the challenges and providing advice about successfully gaining and the keys to enabling success with the funding/grant’s world.

The main five points I took away from the webinar were:

1. Publish, publish, publish: to strengthen your reasoning for the grant and/or show passion for you’re the award you’re applying for.

2. Network, network, network: put together a five-star team to apply for grants.

3. Be strategic: start small and show clear progression.

4. Be clear about why you’re applying for the grant and/or award and what you want out of it.

5. Be passionate about your topic.

Be confident and start working towards those grants or awards you had in sight! In the famous lyrics of ABBA “You are the dancing queen” … of grants and awards!

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