From October to March, the Research and Knowledge Exchange Office ran its inaugural grant writing group programme. In collaboration with experienced researchers from across the University, five workshops were held, aimed at equipping researchers with the tools and support they need to submit a large grant to a main funder. Our aim was to enable participants to:

  • Identify a suitable funding source for their research idea
  • Situate their research within the larger funding landscape
  • Take on specific, quality feedback to improve grant writing
  • Embed impact from the start of their project and think clearly about stakeholder benefits
  • Identify gaps in their approach as well as solutions
  • Provide peer-review for colleagues
  • Write a high-quality funding proposal

The sessions ran as follows (you can find hyperlinked a recording of the presentation from each session):

  1. Overview of the funding landscape and some main funders
    • This provided an introduction to the main funders for research grants (UKRI, Leverhulme, British Academy) and delved a little into what funders want from researchers.
  2. Collaboration, building impact and exploring stakeholder engagement
    • At this session, colleagues reflected on the impact potential of their research and on how well prepared they felt to create and capture it. We covered the basics of collaboration in research, including developing partnerships and how to work across disciplines.
  3. The case for support
    • In this workshop, we explored the structure of a good case for support, breaking it down into linked objectives and research questions and considering how to outline discrete sub-projects that help you carry out a project accordingly. We also considered how to embed ethical considerations into your project methodologies.
  4. How to cost your research project and manage your data
    • Here, we focussed on identifying and justifying the resources you need in your research project by turning your methodology into a step-by-step plan. We built on the material from the case for support session, discussing how to design plans for how to create, secure, preserve, and share research data or materials in line with funder expectations.
  5. Peer review
    • In this final session, we explored the importance of peer review, how and why to get involved with the process as reviewer and outlined some core priorities that reviewers look out for.

Forty-one colleagues from across the university attend one or more of the workshops and the discussion sections of each session led to some really engaging conversations which have gone on to usefully inform our support mechanisms for research in the R&KE Office, so thank you to everybody who engaged.

Please do watch the videos linked above if they might be helpful and get in touch with any of the presenters by email, who are all happy to answer any queries.

The cohort formed by this programme structure was a real positive of the initiative and we are therefore looking to run a similar programme next year, with a particular focus on the ECR experience. The prospective new programme will comprise a number of online videos, guides and exercises with a reflective workshop at the end to expand understandings, connect ideas and people, and to discuss next steps around funding and around your researcher development in general.

While this is still in the planning stage, we would welcome any thoughts or ideas on what we might usefully include in such a programme. If you have any ideas, or if you see any gaps in the way we in the RKEO support you with funding, or with carrying out research in general, please get in touch with Josh Mead at j.mead@westminster.ac.uk

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