Boost grant success rates with ‘advanced’ support

When grant managers provide specialised input, approval rates rise, study finds

June 11, 2015
Hands pulling rope, tug of war, teamwork

Research funding applications are significantly more likely to be successful when a grant administrator edits or helps to write the proposal, a study suggests.

Analysis of applications lodged by academics at two Portuguese institutions found that there was a success rate of 18.9 per cent when grant managers gave only “basic” or “intermediate” support. These categories cover administrative assistance and services such as advice on application strategy and budget review.

When “advanced” support was provided – in effect, when grant managers edited, reviewed or wrote parts of the proposal text – the success rate increased to 61 per cent.

Author Margarida Trindade, a research funding manager at the ISCTE-University Institute of Lisbon, told Times Higher Education that the findings “argue in favour of the idea that specialised input into a grant increases approval rates, namely by improving the non-scientific parts of the text, rendering the text overall more coherent and logical, or by providing the necessary twist to better align it with the goals of the funder and evaluation criteria”.

The paper, co-authored with Raul Laureano, an assistant professor at the university’s business research unit and Sheila Vidal, head of the research funding affairs unit at the Gulbenkian Institute of Science, on the outskirts of Lisbon, was published online by the journal of the Association of University Administrators, Perspectives: Policy and Practice in Higher Education.

The trio examined 78 applications for Marie Curie individual grants, administered by the European Commission, which were lodged over a three-year period by academics at the Gulbenkian and the Institute of Molecular Medicine at the University of Lisbon.

Dr Trindade said that providing advanced support for grant applications was not cheap for universities. But she argued that there were other, less tangible benefits to close engagement between academics and administrators. “Involving grant managers in the training of early stage researchers may generate researchers better equipped to deal with the high demands of a competitive grant system,” she said.

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments


Article originally published as: Boost approval rates with ‘advanced’ support (11 June 2015)

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

Felipe Fernández-Armesto takes issue with a claim that the EU has been playing the sovereignty card in Brexit negotiations

Female professor

New data show proportion of professors who are women has declined at some institutions

John McEnroe arguing with umpire. Tennis

Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O’Gorman explain how to negotiate your annual performance and development review

Man throwing axes

UCU attacks plans to cut 171 posts, but university denies Brexit 'the reason'

opinion illustration

Eliminating cheating services, even if it were possible, would do nothing to address students’ and universities’ lack of interest in learning, says Stuart Macdonald