A skill central to advance your career as a researcher

Finding funding opportunities might initially seem straightforward. But with the sheer number and variety of different funding sources available, identifying one that’s a good match with your research needs and personal circumstances is far from easy.

In a 2021 survey conducted by Nature Portfolio, finding funding opportunities was a clear top priority. 91% (n = 271) of researchers said finding your funder or grant was an important aspect of being a successful researcher. It was also cited as the most challenging task in the grant application process, showing the need for expert guidance in this area.

“Gaining grant funding is one of the fundamental skills required as a researcher, in any field”

Eriko Takano, Professor of Synthetic Biology, University of Manchester

The stakes are high

Investigating appropriate funding is a heavily time-consuming exercise, and for many researchers a daunting task. The importance of getting this search right cannot be underestimated, especially given that the competition for a limited pool of funding is so fierce that the success rate is often less than 25%.

Finding the grant that fits

There’s a broad range of funding categories to search, including government funding agencies, scientific societies and organisations, charity and philanthropic organisations, and industry. Secondly, funding purposes vary, as some funders cover every aspect of your research, whilst others only support specific activities such as equipment costs or travel and tools. Lastly, funders have different ways of allocating grants, most often either as recurring opportunities or one-off funding calls.

Learning to find the right funding opportunities that fit the researcher’s needs and circumstances is an essential element that can help boost researchers’ chances of career success. Given that the time spent on this process ultimately detracts from the focus on actual research, it’s even more important to invest some effort in improving these crucial skills.

“Learning the skills of finding the right funder, whose interests are aligned with your research and projects, are as important as learning the skills to do the research itself”

Richard McCourt, Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Drexel University

Skills training that every researcher needs

Finding Funding Opportunities is a new Nature Masterclasses course, addressing the urgent needs of researchers to improve their skills in finding appropriate funding before investing time in writing their applications. Developed in conjunction with experts in the field of grants and funding, the course establishes the strategies needed to find grants in line with individual research needs and personal circumstances.

Participants will learn how to:

  • Understand the funding landscape and the importance of finding and prioritising the best-fitting opportunities
  • Analyse their funding requirements whilst taking into consideration their personal and professional circumstances
  • Learn the strategies to identify and keep track of funding opportunities that best fit their needs
  • Create a shortlist by comparing the most appropriate funding opportunities
  • Form strategies to prioritise and select those opportunities that best fit their needs.

Developed by experts

Finding Funding Opportunities was developed to help researchers, and to relieve the teaching burden on their employers. The course content was refined by a team of five international experts in research and research management with wide-ranging experience of funding: ·

  • Eriko Takano, Professor of Synthetic Biology, University of Manchester[JD1] 
  • Richard McCourt, Professor and Curator, Drexel University, and former Program Director at the National Science Foundation 
  • Riana Coetsee, Research Management and Training Consultant, South Africa.

Experienced researchers offer additional insights via video interviews throughout the course: 

These highly regarded contributing experts represent a broad range of backgrounds, geographical locations and career levels, to ensure as wide a perspective on identifying funding opportunities as possible.

Key Course Features

Participants benefit from a single-module course with a digital certificate on completion. Over 3 hours of learning are divided into 8 self-study lessons, with progress status updates and English language subtitles and transcripts.

Lessons are deliberately short so they can be fitted into natural gaps in researchers’ work. On-demand access to lessons, videos and online activities allows users to follow the course from start to finish or select lessons to suit their learning needs at any point.

These features give researchers total control over their learning environment and enables them to add crucial skills without disrupting or slowing down their day-to-day work.

Supporting researchers throughout the research lifecycle

Finding Funding Opportunities equips researchers perfectly to complete this crucial process before they move on to write grant applications, using the companion course Persuasive Grant Writing.

“Be creative and flexible in your search for funding, and rest assured that there truly is funding for every research field in this world, and for every career stage…become a catalyst of growth in your environment.” Riana Coetsee, Research Management and Training Consultant, South Africa

Investing in skills and training from Nature Masterclasses ensures researchers’ work gains the attention it deserves, attaining maximum impact in today’s crowded research environment.

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