Tips for Success

Seeking external funding for your research can seem like a daunting and difficult task, especially if you are a new faculty member to Western with an unfamiliar campus to navigate, syllabi to prepare, and many new colleagues and students to meet. To help encourage and prepare you for embracing this task, we offer the following tips for success.

Learn Your Way Around RFP’s, FOA’s and Other Grant Guidelines

Even before you have narrowed your focus to any single funding opportunity, read a variety of program guidelines from various funding agencies – private, corporate, foundation and federal. Requests for Proposals (RFPs), Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs) and other guidelines contain a wealth of information about the mission and focus of a funding agency. Understanding what kind of research projects different agencies  fund will help you focus your efforts on those most aligned with your work.

Develop a Funding Plan Early

Start early, start small and aim big. To create a successful funding portfolio, you may need to start with smaller grants which often are designed to assist researchers in gathering critical preliminary data or developing protocols. In addition, seek out collaborators and work together on early proposal applications; look at internal funding opportunities to support portions of your work; and learn about small-scale grants opportunities such as the National Institutes of Health’s R15 program or National Science Foundation’s PUI opportunities.

Seek Opportunities in Your Community

Not all research funding will come through traditional channels and it’s important to position yourself in the community as an emerging and respected resource in your field. Join local professional groups and organizations; get to know your colleagues in the near-by community colleges; participate in activities related to your research interest off-campus; and learn about local manufacturers and businesses related to your field. Consider how your research may assist others in your community and create collaborations that can help you both. Some successful researchers on Western’s campus rely almost exclusively on private or corporate funding. 

Gather Your Resources

Ask a faculty member with a successful grant award track record if they will act as a mentor as you navigate your funding plan and proposal writing. Often they will have a wealth of ideas about how you may best find and secure appropriate funding for your research. As you narrow down your search for funding sources, be sure to read a variety of successful proposals to serve as examples for how to frame your ideas and potential outcomes.

Finally, if you are new to proposal writing, the RSP office has copies of these two recommended resources each lots of important information about how to avoid common pitfalls in seeking funding and preparing proposals available for check out:

New Faculty Guide to Competing for Research Funding, Cronan, Mike and Lucy Deckard, Academic Research Funding Strategies, LLC., 2nd Ed., Oct. 2016. 

The Grant Application Writer’s Handbook, National Science Foundation – FastLane Version, Robertson, John D., Russell, Stephen W,. Morrison, David C., Grant Writers’ Seminars and Workshops, Jan. 2019.


RSP offers workshops throughout the year on a variety of topics including grant writing tips, budget development, patent information for PIs as well as trainings for working with animal and human subjects in research. Watch for these and other opportunities to learn more and to gather with those on campus who are also seeking funding.