Preparing a grant application
I would like to read a proposal that has been approved. Can I get such a proposal from you?
We handle all data, proposals and information provided to us confidentially. Hence, we do not share proposals. We suggest that you ask people in your department who have submitted grant proposals whether they are willing to let you read them. Maybe there are even people who will let you read a proposal that was rejected. While it is a good idea to get inspiration from other people and projects, please note that every proposal is unique – an argument, a work plan or a strategy that was successful in one grant application will not necessarily work for your project.
I am preparing an application for an organisation that states in its FAQ that a proposal should be a maximum of 15 pages long. I have 19. Is that a problem?
Some organisations are very strict, some aren’t. However, as a general rule we recommend that you follow the organisation’s guidelines. You would like to avoid any grounds on which your proposal might not be approved or not even be considered. An organisation that receives 500+ proposals, but can only fund 20, might make a first round of dismissing proposals that do not follow their guidelines strictly in the first round.
Should I write my application in English or German?
Again, this depends on the funding organisation and your discipline. In some disciplines, English is the lingua franca, in others, it isn’t. Please check with the organisation and their guidelines.
My grant application needs to be signed by the university. What do I do?
We collect the signature for you. Usually, the chancellor of the university (Kanzler) signs the documents. Please allow two weeks time between submitting the document to us and receiving the signature.
Funding agencies all seem to work a little different. Is there any way to keep track of the steps I need to take?
The University of Konstanz runs a „Prozessportal” in German, which visualises all administrative steps at the university: Prozessportal der Universität.
I have to explain how I will manage research data. Who can I turn to for help?
There is a brief introduction on our website that links to recommendations provided by the DFG and forschungsdaten.info. Please get in touch with the colleagues from the university's Communication, Information, Media Centre (KIM) for further assistance.
In your proposal, you may also reference Konstanz University's Policy on Research Data Management.
Budget and budget justification
I am calculating the budget for my research project. Is it advisable to propose a modest budget? A cheaper project is probably more likely to be funded than an expensive one, right?
There is no general rule that a less expensive project is more likely to be approved. It is important that the budget you ask for corresponds with your project plan. If you outline a labor-intensive project that requires specific expertise but apply for unsuitably qualified and too few staff, reviewers get the impression that you do not estimate the scope of your project well. Along the same lines, a budget that includes costs that are not well justified by the work plan leaves an unfavorable impression.
Can I apply for staff or doctoral researcher positions with one organisation and for consumables and travel expenses with another?
It depends. Generally, organisations will sponsor all activities needed to successfully carry out your project. If a project includes work packages that can stand on their own it might be possible to apply with different organisations. There are organisations which sponsor stand alone activities such as travelling, organising a conference or creating publications. Furthermore, funding might be available from university resources. We suggest that you contact us to discuss suitable funding opportunities.
I am filing a grant application with a Federal Ministry and I have to specify the salary costs. How do I calculate them?
applications with the federal government, salary costs should be calculated on
a needs-based basis. We will gladly support you with the calculations. Please
get in touch as early as possible. General information for filling out the AZA
form can be found here.
Submitted! What happens next?
It usually takes months until I know whether a grant application I submitted is approved or not. Should I submit my proposal to different organisations to increase my chances of getting funded?
Most organisations do not accept applications that have been submitted elsewhere. Some organisations will ask for an explicit statement on this subject or include a question in their application material where you have to state if you have submitted an application for the project at hand elsewhere. If you answer “yes”, each organisation might wait until the other one comes to a decision. Hence, you might actually decrease your chances, because both organisations postpone reviewing your proposal! The rationale behind this is that organisations do not want to invest time and resources into a review process when there is a chance that the applicant light-handedly withdraws his or her project. Also, reviewers usually do their work voluntarily. As a time-consuming activity, a review process is initiated with the assumption that, if approved, the proposed research will be carried out.
My proposal has been rejected. Should I submit it elsewhere?
First, relax. You are in good company. Every researcher, in some point in his or her career, receives one or several rejections. This does not necessarily mean that your project is unworthy of funding or that you are a poor scientist. It only means that there are a lot of good and excellent projects by a lot of good and excellent people, and competition is intense. You can find the policies concerning re-submission to the major funding organisations here.