I spent a (long) day in a couching workshop of the Austrian FWF, and the following points are the most interesting things I learnt (please note that the German grants tend to work in a similar way, whereas there might be differences where research is funded by private trusts).
- 1. One writes for the Expert Evaluators (aka Peer-Reviewers, Gutachter). No one else will decide about the content of one's application.
- 1.1. This means that the structure and the form of the application will never be more important than its content.
- 1.2. A further implication is that one should not worry about being understood by lay readers. There are no such ones.
- 2. About 30% of the applicants have their applications funded.
- 3. Projects are not rejected because the co-applicant is not qualified enough, nor because the international cooperator are not enough qualified, nor because other projects on the same discipline have already been funded, nor because humanities are not "significant". The main reason for failure is the project's intrinsic weakness.
- 3.1 Reasons for failure might be: lack of a hypothesis (sheer datebanks are not financed), lack of discussion of the status quo of research, no previous publications, vague methodology, really poor English.
- 4. A further reason for failure is the fact of trying to fit an interesting project into a funding instrument which does not correspond to it. In short: if you are an established researcher, don't try to apply for an early-career grant. Vice versa, if you are at the beginning of your career, don't try to apply for funds for established researchers. Find the right funding instrument for your project.
- 5. Women are less than 25% of the applicants, whereas they are almost 45% of the funded grants.
- 6. It is important to be able to show: a network of international cooperation and, more importantly, an excellent track of publications on international journals. All the rest (prices, publications on local journals and newspapers, teaching experience) does not really count much.
For concrete opportunities I am aware of, check the label "opportunities and projects".