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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Applying for (Indological) grants

While you are writing an application, who is your target reader? And which are the main elements in your cv you should be highlighting?

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. 1. One writes for the Expert Evaluators (aka Peer-Reviewers, Gutachter). No one else will decide about the content of one's application.
  2. 1.1. This means that the structure and the form of the application will never be more important than its content
  3. 1.2. A further implication is that one should not worry about being understood by lay readers. There are no such ones.
  4. 2. About 30% of the applicants have their applications funded.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 5. Women are less than 25% of the applicants, whereas they are almost 45% of the funded grants.
  9. 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. 
 What are your experiences with accepted/rejected grants? Do you plan to submit a project?

For concrete opportunities I am aware of, check the label "opportunities and projects".


Dominik Wujastyk said...

Very valuable! Thanks so much, Elisa.


Sincere thanks, Elisa, for this valuable post.

elisa freschi said...

Thank you, Dominik and Sudipta. If you (or other readers) should ever need additional documentations, just let me know. I came back from the workshop with several books about the FWF.

dirghatamas said...

I join the previous comment and thank you for the post, which has an inspiring and thought-provoking effect especially in connection with a previous post about: Is the Academia the best place to study Indian philosophy?

elisa freschi said...

Thanks, Elena. I did not think further about the connection of the two topics, but, by and large, I appreciate the fact of being able to focus on research and on teaching rather than on marketing (although I have nothing against marketing) —a sort fo freedom offered by the European Academic milieu. (Let me know if you should need further practical info. I collected so many FWF files in my library…)

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