We closed for outline Research Project Grants on the 31st August and have just informed applicants whether they have been invited to submit a full application. Once again, we received a high number of applications and could only take around half through to the next stage. The process is, therefore, extremely competitive, and you may meet our eligibility criteria and fit within our funding remit but still not make it to the full application stage.

What made for a successful application…

The best applications that we saw this round shared a number of characteristics. Firstly, they were fully aligned with the funding priorities and strategic objectives of the Trust. This was evident not just because of the focus of the project but because they explicitly described which of the strategic objectives of the Trust the project was addressing and how. Good applications also described how their project would help to expand and/or sustain research capacity in the Trust’s area of focus using specific examples and provided a credible and feasible “pathway to impact” which detailed how the project would make a difference to the understanding of the mechanisms of ageing or the lives of older people and the time frame in which it would do so.

…And what didn’t?

  • Not mentioning the Trust or its strategic priorities in the question “Please tell us how this project contributes to the achievement of the Dunhill Medical Trust’s strategic objectives”. Please don’t assume that because your project is investigating an age-related disease that this immediately ticks the box for this question. We want to see that you have engaged with the Trust’s strategic objectives and considered how your project addresses them.
  • Misunderstanding the question on expanding and/or sustaining research capacity. Please make sure you read the guidance given underneath the question – here the Trust is looking for specific examples of what activities will be done to support research careers, such as formal training, mentorship etc. This is not an opportunity to provide career summaries of the applicants involved.
  • Not focussing enough on the “how” in your “impact pathway”. A number of applications gave rather generic impact statements or described quite high-level impacts without discussing how these would be achieved. We don’t need a detailed impact plan at this stage, but we do expect applicants to demonstrate that they have thought about how they will achieve the impacts they have described and what specific actions they will take to do so.
  • Research projects which were at PhD rather than post-doctoral level. The focus of the Research Project grant scheme is for post-doctoral research and indeed we have now further clarified our guidelines to underline this. The Trust does provide Research Training Fellowships for PhD level study. For more information please click here.
  • Not striking a balance between being succinct and giving enough detail. Assessors appreciate when applicants are focussed and succinct in their answers, however, if you have only written 2/3 lines, answers are unlikely to have enough depth to properly address the question
  • Typos and obviously cut-and-pasted sections – please make sure that you read through the application before submitting and try to avoid copying sections from the abstract into other questions. This gives the impression that you have not properly engaged with the question and often results in answers not reflecting what we are looking for. Although an application will not be rejected because of typos, it does make an application look less professional if there are frequent and obvious typos.

For more information on what the Trust has funded through this scheme in the past, please take a look at our website.

Please also take a look at our previous blog piece, which has further advice and read up on the details of the research project grant scheme and accompanying FAQs.