ECH Grants: Generic tips

1 October 2014

  • Start small, build up a profile, and then expand your ambitions: There are many small pots of funding available for early career historians (including from the RHS). Use applications for these funds to hone your application skills and to build up the ‘Grants’ section of your CV  Then you will have the experience and profile to submit successful applications for larger projects;
  • Know your grants: Many grants are advertised on a regular cycle, with deadlines at established points each year. If you familiarise yourself with the available funding landscape before you require funding, you can plan ahead, and apply at the right time for the right funding.  Don’t try to force your project into a funding scheme for which it is not appropriate, or for which you are not eligible. Instead, find a scheme for which you and your project are an appropriate fit;
  • Read, address and adhere to the application criteria: Address the specific criteria of the funding scheme to which you are applying, answering every question you are asked. Aim for clarity, and avoid jargon. Applications will often be read by assessors who are not specialists in your field of history. Be careful to convey what research questions your project addresses, why those questions are important, and how you are addressing them. Do not exceed the word/page length specified in the grant application. Check any budgets you provide carefully, and make them as specific as feasible. If you know someone who has made a successful application to the scheme you are applying for, ask if you can read their application in advance of submitting your own.
  • Work to the application’s deadline: Many grants require letters of support from supervisors or other academics who know your work. You will need to ensure that anyone writing on your behalf has a copy of your application and CV in time to write a reference by the application’s stated deadline. (Ideally, you should provide your PhD supervisor with a draft of your application sufficiently in advance for him/her to provide feedback). Don’t assume that your application will be accepted if submitted late: most funding bodies automatically reject applications that miss the deadline.
  • Proof-read your application carefully: A grant application larded with grammatical, spelling or other errors makes a very poor impression on the assessors. Funding bodies typically have far more applications than they can support.  Don’t auto-eliminate by detracting from the substance of the application through careless presentation.