What are Research Grants?
A research grant is a gift of money given by a government or corporation to a company or individual for their use in a particular project or research. These are typically received through a competitive process during which possible research projects are thoroughly scrutinized and evaluated. Only the most promising research projects are the ones that receive funding. Research grants were first developed in the early twentieth century as a way for scientists to fund their own research studies. Before this, most research was funded individually by the person or company that was performing the research. Research funding is available now a days for both hard science and social science, as well as for technology.
Where Do Research Grants Come From and Why?
Although, a small amount of research grants are available through some charitable foundations, generally these are for research into maladies, such as AIDs and cancer, most research funding comes from either the government or corporations. Government funded grants can either be given to the government itself or to academics and other researchers outside of the government, oftentimes these go to universities. The typical motive behind government research is knowledge. The knowledge gained from this research can often unintentionally further new ideas or developments. One advantage to government funded research is that the results are shared publicly and therefore can result in large collaborative projects that would be beyond the possibilities of individual research.
About two-thirds of the research and development in both scientific and technical fields comes through corporations. Unlike with government grants, grants from corporations are typically motivated by profit. This privately funded research generally goes to help research developments that the corporation thinks can help boast their profits in one way or another. Unlike with government grants, the results received during privately funded research studies do not have to become public knowledge. Therefore, the corporation that gives out the grant can choose to use their new developments and knowledge to support their own means.
How Can Someone Receive a Research Grant?
Applying for a grant is a lengthy process in which the grant may or may not be approved. Most often scientists will apply for research funding through a granting agency. The granting agency will most likely inquire about the facilities used, the equipment needed, the researcher’s background, the time that will be involved in a researcher’s process, and the overall potential scientific outcome that the research can have. Applying for a grant involves a process of grant writing and proposing in which the potential grantee must convince the granter that their research will best fit the granters’ scientific principles. As grantees often have competition in receiving grants, the potential grantees needs to make sure to only apply for research grants that they have the best chance of receiving, as well as grants that will help them to build up their body of work for future scientific endeavors. Otherwise, the potential grantees will end up wasting both precious time and energy.