LEADERS TOP TIPS ON FINDING FUNDING
Often the determining factor on whether or not students get involved with a research project is funding – finding a supervisor is, in comparison, relatively easy. Here are a few tips on how to approach this task to maximise your chances of success.
TIP 1- ask your supervisor
Your supervisor is a great place to start – what’s more, they are going to have to help you apply for funding so getting involved early on is always a good thing. They may know about funding opportunities specific to the area that your project involves. Also, they will have great advice on how to put together a successful application. I had to write a CV for one application and had no idea how to write a proper scientific CV. My supervisor gave me some amazing advice on this.
TIP 2 – ask other students
Other students, even those who are not successful in applying for funding, might have heard of or have had experience in applying for various funding schemes. It may be worth just chatting to a few people you know personally who have applied for funding to ask them about their experience. Don’t forget that asking what NOT to do is also useful!
TIP 3 – make a list of potential funding sources
Don’t just google ‘medical student scholarships’, etc. You will probably miss some possible funding opportunities. Think outside the box for yourself. It is helpful to brainstorm any relevant royal colleges and scientific organisations you can think of. Show your list to others to see if they can add to that list. Remember, not all funding is necessarily provided by a medical or scientific organisation – think about potential independent trustee/ charitable funds that you might be eligible to apply for.
TIP 4 – fit your project to your funding body
If you have a project that could be made eligible for funding by tweaking a few minor details, consider approaching your supervisor about this. Funding opportunities are competitive and in relatively short supply
TIP 5 – look at the noticeboards!
The MBChB noticeboards – yes, they do exist – do contain useful information about funds that students can apply to for research funding. Also consider looking at the posters along the level 7 link corridor, as it is possible that you may be eligible to apply for some of the biomedical sciences funding bodies for your research. For example, the Wellcome Trust vacation scholarship funds Biomedical Vacation Scholarships are open to biomedical and medical research projects.
TIP 6 – combine a project with your elective/ intercalated year
There are lots of bodies that fund medical electives; perhaps one way to get funding would be to incorporate a research project into your elective, so that you could use funding for your elective to help support the research project. This may give you more options, but funding bodies usually like to fund either electives or research projects, so you might have to think about how you work the research into your elective. However there are opportunities out there for students who want to undertake research specifically as part of their elective.
There are lots of intercalated programs on offer at Leeds and at other universities – and many have long research projects. For example, the MRes has a 9 month research project. The MSc Molecular Medicine has a 6 month research project too, and many undergraduate degrees also have research projects. Talk to the course organisers before you apply to that intercalated program, as many are keen for you to design your project before you start the course, so that you can do something that will be really useful for you; I did this to get funding towards my own specific project that I wanted to do as part of my MSc and many other students do this too.
TIP 7 – don’t forget to look for funding closer to home
The University of Leeds has many of its own scholarship available – it’s always worth looking at the main university website to see what is out there. This is particularly true for funding for intercalated studies which may involve projects, particularly at the postgraduate level.
TIP 8 – do your project before you intercalate?
Many funding bodies (e.g. the Wellcome Trust Vacation Scholarship, mentioned previously) do not fund projects during the summer for students who have already studies for an intercalated degree or who have already received another degree qualification. Make sure you check this before you make a funding application otherwise you could waste a lot of time completing an application that can never be successful.
Also remember that intercalating itself is a great opportunity to do a research project.
TIP 9 - don’t leave it all to the last minute
Remember that applications may need to be countersigned by individuals in the university admin offices, in finance departments, etc. Your supervisor will no doubt be a very busy person and you cannot expect them to answer you if you do nto give them enough time. Know if your supervisor is going on holiday – get the application done before they go. Know if you need to get a copy of your university transcript or an academic reference (for this, the academic subdean is the person who you should usually contact; if you do not know who this is, you can find this in the documents for your year group in the MBChB pages in the organisations section of the VLE)
TIP 10 – if at first you don’t succeed, try try again!
You are unlikely to get a positive response from all your applications – it is also very common to get no funding, even with a strong academic profile and brilliant project. Funding schemes are very competitive. The more applications you obviously increase the likelihood of one being successful. If you are not successful one year, try again the next, and see what you can do in-between to make your CV even more competitive. Also, if the fundees offer feedback on why your application was unsuccessful, make sure you get this and take on board what they are saying – especially if you are planning on applying to them again in the future for funding. If you still struggle, remember that ESREP and elective projects might be another way to do that research project you want to do. There is always more than one way to skin a cat!
I hope these tips are useful – if you have any other questions remember you can always email email@example.com for more advice and tips.
Good luck with the funding!
This table is a few years old but might give you a few ideas where to start looking for funding
To all new and returning students, come find us at the Freshers Fair at Rooms 8.11 A-J of the Worsley Building on 20/9/2017.
There is also an exciting evening talk on a career in academic anaesthesia and critical care which is going to happen on 26/9/2017 at Room 9.58A of the Worsley Building. It is a free event and everyone is welcomed!
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