On the other side of the fence...
Earlier in the year I was given the amazing opportunity to sit on the INTERACT Transnational Access (TA) Board as an APECS representative.
Transnational Access is an EU (FP7) funded programme which enables researchers to get their travel and accommodation costs covered for visits to Arctic research stations and have free use of the station facilities for the duration of their stay. This allows groups to conduct fieldwork that might not otherwise have been able to afford it.
The job of the TA board is to make a scientific evaluation of all the applications and then make a list of projects recommended for TA. The research stations then decide which projects to fund based on the recommendations and practical considerations such as the number of beds free. I quickly realized that all the projects sounded very exciting and in an ideal world all would have been funded. Unfortunately INTERACT, like any funding body, has a limited amount of money. How to compare projects across such a wide variety of disciplines? How to compare projects written by a master's student versus a professor? Answer: by reading, grading, and then discussing them all. A lot of work, but it meant that the recommendations were based on a collective decision.
Now I have a much better appreciation of the tough job reviewers have when faced with lots of high-quality applications. Here are three things I will definitely be bearing in mind next time I write a funding application:
- Abstract: The most important sentences in the whole proposal. Needs to give the wider relevance and the specific aims of the project.
- Methods: Need to be sufficiently detailed to convince someone not in your field that it'll work.
- Do literature homework: one of the big issues was people not being aware of others' work.
Summer 2014 will be the last season of fieldwork funded through INTERACT, but plans are afoot for INTERACT II! Look out for it and apply!