Applying for an internal grant (Amy Kong)

Photo by Shane Aldendorff |

"What do you do for the Social Research Assistance Platform?"

This is a question I often get asked when I tell someone where I work.

My quick answer is always: "I help give out internal funding to researchers and provide a match-making service for researchers and research assistants".*

The next question is usually: "How do I get this internal funding?"

So, here's the post about winning an internal grant!

I must start of with a disclaimer: I don't claim to be an expert in this but what I am sharing is based on my years of experience with the platform and its funding rounds, and my own observations. The RED team runs a great session on grant writing called the '5 Rules of Grant Club'. If you have not been to one, I highly recommend that you do! [We didn’t make Amy say this - we promise! But here's the next session on 22 October, if you're interested!]

Here are my top six tips for internal grant success:

Have lots of perseverance and determination.

I don't want to put you off applying for grants, but some applications can be painfully tedious and time-consuming, especially if it's your first couple of times applying for a grant. I can, however, assure you that it's worth it. The sense of self-satisfaction when you are awarded a grant, even a small one, is worth the pain!

Even if you were unsuccessful, the learnings (ensure that you request for feedback from the grant provider!) will help you to reach further and be more successful next time. Internal grants are a good stepping stone towards bigger grants in the future.

Read and understand guidelines!

Although internal grants are not as competitive as external ones, there are still eligibility requirements, guidelines and other conditions to follow. Read and understand them. Ask lots of questions. Speak to the person coordinating the grant. It is best not to guess! Guessing only leads to confusion and frustration. You do not want to be spending hours putting together an application and being told that you are not eligible, or that your request does not fit the remit of the grant.

Start early!

It usually takes longer to put together a complete application than you’d expect. Haphazard applications are easily detected and frowned upon. Remember that your assessors are experienced scholars and they’ll know if an application was well thought out or completed one hour before the deadline. Your name is on it, so you are not leaving a good impression with a bad application.

Do not assume that assessors are familiar with your projects.

At the Platform, we receive applications and have assessors from a variety of disciplines. Some projects are easier to understand than others. The first few sections of an application are very important. Pay lots of attention to the title and summary of your project. A clear, engaging, concise, and convincing application that's easily readable will improve your chances. Avoid the use of jargon and acronyms, and assume that it is for a general audience.

Proofread your application!

Not only for typos and grammatical errors, but for clarity and how convincing you are with your request. Ask someone else to read your application - it is even better if the reader knows nothing about your area of research!

Budget appropriately and be realistic.

Underestimating how much a project will cost is as bad as overestimating. Itemise your budget and provide evidence. Do not give the assessors an opportunity to doubt your project's feasibility.

A summarised version of these tips is available here. Feel free to share it with your colleagues and friends!

I wish you every success!

* If you are interested in the match-making aspect, please feel free to get in touch with me!


Amy Kong is the current Social Research Assistance Platform Coordinator at La Trobe University.

She has worked in the higher education for nearly 10 years coordinating programs and projects, university compliance, analysing the student lifecycle and providing advisory services to staff and students.

Through the years, she has developed a broad view of university functions.