Funding Your Career in Science: From Research Idea to Personal Grant

Ritsert C. Jansen, Cambridge University Press, 2013. ISBN: 978-1-107-62417-7. 210 pages, US$28.

The author of this text is a dean of talent and professor of bioinformatics at the University of Groningen. He has extensive experience as a trainer on career and personal development courses and is the author of Developing a Talent for Science (Cambridge, 2011). With such a background, he is the ideal person to have put together this easily read advice book for the novice and near-novice academic who wishes to acquire funding for
his/her career.

The text consists of five chapters, each of which is recommended for reading before and during the writing of (or evaluation of) grant proposals for initial career funding, especially in the sciences.

  • Chapter 1, for example, stresses the applicant’s preparation in terms of personal motivation, development and refinement of ideas, and development of strategies (timing and rewriting) for getting feedback before submission (from “grant parents,” for example).
  • Chapter 2 emphasizes the need for the applicant to understand the agencies’ motivation for funding projects (development of leaders in an area, for example) and for the applicant to follow and adhere to all rules of submission requirements that are published.
  • Chapter 3 describes the basics of proposal development, such as developing a full work plan, discussing the impact of the proposed work, selecting a title, writing a cogent abstract, discussing deliverables, and properly inserting a well-marked vitae, all in language that can be understood by both lay and well-qualified readers.
  • Chapter 4 gives an overview of various evaluation scenarios, from simple readings of the proposal to possible follow-up work involving responses to panel feedback in the form of rebuttals or personal interviews.
  • Chapter 5 briefly discusses support of the prior efforts listed, perhaps by in-house financial officers, volunteering to help evaluate proposals, mentoring other candidates, etc.

The text concludes with a listing for further reading. There is also a website (referred to in the text) where additional information might be added.

The chapters have several exercises to assist the reader in proposal development, as well as several checklists to assist in the consideration, for example, of potential impact of the work proposed.

While the title suggests careers in science, I would consider adding “and Engineering” as the topics discussed in this book are truly relevant to anyone seeking career funding (whether for the first time or later). Additionally, although the author is European, the text and examples include both European and U.S. funding agency discussions, thus increasing its appeal to the U.S. market.

This is a well-written text for the purposes of enlightening the readership on proposal writing. I highly recommend it for use by those in the early stages of seeking funding for their careers in science and engineering.