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Looking back: ECR Lunch on applying for interdisciplinary grants

07 March 2018

Resources to help you get started with applying for an interdisciplinary grant:

On February 21st, the Young Academy Groningen hosted an ECR Lunch on applying for interdisciplinary grants. Three speakers joined the lunch to share their knowledge and experiences on this topic.

ECR lunch
ECR lunch

Dr. Thomas Jansen was a member of a VENI interdivisional panel.

He explains that interdisciplinary research is any research that does not fit in one of the 'regular' categories. It contributes new knowledge to more than one discipline. Researchers that apply for interdisciplinary grants want to look at a whole idea or concept rather than a specific topic.

'Communication is key,' Dr. Jansen explains. Speaking to and involving others from different fields is the first step to applying for an interdisciplinary grant. He also emphasizes the importance of explaining in your proposal what exactly makes your research interdisciplinary. When writing your communication strategy, make sure to mention the frequency of meetings and visits.

When it comes to referees evaluating ID proposals, the NWO jury does not know who the referees were. This is why it is so important to make sure your abstract and introduction have the 'wow-factor'. The bulk should contain the details for experts. It is also important to highlight what your role will be.

Regarding your own publications as an applicant, you should be able to show that you can have an impact in both fields and can publish in both directions. For the VENI this expectation may be lower.

Lastly, Dr. Jansen mentions that there is no use in applying for an ID grant just because you think your chances to obtain the grant will be higher: this isn't true. There is no difference in success rates in ID panel.

View Dr. Jansen's powerpoint presentation here.

ECR Lunch
ECR Lunch

Dr. Esther Verhoeven, our second speaker, is the advisor for the National Contact Point for Horizon 2020 ERC Grants, and explained how to apply for Starting Grants and Consolidator Grants, specifically.

ERC funds Frontier Science in any field. The purpose of these grants is to fund new horizons of knowledge. Dr. Verhoeven explains that you need to have a track record in both disciplines of your proposal when submitting your proposal. Successful publishing in both disciplines is necessary before applying. If you aren't there yet, it is important to build up your track record before submitting a proposal.There is no specific Interdisciplinary panel for ERC, you submit your ID proposal to one of the 25 panels that best fits your proposal topic. Picking the right panel is extremely important: do your homework and look up the panel compositions prior to submitting. The 25 panels can be found here.

When choosing the panel for your interdisciplinary proposal, it is possible to indicate a second panel in your submission. Dr. Verhoeven explains that it is not wise to do so, because it makes you look doubtful. Statistically there is a 40% lower chance of getting your proposal funded when indicating two panels instead of one. It is also important to explain the scientific need for the interdisciplinary research. Don't use ID as just a buzzword. Scientific approach and methodology are also crucial to your proposal. Finding people who have been in the panels and asking them questions can be very helpful. Checking out past successful projects and panel topics can also be very useful. Do your homework!

The difference between ERC versus NWO grant is that ERC is only focuses on the sciences, where NWO also focuses on knowledge utilization. There is currently a discussion on awarding people with a Veni / Vidi when they submitted an ERC grant but didn't make it to the final round. For both ERC and NWO, referees judge whether the output fits the proposal. They ask applicants to state their own publication successes in their discipline and field. This is what applicants can really make use of to clearly state their publication culture in their field and where they are in this culture. ERC doesn't ask for this, explicitly, but it is still highly recommended that applicants state it.

View Dr. Verhoeven's powerpoint presentation here.

ECR lunch
ECR lunch

Prof. Ritsert Jansen, our final speaker, is the Dean of Talent Development at the University of Groningen.

He explains that the University offers iSolution, iGrants and iScience, in which every 'i' stands for interdisciplinary. Interdisciplinary grant proposals are high risk, but could change a field completely. His advice is to keep it simple and organised, so things can be easily found in your proposal, and to frame it positively.

When it comes to using a grant editor, Prof. Jansen says that everything you can do to help with your writing is beneficial. Always remember that ideas take precedence, otherwise an editor will just help you make a bad idea clearer. The UMCG has its own in-house editor. Talent Development can provide a list of editors who have done good work in the past, and all researchers are welcome to use it.

View Prof. Jansen's powerpoint presentation here.
ECR Lunch
ECR Lunch
Last modified:07 January 2019 3.38 p.m.

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