Concentrate on developing a focused, productive research program. Devote time and energy to your research program. Be focused in your research efforts so that your research track record is strong in the area in which you plan to pursue funding.
Apply for internal grant competitions for seed money. Internal funding can be an excellent source of seed funding to help build a new research program. The NKU University Research Foundation holds grant competitions in the fall and spring semester annually. In addition to potentially securing the funding you need, by applying for a URC grant, you have the opportunity to practice your proposal writing skills on your own, have it reviewed by a committee of your peers, and get helpful feedback for your later use. These experiences will be helpful to you in pursuing external funding in the future.
Look for funding opportunities that primarily fund junior investigators. Sponsoring agencies realize how important new investigators are for the future of the research enterprise and are not likely to automatically disqualify you because of a junior faculty status. At the same time, however, they do want to ensure that you have the qualifications and experiences to conduct a project that is worth their funding. Many agencies have specific programs for junior faculty or new investigators for which more established investigators are not eligible to apply.
Collaborate on a project with a senior researcher, either at NKU or another institution. Working with another researcher who has more experience in your field can sometimes be an effective way to secure funds to support your research before you are ready to go after funding on your own. If there are no potential collaborators within your department or college, you may want to establish connections with researchers at other institutions with faculty conducting similar research or think about reestablishing connections with previous advisors or colleagues. Actively seek opportunities to collaborate on research efforts in your focus area, even if there is no funding involved.
Start small. Write proposals for small grant programs that may be less competitive and require less experience. Use these small projects to help you work your way up to larger, more competitive proposals after you have an established track record.
Find a Mentor. Look within your department for faculty with experience in successfully securing grant funds in areas similar to yours. They are likely to be able and willing to provide you with useful advice and provide guidance on your proposals to help increase competitiveness. Get to know other researchers in your field and take advantage of opportunities to learn from their experiences.
Have a Plan. Successful investigators understand the importance of a long-term strategy, and proposals that are put together at the last minute are rarely funded. Target a suitable funding agency. Talk to the program manager at the agency to discuss your ideas. Put together a well-written proposal prepared in accordance with
the guidelines and expect to revise and resubmit if the proposal is not funded. Do not view an initial turn down as a rejection of your core ideas. Even the greatest ideas often need refinement.
Have Confidence. Many great ideas were never funded because someone lacked the confidence to put forward a proposal. Good ideas do not just come up at large research universities; faculty with strong records of funding success exist at all types of institutions. You can be one of them!