Drawing up grant applications and applying for funding from different funders are elements of researchers’ professional skills, which should be practised right from the beginning of your research career. Doctoral researchers can apply for a personal research grant individually or as a member of a research group. Grant periods range from months to years. Grants can be sought for various purposes: long-term work, brief visits abroad, equipment or, for example, organising a conference. The process of writing grant applications improves the research plan at every attempt and makes personal goals increasingly specific.
In Finland, doctoral research is funded particularly by private non-profit foundations and funds. The Finnish foundation sector is broad and invests hundreds of millions of euros in research every year. The Aurora database of the University of Turku offers a comprehensive list of current Finnish funding calls. Each foundation has a unique purpose for their operations. Foundations are committed to awarding funds to carry out the purposes set out in their rules. For this reason, you should carefully read funding calls and always draw up applications specifically for individual calls. Additional information can always be sought from foundations, which organise various information sessions both virtually and in person.
When applying for a grant, take at least the following into account:
- Read the call for applications and instructions, and adhere to the instructions and deadlines.
- Make sure well in advance that you have all the necessary attachments.
- If a letter of recommendation can be attached, ask for one (e.g., from your supervisor) in good time, preferably several weeks before the deadline.
- When writing your research and funding plan, be precise, concise and understandable, and bear in mind that reviewers do not always represent your specific research field. Also justify the topicality and societal significance of your project.
- Always keep your research plan and CV up to date. Remember to check the length and format specifications for these appendices for each individual funder.
- In conclusion, be honest, realistic and optimistic. Do not understate your abilities, but do not make promises you cannot keep either.
While personal research grants are often sought for doctoral research carried out in your own university community, grants can also be sought for research carried out abroad. Among others, the following award funding for doctoral studies pursued abroad and for work in international research communities:
- The Fulbright Center offers scholarship programmes for students and researchers in support of mobility as well as higher education and research collaboration.
- The Osk. Huttunen Foundation offers grants to young Finns for the completion of doctoral studies outside Finland.
- Finnish Foundations’ Post Doc Pool supports postdoctoral research in universities outside Finland. Funding can be applied for immediately after receiving the permission to publicly defend your doctoral thesis. The preliminary examiners’ statements on the thesis must be attached to the application.
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