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How to be an Academic Superhero

Establishing and Sustaining a Successful Career in the Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities

Iain Hay

In universities across the world, academics struggle to establish and sustain their careers while satisfying intensifying institutional demands. Drawing from the author’s decades of observation and experience in academia, this exceptional book responds to the challenges of fostering and sustaining a successful academic career.
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Chapter 21: Secure funding

Establishing and Sustaining a Successful Career in the Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities

Iain Hay


As universities are becoming more and more cash-strapped, so grows the expectation that academics will strive even further to secure greater levels of research funding. Unfortunately, this is occurring in an era when granting agencies themselves face straitened times (Margolin, 1983; Mongeon et al., 2016). Not surprisingly then, there is a great deal of advice emerging online and through institutional guidance programmes about where to find research funds and how to complete a successful grant application, detailing matters like: following the instructions carefully, ensuring you have a clear focus and strong justification, writing clearly and simply, choosing the right words, and so on (e.g., Churches, 2015; Madsen, 2007; Newton’s List, 2017; ResearchResearch, 2016; Shaw, 2013). While Box 21.1 provides an overview of such advice, the vast detail of sources and grant-writing processes are beyond the scope of this book. However, we can consider some very general advice on how to get funding.


1.  Follow the instructions.

2.  Make sure your project is aligned with the interests of the funding body.a

3.  Choose a title that is clever (but not twee), that aligns with the funding programme and describes the research effectively.

4.  Highlight your strong, promising track record.

5.  Show that you are brilliant, original and ambitious in your research goals. Propose ideas that push the frontiers of knowledge, preferably with multidisciplinary approaches, but avoid...

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