Intended for healthcare professionals

Education And Debate

How to get a grant funded

BMJ 1998; 317 doi: (Published 12 December 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;317:1647
  1. David Goldblatt (, senior lecturer
  1. Institute of Child Health and The Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Trust, University of London, London WC1N 1EH

    In the increasingly competitive field of biomedical research, more and more researchers are chasing an ever shrinking pot of research funding. Good ideas are not enough, funding applications increasingly require dogged determination, good organisation, and a clear strategy if they are to succeed. Doctors in full time academic posts, most of whom work outside of core funded units, will find much of their time is taken up with writing grant applications, and must therefore acquire the appropriate skills. Clinicians with a research interest may complete grant applications only occasionally, and may therefore find this daunting. Although grant applications are a fundamental part of the clinical academic way of life, writing them is seldom emphasised during academic training. However, there are generic ingredients to a good grant application, and you can maximise the chance of success by following some rules.

    Summary points

    Writing grant applications is a skill that researchers must acquire

    Decide which grant making body to approach at the outset; make sure that proposed research is relevant to the funding body

    Write focused, succinct, clear applications that follow the guidelines set down

    Learn from rejections

    Choosing a funding body

    At the outset, it is important to decide which grant giving body to approach. The Medical Research Council and the Wellcome Trust together currently plough more than £400m annually into supporting research and, unlike most of the smaller research charities, will fund research of a general nature. However, while the Wellcome Trust is still funding projects, the Medical Research Council is more interested in grants to centres and collaborative funding. The Association of Medical Research Charities Handbook ( contains details of 96 charities that fund medical research. Some of the largest are the cancer charities (Imperial Cancer Research Fund, Cancer Research Campaign, and the Leukaemia Research Fund), the British Heart Foundation, and the Arthritis and Rheumatism …

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