By Sarah Ott, Senior Grants Consultant
While some support services are broadly applicable to all faculty seeking grant funding, the support offered to early career, mid-career, and seasoned faculty members must reflect the specific needs and challenges of each group. With increased competition for grant funds, faculty at all career stages face challenges to securing funding, including extreme competition from peers and difficulty maintaining funding levels even if initial support is secured.
The current funding landscape can breed an environment of risk-averse principal investigators that prevents innovation. Faculty can often be discouraged by seeing the rich get richer, while diversity and innovation take a backseat to more predictable discoveries. To navigate these challenges, institutions can explore unique approaches for faculty at different career stages to effectively set them on a path toward securing funding.
Early-stage faculty need extra support to learn grantseeking and grantsmanship basics and to learn about institution and funder expectations. To support early-stage faculty, institutions can:
- Help orient them to institutional grantseeking policies, procedures, and resources
- Host career development award and project award workshops or courses that result in a draft proposal
- Organize and hold mock proposal reviews
- Encourage participation as a reviewer for funding agencies
- Help to identify appropriate funders and funding mechanisms
- Encourage and support resubmission of unfunded proposals
For faculty at this stage, outcomes to track include successfully submitting a grant and receiving funding.
Mid-stage faculty may need support to renew or replace existing grant funding and to progress to center- and program-level grant funding. To support mid-stage faculty, institutions can:
- Refresh faculty on evolving funder expectations and any updated application guidelines
- Provide enhanced support for grant renewals
- Offer bridge funding
- Identify alternative funding sources for grants that will expire with no renewal opportunity
- Provide project management support for program and center grants
For mid-stage faculty, metrics for tracking success may include successfully renewing a grant, replacing lost funding, and submitting or receiving funding through a center or program grant.
Late-stage faculty benefit from project management support for large team-based proposals and funder refreshes with peers. To support late-stage faculty, institutions can:
- Hold expert panels on which late-stage faculty can provide input and learn about up-to-date funder review processes and grantsmanship strategies
- Manage large teams of faculty writers to produce a cohesive team-based proposal
- Support development of transition plans to new PIs when faculty retire or leave the institution
At this stage, faculty success means maintaining their funding and effectively pursuing large-scale team-based proposals.