Areas of Influence

Seven Overlooked Aspects of Writing an EPSRC Proposal

Writing a proposal for the Engineering and Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC) can be a daunting prospect: a lot of time and energy is spent developing a project where the funding outcome is far from certain and much of it can feel outside of the project leader's control. As a former EPSRC portfolio manager, I’m afraid there is nothing I can say to guarantee a successfully funded grant proposal … but I can discuss seven aspects of writing a proposal that are often overlooked but which can have a potential impact on your application. These include:

  • Keeping all readers of the proposal in mind: A proposal is seen by a number of people on its way to a funding decision. Ensuring that each person (portfolio manager, reviewer, panel member) is considered during the writing process can be beneficial.
  • Avoiding conflicts: Applicants have the chance to nominate reviewers they believe can fairly assess their proposal. However, conflicted reviewers cannot be used, potentially wasting this opportunity.
  • Writing a strong response: Panel members use the reviewer comments and the applicant's response to determine how well a proposal meets the assessment criteria. A well-written response—one that is not angry, aggressive, arrogant, defensive, dismissive, or petty—can help a proposal move up the rank order list.

These topics and more are highlighted in this free session.

Your Instructor

Dr Elaine Massung
Dr Elaine Massung

Over the past two decades, Dr Elaine Massung has carried out a variety of roles in higher education: post-doctoral research assistant, copy editor and proofreader, and portfolio manager at the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. She started Academic Smartcuts to help researchers establish positive habits and build a strong foundation for their career.

Frequently Asked Questions

When does the session start and finish?
This is a completely self-paced online course - you decide when you start and when you finish. You can access it as often as you wish and replay it whenever required.
How long do I have access to the session?
After enrolling, you have unlimited access to this course for as long as you like - across any and all devices you own.
What if there are changes or updates to this session?
All future changes to the course are included in your free enrollment.
Is this applicable to all of UKRI (UK Research and Innovation)?
This free session was designed specifically based on my experiences working as a portfolio manager at EPSRC and focuses on common issues encountered in the EPSRC peer review process. Many of these aspects will be the same across UKRI as a whole. However, I recommend checking with other research councils and funding bodies if you have questions about their specific requirements and processes.
Is the information provided in this course applicable for calls?
The Areas of Influence seminar session focuses on proposals that go through a standard peer review process, which is expert peer review followed by a prioritisation panel. This includes new investigator awards, standard mode (a.k.a. responsive mode), and fellowships. While some aspects, such as avoiding conflicts of interest, will be applicable regardless of the process used, calls typically follow different processes and may have different assessment criteria.
What if I have a question about the session or its content, or something that's not answered here?
Contact Elaine at [email protected] if you would like any additional information about the Areas of Influence seminar session, other training that is available from Academic Smartcuts (e.g. Proposal Launchpad: Idea Generation for Researchers or Couch to £500K: Turing an Idea into a Proposal), or you have a question that's not covered in the FAQ.

Take a sneak peek at the EPSRC Myth-busting Guide to preview several of the topics discussed in the Proposal Launchpad and Couch to £500K programmes. The complete book is available free to programme participants, or it can be purchased for £14.99 from the Academic Smartcuts website.

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