Our top tips for grant round applicants

22nd January 2024

So you have a brilliant research idea – what next? We asked the experts on our Scientific Advisory Committee to share their top tips to help you craft a compelling application.

Thinking of applying to our latest grant round?

Watch this video for a key piece of advice from Dr Sheeba Irshad, a senior clinical lecturer and breast cancer medical oncologist who has established an independent research group focused on understanding the immune landscape of chemotherapy resistant breast cancers. 

Our application process

Take a look at a sample application form to help you complete your application

A previous grant holder himself, Professor David Withers number one piece of advice is to stick to one simple idea. Take that idea as far as you can, while being realistic about what you can achieve with your collaborators in a two to three year project.

A strong application also has a strong team of collaborators. Strengthen your application by seeking out collaborators with the best expertise in the methods your project requires, and show that by working together you can tackle the problem. We believe that science has no boundaries and that innovative ideas can come from anywhere - we encourage applications from international teams. 

Maite Huarte Dr Maite Huarte
It's important to have a good team - having the right collaboration is really important if you are going to deliver what you say you want to.

Back up your ideas with strong preliminary data. This shows the committee that you know what you are talking about and that your ideas is feasible. If there is high risk associated with an early stage of the project, make it clear what your back-up plan is and how the project can continue. Strong preliminary data can show that your idea is less likely to fail early on and is great evidence for the committee to support your project. 

French Pim Dr Pim French
There needs to be plenty of preliminary work that shows that you know what you're talking about, and that the application is sound in the way that you can accomplish the goals that you have set out.

Thinking of applying for funding? Find out more about our application process

Dr Huarte and Dr French both recommend taking time to think through your application. Is it well-structured, taking the reader on a logical path through your ideas? Is the language you use clear and concise? Our Scientific Advisory Committee read dozens of applications and are not necessarily experts in your specific field so, to make your project stand out, make it easier for them to read and understand. 

The committee are looking for novel ideas that use novel techniques, and it is this combination that makes for a great application. An interesting new technique on its own is not enough for an application to stand out: it must be applied to a novel research question. 

Vincenzo Russo In Lab Dr Vincenzo Russo
This year I really enjoyed applications that were really great, original ideas - not only because the idea is original but also because the methods that they use are really new and are important for going into the details of fixing the problems.

These tips should help you turn your research idea into a compelling application. We look forward to receiving your application, and the team at Worldwide Cancer Research are crossing our fingers for our future Curestarter researchers!

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