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Research Policy and Grant Proposal Writing


The aim of the course is to introduce PhD students to the research policy and funding landscape in a comparative perspective, in order to provide them with the information and competences needed for academic careers, particularly for what concern the acquisition of funding.
More specifically, the course will deal with the following topics:

  • Introducing PhD students to the socio-political and economic dynamics behind the allocation of public funds for research, to allow them understanding the rationale behind funding allocation and to cope with changes in the funding landscape.
  • Presenting the research funding landscape in terms of types of allocation mode (project vs. institutional), allocation mechanism (grants vs. formula vs. negotiation) and understanding their implications for funding acquisition.
  • Focusing on the main types of project funds available and their allocation procedures and criteria. The issue of supporting academic careers through specific grant scheme will receive due attention.
  • Understanding grant proposal writing as a communicative and argumentative process and learning how to manage this process in the most effective way to acquire funds.

Course structure
The course will be organized in five lectures of 3h each. Each lecture will comprise a face-to-face part and a reading of a relevant text on the subject. Tentatively, the outline of the lecture will be the following.

  1. National funding policies in a comparative perspective and their socio-economic determinants.
  2. Funding allocation modes and their implications for research actors.
  3. Institutional funding: how universities are funded and distribute money internally.
  4. Project funding and career instruments. Identifying the right slot.
  5. Convincing referees. Grant proposal writing as an argumentative process.

Additionally, the course will include a group work where PhD students will have the opportunity to analyse a set of grant proposals and to share their experience in a final course workshop.

Face to face-lectures: Monday 27.03, 03.04, 10.04, 24.04, 08.05, 14.30 – 17.30.
Final workshop: Monday 29.05, 9.00 – 12.30

Literature and readings
Jongbloed, B. & Lepori, B. (2015). The funding of research in higher education: Mixed models and mixed results. In Souto-Otero, M., Huisman, J., Dill, D.D., de Boer, H., Oberai, A.S., Williams, L.(Ed.) Handbook of Higher Education Policy and Governance (pp. 439-461). New York: Palgrave.
Laudel, G. (2006). The art of getting funded: how scientists adapt to their funding conditions. Science and Public Policy, 33(7), 489-504.
Lepori, B. (2011). Coordination modes in public funding systems. Research Policy, 40(3), 355-367.
Lepori, B., Dinges, M., Reale, E., Slipersaeter, S., Theves, J. & Van den Besselaar, P. (2007). Comparing the evolution of national research policies: what patterns of change? Science and Public Policy, 34(6), 372-388.
Myers, G. 1990. Writing Biology. Texts in the Social Construction of Knowledge. Madison: The University of Winsconsin Press, chapter 2 “Social Construction in two Biologists’ Proposals”.
Viner N. Powell, Ph., Green R. (2004), Institutionalized bias in the award of research grants: a preliminary analysis revisiting the principle of cumulative advantage, Research Policy, 33, 443-454.



Lepori B.

Course director

Additional information

Academic year