Federal Funding for Basic Psychological Science

L-R: Rebecca A. Ferrer, Lisa Feldman Barrett, Lisbeth Nielsen, Melissa W. Riddle, Emily Falk, Betty Tuller

L-R: Rebecca A. Ferrer, Lisa Feldman Barrett, Lisbeth Nielsen, Melissa W. Riddle, Emily Falk, Betty Tuller

With tight budgets and dramatic cuts in federal funding, can researchers realistically hope for government funding for their work? This was the topic of conversation at the Federal Funding for Basic Psychological Science Workshop, held Thursday in Chicago at the 24th APS Annual Convention.

The short answer is yes.

As Rebecca A. Ferrer (National Cancer Institute), Lisbeth Nielsen (National Institute on Ageing), Melissa W. Riddle (National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research), Rosalind King (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development), and Betty Tuller (National Science Foundation) discussed the intricacies of the grant processes at their agencies, they also pointed out the emerging research priorities that they hope to fund in the near future.

Offering the perspective of those who actually applied for grants, Lisa Feldman Barrett, an established researcher from Northeastern University, and Emily Falk, an early career researcher from the University of Michigan, rounded out the panel and related their own experiences in successfully securing federal funding.

Whether from the perspective of grantee or grantor, they all offered some practical guidance on what it takes to impress federal funders and get your grant approved. Researchers should make sure that they point out the connection that exists both between their research and the completion of the funder’s scientific priorities and of the ultimate benefits of that research to the public at large.

Potential applicants were also encouraged to take advantage of the program officers who work in specific agencies. They are instrumental in providing information on available funding opportunities and structuring the proposal so that it meshes with the agency’s scientific goals. A program officer, it seems, can be a researcher’s best friend during the grant submission process.

In this time of tight funding remember, a grant is not just a scientific document it’s also a chance to show federal funders the value of particular work. So for the best chance of success show the value of the basic research and make sure to ask for help along the way.

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