One Idea – Several Projects

In Chapter 7 we talk about dealing with low success rates by creating several applications from one project idea.  Once you understand how to read and use the application template, writing up different versions of the same idea is straightforward.

But funding agency schemes and priorities differ and there may be restrictions that stop you sending the same project to different agencies anyway.  So, must learn how to vary your applications in a way that retains the spirit of your original idea.

But generating these variations can be challenging.  This post suggests a way of thinking through this process.

Firstly, decide which dimensions of your research are non-negotiable.  These will generally be your motive for getting out of bed each morning to carry out research (or simply where you have built your track record).  They might include one or more of the following:

  • The topic you explore (e.g. horror films, small island tourism)
  • The question you want to answer (e.g. how are memories stored and updated?)
  • The method you use (e.g. conversation analysis, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation)
  • The population or sample you investigate (e.g.  looked after children, female entrepreneurs)
  • The benefit you want to create (e.g. helping small food producers, neuro-rehabilitation)

These dimensions will usually remain fixed (unless your fixed dimensions are also ‘unfundable’ ones – in which case, see Chapter 1).  Then ask yourself the following further questions about those dimensions that you are prepared to vary:

  • Is there any other topic that this project could apply to?
  • Would any other methodological approach answer this question?
  • Is there any other question I can ask about this topic/population/sample?
  • What else can I use this method to investigate?
  • Does any other population face the same issues?
  • Would asking a different question or working with a different method/sample create the same benefit?

Your possible project variations will lie in the answers to these questions.  At this point, apply the importance and success criteria to check whether the new-look project is viable.  Then check whether it fits the funding agency guidelines and criteria.  Then, start writing.

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