How to Apply for Research Funding

The Office of Research Services is the first point of contact for faculty members who are seeking financial support for their research or assistance in administering their program of research. We provide researchers with up-to-date access to information on the funding programs of major national and provincial granting agencies as well as a multitude of other research funding sources. We also serve as the central contact for all major research funding agencies, keeping abreast and advising researchers of changes in the funding environment and associated guidelines and application procedures, as well as new funding directions and initiatives.

1. Finding the Right Opportunity 

The application process begins with the search for funding opportunities related to your program of research.  There are several resources that can help you location relevant funding agencies:

  • Information on major upcoming funding opportunities can be found in the Research and Innovation external funding opportunities database
  • The COS Pivot Database contains over 25,000 records worth over $33 billion related to the natural sciences and engineering, social sciences and humanities, and health. It allows individuals to undertake comprehensive searches for funding opportunities. Any researcher on campus can access this important resource through their computer. This database can be found at: http://pivot.cos.com/

2.  Grant vs. Contract

Researchers should be aware of the differences between a research grant and a research contract:

Research Grants: Refers to funds that are awarded to the recipient to enable the performance of self-directed research, where there is no contractual obligation on specific research outcomes. The following characteristics are normally also present.

  • objectives are defined in a general fashion;
  • no limitations or restrictions on publication;
  • no specific transfer of results to grantor; however a final report stating the results of the research is usually submitted to the grantor;
  • payment to the university is generally made in advance of expenditures;
  • high level of research trainee involvement, and
  • no direct remuneration to principal investigator or co-investigator.

Research Contracts: Refers to funds that are assigned for research purposes through a legally enforceable agreement which may include conditions setting forth specific terms governing the conduct, direction and scheduling of the tasks to be performed; designating ownership of proprietary rights to the research results; laying out the financial regiment to be followed; and other restrictions required by the research. Some or all of the following characteristics are normally present:

  • scope and nature of research is specifically defined;
  • set time period for the activity;
  • ownership of intellectual property, patent rights and licensing arrangements are established;
  • deliverables are strictly defined;
  • provision for confidentiality of information supplied and created;
  • limitations on publication, perhaps prior review of material for publication to check for confidentiality or patent issues;
  • budget approvals and payment schedules;
  • acceptance and termination clauses;
  • limit liability of participants (hold harmless and indemnity clauses), and
  • possible remuneration to principal investigator. 

3.  Preparing the application

Researchers are expected to review the relevant funding agency guidelines/application instructions. However, the ORS is pleased to provide assistance to researchers as they prepare their submissions in the following ways:

  • The ORS is there to provide assistance in interpreting a funder's guidelines and grant submission instructions.
  • The Research Grants Officer reviews draft applications submitted on time in order to ensure compliance with:  1. a funding agency’s guidelines, eligibility and selection criteria, and submission instructions; and  2. Lakehead University policies and other internal procedures.
  • The Research Grants Officer will make suggestions to researchers on how to strengthen their applications.
  • Providing advice on an application’s budget/budget justification.
  • Providing technical assistance with electronic forms (for example, NSERC, SSHRC and CIHR electronic submission systems).
  • Providing Letters of Support if required by the funder.  Requests for letters of support from the University must be submitted well in advance of the funding agency’s deadline in order to allow enough time for the preparation of a letter.

4.  Utilize Grant Preparation Resources 

When preparing grant applications, faculty members are encouraged to utilize the grant preparation resources that are available to them.  This includes faculty mentors, a list of professional grant writers, copies of previously successful applications, grant writing tips, etc.

5.  Review Relevant Lakehead University Research-related Policies

Questions regarding everything from obtaining ethics approval or the amount of overhead (if allowed by a funder) that needs to be included in an application budget can be answered well in advance by reviewing and being aware of Lakehead University’s research-related policies.

6.  Complete Lakehead University Internal Approval Forms

Applications for internal funding require the completion, prior to final submission of applications, of Lakehead University’s internal approval forms.  Researchers should allow themselves enough time prior to submission of their grant applications in order to complete these internal forms.  In all cases, a Research Proposal Approval Form must be completed.

7.  Submit Application to the ORS (two weeks prior to the external agency deadline) for Review

Faculty members are required to submit applications to the ORS two weeks prior to the external agency deadline for review.  This is in order for the ORS to have sufficient time to review the proposal.  Applications submitted after the internal deadline will only be checked for completeness.  All applications by faculty members for external funding should be processed through the ORS before being submitted to a granting agency.

8.  ORS Provides Feedback to Researcher on Submission 

All research grant applications submitted on time are reviewed by ORS staff prior to their submission to ensure compliance with the policies and requirements of the University and the particular funding agency.

9.  Submission of Final Version of Application with Required Signatures (chair, dean, etc.) at Least Two Days Prior to the Final Agency Deadline.

After a researcher has received feedback from the ORS and made any required changes to their submission, the final application must be submitted to the ORS at least two days prior to the external deadline.  This will allow for enough time to obtain the signature and/or approval of the Vice-President (Research, Economic Development and Innovation). A hard copy of the completed application, together with the relevant completed and signed internal forms should also be submitted to the ORS at this time.  Any agreed upon Lakehead University cash or in-kind commitments must be confirmed in writing by the source as well by this final stage.