A Note on Successful Applications

February 22nd, 2017 by Karin Strinnholm Lagergren

This blogpost will not be on Gregorian chant or the Birgittines, at least not explicitly. Last week I was asked to present to my colleagues some strategies for successful research applications since I have been granted a few of these. So here is my list….

  1. Your idea must be extremely simple to explain. Can you explain it to your old grandmother? If not, it is too complicated. I think many applications are rejected because they are too complicated. A simple idea can be divided into as many complicated details as you want to but never the other way round. I don’t think that the entire humanity will be interested in Gregorian chant and I don’t think it is healthy should they. But if I can find an idea that is so simple that the man on the street will understand it, then the likelyhood that the reviewers will understand it and find it interesting is quite big.
  2. Your idea must be flexible. A flexible idea is an idea with an overall structure (let’s call it metalevel) that fits into different kinds of calls and thus can be adjusted to different calls.
  3. Take risks. You do not know what you will find during your research project, that is the very idea of doing reserach. Make space for the unexpected by listing questions you want to answer that you are not fully sure of that you will be able to answer. Either you will challenge yourself and actually find answers to these questions or you will find other even more interesting and accurate questions to work with.
  4. Be interdisciplinary within yourself. This means to think outside your speciality and research area. Are there methodologies, theories, or research questions outside for example chant scholarship that can be useful for your project?
  5. Present a clear plan of when you are planning to do what in your project. It might not work out in reality but it shows that you a clear idea of want you want to achieve.
  6. Emphasize you international network and keep working on it. Make sure this network is interdisciplinary. Don’t know where to begin? Go to some international conferences and make sure to never be absent in the coffee breaks.
  7. Learn from the peer reviews. Peer reviews on applications that not were granted can be extremely useful, but also granted projects can profit from suggestions or ideas on literature given by the reviewers.
Karin Strinnholm Lagergren
Senior Lecturer at Linnaeus University
Senior lecturer in musicology and singer of medieval music. Research interest monastic chant, in particular Birgittines and Dominicans. In this blog I write, comment and reflect on my research project 'The Musical World of the Birgittine Order'. Expect loads of manuscript images, tricky chant problems and square notation!

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