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Women in Science

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Audio clip: Alison suggests people take advice from others who have applied to those particular funders, find collaborators (particularly those with a strong track record) and respond constructively when addressing reviewers’ criticism.

Could you just say a little bit more about applying for those, those big grants. I mean it’s a big, you had to apply two or three times to different places.

Well I think the important thing is to find other people who’ve had the experience of applying and ask for their help, so I certainly wouldn’t have been able to succeed in doing this without a lot of help. So people who’ve applied to the MRC, find them, and you know ask them their experience because what we got at the time was six referees replies, anonymised, some of which were somewhat unpleasant, some of which were encouraging and although that might have been somewhat off-putting at the time I think if you have the experience of other people who say you know, ‘Well this is typical of what you might get back’, and the process of trying to write the response to those replies is quite an art I think because you have to say, ‘Thank you for the criticism’ and how you constructively use it, rather than saying, ‘I don’t, I just don’t agree with that’, or, or something like that. It’s necessary to at least appreciate that not everybody sees the project you are doing with the same rose tinted spectacles.

Always take advice from other people. Talk to people who’ve done it before, who’ve applied to those particular funders or in that particular area before. And never try and write one all on your own. I mean always get other people to give you feedback on what you’re doing and to tell you, you know, what you’re doing might include this person or that person, be as collaborative as you can, and you know get a group of you together to do it, that would be my advice because a group, and some of that group needs to have a track record.

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