How To Appropriately Allocate Research Funds for Your Academic Initiatives

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There’s a lot riding on your ability as a researcher to get funding for your project. No funding usually means there’s no money available to do the research necessary to answer the question. On the other hand, those funds must be carefully chosen to avoid any bias and allow smooth access to the money as necessary without a lot of obstacles delaying the research.

How much funding and other resources you receive determines much of the quality of the work you can do, the development of the project, and the services you can allocate to completing each step. Choosing and getting approved for the right funding agency offers you advantages throughout the project, including the ability to determine how you allocate the funds to meet your academic initiatives. When this all falls into place correctly, you get to decide the budget, which can be a lot of pressure.

Setting Up Your Budget Carefully

Before you can begin allocating funds via a carefully designed budget, you must review the terms of your research funding. There are typical criteria that the funding body determines acceptable or unacceptable, and you must create your budget around those confines.

First, understand the amount of the grant and how it is intended to be allocated or distributed. Does it include a travel budget? If so, is it transportation only, or are lodging and stipends for food and other aspects included? Does the allocation allow you to pay institutional overheads or attend conferences related to the project? Will your publishing costs be included?

Each of these aspects and every other research cost must be compared to the terms of the funding. Anything not included must be covered through another source or out of the researcher’s pocket.

Don’t forget to include promotional aspects, such as marketing, digital and physical mediums of publishing and promotion, and travel expenses for those, as well.

Staying On Top of Adjustments

Now that you’ve separated your funds into a budget based on categories, you’ll need a system to keep a running total of each cost. Excel spreadsheets work well for this, but you can always use an accounting program like QuickBooks, too.

Get a receipt for every expenditure you pay for, and label the receipt under the category it fits in that you split your budget up with. For instance, paying for a team member to fly from their home country to the research base would be a travel expense. Categorize the receipt as “travel” and enter it into your spreadsheet, taking the funds from the travel budget.

This gives you a running total of how much you’ve spent in a category so you can keep an eye on your budget. If you have spent more than you expected, and you’re not even halfway through the project, chances are, you’re going to have to make some adjustments. It’s easier to do this earlier rather than later when you’ve overspent in too many categories and don’t have the leeway to cut costs elsewhere. Most importantly, if there’s no way to “cut” any other areas, you’ll need to have time to search out other alternatives for more funds to pay for them instead.

This also helps you keep track of any leftover funds and which categories you can use them for. General lab equipment, chemicals and reagents, and educational books or reference sources are often approved ways to allocate your excess funds and still reach your academic initiatives. If you have more than enough to cover expensive items, consider buying some major equipment you’ve needed, or attending a long-distance conference on your field of expertise.

Using Impactio to Find Your Team and Funder

When you have a profile on Impactio, finding a team to work with and funding sources to pay for your work becomes much more streamlined. All you have to do is scan the academic portfolios of others, see if they’re interested in your research project, and connect with them. Impactio’s worldwide network of professional experts like you gives you the opportunity to find your team and funder from the comfort of your computer screen.

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