Character  &  Context

Looking for Funding, but not Sure Where to Start? Look No Further!

3 rows of slightly taller coins, growing plants on top of them, representing financial growth

Whether you yourself are a scientist, know someone who does research, or don’t know and don’t care, you may want to start paying attention to the kinds of weird things scientists do and how they go about doing those weird things they do.

You probably work, so at least some of your money is funding exciting—hopefully exciting—research. If you are an early career researcher (e.g., graduate student), or an early career faculty member, you have probably experienced the crushing feeling of anxiety that accompanies the reality of needing funding to do really interesting research. As such, you have probably wondered where the heck you are going to find this magical pile of disposable research money (or the next one, and the next one).

The “Funding Agencies Offer Insights into Securing Support for Your Research” symposium of the #SPSP2019 give both early career and seasoned researchers valuable advise not otherwise found online. The panel included representatives from the American Psychological Association, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Science Foundation, and the John Templeton Foundation.

William Klein of the National Cancer Institute explains that cancer research is extraordinarily open to funding behavioral research more typically conducted by social and personality researchers, such as behavioral risk factors like tabaco use and eating practices related to obesity. In addition, Klein advices researchers to keep track of allocations from congress to specific funding institutions. NIH is allegedly more conservative in the Fall, before having secured funding, than during the Spring, because sometimes budgets can increase from previous terms. Unanimously, all speakers advice prospective applicants to speak over the phone with the respective representatives in funding agencies, experts will most certainly provide feedback that may not otherwise be found in any online form or description.

Another valuable resource for personality and social psychologists offered during this talk is publicly available data that anyone can access for analyses. These include 1) The Health Information National Trends Survey, 2) The Family Life, Activity, Sun, Health, and Eating Survey, 3) The Grid-Enabled measures database, and 4) other data bases that can be accessed via The Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences research.

Research is expensive, with some projects racking-up to five million dollars, and social and personality psychology researchers are under fierce competition to obtain funding for their particular research projects. A large piece of the research funding pie comes from tax-payer money. As a result, agencies like NIH and NSF feel obligated to, and in fact build, policies that correspond to a shared responsibility to contribute to the general well-being of society.


Written By: Diego Guevara Beltrán, BSc/BA, PhD student in Social Psychology, Cooperation and Conflict Lab, Arizona State University

Session: Funding Agencies Offer Insights into Securing Support for Your Research, held on the 8th of February 2019. 

Speakers: Amber Story1, Steven Breckler2, William Klein3, and Nicholas Gibson4

American Psychological Association1, National Science Foundation2, NIH/National Cancer Institute3, John Templeton Foundation4

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Character & Context is the blog of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP). With more than 7,500 members, SPSP is the largest organization of social psychologists and personality psychologists in the world.   

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