Research Newsletter - Issue 74: Spotlight

The DCU Grant Repository - One year on

Warburg grant image

Facsimile of proposal submitted in 1921

In 1921, the celebrated Biochemist Otto Warburg submitted a research proposal to the Notgemeinschaft der Deutschen Wissenschaft (Emergency Association of German Science). The application, which consisted of a single sentence, “I require 10,000 marks”, was funded in full.

Sadly, since then competitive funding applications have become somewhat more involved, and supports and resources to help applicants improve the clarity, focus and structure of project proposals are essential.

A little over one year ago, the repository of grant applications was established in DCU, facilitated by the support of over 44 researchers across all Faculties who shared their previous successful application. Since then, this resource has been used extensively by researchers across DCU to learn more about specific funding calls, understand how successful grants are structured, and to prepare competitive funding applications. Here is a short overview of the repository to date.


Why organise a formal grant repository?

Strong research project ideas can end up not being funded if they are not presented and argued effectively and clearly in the funding application. Grant writing skills such as the articulation of a focussed background/state of the art section; the development of a logical and comprehensive work plan or the effective argument of convincing impact, all benefit from seeing how others have argued these points in previously successful grant applications. The grant repository is intended as a mechanism to enable a wide range of researchers across all career stages and Faculties to access grant examples. Feedback from researchers who have secured funding after accessing material from the repository has highlighted the key role this played in assisting the application process.


How does it work?



The repository currently includes over 50 manuscripts

The Research Development (RD) team has developed and implemented a grant repository resource, incorporating a high level of confidentiality to assuage any concerns of manuscript donors. These include over 50 manuscripts, mostly donated by DCU researchers. The repository also includes a number of manuscripts collected from open sources.


Additionally, a comprehensive process for redacting and anonymising the manuscripts has been implemented. These manuscripts, and where available reviewer feedback, are redacted and anonymised in consultation with the donor to remove any sensitive information, such as names of applicants and collaborators or budget information etc. 

Researchers interested in applying to a particular grant, or in general wishing to learn more broadly how successful applications are structured, should get in touch with their Research Development Officer who will identify suitable grants for release and can also meet to discuss grant writing strengths that a particular manuscript might exemplify. 

There is currently no requirement to donate a manuscript if you wish to access the repository, but we would encourage people to support this resource through donation wherever possible.


What’s in the repository now?

Over 50 manuscripts are currently in the repository from 9 separate funders and over 25 calls. To date over 85 researchers have accessed 116 manuscripts in preparation for their funding application. These manuscripts have been donated from researchers across all Faculties. Where possible, we have multiple examples of particular calls, reflecting different research areas. The aim is to develop and maintain an up-to-date repository of recent applications for all major calls of relevance to all Faculties, with examples reflecting a broad range of research disciplines. As such, we are currently engaging with researchers with suitable examples to invite them to contribute to the repository. Below is a selection of the applications available through the repository:

Irish Research Council (IRC)

  • New Foundations
  • GOI Postdoctoral Fellowship
  • Enterprise Partnership Scheme - Postdoc
  • GOI Postdoctoral Fellowship 1 & 2 Year

Science Foundation Ireland (SFI)

  • Frontiers for the Future Programme
  • Discover
  • Covid-19 Research Call
  • Future Innovator
  • US-Ireland
  • Starting Investigator Grant (SIRG)
  • SFI-IRC Pathways Call

EU Horizon

  • ERC – Starting, Consolidator & Advanced
  • MSCA Postdoctoral Fellowships
  • MSCA Innovative Training Networks

Erasmus +

  • Cooperation Partnerships for Adult Education
  • Strategic Partnerships for VET
  • Strategic Partnerships for Adult Education
  • Strategic Partnerships for School Education

EPA -  Research Call

HRB  - Emerging Investigator Award

SEAI  - Research Development and Demonstration call

Scotens  - Seed Funding


Who is requesting manuscripts?

In the year since the repository was launched, over 116 requests for individual manuscripts have been fulfilled. The 85 PI’s who requested these manuscripts are broadly distributed across the Faculties.

The repository has been particularly accessed by early career researchers, with over 25 researchers targeting calls such as the MSCA Postdoctoral Fellowship, the SFI/IRC Pathways call, and the ERC Starting Grant. However, senior researchers also make use of the resource, with particular interest in ERC examples and SFI Frontiers for the Future manuscripts.

41 PI’s have subsequently applied to relevant calls after utilising the grant repository, and 8 awards have been made to repository users to date, with an additional one on a reserve list. As such, 20% of applicants who accessed the repository were subsequently successful in their funding application.


What’s Next?

RDO’s are currently encouraging researchers preparing for upcoming calls such as the IRC New Foundations and the SFI/IRC Pathways, as well as others, to review manuscripts as they begin to prepare applications. Additionally, the team welcome any offers to contribute recent successful applications to the repository.

Please don't hesitate to contact your Faculty RDO or the Research Development Manager, Dr Dara Dunican (