Research & Sponsored Programs

Step 1: Generate Your Idea

The first step before looking for any funding is to generate your idea. This section will provide the tools and techniques for creating ideas for a research program that you can develop into future applications in research.

Your Preliminary Idea

Creating a research topic sometimes depends on many sources of inspiration. The following is likely to help you develop some ideas.


Ideas are often created from conversations that come up organically through chance and luck. It's important to grab and take control of opportunities to:

  • Engage with colleagues
  • Present at conferences
  • Paper review
  • Sit on panels & advisory councils
  • Contact national/international figures in your areas of interest

Look externally

There are several different way to look at this. Collaborate with a private company or check out federal government sites for requests for proposals.

The Potential Success of your Idea

After you have identified your topic and it looks feasible, be aware of the literature in that area. While reading the literature, keep in mind what is different between your work and others.

  • Subject matter
  • Defined results
  • Creativity
  • The subject matter should be something you want to spend the next several years working on

Also aligning your idea with the mission and purpose of the funding agencies.

Seek Input & Feedback

Before investing too much time into your application seek input & feedback on your idea through a mentor or from experienced investigators. Your Department Chair and/or Research Dean can help you identify a suitable mentor.