Grant proposals can take months until you hear back. What should researchers do during that period?

  1. Start working on the research since the idea could be implemented by others and publish without acknowledging the funder.
  2. Similar to point 1 but in publishing wait to hear about the results and acknowledge the funder if you were funded.
  3. Wait since you don't know if the idea will be funded and there are no funds to support students but the idea could become obsolete after 6 months.
  4. Something else
  • 1
    Write another proposal since you don't know if this one will be granted?
    – Roland
    Mar 18, 2018 at 17:05
  • I guess the idea is that you apply for grants before your current one runs out and hope that one application at least is successful, so this problem doesn't arise. But someone with more experience can weigh in on this.
    – user9646
    Mar 18, 2018 at 17:06
  • 4
    Catch up with the work you are paid for (previous grants) after spending weeks on writing grants to support you during future grant writing?
    – Mark
    Mar 18, 2018 at 17:09
  • 1
    @NajibIdrissi true for people with awarded grants
    – Thomas Lee
    Mar 18, 2018 at 17:22
  • @Roland ok, but the idea could be gone
    – Thomas Lee
    Mar 18, 2018 at 17:23

2 Answers 2


Start the work if you can. Acknowledge the grant if you get it.

If you don't have the necessary resources to start the proposed research without the new grant, the only thing you can do is wait for the new grant. Yes, your idea could become obsolete after six months; in fact, your might already be obsolete. Nothing you can do about that. Let it go.

If you do have the necessary resources to start the proposed research without the new grant, go right ahead. (Those necessary resources definitely include your time and expertise; they might also include specialized equipment, money for research assistants, money for publication costs, money for travel, ethics board approval, and/or other things I didn't think of.)

But while you're waiting for the grant decision, remember that developing a research idea into a publication also takes several months. You have to do the actual research; you have to write the paper; the paper has to be reviewed and edited. All of these steps take significant time.

If you can get a paper all the way to print before the proposal decision, you don't need to acknowledge the new grant, because it doesn't exist yet. But this seems rather unlikely; any idea that you can get to publication in only a few months is a weak basis for a grant proposal.

On the other hand, if the grant comes in before your paper is actually published, pat yourself on the back and then acknowledge the grant. Even if you are already revising the galley proofs. ("Research by this author is partially supported by XXX under grant ZZZ.") You have nothing to lose by being generous to the funding agency.


Do you have access to any other funding? In the meantime, typically we would apply for ethics for the proposed project and seek out other funding. If its a topic you could write a short commentary on or get it out there under your name, you can do that.

If you can start the work after obtaining ethics, and money isn't holding the work back, you should put wheels in motion.

  • 1
    What do you mean by "apply for ethics"? Dec 12, 2018 at 5:53
  • And what do you mean by "obtaining ethics"?
    – Nobody
    Dec 12, 2018 at 6:04
  • Apologies - applying for ethics at the review ethics board of the institution you are at for the study you wish to conduct. Dec 12, 2018 at 7:32

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