If somebody hold a PhD with good number of publications in high indexed journals and 2-3 years postdoctoral experiences, then is there any kind of research funding to carry out his/her own research as an independent researcher staying at home. If so, then would you please share some of such sources. Will a research proposal be sufficient to apply for such funding?

Please Note: The independent researcher has no affiliation except his home address and the background is in atmospheric science field.

  • I know of an atmospheric scientist who leads a research group with one member and works mostly from his mountain hideaway (I've never met him but I have worked with him). He does formally have an affiliation, though.
    – gerrit
    Feb 27, 2017 at 1:18
  • 2
    One of the major problems with grant writing on your own is regulatory compliance, in particular with federal grants. There are at least nine separate laws that establish requirements of persons or organizations who receive federal grant money- and includes everything from required Title IX training to nuts and bolts contractual compliance. Another problem is that not all grants allow individual applications. Read more: grants.gov/web/grants/learn-grants/grant-policies.html and grants.gov/web/grants/applicants/individual-registration.html
    – David
    Feb 27, 2017 at 3:35

3 Answers 3


I don't know which country you are in, but in the United States at least, a lot of grants assume you will be affiliated with a university or other institution (which is why there are things like indirect costs) and are not set up to be given to individuals with no affiliation.

That said, if someone has a decent scientific track record (eg. you're not a risk to the reputation of the university) it is fairly low-risk for a university to offer you some sort of 100% soft-money position (part-time research professor, etc.). Soft money means your entire paycheck has to be covered by grants, so the university doesn't risk any money on you themselves, they just give you a university affiliation so you can go hunt for grants. If you had a soft money position, and were able to get grants, you are pretty much your own boss and able to decide whether you want to come in to the office or work from home.

  • 2
    University would still need to have space for office and such, which they would fund from grant overhead, but there can be valid reasons to decline.
    – gerrit
    Feb 27, 2017 at 1:16
  • @gerrit - They could park you in a shared office with postdocs. I have not seen this be a deal breaker. Feb 28, 2017 at 2:46

Typical academic grants are very hard or impossible to get without affiliation, in part because of the constraints noted by the comment of @David. You could try and think outside the box, e.g. try collaborate with a local business and see if there are innovation grants available through that route, or see if there is a rich person who wants to play maecenas.

This is certainly not an easy way to go, and you'll definitely not be "independent" in the sense that you'll be especially dependent on those funding sources and there are less safeguards against them taking influence on your research than when you go through the university system.


Some associations promoting their own cause do give grants. For example association of Shakespearean plays could give grants for research about Shakespeare. The priority may though still be on the affiliated researchers, even-though not directly said so.

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