How do people even get research funding?

This is a bit rambly and beyond where I originally wanted to go with this blog but I’ve reached a point where I need answers.

I know a lot of people end up saying this, but I don’t know how people do a lot of things that they just seem to do. People will say they have no idea how they do something but then they do it. They say they feel behind but then have things done. They say they don’t know but then have an answer.

I sometimes feel like I’m one of the few people who doesn’t actually know what’s going on and doesn’t just doubt myself. I’d like to clarify I don’t just mean this is a self-pitying way where I feel completely beyond all help… just directionless where I need some guidance.

I don’t know how people get research funding. I had a brief overview of it at some point but it seemed so sort of vaguely “These people sometimes give money to people to help with postgraduate research.” I know that means they can fund part of my research but I’m as lost as a small child being told jobs will give them money without them having a reference point for applications, CVs, interviews or references. I look at the sites on the lists and I still don’t know what they want from me or what they do or give. It makes me feel stupid to admit it but I don’t know what to do. I can’t continue on with how I’ve been doing this.

My research has been self-funded with US federal student loans. It’s not because I think my research is uninteresting, unworthy, or somehow only worth looking at for me but rather because I have no idea how to approach someone or a group with why they should pay me to find these answers without feeling like I’m doing the academic version of sitting on street corners and asking for change. I can even imagine people shaking their heads as they go by and saying to each other “Money for research into medieval brewing? She’ll just use it to get drunk.”

I’m doing unusual research and don’t mind doing unusual things to fund it but I don’t even know what people do. I even finally had the nerve to ask about funding because I hate bringing up money at my supervision meetings and I got something that amounted to “Funding is hard for everyone.” Thanks for the help there.

Once I get past this I’ll then work on how I don’t know how people get career jobs.

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2 Responses to “How do people even get research funding?”

  1. Ben Hardy says:

    Not really a response to ‘how do people get funding’, but a PhD on Medieval brewing sounds absolutely fabulous. I would love to read the end result. The only thing I know about it is that Margery Kemp had been a brewer – but she wasn’t Scottish. If you haven’t got funding, and if the world was a just one, you really should get something somewhere.

    If you ever go to the Leeds IMC to give a paper – let me know and I will sneak in the back to have a listen.

  2. kyrina says:

    Thank you for your comment (and sorry for not replying sooner!).

    I’ll let you know if I do a talk… pretty much anywhere. I don’t present papers often but it’s something I need to do more often in general.

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