Most career researchers, no matter what their discipline or career stage, have one issue in common: the need to find funding for their research and training. For researchers in the United States, that task just got a little easier.
Almost a decade ago, with financial support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, AAAS and Science launched GrantsNet, a new online science-funding database. Ever since it started, GrantsNet has been a key source of science-funding information for experienced scientists and trainees alike. And GrantsNet has always been free.
This month, GrantsNet started adding new content and features that will make it the most comprehensive online resource for science research and education funding. In GrantsNet 2.0, scientists now have one place to look for new science-funding programs: one URL to bookmark, one set of listings to browse, and one collection of search terms. GrantsNet now includes comprehensive listings of all new science-funding programs from the U.S. government, to complement the nongovernmental sources that have always been GrantsNet's bread and butter.
"This significant expansion of GrantsNet will greatly advance the AAAS goal of providing useful resources to the scientific community at all stages of their careers," says Alan Leshner, chief executive officer of AAAS. "This will make ScienceCareers.org the most comprehensive, freely available one-stop source for job-seeking advice, grant-getting advice, and actual job opportunities."
What's new in GrantsNet?
The big change in GrantsNet is the addition of funding programs from all the U.S. government agencies that support science. When GrantsNet started in 1998, it focused on biomedical-research funding from private foundations and other not-for-profit organizations. As recently as 2 years ago, GrantsNet called its monthly compilation of listings the Biomedical Funding News. Since then, GrantsNet has expanded its focus to include science funding from a wider range of nongovernment sources, covering more scientific disciplines. But even after this expansion, the number of listings in the physical sciences, social sciences, and engineering remained small.
Beginning in March 2007, GrantsNet began importing science-funding announcements from the U.S. government's central funding portal, Grants.gov. Each day, GrantsNet downloads the latest government funding announcements, picks out the ones with science, and transfers those to GrantsNet. These new programs are added to GrantsNet's large and growing collection of science grants from foundations and not-for-profit organizations.
Predictably, most of the government funding opportunities in GrantsNet come from the agencies with the largest research budgets: the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, and NASA. But the collection also includes announcements from sources that even experienced PIs may not have considered. Here are a few examples of programs imported from Grants.gov just this month:
The Department of Defense's Army Research Lab seeks proposals on the detection of improvised explosive devices.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development sponsors research on the effects of lead-based paint exposure and other housing-related health hazards.
The Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides scholarships for bachelor's-level training in the food and agricultural sciences and for Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degrees.
USDA's Economic Research Service funds studies of food-assistance delivery.
The U.S. Geological Survey at the Department of the Interior seeks proposals for research on earthquake occurrence and effects.
Finding government grants
The quickest and easiest way to find the government entries is to use GrantsNet's Funding Directory. In the search box, enter a key word from the name of the agency, such as Interior, or Agriculture, or NASA, or NIH. GrantsNet will return a list of programs for the organizations with that key word. Entries returned with the GO icon are programs that are still accepting proposals.
Or, you can browse through the alphabetical listing of organizations. Remember that GrantsNet entries use the official name of the agency (this is the government, after all), so most Cabinet-level departments are listed under "U.S.," as in U.S. Department of Agriculture or U.S. Department of Defense. The National Science Foundation, NIH, and NASA are listed under N, for National.
Of course, you don't have to use the Funding Directory to access government grants. Just search the database on a key word, a discipline, or however you wish, and government programs will be returned alongside private programs.
New Funding News features
Science Careers publishes all the new GrantsNet program entries from all sources in its monthly Funding News; we dropped the "Biomedical" from the title in late 2005. Beginning with the April issue, we've renamed the two main categories. Now you will find the new GrantsNet programs listed under either: (1) Research Funding or (2) Student and Institutional Support.
But the most important new additions to the Funding News are the RSS feeds, one each for Research Funding and Student and Institutional Support, which we will update monthly. RSS--short for Really Simple Syndication--provides Web users with alerts of new content directly on their browsers. In this case, the content consists of lists of new GrantsNet programs. Subscribers to the new feeds will be able to see the Funding News entries displayed in stand-alone feed readers or online services such as My Yahoo and Google Reader.
Despite the addition of these new features, it's still the same old GrantsNet you know and love. GrantsNet 2.0 still doesn't require fees, or even registration, for browsing and searching. But if you plan to use GrantsNet frequently, you can open an account (at no charge), which will let you save search terms and individual grants for later recall. And the Funding News will continue to include the Deadline Watch, which provides a reminder of proposal due dates coming up in the next 6 weeks.
Researchers and students know there's no escaping the chase for money. But the new features in GrantsNet 2.0 can ease some of the pain in hunting for research funding and student support.
And speaking of easing pain, did we mention that GrantsNet is free?
Don't want to wait a month for new GrantsNet listings?
If you are a member of AAAS, then you're in luck. Subscribe to GrantsNet Express, an e-mail alert service that delivers new GrantsNet programs each week to AAAS members only. Science Careers has a sample issue posted and subscription form. If you're not a AAAS member (and you know who you are), the AAAS site has membership information.
Alan Kotok is managing editor of Science Careers.
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