Many organisations sponsor research fellowships in order to aid promising upcoming professionals in return for their research/work in the field.
If you are looking for a nudge towards your plans in the future, then here’s everything you would require to know about your PhD or Postdoctoral Research Fellowships.
Firstly, it’s Important to be alert and read the fine print.
More often than not, fellowships are considered as scholarships, but that might not be the case everywhere. The most important difference between the two is the availability of funds, formally known as ‘financial aid’.
PhD scholarship or research fellowship is equivalent to financial aid, either in the form of tuition fee or ‘ per diem ‘ i.e. living allowance.
Fellowships may be granted as an honorary status, maybe even without any financial aid. The status can provide the advantage of access to important resources, such as in a library or a research institute.
How to search relevant postdoc fellowship opportunity for yourself.
In this Digital Age, Finding a research fellowship has been simplified, however, the increased competitiveness makes it tough to acquire.
That’s why it’s important to have a well thought out course of action in mind.
Research Fellowships offered are being broadcasted, and Websites have taken that onus to display available fellowships.
Some resourceful sites to look out for such opportunities :
- PhDPortal.com : This portal provides choices as well as filters, and extra details such as funding and other details like contact information or a link to the institution/department in question.
- ScholarshipPortal.com : This portal provides information on scholarships at different levels (Bachelor, Masters, PhD) considering the subject area of your interest, your nationality and the preferred destination country.
- Profellow.com : Profellow gives expert advice on competing fellowships through a ProFellow Member Network.
Bonus Links :
- How to find phd research fellowships which is right for you.
- How research fellowships at different levels of your career.
These sites can offer you numerous choices, but ultimately it’s up to you, as an individual who has to decide which one is better for you and why.
Important do’s to get yourself an amazing research fellowship
Start Your PhD Scholarship Search Early
‘Early is on time, on time is late, and late is unacceptable.’
PhDs are highly coveted in most nations and thus generate huge competition. It’s always fruitful to start early, get a head start, and not keep fumbling in the dark, grasping at loose strings later on.
Even though a lot of universities state that they would have more than one round of Applications/proposals, they consist of limited spots as well as limited funding.
Therefore, it’s always better to start searching early and make an informed choice/decision.
Start applying from November – December before you enroll. This might also help you to be prepared for applying for other scholarships, both in the country as well as abroad.
Know Where Your Interests Lie
First off, while a fellowship can be a fantastic opportunity, don’t apply just because it sounds fun or you’re looking for something to fill your time.‘What will this experience offer me? What do I expect to learn and accomplish?
It’s safe to assume that you have completed your Masters, and subsequently have a fair knowledge of the subjects and understanding where your interests lie.
However, to be fair, it’s not always clear at the beginning of your PhD search where you want to focus on.
Here’s a tip,
A topic, that keeps you up at night, maybe busy in your free time, or you find it interesting or intriguing and you invest most of your time in it, then it’s a sign that this is the subject you desire for PhD.
Honestly, Working towards a PhD degree is a gruelling task.
In order to be successful in such a venture, your mind, body, the soul should have an active interest in your subject… It does not remain a piece of work, it becomes a part of your lifestyle.
It should NOT be something that you stop thinking out of the workplace, and definitely not something you prefer to leave back in the work environment.
Keep introspecting. New ideas can arise in the most unusual situations and places.
Understanding Your Eligibility
Many fellowships ask for a good GPA, but don’t get stressed out about that one rough semester. The authorities just wish to confirm through your GPA that you have been sincere and consistent throughout your academic years to make sure you are responsible and will be able to perform well.
Here’s a secret: Candidates who are well -rounded ( academics as well as sports, extracurricular activities) are preferred to those with near perfect grades.
Analyze University Rankings in Your Preferred Field
The primary requirements for searching institutions are to give a look at university rankings filtered by the subject of interest as given in, the World University Rankings by Subject.
However, if it’s a niche subject, you should focus less on university rankings, and more on good universities which accommodate your interest.
Take time, evaluate and analyse, contact them and then make an informed decision.
Also, it’s a wrong attitude to remove higher ranking universities from your list because “ chances are low “.
It never hurts to apply.
Talk to Professors and Current Students Pursuing Postdoctoral fellowships
Professors actually know how things work in the departments, it might not be such a bad idea to develop good contact with them. Ask them for advice, and guidance.
Your PhD should match your character, attitude, interests, and capability.
Contact Seniors, PhD students for they are better equipped with the know-how of a PhD Aspirant Life.
Think about the Social Life of a PhD student, but Don’t make it your Priority
Being a PhD scholar implies that it will take most of your time and energy. But that doesn’t mean you should not spare time for yourself.
Keep a social life, aside from PhD search. Take part in extracurricular activities, a movie in a while, going out for dinner, sports, yoga.
Going out for walks and the nice environment is often enticing, but make sure that it’s not the major reason why you took a particular university… Because chances are you will mostly spend your time indoors, in a library.
Also, make sure to keep a balance. Too many enticing activities can sometimes shift focus and lead to too many distractions from academic work.
Writing a Grant Application for your postdoctoral research fellowship or scholarship
– Before You Start
Before you put the words on paper, it should be clear to you why you are writing the Application. There should be a motive since this motive will provide you with encouragement to work upon the project.
Motivation, really, makes a difference. You should really, be wanting to make it work, otherwise, there is really no point in applying.
– Points to Ponder before writing
Do you fill in all the necessary Eligibility Criteria?
What makes a Good Research Question?
Is your Hypothesis feasible?
Will it be taken well by the Reviewers?
Will it be Impactful?
– And One of the Most Important Question
‘Have I researched enough ??’
You are trying to show that you can do great work if given this opportunity- it should be visible in your enthusiasm and your application should reflect that you deserve this fellowship and you are capable enough for your project.
A serious and common misconception among applicants is that their applications will be accepted on the basis of how good their research idea is, or how important a subject they are focussing on is. However, this ‘Game’ requires a bit more than a good idea.
It needs careful thought and considerable skill. If you are well versed with your idea and have an organised plan in front of you, and if you are able to showcase it into your grant application, the examiners/ investigators would surely appreciate it, and it will be a big plus towards your grant being.. ‘ granted’.
– While Writing A PhD Grant ApplicationDon’t take anything for granted!
Do NOT act cocky in your grant application. Do NOT cut corners. Explain with a level of humility, what you plan to do.
Care for the respect of the Grant. Sloppiness and poorly thought out content is not appreciated and decreases your chances of scoring.
– Making More and More of Less and Less
Since it is assumed you must have well researched, the Reviewers are expecting a great application, maybe consisting of really specialised stuff, that even they might not understand.
Hard Work shows. So if you have worked sincerely, it would display in your Application.
Refine it as much as you can.
– Take It Seriously
The success rate for such grants are as low as 10 percent.. if you know that u have one out of 10 chance of getting an amazing opportunity, trust me you would work hard.
– Best of Both the Worlds
Do not spend a lot of time describing your previous experience. It is important that applicants also describe what their plans are for the future and how the fellowship will help you to reach your personal/ professional goals.
Your Personal Statement, Essay Responses and Portfolio all provide an opportunity for you to show who you are and why you are the right fit for this fellowship- Give it some thought.
Try to not write about the copy-pasted responses that reviewers on a regular basis. It should be fresh, and different and unique to catch the reader’s attention.
The above two might sound contradictory, but you have to learn to achieve a fine balance between the two. Remember, the key point is setting yourself apart from other candidates.
– Don’t Be in a Hurry
Compiling an organised and resourceful set is very important, but is very tough to put together. It always helps to put cherry pick your ideas. Also ask around, take feedback… And for all this you need time.
Trust me, this article wasn’t written in a single day, and neither should your application.
– Walk the Talk
Your Application, to say the least .. should be hypothesis-driven.A lot of studies are criticised for the fact that they are not specific enough or do not test out a particular hypothesis. Strengthen your proposal by having clear and coherent content.
Also, the reviewing committee might also consist of people who are not skilled in your field. Make your proposal in such a way, that the message reaches across them too.
– Use Figures and Illustrations
I can’t stress it more deeply.. visual aids are so much better to help another person understand you.
This is an important trend for many grant funders.
Ask yourself what your big idea is.
Are you going to fill a knowledge gap?
Would anyone care? Is the proposal timely?
And how would it make a difference if you were successful?
Precisely it should provide a ‘ feel- good ‘ vibe to the Reviewers because ultimately, they have to believe in you to give you the grant.
I guess, if we have followed all this, then we are more than ready to start writing those applications!
No matter what you might be aiming for professionally, it does no harm to start searching for fellowships.
They might help you later in the future.
We have come up with a mobile application which performs all of these for you, it gets you perosnalised opportunities, like, these super rewarding fellowships, fully funded conferences, abroad internships, competitions and lot more.