Global cuts in research funding, a rise in competition for limited resources, and, of course, even global pandemics all contribute to an increasingly challenging situation for researchers and research institutions. So how can Dimensions help researchers and institutions improve their ability to secure research funding?

In this blog, we will cover:

  • How to assess funding trends in varying fields, disciplines, and topics
  • Ways to explore potential funders beyond “the usual suspects”
  • Strategies to strengthen grant applications by examining successful awards
  • Where to find collaborators to help broaden potential sources of funding
  • Finding corporate entities suitable for partnership, collaboration, and investment

This blog draws upon information and examples explained further in our webinar: Money, Money, Money (for Research!).

The most comprehensive research grants database

Dimensions is the most comprehensive global research grants database, linking grants to millions of resulting publications, clinical trials, and patents. Grant data is sourced through direct partnerships with funders, data available via APIs, or websites that the Dimensions team crawls. The result is that Dimensions currently includes data related to 5.6 million grants from 500+ funders globally, equalling $1.8 trillion of funding.

Using Dimensions to assess funding trends

Whether you are a researcher, librarian, or faculty Dean, Dimensions can quickly provide you an in-depth understanding of research and grant funding trends in a specific field, discipline, or topic. In figure 1, we see how using the Analytical Views tab in Dimensions allows users to understand active and starting grants awarded in a specific topic. It is also important to understand the amount funded over time in a specific field or topic (figure 2). Combining this information allows you to assess if, within the field, there is a trend showing more or less available funding, and also how competitive the field is becoming. 

Figure 1: Global active and starting grants in ‘tissue engineering’ over the last 10 years

Figure 2: Global funding amounts in US dollars awarded to research in ‘tissue engineering’ over the last 10 years

Exploring potential funders beyond “the usual suspects”

Using the Abstract search function in Dimensions (figure 3), researchers can copy and paste an abstract or draft project description on a specific topic to determine which funding bodies have awarded grants in highly similar topics. This can help researchers broaden their horizons on finding suitable grant funding sources, and the results may show funding bodies that you haven’t already considered reviewing.

Figure 3: Drop an abstract or draft project description into the Abstract search function to find funding bodies that award grants in highly similar topics

If you would like to better understand the trends from a selected group of funders, it is possible to select/deselect funding bodies in your search parameters. (For example, one can choose to remove all NIH funders from a search by using the NIH funding group filter in conjunction with the ‘exclude’ function.)

Remember to ‘think globally’ when looking for funding sources – typically, researchers tend to focus on their own country, but funding is becoming increasingly global, as seen in research output trends and collaborations. Keeping pace with the future will require you to explore what is possible on a global scale, leveraging existing international collaborations along the way.

Once you identify potential funders, you can use Dimensions to look at their individual funding trends with respect to your topic or research area. You can discover if a specific funding body is increasing investment in your research area: for example, in figure 4, we see that the European Research Council has recently started investing more resources into the topic of ‘tissue engineering.’ 

Figure 4: Recent grants awarded in the research field of ‘tissue engineering’ by the European Research Council. 

Strengthening grant application success

We previously published a case study on how an institution improved its grant funding success rate by using Dimensions: How to use Dimensions to facilitate the growth of a research portfolio.

By analyzing successful awards and closely reviewing grant application abstracts and other important information, our customer improved their grant proposal competitiveness and secured more funding.

It’s also possible to use Dimensions to help your grant applications stand out. In Dimensions, you can review a funder’s “profile” page. There you will find information on the type of grants the funder has awarded, in which fields they are increasingly focused on, and more. By reviewing the grants that have been awarded, you can shape your application to become more competitive and responsive to potential changes in funding priorities.

Discovering collaborators to help broaden potential sources of funding

It is also important to think about suitable collaborators in your research area; this is a good strategy to consider when reviewing global funding opportunities. Using Dimensions, you can find out who is publishing similar research on your topic. You can also narrow potential collaborators down to a specific country or region if you need to fulfill a grant application requirement. 

Broader searches are also possible in Dimensions by filtering on research categories. This is particularly useful if you want to understand the broader field, find institutions or active researchers, and discover how successful they are in their funding applications.

Using patent data to find corporate entities suitable for collaborations

Using the searches related to your research topic, you can view recent patent records in the field to find corporations or companies that might be interested in collaborations, partnerships, or even research investment. Using the Additional Filters search function in Dimensions, you can filter the results to exclude research organizations to ensure you are only reviewing patent records from commercial companies and corporations. In the Analytical Views tab, review the ‘Assignees’ to understand which companies are making investments in your research area (figure 5).

Figure 5: Recent grant applications in the field of tissue engineering from New York-based companies and corporations.  

Here you can drill further to understand exactly what kind of patents these companies are investing in. 

For larger, more complex queries

Use Dimensions powerful APIs, designed to allow flexible use of the enriched data to: 

  • Integrate data into applications outside of the web-app, e.g., admin systems.
  • Enrich your own data/content using special functions like affiliation extraction and concept extraction.
  • Query using full-text search. Ideal for ad hoc analytical queries going a step further than the web-app.

Alternatively, access to the full Dimensions database is also available via direct integration with BigQuery – Google’s cloud data warehouse.

  • Integrate Dimensions data into your existing reporting and analysis infrastructure quickly, using out-of-the-box connectors.
  • Analyze the full dataset with complete flexibility to support multiple decision-making processes.
  • Join Dimensions data to your own private data to provide a global research context for benchmarking.
  • Create custom dashboards and automated reports on different topics, e.g., funding opportunities, collaboration.
  • Share these analyses and dashboards with stakeholders across the organization so that the relevant insights are always at their fingertips.

If you are interested in learning how Dimensions can benefit your research, organization, institution, or company, please contact us, and we’ll be in touch soon.