How do I apply for a postdoctoral fellowship?
Congratulations on the successful completion of your Ph.D.!
A postdoctoral fellowship or grant is a funding opportunity that will cover your own salary, fund your research project and possibly allow you to employ Ph.D. student or technicians to help you with it. The benefit of such a fellowship is that you can independently choose your lab and project. A lot of labs will also be willing to accommodate and collaborate with you, since you would come with your own funding. Securing such a fellowship at an early stage in your career will demonstrate your potential to attract funds and thereby help you to advance in your career.
Before you start identifying agencies to apply to, you need to first select your topic of research. Your choice of topic will determine the type of agency you could apply to. Extending on your Ph.D. topic for your postdoctoral work is also a good idea. You will have the benefit of a lot of preliminary or background work and possess the experience, knowledge and expertise that would be required to carry it out.
Once you have identified your topic of research and potential funding agency, the next step would be to identify a suitable collaborator. Identify and draw up a list of experts in your field of research who could be excellent collaborator or even mentors. Approach them with you research idea and check if they would be willing to collaborate with you. If yes, the Congratulations! If no, then move to the next person on your list.
Once you have a collaborator in place, the next thing would be to identify a suitable funding opportunity. Check the websites of your identified agencies for suitable calls for funding. Funding agencies usually offer a variety of fellowships and grants. You need to choose which one would be the best for you.
Now, coming to the actual application process. Once you have chosen a suitable funding opportunity, check for the application deadline. You need to keep in mind that drafting a proposal needs considerable amount of time and efforts. It will take you weeks to months to develop your application. You can also seek help from professionals such as Enago’s Grant Writing Service to put together your grant application.
Also, a note of caution- Funding agencies can take a while to get back to you about your application, upto 6 months or even more. In the meanwhile you could apply for other grants or take up some temporary work until you hear back from them.