This course consists of four or five workshop-style meetings. During these meetings, all students give short presentations about the ideas they are developing for a research project. All students hand in text material before each meeting, and each text is ultimately looked at by two other students, the teacher, and whenever possible one senior researcher with expertise in the selected topic. The texts roughly follow the timeline of writing a grant proposal: generating ideas and research questions, thinking about the optimal feasible way of operationalizing these questions, constructing a text that summarizes the relevant background knowledge for the non-initiated reader, developing plans for valorization and knowledge utilization, and writing it all up in an accessible and convincing way. Throughout, students learn about various topics and sub-disciplines, and to comment upon the work of their fellow students. The activities in this course look ahead to a further career in research. In raising awareness of and practicing research skills, it follows up on the Term Paper (literature review) and the Lab Rotations (participation in research seminars, observation of and participation in on-going research). In this course, the focus is on the integration of all elements of the research cycle, on writing and presentation skills, and on strategic aspects of managing an academic career, particularly on how to write a grant proposal. The cohort meets every two or three weeks, in a digital environment. Face-to-face meetings in small groups may be possible on an ad-hoc basis.
In this course the following aspects will be addressed: 1) how to identify research questions and how to turn (some of) them into a grant proposal; 2) how to write a good grant proposal; 3) understanding the landscape of research grants; 4) how to build a network; 5) how to give peer review; and 6) how to apply for academic jobs.
The course is taught in the form of workshop-style two-hour meetings. Students are given various assignments that break up the task of writing a proposal. These include identifying and formulating research question(s), presenting the contours of a research proposal, explaining a research proposal to relative outsiders, writing a cv, and writing up a draft proposal. Students are teamed up with two other students in a kind of buddy system where one team member is relatively knowledgeable about the topic while for the other the topic lies far removed from his/her interests. The role of the team and the teacher is to provide a mix of expert and lay feedback, mimicking what happens in the real world of grant competitions. Where relevant, mock interviews are staged.
The students produce a (draft) grant proposal to be assessed by the teacher and a staff member who is an expert in the appropriate domain of study.