A couple of weeks ago I posted about travel during your PhD. So, you have found the perfect travel opportunity that will get you some amazing results/information for your thesis, but how do you fund it? You may be lucky and have a portion of money which is set aside for travel. Even if you are one of the lucky ones, it probably isn’t enough to cover a whole trip. I am currently applying for funding for some research in the USA and here is how I have gone about finding money. If anyone has any hints, tips or experiences to share then please do in the comments section!
Don’t just search for a generic term like, ‘travel funding for PhD students’ although you may have some luck, I have noticed that there is more funding available for specific groups of people or research topics. For example, there is money available to support students from certain countries and even certain areas of certain countries. There are funding opportunities specifically for women, or specifically for research that will benefit women. Funding can be linked to researching a particular disease or need. You will have to spend quite a lot of time searching through websites to find these funding opportunities, but they are there. Do not be worried about fitting the criteria 100%, if you fit 60%/ 70% of what they are asking, give it a go. You might be the closest match they receive. These groups do appreciate that you will report back to them after your trip – I suggest you propose that will meet them to give a short presentation when you return, or that you will send them a written report from your trip. The majority of these funds are smaller amounts (£100-£500) but every bit of money raised helps.
Stay close to home
Funding might be available right under your nose, from your university or the institution that you are involved with. Take a good look through their website, ask around and you might find something. You may also find that there is someone dedicated to finding or circulating funding opportunities – they may be able to help you find some local funding or some of the niche funding opportunities I mentioned above.
Join a society (or societies)
Societies usually have funds available for PhD student travel (e.g. the British Pharmaceutical Society). Just a watch out with this one, most societies require that you become a member before you can apply for funding and some require that you have been a member for a certain amount of time or that your supervisor/sponsor is a member of the society. They all have different rules and regulations and funding application procedures. It takes time to go through all the information but some do have larger pots of money to give (into the thousands). If you are travelling to a conference, the society organising the conference nearly always have travel bursaries available for attendees that are presenting at the conference, so make sure you check that out.
All in all, it takes time and effort (mostly evenings and weekends). Some of the applications can take what seems like forever to be processed. Keep trying and applying and you should reach your goal, eventually. I am over halfway there, with some applications still being written. My philosophy is to just think of it as good practise for applying for research grants in the future!