The HES-GEO research teams participated in leadership and grant-writing skills workshops for early-career researchers between the 8th and 11th February 2022.

The leadership course was first on the programme, and although it was initially planned to be on-site training, the whole workshop was held online due to the still-evolving COVID-19 situation. The training tutor, Erika Blaschke from the Department of Geoinformatics Z_Gis of Paris London University Salzburg, prepared two slots to cover the theoretical implications of leadership practises and issues. The topic is of growing importance, especially for those at the start of their research career. During the training, the participants had enough space to raise their questions and discuss specific challenges connected with communication within the research team or define the workflow routine. By the end, respective HES-GEO research teams were solving concrete leadership problems related to their own project.

See also the interview with Erika Blaschke, the training tutor, where we dig more into the leadership problematics in academia.

After one daybreak, during the 10th and 11th of February, all the HES-GEO research teams took part in the grant-writing skills.

The course was hosted by Julia Staykova-McKinnon, who has over fifteen years of experience as a consultant in grant writing and interviewing skills in the context of research competitions. Julia supports proposals submitted to Horizon Europe (formerly Horizon 2020) and assists on proposals submitted to national agencies, for instance, the German Research Foundation (DFG) and Helmholtz Foundation in Germany or Strategic Basic Research (SBO) in Belgium.

On the first day, the workshop’s main topic was general grant-writing skills. The leading interactive part of the training session lasted about two and a half hours. In addition, the participants were provided with extra materials such as podcasts or examples of proposals or CVs. Julia gave the participant brief but complex idea on what matters the most when it comes to designing and writing a proposal and did not forget to provide a space for interactive Q&A sessions.

On the second day, the workshop’s main topic was interviewing skills in research. During this part of the workshop, which has the same length as the previous one, two case studies from European Union funding for early-career research was used, the European Research Council (ERC) and Marie Skłodowska-Curie Postdoctoral Fellowship (MSCA-PF). Examples of the evaluation criteria were given, and different dos and don’ts strategies for proposal writing were discussed.

The participants learned that when it comes to proposal writing, each text element should be thought carefully to waste the limited space and demonstrate their innovativeness. This is especially important for the starting researchers, showing their creativity to narrate the story of their own professional development and how it overlaps with the proposed research and easily navigating the readers through it.

This post was written by Justyna Gucwa and Daniel Štraub from the Food Waste team and editorial board of the