Tips for Applying for the Banting Post-Doctoral Fellowship (and other fellowships)
Begin planning early
- Begin to prepare your application as soon as the competition is announced and forms are available. The 2014 Banting competition was launched on May 9 and some institutions have internal deadlines as early as June. Queen’s internal deadline is August 22.
- Get in touch with the faculty member you wish to collaborate with as early as possible. The Banting Fellowship application requires significant input from your faculty supervisor, as well as from the host institution and this will take time to prepare. Host institutions must provide applicants with 4 documents to support their application:
- An institutional letter of endorsement
- Supervisor's statement (prepared by supervisor)
- Research environment (usually prepared by supervisor)
- Professional development (usually prepared by supervisor)
- Give people who need to provide material in support of your application ample time to do so (at least 2 weeks). Also, the more they know about you and the work you propose to do, the better they will be able to address your strengths in their letter of support. Offer to provide a CV, a research proposal draft or try to meet with them in person to discuss your plans.
- Discuss your proposed collaboration with your faculty supervisor. An important element for the Banting selection committee is the synergy between the applicant, the supervisor and the university. Be prepared to make a strong case explaining why you have chosen to work at this institution and with this particular supervisor.
- Convey what you would like to accomplish with your fellowship. Think long-term, ideally in a 5-year career plan.
- To be considered for the Banting Fellowship, you need to demonstrate academic productivity. The number of publications matters as well as the quality of the scholarly journals in which you publish. Keep this in mind when you prepare your application as you may need to address journal quality.
- Create a timeline: Sketch out a workplan and stick to it. Putting together a fellowship application always takes longer than you think it will. Don’t wait until the last minute – you won’t have time. Hastiness will be reflected in the quality of your submission.
- Consider contacting a successful Banting applicant, ideally from your discipline, to ask for advice and to see if they would share their successful application with you. The list of fellowship holders can be found on the Banting website.
Tips for your research proposal
- Communicate your research goal/plan with clarity, why it is important, what is its relevance and why it is feasible. Engage your reader; make your proposal “a pleasure to read”. The reviewers need to be convinced of its value so they can advocate for you at the review committee meetings.
- Tell a story: Write clearly, concisely with a beginning, middle and end; keep your reader in mind at all times; Use examples, metaphor, analogy to make difficult concepts accessible; use an active voice. Remember that the reviewers may not be experts in your field.
- Remember, it’s a competition: distinguish your application from the rest; be persuasive, not just descriptive, you need to make an argument/build a case for funding. Keep in mind that the synergy between institution/supervisor and applicant is an important factor.
- Anticipate questions that may arise and address these explicitly in your narrative. Do not assume that reviewers know what you mean – you need to provide adequate background. Address the limitations of your work and how you will deal with them.
- Make time for writing and preparing other application documents on most days, but don’t forget to take a break! You will be able to see your application with a fresh view if you take your mind off it for a little while.
Getting ready to submit your application
- Ask somebody in your field, like your supervisor or another mentor to review your application. They may notice inaccuracies or omissions and will be able to help you strengthen your arguments.
- Also ask a friend or relative who is not familiar with your research to review your application. They will be able to evaluate your application and comment on the strength of your narrative. After reading your proposal, ask them if they understood everything – are they able to describe your proposed work?
- Then, revise, revise, and revise again to ensure you’ve addressed all concerns raised in the reviews.
- Make sure your application is complete. Make a check list for yourself and use it. The Banting application guide is structured in tasks - you can use this as template for your check list.
- Only provide what is asked for. Respect page limits and word counts; additional pages will be removed.
- Make sure everything you submit is grammatically correct and free of typographical errors. Include several rounds of proofreading to avoid such mistakes.