Applying for external funding of research

Motivation, capacity, and institutional support as perceived by researchers at UiT The Arctic University of Norway




External funding, External research funding, Gender balance, Gender difference, Research funding, Motivation, Capacity, Institutional Support, Researchers


External project funds are essential for conducting research and establishing an academic career, and the funding application process itself can have numerous benefits for researchers. However, applying for external funding is a pervasive and time-consuming process affecting researchers’ capacity and workload. Further, the success rates of funding applications are low, ranging from 8% to 11% at the largest funding organs. Despite this, or arguably because of this, half of the researchers in higher education report experiencing higher institutional expectations and pressure to acquire external funds, rather than to generate high-quality research.

There are also notable gender differences in the rates of external funding applications accepted by RCN, as around 63% of all accepted funding applications are for projects led by men. This gender distribution almost perfectly mirrors the gender distribution in submitted funding applications, as around 65% of all submitted applications are for projects led by men. Due to both this gender difference and the overall increasing relevance of external funding, it is important to investigate factors that might impact researchers’ motivation to apply for external funding and their capacity to do so, both overall, and by gender.

Thus, this report from the Prestige Project aimed to investigate UiT employees’ attitudes regarding applying for external project funds and any potential gender differences. To do this, we conducted a survey that explored UiT employees’ attitudes around applying for external funding, as well as factors that may impact this. Specifically, we investigated researchers’ motivation for and against applying for further research, their capacity to do so, their perceived institutional support, and how much of their work versus personal time was spent working on external funding applications.

We aimed to answer three main research questions:

  1. What are the main factors motivating researchers to (not) apply for external funding?
    1. 2 Does the motivation to (not) apply for external funding differ by gender?
  2. Are there gender differences in employees’ prioritisation and capacity to apply for external funding?
  3. Are there gender differences in employees’ perceived institutional support for applying for external funding?

The findings indicated that overall, employees reported moderate levels of motivation to apply; motivation to not apply; capacity to apply; and institutional support to apply for external funding. There were found no gender differences in mean rates of reported motivation or capacity, but women reported slightly lower institutional support than men. However, when examining all statements from the survey separately, a tentative pattern emerged. As a slight tendency, women reported a higher level of agreement with some statements relating to facing greater adversity, and lower capacity and institutional support for external funding applications than men did. Moreover, men indicated a significantly higher agreement with some statements relating to having a higher capacity to apply for external funding than women. To help illustrate potential gender differences in employee responses to different statements, all survey statements were presented together with response distribution (ranging from Strongly agree to Strongly disagree) by gender. Maybe most saliently, the current findings also found that both men and women reported that around 40% of their work related to external funding applications is done in their personal time. The findings are discussed, and the report concludes by summarizing and highlighting the most notable findings.


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Author Biographies

Lise Gulli Brokjøb, UiT The Arctic University of Norway

Lise Gulli Brokjøb is a psychology student (cand. psychol.) and a Student Research Program (“Forskerlinjen”) candidate at the Department of Psychology, UiT The Arctic University of Norway. Her research centers around the impact of internalised societal stressors on psychological health, embodiment and interoception in marginalised groups, body image and eating disorders. Read more on ResearchGate.

Adrianna Kochanska, UiT The Arctic University of Norway

Adrianna Kochanska is the work package leader on quantitative research in the Prestige Project and a Researcher at BRIDGE research group at UiT The Arctic University of Norway. Kochanska’s background is in economics and international fisheries management with research interests in sustainable production and utilization of marine resources and expertise in data analysis and R-coding.


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How to Cite

Brokjøb, L. G., Kochanska, A., & Angelsnes, V. (2022). Applying for external funding of research: Motivation, capacity, and institutional support as perceived by researchers at UiT The Arctic University of Norway. Septentrio Reports, (1).




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