Funding Opportunities

Search for Funding

Research Professional

Research Professional is a searchable online database that provides summaries of the latest funding opportunities worldwide. There are over 7,000 open calls for funding and you can customise searches and set up email alerts for individual discipline requirements. It can also source funds for travel bursaries, access to facilities and equipment, pre- and post-graduate opportunities, early- and mid-career opportunities, awards, grants and prizes. The University's subscription allows direct access with your WesternAccount ID.

Competitive Grants Register

The Competitive Grants Register lists all the grant schemes that Western has submitted applications to in the last year. It is retrospective and does not contain all research grant opportunities available in Australia or internationally during this period. The intent is not that it be a comprehensive register of all available opportunities, but rather that it serves as a starting point for a research funding search. We have provided web links to funding bodies where these are available. The register will be updated each year.


GrantConnect is the centralised location for Australian Government grants. All ARC and NHMRC, and most MRFF scheme documentation can be found here, as well as that for other government schemes that might be relevant for your area of research. You will need to create a profile and login to access information on the site.

Research Services Update

The Research Services Update is a weekly update of research-related news for staff and Higher Degree Research (HDR) candidates. Grant opportunities, upcoming deadlines, workshops and information sessions are all advertised in the Update.

External Research Grants

Researchers please note the following:

  • You need to lodge all external grant applications via Grants Services
  • Grants Services sets internal deadlines for submission of external grants
  • You must submit a Clearance Form (login required) every time you lodge an external research grant application

An indirect costs charge applies to all external research income other than grant income from the following sources:

  • Grants that are assessed as Category 1 Research (previously those that were listed on the Australian Competitive Grants Register)
  • Registered charities
  • Donation income
  • Scholarship only income

Where funding bodies specifically exclude these costs, and it is indicated in the guidelines or funding rules, the indirect costs charge will not be applied.

The Research Development Officers (RDOs) in Research Services can support your application from the get go to help maximise your chances of success. Consult with your RDO prior to developing your budget to discuss projected salaries, PhD stipends and top-ups as well as industry partner contributions.

Attracting external research funding

Accessing external funding is not a quick and easy process. You need lead time for planning and approvals, and letters of support may also be required. If you need to establish research credentials and rapport with funding sources this lead time could even be longer.

One of the best ways to plan your lead time is to backwards map the submission process from the external deadline. This will give you tangible deadlines that will be easier to plan for and ensures you have time to gather any supporting documentation, signatures and your Dean's/Director's approval.

Always remember to ask for advice and support from your colleagues and the Grants Services team.

Please review Life Cycle of a Research Grant (PDF, 380.45 KB) (opens in a new window) for further information.

Why do funded research?

Funded research can open up new opportunities in terms of the type of project, the scope of a project, and the ability to undertake research that is both person and time intensive or is associated with costly infrastructure. However, navigating the application process including building on initial failure in order to attract funds takes time, energy and above all, resilience.

External funds can support a variety of costs directly associated with the work such as equipment, travel and salaries for support staff (Research Assistants, Technical Staff, Research Associates) or student stipends/scholarships or fellowships. Salaries for Chief or Partner Investigators are normally excluded. Additionally, in kind support can provide access to resources not otherwise available such as specialist equipment, databases and specialist staff.

The freedom of research design and 'products' depends on the type of support sought. Thought needs to be given to not only how to do the research but also the use of research outcomes. There may need to be preparedness to give or compromise in order to conform to funding requirements and a need to consider what takes primary importance – the funding or the research.

Attracting external research funds is a craft. It is about identifying and building relationships with potential funders, determining who to approach, and working out how this should be done to maximise your chance of success.

Who to approach

There are numerous sources of funding including:

  • Government grants
  • Local community funds
  • Special purpose foundations
  • Family sponsored foundations
  • National foundations
  • Tenders
  • Corporate foundations

Doing some homework on potential funders can go a long way. Other ideas worth considering include:

Talk to the Grants Services team or the Business Services team and take advantage of their experience and resources.

  • Make use of specialised grants registers such as Research Professional and the University's Competitive Grants Register
  • Put your name on agency lists for individual notification of forthcoming grants
  • Look at publicly available reports for an overview of types of grants awarded and amounts on offer

Once potential funding sources have been identified, the real work begins.

Ways to approach a potential funder

The approach can vary a great deal depending on the source and the project. Formal calls for applications are common and may be done annually or more often. If this happens, a number of strategies can help your submission become a successful one:

  • Talk to the Grants Services team and take advantage of their resources, knowledge and experience
  • Read application guidelines and then read them again. Talk to those who have been funded in similar areas
  • Ring and discuss your idea with the funder to gain information on the process and introduce the project
  • Attend any workshops and seminars being conducted by the funder or the Grants Services team
  • Begin drafting a project description as early as possible. Good applications are often the fourth or fifth draft.

Copies of successful proposals may be available from the funding body or Grants Services. These can provide insights into:

  • What has been funded previously
  • The expected format and scope of the project

It is essential to use plain English, define your key terms and cite key international and easily accessible references, wherever possible. Jargonistic language is generally not appropriate.

At other times funding agencies call for Expressions of Interest or invited submissions before asking for a 'full application'. These are usually an outline only of 2 or 3 pages maximum. This may be the first stage in the application process and can involve following strict requirements and guidelines.

If proposals are not called for, presenting an outline of your idea either by mail or in person can be a good way to start. Before you approach a potential funder, talk to your Research Development Officer or Business Development Officer. WSU may have an existing relationship you can capitalise on. When you do approach the funder, make sure to always present clear, simple ideas, which are both researchable and likely to produce valuable benefits and outcomes from the funder's perspective. The outline should include:

  • Any preliminary work and/or data already collected
  • What themes, concerns, topics emerged in the preliminary work
  • What analytical questions are being pursued
  • What work has been done already in the area

The outline or other proposal must be accompanied with a track record statement that demonstrates past experience in being able to complete projects on time and within budget. Include:

  • Recent publications (generally the last five years only)
  • Awards
  • Citations
  • Invited keynote addresses
  • Reviews patents
  • Media coverage
  • Any other recognition of your past research activity

It is important to remember that not only are you selling the idea, but also the researcher and/or research team. Ask yourself:

  • What qualities make my work best at what it does?
  • Do I offer something that is not available elsewhere?
  • What strengths do I, and the University, have over other competitors?
  • Are these specific, identifiable and unique capabilities that the funding source can only get from the University and me?

Answers to these questions should be evident in any oral or paper presentation.

If the funder is interested in funding your research and the discussion turns to agreements, make sure you’ve spoken to your Research Development Officer or Business Development Officer and to our Research Contracts team. They will ensure that any agreements or contracts align with University policy.

Limited track record

Are you unable to attract external funds due to a limited track record and unable to develop a track record without some funding?

This is a common problem typically for early career or emerging researchers. Think about:

  • The possibility of joining a team with an established track record in a related or similar area. Work as part of a team and make use of collective expertise, knowledge and experience. This can be an excellent way of learning and doing funded research and could lead to enduring research relationships with colleagues not only within the University but elsewhere as well.
  • Applying for Early Career Research Grants. Starting with a small project enables you to pilot methods and research tools such as interview structures and developing themes or other types of analytical frameworks. It can also lead to publications and/or other forms of dissemination as a foundation on which other research can be built.
  • Developing a written strategic and planned publications/dissemination program over a period of two to five years, which in the first instance may build on foundation research undertaken in a research higher degree.

Reference: Julianne Cheek (2000), 'An untold story? Doing funded qualitative research', in N. Denzin and Y. Lincoln (eds.), Handbook of Qualitative Research, Sage, California.

Internal Research Grants

The University supports the development of research projects through its competitive research grant schemes. These schemes are designed to enable researchers to bring projects to a point where they would be competitive in major grant schemes, including the ARC and NHMRC.

For further information see Internal Research Grants