An outstanding idea is necessary when it comes to grant writing, but it is never enough. The devil is in the details, and according to Dr. Jesse Gitaka, inadequate concept, poor presentation, poor understanding of processes, and lack of persistence is the major impediment to researchers getting funded.
Dr. Jesse Gitaka, who serves as the Director of Grants and Development at Mount Kenya University (MKU), made these assertions October 14, 2020 during the second virtual Grant Writing Workshop organized by Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), themed ‘Demystifying the 21st Century Grant Writing World’.
With a grant portfolio of Kshs 549 million to his name, Dr. Gitaka urged the 140 participants at the workshop conducted virtually to adopt the SMART criteria in grant writing; Specific goals, Measurable outcomes, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-limited.
“In order to be on top of things, you must think ahead, and plan backwards. You must be able to develop and refine your concept, outline, write, edit, get approvals, and submit your application before the grant deadline,” he added.
On his part, Prof. Francis Muregi who served as the second external facilitator at the workshop, informed the participants that in many cases, funding institutions are not only looking out for the right recipient, but are also striving to be politically correct, a fact that researchers must bear in mind. The Associate Professor of Medical Biochemistry serves in the National Commission for Science, Technology and Innovation (NACOSTI) board, and boasts of a grant portfolio of Kshs 1 Billion.
“You must therefore ensure that in your application, you are clearly in tandem with the mission and goals of the funding agency. You also have to read the seasons and times to make sure you remain relevant, and strike the right partnerships, collaborations and networks from the onset. Most importantly, the community impact of your research must be very explicit from your application,” he opined.
Prof. Muregi further postulated that what ails most institutions is the lack of clear policy whether a University is a Teaching or Research Institution, lack of policies to give incentives to researchers, lack of investment in capacity building, and the unnecessary red tape in the disbursement of grant funds.
The workshop was aimed at strengthening the capabilities of JKUAT staff and Postgraduate students in grant writing and acquisition. It is also part of an elaborate effort aimed at attaining the Vice Chancellor’s blueprint of transforming JKUAT to a fully-fledged research University.
The workshop was convened and moderated by Prof. Naomi Maina, who heads the Directorate of Grants Management (DGM), alongside Prof. Daniel Sila, Chair of the DGM Board of Management, who made the opening remarks at the workshop.