What Is a Research Grant?

Within the realm of federal government grants, research and development grants are some of the most numerous and diverse. What types of research grants does the Federal government support?

Well, if you search for the keyword “research” on the Catalog of Federal and Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Program page, you will receive 811 different federal financial assistance programs that include, to some degree, research. These CFDA programs that include research range from Agricultural and Food Policy Research Centers to Mental Health Research Grants to Welfare Reform Research, Evaluations, and National Studies.

Today, when you search for “research” on Grants.gov, there are over 1,500 open grant opportunities! (You will probably want to narrow your search for federal grants).

Each of these diverse assistance programs and grant opportunities are legislatively authorized federal assistance programs that federal grant-making agencies use to support research.

What do you mean by “research”?

A simple definition of research is the “careful study that is done to find and report new knowledge about something” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). While many of us may picture scientists in white coats performing lab experiments, the range of research grants is far wider.

Additionally, a “research grant” isn’t one, specific type of grant. Rather, grants that fund or support research could be awarded through a discretionary grant, block grant, or any of the other types of grants.

How do I get a research grant?

The answer to that question is, “It depends.” That’s a bit unsatisfactory, but, when considering the complexity and cost of performing research, there is a lot of work that goes into this. First, you or your organization need expertise within your field of work (e.g., aeronautics, biomedical devices, or ecology).

Next, before searching through hundreds of grant opportunities, you may want to familiarize yourself with the grant-making agencies and their programs that fund research. Each agency funds research to some degree, but here are some of the most frequent funding agencies and links to resources about research grants:

Finally, you need to search for open grant opportunities that align with your area of expertise. Once you’re ready to apply, create a workspace and begin your application!

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50 thoughts on “What Is a Research Grant?

  1. I really enjoyed your article on research grant. I will be looking into the open grant opportunities section to get one for my project. Thanks.


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