Research Grant Definition

Research grants are made available by various institutions to help fund research efforts made by individuals, universities, and other groups. Research can encompass many subjects, such as literature, medicine, and the environment. The grants can vary greatly in the amount they offer, from small grant awards, to full, multi-year fellowships. This article will discuss various research grants and what they allow you to do.


The definition of a research grant can be easily guessed from the name: a grant that funds research. It becomes more complicated when you consider the type of research, the length of the research, and any conditions set forth on your research.

In general, a research grant can refer to anything from a sum of money given to a researcher for all expenses, to a grant that is limited to only funding certain parts of research, such as a first or second trial.


Research grants can be applied to research that is already taking place or pave the way for completely new research in a field. The money public or private agencies put toward research provides a significant boost to groups working in a certain field. The money can be unrestricted or allow only for a certain amount to cover living expenses—it all depends on the guidelines of the grant.

Types of research

For academics, research may be limited to specific areas that are funded by a specific organization. For instance, the National Endowment for the Humanities may want to fund research on a recently discovered text. In medicine, the requirements of each party are much more specific. The grantor might place time restrictions, the government might place health and safety regulations, and you may be required to work on a team. It depends on the type of research and the scope of the overall project. Again, research can be conducted in any field, and the methods and requirements for each field will vary.


It is important to note that some research grants are limited by region. A foundation in New York may only wish to fund research happening in or around New York, whereas a Canadian Foundation may only want to fund research conducted by Canadians. Each grantor, whether a government agency, a foundation, or special interest group, will have different guidelines for qualifying for a research grant.


If you are a working researcher, or wish to enter the field, a research grant can be a great source of support. Many grants include a provision that allows researchers to use a portion of the funds for living expenses, while some of the higher-profile fellowships may provide funds for relocation. The golden rule of any grant application is that each will be different. Research your research grants!

Getting Started

So you're ready to begin?

Two Web sites that have grant databases are and is for federal opportunities.

Researchers looking to work in a specific field may wish to look into agencies that work in that field. For instance, someone wishing to research humanities may want to check out the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Another golden rule of grant writing is to never give up! Most programs will have limited funding, and many times there will be more applications than there is funding to go around. Don't get discouraged and certainly never stop trying.