Workshop on Locating Research Funding Sources and Grant Proposal Writing

By Dr. Y Ratana

July 22 -25, 2013: Dr. Y Ratana (Dean of Undergraduate Studies Division and Director of the Academic Foundation Year Department) and Mr. Min Seiha (Associate Dean of College of Social Sciences) participated in a workshop on “Locating Research Funding Sources and Grant Proposal Writing,” organized by the Ministry of Education Youth and Sport (MoEYS) held at Angkor Century Resort and Spa.

In his opening remarks, Mr. Mak Ngoy (General Director of Department of Higher Education) pointed out the need for the development of ASEAN through building strong human capacity. He noted that MoEYS has been striving to enhance the research capabilities of Cambodian researchers by providing equal access to education for all, high quality education to compete in ASEAN and the whole region, and the promoting capacity building in higher education institutions. Thus MoEYS intends to be more active in promoting research in higher education institutions. He highlighted that the main problem of Cambodian researchers was that they were not aware of the procedure of writing funding proposals and the methods in which to write an attractive grant research proposal.

In addition, Mr. Mak highlighted the importance and expectations of the workshop, which was designed to encourage the MoEYS and Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) toward developing a research culture. He made several recommendations for MoEYS:

  • Give priority to HEIs by having a clear goal for youth development, without discriminating on economic background, religion or culture;
  • Ensure equity for enrollment and employment, and for staff capacity-building;
  • Allocate funding to the total of $23 million dollar in order to build a solid foundation of HEIs;
  • Promote governance of HEIs by sending HEI staff to pursue their studies in foreign countries;
  • Provide scholarship for poor students
  • Monitor the development of HEIs
  • Grant research funding for researchers at HEIs

He emphasized that research helps HEIs to build and strengthen their capacity.

In welcoming remarks, Dr. Nith Bunlay, Deputy General Director of Higher Education, said that it was the first workshop held on the topic matter. Its primary objectives were to build a strong research capacity and
a research community network in higher education in Cambodia. He continued that once Cambodian HEIs have built a strong research capacity, it will help them contribute to ASEAN community development.

The workshop was run by two guest speakers from Northern Illinois University, Dr. Judy Ledgerwood (Director of the Centre of South East Asian Studies) and Dr. Andrea Bufford (Senior Research Development Specialist). Participants included representatives from all levels of Cambodian public and private HEIs, and representatives from the World Bank.

The objectives of the workshop were:

  • To raise the awareness on how to search for support and fund from various national and international sponsors
  • To familiarize participants with the appropriate available research sources inside and outside Cambodia
  • To improve the capacity of participants to meet application requirements
  • To encourage participants to apply for research funding
  • To broaden the knowledge and understanding of the methods of proposal writing, and thus their technical expertise in writing competitive grant proposals, and
  • To provide feedback on the grant proposals through proof-reading to improve the quality of the proposal writing
  • To initiate and strengthen the culture of research and establish an Academic Research Group for Higher Education Institutions in the future

The workshop covered the need for positioning for external funding and the importance of self -assessment in this regard; a discussion of sample action plans and the preparation of action plans based on the self-assessment; locating institutional collaborators and fellow scholars; and a review of potential funders in the US and elsewhere.

Overall the workshop produced fruitful outcomes for participants to help toward building a solid foundation for research culture to grow. The Department of Higher Education plans to continue to organize workshops aimed at promoting a research culture in Cambodia. Future workshops will have students’ participation so that they can learn about the research world in higher education from experienced researchers.