Scientific Research Funding: 10 Grant Application Sources Worth Your Time

Dave Kostos
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Finding research funding today is harder than ever before. That doesn’t mean your work is coming to an end, though. Use these 10 grant application sources to get your laboratory the money it needs and keep your research going.

Ask just about any post-doc and you’re sure to hear that finding reliable, substantial scientific research funding in this day and age is more time-consuming, frustrating, and restrictive to scientific progress than it ever has been. In fact, this highly impassioned editorial from Scientific American reports that in 2007 university faculty members spent 40% of their research time simply tracking down, writing, and submitting research grant applications. That means that nearly half of the time scientists are forced to apply for funding instead of actually using their funding to make discoveries and advance scientific and medical knowledge worldwide.

In 2015, less than 20% of grant applications to the NIH were successfully funded.

This issue is only made worse when you realize that less than 20% of the applications for scientific research funding were successfully approved in 2015 according to the National Institutes of Health, meaning that more than 80% of the scientific research applications which scientists submit are rejected. While there are doubtlessly reasons why the NIH would deny funding to some of these labs and projects, it doesn’t take a stretch of the imagination to realize that our current research funding system leaves countless scientists unable to make the discoveries that will help improve our understanding of the universe and everything in it.

The process through which scientists acquire research funding has reached a point where it is undoubtedly negatively impacting scientific advancement.

Now, there are many carefully-crafted arguments on why and how the scientific grant application process should change, and without question there will be many more to come. But for the time being, just about every researcher in every scientific field has to work within the research funding system which is in place and so, knowing how to get the most success out of it is crucial. To that end, we’ve put together a quick guide to 10 grant application sources which are actually worth your time to apply to! Take a peek at the list below and find your lab’s funding!

Free Access Funding Resources


Listing an enormous variety of federal grants from highly prestigious organizations like the NIH, the DOE, the NSF, the EPA, and NASA, is one of the largest sources for research funding in the United States.

National Science Foundation
National Science Foundation


The NSF is a resource for scientists, researchers, and engineers who are seeking federal funding and has provided about 25% of “federal support to academic institutions for basic research” across the U.S. and today boasts an approval percentage of about 28% (well over the NIH average).

Newton's List
Newton’s List


Newton’s List is an internationally available resource for applicants seeking basic research funding in the natural sciences, engineering, technology, agricultural sciences, or social sciences.

Terra Viva Grants Directory
Terra Viva Grants Directory


The Terra Viva Directory contains a wealth of information and opportunity for researchers seeking project grants for “agriculture, energy, environment, and natural resources in the world’s developing world”. In addition to grants, however, users can also find a number of available prizes, scholarships, and awards in the Directory.

NIH Office of Extramural Research
NIH Office of Extramural Research


NIH’s Office of Extramural Research is perhaps the biggest name and the biggest source of funding in scientific research around the world. Unsurprisingly, the Goliath of an agency offer an enormous resource for scientists seeking to fund their work.

The Spencer Foundation


The Spencer Foundation offers a number of different grants, awards, and fellowships to scientists and researchers throughout the world. Whether you’re working in a small lab that needs a small budget or a much more expansive association with much grander needs, Spencer has options for you.

Paid Subscription Funding Resources

The Foundation Center
The Foundation Center


The Foundation Center is a global network which connects philanthropists and grant makers to grant seekers interested in a variety of different goals including funding nonprofits, small businesses, and (of course) scientists and researchers.

* Research
* Research


*Research is a London-based company which is striving to be an all-in-one resource for scientists and researchers by offering a growing database of research funding opportunities as well as relevant news updates, and tailored insights to make your particular funding efforts more successful.

Dartmouth College


Pivot, a tool created by ProQuest, allows for researchers to develop a personal or institutional profile which can then be matched against a database of collaborators and funding organizations. This allows for a reliable shortlist of relevant grant makers which are customized to your precise focus.

info Ed | SPIN
University of Michigan


SPIN heralds itself as “the world’s #1 funding opportunities database” and based on the features it possesses there may be some truth to the claim. The SPIN database features over 10,000 funding organizations around the world as well as a full suite of other benefits.

If you’ve come across any other research funding resource that have been valuable to your work be sure to share them with the community in the comments below!