The Idea is the first stage in the funding life cycle.  The idea may come in a variety of ways: from that instant eureka moment; through discussions with potential collaborators; identifying a stakeholder need; recognising an opportunity to fit with a funder's priority area; or from identifying gaps in the current literature.

The University provides an environment which encourages you to develop and grow, think creatively and with purpose and ultimately to make a real and demonstrable impact on the economy, environment and society.  Therefore when developing your idea we encourage you to embrace the University's Strategic Plan (2016-2021) and think about how you can connect, innovate, and transform.


Building deep and mutually beneficial partnerships locally, nationally and internationally to help us deliver real benefits for society, the economy and our students and staff.


Finding new ways of thinking and doing things that place us at the cutting edge; identifying opportunities that benefit students, staff and stakeholders; growing income through research, knowledge exchange and commercialisation; and ensuring our curriculum meets the needs of citizens in the 21st century.


Inspiring our staff and students and exposing them to new ideas, experiences and opportunities; giving them the capacity to change society for the better; improving people’s quality of life and stimulating growth.

The University's Research Strategy supports the Strategic Plan and is informed by a suite of Faculty research strategies, ensuring that all aims and targets are aligned throughout the institution with full staff engagement.  The Faculty's strategies can be requested from the relevant Associate Dean for Research within your Faculty.  

Click on the sections below to highlight things to consider when you are developing a funding idea.

When thinking about developing your research idea it is key to think about what will set your idea apart from others in your field, what is the distinctive strength and what will make it competitive. 

We have provided some pointers below but should stress that this list is not exhaustive and would encourage you to sound out your idea with your peers, colleagues, REO representatives and relevant stakeholders.

How is your idea:

  • Innovative;
  • Is it relative to the field;
  • Does it have a global outlook and demonstrable impact;
  • Is it interdisciplinary;
  • Identify what you would bring as a leader;
  • Is there additional expertise required;
  • Would a collaborative approach strengthen the idea;
  • Why is this idea relevant now;
  • Why is the University of Stirling the best place for the idea to develop?

All research funding applications are competitive.  Your idea will have a better chance of success if you know who your main competitors are and what yours and Stirling's distinctive strengths are.  Investing time to work up a thorough and robust application involving internal peer review can really make the difference.  Demonstrating the distinctive strengths and knowing your main competitors can give you an advantage.

The University has a number of well established collaborative research partnerships.  Much of our success has been as a result of these partnerships and increasingly collaborative approaches are fundamental to success in securing research resources.  Where possible within the scope of the research you should aspire to engage with other organisations to enable greater impact upon the external research environment.

When developing your research idea you should think about who you are connected with and what value these partnerships and collaborations will bring.  How will you work with and engage key players throughout the development phase?  How will you source new partnerships and collaborations?

The University of Stirling is committed to delivering research that makes a difference. We aim to capitalise on a strong research portfolio, enabling our staff and students to make a meaningful contribution to key economic and societal needs, both locally and globally. We must ensure that all interactions out with academia are innovative and transformative, leading to impact that has reach and significance. 

When developing your idea you must therefore think about impact from the outset.  There are two types of impact: academic; and economic and societal.  Research Councils (UKRI) defines these as: 

Academic impact

The demonstrable contribution that excellent research makes to academic advances, across and within disciplines, including significant advances in understanding, methods, theory and application.

Economic and societal impacts

The demonstrable contribution that excellent research makes to society and the economy. Economic and societal impacts embrace all the extremely diverse ways in which research-related knowledge and skills benefit individuals, organisations and nations by:

  • fostering global economic performance, and specifically the economic competitiveness of the United Kingdom,
  • increasing the effectiveness of public services and policy,
  • enhancing quality of life, health and creative output.

The following image developed by Research Councils (UKIR) is useful when considering pathways to impact in relation to both academic and economic and societal impact.

Find out about impact within Stirling Researcher Resources here.

Research outputs come in a variety of forms and it is key when developing your idea to think about innovative ways you will disseminate your outcomes and expand the reach and impact.

Research outcomes of international and world-leading standard must be delivered through high quality channels and thus we must publish our research in the most ambitious and prestigious outlets, reflecting its quality and ensuring it receives the attention it merits within and beyond academia. Furthermore, we must build on our sector-leading commitment to open scholarship through our approach to research, dissemination, research data management and public engagement.

Whilst publishing in academic outlets is the most obvious way to disseminate your outcomes, thinking beyond the norm will give your idea that competitive edge.  You should therefore give consideration to other avenues of dissemination.  

Stirling Researcher Resources

Find out more information here‌‌                                                                                  

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