NSFC Experience Sharing Session Review

12 Dec 2022

The School NSFC (National Natural Science Foundation of China) sharing workshop was successfully held on 30th November at the X-Bar of the South Campus. NSFC is one of the highest levels of funding programs established in China, representing the highest level of basic research in China. NSFC has various funding programmes such as General Program, Young Scientists Fund, Key Programme, Major Research Plan, Research Fund for International Scientists, Programmes for Joint Funds etc. The NSFC is responsible for the implementation of funding programs and the supervision of funding operations, with a focus on supporting basic research, upholding freedom of exploration, and promoting a disciplinary layout that integrates knowledge and application.

Professor Jia Meng, Acting Head of the Department of Biological Sciences, Professor Johannes Knops, Head of the Department of Health and Environmental Sciences and Dr Li Li shared their application stories with the attended staff. Professor Zexin Zhang from the College of Chemistry, Chemical Engineering and Materials Science,  Soochow University, who is also a member of two research clusters (Centre for Soft Condensed Matter Physics and Centre for Interdisciplinary Research), was invited to share his thoughts and experiences of his many successful NSFC applications.

Prof. Zhang's research has been supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China, Jiangsu Science and Technology, and Jiangsu Education. His past research grants include the NSFC Young Scientists Fund (2011), NSFC General Funds (2012, 2015, 2020). He was awarded the 2016 NSFC Excellent Young Scientists Fund and Key Research Funds of Jiangsu Education (2011, 2021), and he was also nominated as one of the Jiangsu Province “333 high-level” talents in 2016.

"This workshop aims to provide staff tips and guidance through the speakers' own experiences, including the selection of scientific research questions, the design of research proposals, the preparation work before writing and the general requirements of the application. It is hoped that staff could understand more comprehensively the process of the funding application, and better refine their research ideas and improve the successful rate of the NSFC applications." Professor Li Yang, the Associate Dean of Research & Impact from the School of Science gave the opening remarks.

The quotes from the speakers:

"Thoughts from multiple perspectives can help us think outside of the box and better understand the rules of funding evaluation, meanwhile the details of the proposal are also very critical. Only by carefully refining the scientific questions is it possible to propose feasible and competitive projects." -Professor Zexin Zhang, who presented his experience gained from years of applications.

"Firstly, we must ensure that the project selection has research values and significance. It is important to validate the experimental protocol and the results from the views of both theory and experiments. Seeking excellent proposal examples and experts’ advice often help increase the proposal successful rate." -Professor Jia Meng

"To be eligible for funding, you need a great idea and preliminary research data, preferably with a track record of high quality publications in the proposed research area, to show the judges the abilities to deliver the project and a thorough plan for the proposal." - Professor Johannes Knops

"It is crucial to link your previous research results to the relevant applications in the emerging field of your research. Additionally, using plain and logical language for the proposal writing can facilitate the reviewers to understand your innovative strategy." -Dr Li Li introduced the skills of writing proposal and her own strategies for the preparation, emphasising the importance of topic selection.

Staff attended the event exchanged and discussed with the guests on how to develop advancing original innovation and meet the unprecedented challenges encountered during the application process. The sharing session inspires our staff’s enthusiasm and confidence, offering strong support for our staff to prepare the 2023 NSFC applications.

12 Dec 2022