What was the biggest challenge and what surprised Sara D´Armario, one of the successful MSCA fellows, during preparation of her project proposal? You can find it out from the following interview, where Sara shares with us her experience with writing her grant. Sara dedicated almost a month just to revising (not writing) her proposal with various people, and we were happy to contribute to shaping and polishing her proposal. Her project received the full score and thanks to this great success Sara can start her postdoctoral position at the University of Oslo and conduct additional research training at Casa Paganini in Genova. We would like to thank Sara for her trust and wish that all her dreams, not only the professional ones, will continue to come true.
What motivated you to select the University of Oslo (UiO) as your host institution?
UiO research excellence motivated me to select UiO.
Did you know your supervisor personally before you started to write your MSCA PF proposal? Was your supervisor involved in somehow in the preparation of the project proposal?
I did not know my supervisor before I started to write my proposal, but in fact he was greatly involved in the grant writing.
Did you know any MSCA fellow who advised you or let know see successful proposal that would help you when writing your project?
Yes, I saw about four MSCA proposals whilst writing my proposal, and at least one of those was successful.
Was there anything that surprised you when writing your MSCA PF proposal? Was it easier or harder than you expected?
Writing this proposal was definitely harder than expected. I found it tricky to “sell” my expertise and my in a way that would be appealing to others who are not necessarily experts in my field.
What have been the biggest challenges for you during proposal preparation?
My biggest challenge was definitely designing the workplan, as it took me a while to fully understand the differences between deliverables and milestones and how to structure the workplan in a way that would be consistent with my research objectives.
Do you have any advice for future applicants? Or any other insights you have that might help other scientists to succeed in MSCA PF competition?
Yes. My advice is: 1) choose a project that you are passionate about and you believe in: it is easier to talk and work hard on something we do truly enjoy; 2) get several technical and non-technical feedback (the more the better): opinions from experts in the field are fundamental, but those from non-experts are essential too. MSCA evaluator might not be an expert in your field, thus the message should be clear and understandable to anyone; 3) plan far head: you will be surprised how long it will take to write a very well coherent proposal.
Apart from the funding you received to carry out your research, is there anything else that this experience has brought you?
This experience has greatly increased my confidence and ability to communicate effectively with others, regardless of their knowledge of my field, by adapting the way I express concepts to different contexts.
Thank you very much for your time and sharing your insights!