All major research entities gear some grants specifically to early-career researchers, so it benefits you to learn about them, says University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill psychologist Mitch Prinstein, PhD, co-editor with Marcus D. Patterson, PhD, of "The Portable Mentor: Expert Guide to a Successful Career in Psychology" (Kluwer, 2003). Here is a quick tour of some of the best.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH offers three types of grants for early-career psychologists:
National Research Service Awards, or F32s, for supervised research on health-care services (see http://grants1.nih.gov/training/nrsa.htm).
"K" Awards, mentored grants for early-career psychologists (see http://grants.nih.gov/training/careerdevelopmentawards.htm).
"B/START," small pilot study grants for new investigators (see http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/ PAR-00-119.html).
"These grants are a great way to get your foot in the door with NIH," says Prinstein, who chairs APA's Ad Hoc Committee on Early Career Psychologists. In addition, a good general page to scan the range of NIH grants is http://grants1.nih.gov/grants/funding/funding_program.htm, he notes.
Private foundations, likewise, offer good grant opportunities for young investigators. These options are searchable at FundSource, a joint site of APA's Science Directorate and the National Science Foundation, at http://www.decadeofbehavior.org/fundsource/index.html. The database helps you find a private foundation that matches the interests you type in.
Many APA divisions offer early-career start-up grants. Check with divisions of your interest for more details. For a list of divisions, visit APA Divisions.
Finally, nearly all major universities have internal grant programs for early-career researchers, says Karen Calhoun, PhD, professor of psychology and director of clinical training at the University of Georgia.
"Take advantage of them," she advises, "because they're easy to get." These grants usually offer a few thousand dollars in seed money so young investigators can launch pilot projects, she notes, which in turn can lead to bigger projects.