Academic Research: Stretch Those Grant Dollars Further

Receiving a grant for academic research can be a wonderful opportunity to travel and perform varying experiments in order to prove (or disprove) your theory. However, most students soon realize that the grant money they received will not go as far as they had hoped, and they are often forced to make adjustments to their research in order to make it budget friendly.

But just because your money is limited doesn’t mean that your research has to suffer. There are plenty of ways to stretch those grant dollars further, and the following are three ways to do so.

1. Make smarter travel decisions.

Sometimes your academic research will force you to travel, so instead of spending the majority of your grant on flights, try to try to make smarter travel decisions.

First, try to find an alternative method to flying, as flights typically cost more money than train, bus or even driving yourself. If flying is your only option, try taking the flights that are less desirable, such as those very early in the morning (think 2am). Because these flights are not popular, they’re typically less expensive. You should also consider flying out during the week instead of over the weekend, as weekday flights are much less expensive.

You should also make smarter lodging decisions. Do you really have to stay in that five-star hotel, or could a motel suffice? You should also determine if you have friends or family members in the area you can stay with instead. Also, why not consider couchsurfing or staying at a hostel? These are all more budget-friendly and can help you put your grant money towards something more useful to your research.

The time of your trip can also have an impact on your budget. For example, if you are heading to a popular destination during a peak season, you’ll likely spend more on travel and lodging. However, if you opt to visit during the offseason, you’ll notice that the price of your trip drops significantly.

You should also consider going grocery shopping and packing a lunch or dining at home instead of constantly dining out. This will save a great deal of money.

2. Utilize Skype as often as possible.

During your research, you will likely need to interview individuals or connect with others about research-related topics. Instead of constantly traveling back and forth between meetings and interviews, opt to use Skype. This way, you can hold a video conference with anyone anywhere in the world, and you won’t have to waste your grant money on travel-related expenses.

3. Invest in an audio recorder.

Trying to take notes during your research will often be difficult, as you’ll have to keep pausing to write stuff down. Plus, you’ll then need to store all these items somewhere until you can organize it, and this wastes a great deal of time. And if you were to lose any of your notes or research, you’ll need to waste money trying to retrieve it.

Instead, you need to invest in an audio recorder and learn to record everything you do. Record your own personal thoughts, your assumptions, your findings, your interviews, and even your phone calls with other individuals associated with your research. This way, you’ll have all your information saved in one location, and it will all be organized for you.

Plus, once you have the audio file, you can save it (and back it up) to the cloud. This way, you’ll always be able to access your recordings no matter where you are.

In order to make the audio recorder go even further, you could also have your audio files transcribed by a professional. This will give you a hard copy of your research, and it will also keep you from wasting time typing out what you need yourself. Select a transcription company that promises quality control in order to receive the best possible transcriptions. Plus, most transcription services are relatively cheap, allowing you to stretch your grant dollars as far as possible.

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Meyling Lau is a freelance writer with the skill to combine personal experience and research into entertaining, educational articles on a wide range of topics.