Sharing my experience in ERC Starting Grant (ERC StG) submission: @ERC_Research.

Acceptance rate=12%.
I spend 3.5 months w/ almost 100% effort.
I learned a lot about myself by trying it.

Here are 10 tips I share: (cond.)
1. Try now: Do it if you are in 2-7yr after PhD. Do not wait until the max limit as stats says no influence of career period on acceptance rate. They even consider your early career as bonus. Trying early, you can challenge again even if the current one is rejected.
2. Think at 20yrs scale: You can hire 3-5 postdocs/PhDs. Imagine, 5-year * (3 experts + you) = “20 scientific years of working”!! What question would you ask if you have 20 years for a single question to answer? Think big, you must cause a big breakthrough.
3. Think interdisciplinarity: ERC wants interdisciplinary works but suggesting such was hard. I needed to study a lot. Yet, I tried to develop the largest scientific question I WANT to challenge, not the one I CAN challenge. Even I allowed myself to learn totally new things.
4. Learn from others: If you google “ERC proposal example” you find a lot. Regardless of topics, I learned a lot about how the others develop big questions and how they write. I read and compared 10 proposals. I found some are hard to read, some are attractive.
5. Learn the system: Google it, too. Know the panel members. Some nice people share tips freely online. Tips are rarely shared (but that’s why I am doing so now). I watched many Youtube videos.
6. Imagine audiences: I was imagining doing a TED talk. I explained the idea to friends & wife. I imagined an old Professor reading mine after a full teaching day; a female researcher with kids who would read mine in spare time. They look for a reason to stop reading.
7. [3.5 months]... was that enough? Yes but I wanted 3-5 months more. People say they need 6-8 months. I agree. If I have 8 months? I would have done more preliminary studies, networking for new topics I do but unfamiliar with, radical restructuring as a perturbation experiment.
8. Do a High risk-high gain project: By splitting into three sub-goals, the project has some risk hedge. Risk is incremental, starting from low to high. Each key point has some backup options. I wrote what I would gain even if I failed largely.
9. Ask helps: I asked five PIs to read it kindly. They are in different fields. They found good points and pointed out some unclear ones. Several people at my institution helped me a lot from different aspects. Don’t hesitate to ask experienced people. It cannot be done alone.
10.Enjoy!! It was very stressful, indeed. It tested me “show how good I am as a world-leading young talent”. I wanted to give up many times. But, overall, I enjoyed this intensive scientific journey as the biggest challenge.

Hope this tweet helps someone for 2022 submission.

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