Applying for Research Funding

Applying for Research
Dr Emma Jones
Centre for the History of Science, Technology
& Medicine
University of Manchester
Aims of the Session
• Give an overview of PhD and Postdoctoral
funding opportunities
• Provide hints and tips on how to prepare a
funding application
• Provide examples of successful funding
• Opportunity to ask questions
About me
 BA Modern History (RHUL)
 MA Women’s History (RHUL)
AHRC Masters Studentship
 PhD History (RHUL)
AHRC Doctoral Studentship
 Research Associate (CHSTM): project funded by NHS
 Research Associate (CHSTM)
ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowship
 Research Associate (CHSTM): project funded by NHS
 Research Associate (CHSTM)
Wellcome Trust Research Fellowship in Medical
Sources of Postgraduate and
Postdoctoral Funding
Institute of Historical Research
Institutional sources
Wellcome Trust
British Academy
Institute of Historical Research
JRFs (Junior Research
Fellowships Oxford/Cambridge)
Leverhulme Trust
Wellcome Trust
Major PhD Funding Sources
Arts and Humanities Research Council
Doctoral Awards
 Fund universities directly, either via the Block Grant
Partnerships or Block Grant Partnerships: Capacity
 Students should talk to the institution at which they
plan to study in order to obtain information on their
organisational selection processes; advertised
 3 years of full-time study, or up to 5 years of part-time
 Fees and maintenance grant
Major PhD Funding Sources
Economic and Social Research Council
Doctoral Awards
 Award all studentship funding directly to the
institutions - network of 21 Doctoral Training Centres
(DTCs). All potential students should consult the list
of DTCs and contact the institution at which they wish
to undertake a research degree directly.
 Also collaborative studentships CASE awards
between the ESRC, a university and government,
business and third sector organisations
 Fees and maintenance grant
Major PhD Funding Sources
Wellcome Trust
Medical History and Humanities Doctoral Studentships
 Candidates can be based in the humanities, social
sciences, or the arts, the project they propose must
be grounded in historical methodologies and/or
 Applications must be submitted through the host
institution (prelim/full application deadlines)
 3 years of full-time study
 Fees, maintenance grant, and expenses
Major PhD Funding Sources
Institute of Historical Research
Junior Fellowships
 Several IHR fellowships: awarded to PhD candidates
who have completed at least 2 years' research
 Economic History Society: awarded to PhD
candidates in economic/social history (broadly
defined) who have completed at least 3 years' (fulltime) research
 Jacobite Studies Trust: awarded to PhD candidates
who have been registered for at least 3 years full-time
or 6 years part-time
Major Postdoc Funding Sources
Institute of Historical Research
Junior Research Fellowships
 Designed to write up PhD for publication
 Economic History Society: award up to 5 one-year
fellowships to postdoctoral candidates who have
recently completed a doctoral degree in
economic/social history (broadly defined)
 Past and Present Postdoctoral Fellowships: award up
to 2 one-year postdoctoral fellowships
 Maintenance
Major Post-doc Funding Sources
British Academy
Postdoctoral Fellowship
Up to 3 years funding; FEC
Award approx. 45 fellowships 2012
Covers salary and research expenses
Eligibility: support of UK institution; in receipt of doctorate on or
after 1 April 2009 or expected to submit and be examined by
1April 2010; must be a UK or EEA national, or have completed a
doctorate at a UK university, or demonstrate a strong prior
association with the UK academic community, for example
through already having been employed in a temporary capacity
(longer than six months) at a UK university.
 2 stage online application
Major Post-doc Funding Sources
Economic and Social Research Council
Future Research Leaders scheme (new)
Award: max 3 years with an overall limit of £215,000 (at 100 per cent full
Economic Cost); cover salary and research costs
Eligibility: Open to high-quality candidates from anywhere in the world
with less than 4 years' postdoctoral experience
Application with support of an eligible UK research organization internal vetting
Aim to fund around 70 awards
Research grants scheme
 Awards ranging from £200,000 to £2 million (100 per cent full Economic
 Individuals or research teams up to a period of 5 years
Major Post-doc Funding Sources
Leverhulme Trust
Early Career Fellowships
Award approx. 80 fellowships a year
Any discipline; held at universities or other HEIs in the UK
3 years full-time; part time will be considered
Trust contributes 50% of total salary costs up to a maximum of £23,000 per annum; research
expenses up to £6000
Eligibility: in receipt of doctorate - not more than 5 years (career breaks excepted)
Online application
Closing date: 4.00pm on 8 March 2012
Study Abroad Studentships
support between 12 and 24 months of advanced study or research at a centre of learning in
any overseas country
£17,000 maintenance; dependence allowance; return airfare; baggage allowance
Eligibility: resident in the UK for at least five years at the time of application; hold an
undergraduate degree from a UK institution; a student at the time of application or have been
registered as a student within the last 8 years; able to demonstrate how their work would
benefit from being conducted overseas rather than in the UK
Current round must commence between between 1 June 2012 and 1 May 2013
Online application
Major Post-doc Funding Sources
Wellcome Trust
Research Fellowships in Medical History and Humanities
 3 years full-time (part time considered).
 Research expenses and a salary, plus appropriate employer's
contributions (fEC), and research expenses and conference travel.
 Eligibility: must be a postdoctoral scholar not in a tenured or
otherwise long-term established post; sponsored by an institution
 Application: Prelim in writing; final online submission
 Deadline: prelim/full application deadlines twice a year and an
interview if selected
Other Postdoc Funding Sources
Institutional Research Fellowships
 More universities are now offering 1-2 year fellowships
 Advertised on and other job sites (e.g.
Junior Research Fellowships (JRFs)
 These are offered by the colleges of the Universities of Oxford
and Cambridge
 Advertised on and through the individual
college websites
 Restrictive eligibility
Post as a research assistant/associate
 Advertised on and other job sites (e.g.
The rules around academic and residence eligibility can be quite
complicated. In the interest that I don’t make a mistake and do not give false
hope, please consult the following web pages/documents from the relevant
funding bodies:
British Academy
eligibility details are given on the specific scheme, see:
Wellcome Trust
eligibility details are given on the specific scheme, see:
Institute of Historical Research
eligibility details are given on the specific scheme, see:
Making an Application
First Steps
• Plan ahead, prepare and allow sufficient time
• Identify funding body and institution
• Familiarise yourself with application deadlines, assessment
processes and application requirements etc.
• Speak to the funding council
• Start small and build up – where you can, try and link with
experienced and successful PIs and research groups.
• Don’t be afraid to approach new collaborators internally and
externally, including moving institution
• Choose your mentor
• Make friends with your research office/finance dept and know
the internal deadlines for internal checks
• Register on the appropriate electronic submission system
Making an Application
know what you’re up against
Success Rates
ESRC 2009-2010
• Small grants – 19% (124/653)
• Stand. grants – 14% (94/682)
British Academy 2006-2009
• Humanities - 6-8%
• Social Sciences - 12.8%
Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowships
• 700 applications in March 2010 round
• 70 fellowships available in 2011
Making an Application
writing your research proposal
• Seek examples of past applications
• Follow the guidelines provided by the funding body,
understand their terms and use their language
• Will you need ethics approval?
• Remember to build in dissemination and outreach publications / extend beyond academia
• Get a colleague / member of supporting institution to
read your proposal before submitting it
• Get yourself known in your research community – meet
your future mentor; referees, and choose your referees
Making an Application
preparing a research budget
• What is ‘FEC’ - Full Economic Cost?
• Check what the funding body will and will not cover and what’s
already included
• Possible funds to consider
– Money for research travel and subsistence
– Consumables (e.g. photocopying; transcriptions)
– Equipment (e.g. computer; digital camera; voice recorder;
scanner; extra hard-drive etc)
– Money for travel to conferences (including registration and
– Money to host a workshop / conference
– Training and discipline hopping
• Justify your costings
Making an Application
what the reviewers will assess
Reviewers will be asked to comment on:
• Research quality and impact - Comment on the quality of the
proposed research; the strengths and weaknesses of the proposed
plan of investigation; the importance of the problem to be
addressed, in relation to the particular field of research as a whole
• Methodology - Comment on the feasibility of the proposed
methodology; the relevance of the background information provided
• The appropriateness of the equipment and running costs - are
they appropriate to the type, scale and impact of the proposed
• The applicant - The standing of the applicant in the field
• Overall research quality - How does this application compare with
other grants you have refereed? Rate and grade it.
Making an Application
Sifting and Rejection
Taken from the blog Research Fundermentals
‘ESRC applications don’t go straight to panel. They go through a sifting process,
• Office sift: roughly 10% of applications get rejected at this stage on technicalities,
such as not having the right attachments, sections not being filled, format not being
adhered to, etc;
• Reviewers' sift: roughly 30% get rejected at this stage. If the reviewers identify
substantial flaws, and grade the applications accordingly;
• Introducers' sift: I think this has been in place for some time, but I hadn't realised
the scale of it before now. Each application is allocated to two introducers, who will
have the responsibility of introducing the application to the panel. However, they can
reject applications before they get to panel if they think that, realistically, they don't
stand any real chance of getting funding, and it would be wasting the panel's time to
discuss them.’
Making an Application
common reasons for rejection
Problem not important enough.
Failing to set out an appropriate and convincing methodology
Failing to convey the excellence of the research
Problem more complex than investigator appears to realize.
Too little detail in the research plan to convince reviewers the
investigator knows what he or she is doing.
Over-ambitious research plan - unrealistically large amount of work.
Investigator too inexperienced or has failed to establish the
necessary links to the research community.
Failing to demonstrate value to potential users outside or within the
research community
Failing to convince of the ability to deliver research
Failing to demonstrate value for money
• Allow yourself plenty of time
• Study your funding source: read and read again the rules and the
guidance notes
• Writing; follow the funding-bodies formulas
• Discuss your proposal with colleagues and referees, esp. those who
have successfully obtained funding
• Think about how to build dissemination activities into your research
• Justify your costings
• Leave time to get your proposal through internal checks at your
institution and the electronic systems of the funding body
Any questions?