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Graduate & Researcher Development

Research Staff – Building a Funding Portfolio

Prof Hugh McCann (Associate Dean for Research) told a group of PhD and Post-Doc researchers last week “If you’re a good researcher, you should always be planning your next funding, your next conference… Every one of you should be thinking of what to apply for in the next six months… If you’re not considering your next funding application, why not? What’s in the way?”

The notes below relate to building a track record of funding. Many researchers obtain funding for research conferences, research visits and other smaller items, prior to applying for independent fellowships and lectureships. To gain a competitive research appointment, one must have a competitive track record: whilst publications and expertise are clearly crucial for any researcher, funding wins can make a candidate stand out. Successful researchers are strategic about how they invest their time; they may pursue short international research visits, academic or industrial collaborations, knowledge transfer, public engagement and other activities detailed below.

Note that items below may be relevant to several headings but only appear once. The information contained in this document was sourced from (a) professors who contributed to previous sessions of this workshop and (b) the internet. It is correct at 15 February 2011; however note that information related to funding bodies and grant/fellowship schemes is highly changeable. This is not intended to be a comprehensive list, and you are strongly encouraged to visit the funding body websites and utilise the database at  http://www.researchprofessional.com (we have a university license). Our Faculty site gives an overview of funding at: http://www.researchsupport.eps.manchester.ac.uk/funding/

Q: How should I indicate the award of small grants and bursaries on my CV?

Any funding that you are awarded should be listed on your CV as evidence of your ability to attract funding to support your research and demonstrate that you are on the way to gaining research independence.

You could include an achievement and awards section in your CV, which includes a summary of your total grants/bursaries awards to date and then highlight the bigger or most prominent awards.  If you contributed to a research proposal that has been awarded to your PI and you can demonstrate your contribution to that bid and to the research then you should also include this in your CV.

Q: What travel grants are available?

Royal Society International Travel Grants – this scheme merges the Conference Grants and Short Visits schemes). Applications will be considered from scientists based in the UK wishing to visit or host a scientist from any overseas country. Next deadline to be announced.
See: http://royalsociety.org/International-Travel-Grants/

Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng) International Travel Grant Scheme – The International Travel Grant Scheme is intended to help engineering researchers in the UK make study visits overseas <2 months enabling them to remain at the forefront of new developments and be aware of corresponding activity overseas. http://www.raeng.org.uk/research/researcher/travelgrant/default.htm

Institution of Engineering & Technology – various travel awards up to £500 http://www.theiet.org/about/scholarships-awards/ambition/travel-awards/

Biochemical Society – invites applications for its general travel grants. These are to help members of the biochemical society of at least one year’s standing to attend scientific meetings, attend a practical course or workshop that will be beneficial to their career or to make short visits to other laboratories. Grants are up to £500. See: http://www.biochemistry.org/admin/grants.htm

Travel Grants from the IoM3 – Institute of Materials, Minerals & Mining – Small grants from the Andrew Carnegie Research Fund and the Metals and Metallurgy Trust are available to help younger members of the Institute with the expense involved in travelling long distances to conferences, normally outside their country of residence. Applications are only considered from IOM3 members and the age limit is usually 35. Preference is given to those applicants presenting papers at conferences either organised by the Institute or with which the Institute’s name is associated. http://www.iom3.org/content/professional-travel-grants

British Academy (BA) - conference grants are available for the travel expenses of social science scholars delivering a paper at a conference overseas. See: http://www.britac.ac.uk/funding/index.cfm

Q: What short-term funding is available for research visits to other countries?

The Royal Society Joint Project programme – is designed to enable international collaboration by providing a mobility grant for researchers to cover travel, subsistence and research expenses. The collaboration should be based on a single project including two teams or individuals: one based in the UK and the other based outside the UK. A relationship between both parties should already be established prior to making an application. The collaboration should involve bilateral visits between the UK and the country with which the overseas collaborator is based.
See: http://royalsociety.org/International-Joint-Projects/

RAEng Global Research Awards - provide an opportunity for engineers currently engaged in research and development to undertake short projects in centres of excellence overseas. Projects should focus on activities, which could help stimulate wealth creation and improvements in the quality of life, supporting the international development of research networks and encouraging the uptake of globally competitive technology in the UK. These are open to post-docs and are for 3-12 months. See: http://www.raeng.org.uk/research/researcher/global/default.htm

Lindemann Fellowships – For UK and Commonwealth nationals to do post-doctoral research in the USA for one year: http://esu.org/lindemann/ Deadline 17 February 2011!

Canon Foundation in Europe Research Fellowships – for Europeans to research in Japan from 3 to 12 months http://www.canonfoundation.org/programmes_1_fellow.html

JSPS Postdoctoral Fellowships fund 1-12 month opportunity for short-term visits for young pre- and post-doctoral UK researchers and researchers from Europe and North America based in the UK to conduct cooperative research with leading research groups at Japanese Universities and Institutions http://www.jsps.org/funding/fellow_short.html

Fulbright Commission – offers an award in conjunction with AstraZeneca Plc for a post-doctoral scientist to conduct research at a leading research institute in the United States on an aspect of Chemistry, Biochemistry, Cell Biology, Molecular Biology or Bio-informatics. The value of the award is £20,000 for a minimum of 10 months. See: http://www.fulbright.co.uk

Britain-Israel Research and Academic Exchange Partnership – this scheme is currently under revision and announcements will be made this Spring. It aims to strengthen academic cooperation between universities in the UK and Israel through the awarding of grants for joint research in all fields of science: this includes scientific research in both pure and applied science including social sciences and humanities. Applications are encouraged from research teams who can demonstrate that they are developing an important and innovative line of research, with the potential to make a significant difference in their field or across disciplines. Two years’ Post-doc experience required. See: http://www.britishcouncil.org/israel-education-birax.htm

Q: What other small grants are there?

Nuffield Foundation bursaries for project students Define and supervise an Undergraduate research project. The Nuffield Foundation encourages applications from researchers at universities and research institutions within the UK, especially from postdoctoral researchers and new lecturers. The 2011 deadline was 9 Feb (so get planning for next year?) http://www.nuffieldfoundation.org/go/grants/nsbur/page_412.html

Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation – Small grants ranging from £1,000 to £5,000 are available to promote and support interaction between the UK and Japan. Awards may cover all fields of activity, including educational and grass roots exchanges, research travel, the organisation of conferences, exhibitions, and other projects and events that fulfil this broad objective. New initiatives are especially encouraged. See: http://www.dajf.org.uk/page_e.asp?Section=Grants&ID=447#

London Mathematical Society (LMS) – several grants including <£6000 to run a conference, <£1400 for UK group collaborations, <£700 to visit an overseas collaborator, <£300 to visit a UK collaborator,   <£1300 for visiting Africa, <£600 for stimulating interest in Maths, support for childcare or family responsibilities, and more. http://www.lms.ac.uk/content/grants

Royal Society of Chemistry – various awards, some for Post-docs: http://www.rsc.org/Education/HEstudents/awards.asp

IOM3 offers various awards for researchers in Materials, Minerals and Mining. Closing date 31 march 2011. http://www.iom3.org/content/scholarships-bursaries

Q: What funding is available for public engagement?

Lots! See the list at: http://www.britishscienceassociation.org/web/scienceinsociety/_Funding+for+researchers.htm

The British Science Association offers Media Fellowships to spend 3 to 8 weeks working with a national press, broadcast or internet journalist to produce accurate and well informed pieces about developments in science, and then attend the British Science Festival. You need >2 years research experience. Apply by 1 March 2011.


Q: What career development funding is available at the University of Manchester?

The Faculty of Engineering & Physical Sciences Researcher Development funding for professional and career development can cover small projects or external training for non-discipline-specific skills


STDU have a small fund for training:


Q: What Industrial related funding is available at the University of Manchester?

Knowledge Transfer Account (KTA) – The University has £8.3M for the development of a comprehensive portfolio of flexible support mechanisms designed to enable all EPSRC researchers the opportunity to overcome barriers as they arise in all of the possible routes to exploitation/application of their EPSRC research base. More information can be found at: http://www.manchester.ac.uk/kta

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP) – A long-established national scheme aimed at enhancing business/university partnerships based around knowledge transfer for the development of new products/processes/markets.

Miranda McCormick, EPS External Relations Office indicates that RAs can apply for KTP, and get paid at the RA rate.  In fact a significant number of KTPs specify a PhD as an essential criterion – each KTP has its own specific job description and person spec. Some KTPs are a direct follow-on from an individual’s PhD or a collaborative research grant that an RA might have worked on, to enable them to work for the company partner to bring their work to commercial exploitation.  Individual RA might therefore be encouraged to pursue this as an opportunity with their company partners. Contact Miranda on ext. 63991 or miranda.mccormick@manchester.ac.uk

RAs can identify vacancies from across the UK via: www.ktponline.org.uk

University of Manchester Intellectual Property Limited (UMIP)

  • Proof of Principle Fund - pump priming funds to take a novel idea to a demonstrable stage and validating the commercial potential of that idea in order to attract potential investors or licensees.
  • Follow on Fund - exists for exceptional projects with outstanding commercial potential, which have been successful Proof-of-Principle projects.

See http://www.umip.com/available_funding.htm

Q: What EU funding is available?

UKRO provides information on EU funding opportunities – see http://www.ukro.ac.uk/ Many of these are for large programmes, but some may support you (and they don’t always have obvious titles) for example the Erasmus Mundus External Co-operation Window will fund research visits of students and post-docs: http://www.ukro.ac.uk/subscriber_services/non_fp/education/erasmus_mundus/emecw.htm

CORDIS (Community Research Information Service) – The European Commission’s Research information server. Here you may search all EU research programmes and areas of funding.

See: http://cordis.europa.eu/home_en.html

You can also contact the University EU office for information about available funding.  The EU Funding and Development Manager is Liz Fay 57114 or liz.fay@manchester.ac.uk

See http://www.campus.manchester.ac.uk/researchoffice/euresearch/

Some points to keep in mind:

  • EU funding is not typically suitable for building up a portfolio.
  • The awards are extremely competitive, in 2006/07 the university put forward 50 -70 applications, only one got past the outline stage.
  • Independent research will need to demonstrated under the EU rules.

Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowships (EIF) – open to EU and Associated State researchers of all ages with at least four years’ professional experience or a doctorate degree. The purpose is to give them the financial means to undertake advanced training through research or to acquire complementary skills at a European organisation most suited to their professional needs. This will give researchers the final boost they need to reach professional independence. Before applying for funding, researchers must find a research team in an EU or Associated State willing to take them on for a one- to two-year stay. http://ec.europa.eu/research/fp7/understanding/marie-curieinbrief/research-development_en.html

Marie Curie Outgoing International Fellowships - Outgoing International Fellowship allow experienced researchers from EU or Associated States to broaden their international research experience by spending time at a research centre outside the EU and Associated States for periods of between one and three years, including a compulsory return phase.

See: http://ec.europa.eu/research/fp7/understanding/marie-curieinbrief/europe-world_en.html

RAEng International Travel Grant Scheme is intended to help Engineering Researchers in the UK make study visits overseas. This enables them to remain at the forefront of new developments and be aware of corresponding activity overseas. The scheme is open to postgraduate students, doctoral and postdoctoral researchers, academic staff involved in research, in UK higher education institutions and chartered engineers in UK industry. See: http://www.raeng.org.uk/research/researcher/travelgrant/default.htm

Q: What Fellowship/Award Programmes are available?

Note The following list of fellowships and awards is specific to post-docs; however it is not an exhaustive list and you are strongly advised to visit the funding body websites to identify application eligibility criteria and deadlines. These are major awards, and ideally you would start to prepare your application 6 – 12 months in advance of the deadline. Come to our workshop to find out more about Applying for Fellowships.

Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowships – This scheme aims to provide career development opportunities for those who are at a relatively early stage of their academic careers but with a proven record of research. The Trust provides funding covering approximately half of the Fellow’s salary, plus some travel and consumables expenses. It is important to establish the source of the remainder salary in discussion with your School. See: http://www.leverhulme.ac.uk/funding/ECF/ECF.cfm

EPSRC Career Acceleration Fellowships – You should have between 3 and 10 years postdoctoral research and/or relevant industrial experience by the start date of the fellowship and not hold a permanent UK academic post. This period is calculated from the date of your PhD viva to the start date of the fellowship. Fellows are expected to devote themselves to full-time research for a period of up to five years. See http://www.epsrc.ac.uk/funding/fellows/Pages/default.aspx

A small number of EPSRC Postdoctoral Fellowships in the areas of mathematical sciences, theoretical physics and Cross Disciplinary Interfaces are made available each year. The aim is to help talented young researchers to establish an independent research career, normally shortly or immediately after completing a PhD. (The call papers define the specific maximum time period for applicants after completion of a PhD.)

See: http://www.epsrc.ac.uk/funding/fellows/Pages/postdoctoral.aspx

Royal Academy of Engineering/EPSRC Research Fellowships enable outstanding researchers from all branches of engineering to establish an independent research career, normally shortly or immediately after completing their PhD.

See: http://www.raeng.org.uk/research/researcher/postdoc/

BBSRC David Phillips Fellowships – Scientists with 2-6 years of postdoctoral research experience who have demonstrated high potential, and who wish to establish themselves as independent researchers.

See http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/funding/fellowships/index.html

NERC Postdoctoral Research Fellowships – Early career development awards of up to three years, to provide further post-doctoral experience and to support outstanding environmental scientists as they become independent investigators. Candidates will typically have one to five years of postdoctoral experience. See: http://www.nerc.ac.uk/funding/available/fellowships/

NERC Advanced Fellowships – Awarded for up to five years, to enable outstanding early/mid career researchers to develop into team leaders of international standing. Candidates must have had at least two years research experience at postdoctoral level, not necessarily in the UK, at the time of application.

See: http://www.nerc.ac.uk/funding/available/fellowships/

Wellcome Trust – Funding covers a range of areas with a biomedical focus, from supporting scientific and technological research to helping researchers and other communicators to engage with different audiences about their work. There are a number of specific fellowship awards and small grant awards that are open to post-docs. See: http://www.wellcome.ac.uk/Funding/index.htm

The British Academy – Provides research funding to postdoctoral level scholars in all subjects within the remit of humanities and social sciences. Its research funding strategy is focussed on supporting ideas, individuals and intellectual resources, and it delivers this strategic priority through schemes for research grants, research posts, research development, conference grants, individual and joint projects and the facilitation of world-class international research. See: http://www.britac.ac.uk/funding/index.cfm

Royal Society University Research Fellowships – aims to provide scientists, who should have the potential to become leaders in their chosen field, with the opportunity to build an independent research career. Those appointed are expected to be strong candidates for permanent posts in universities at the end of their fellowships Five years followed by an extension of three years.

See: http://royalsociety.org/University-Research-Fellowships/

The Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 Fellowships – open to candidates in any of the physical or biological sciences, in mathematics, in applied science, or in any branch of engineering. Three-year post-doc fellowships, deadline in February. See: http://www.royalcommission1851.org.uk/res_fellow.html

The Toshiba Fellowship Programme – open to PhD level researchers of EU nationality currently working in a UK academic institution. The research areas vary broadly from year to year in the field of science and engineering. The Programme offers the successful Fellow a generous package including a fixed salary and travel to and from Japan. See http://www.toshiba-europe.com/eur/fellowship/

Royal Academy of Engineering Schemes for Engineers in Research and Development – Research Fellowships are aimed at outstanding researchers from all branches of engineering who are about to finish their PhD or have up to three years Post-Doctoral research experience. The scheme provides funding for five years to encourage the best researchers to remain in the university engineering sector.
See http://www.raeng.org.uk/research/researcher/postdoc/default.htm.

Q: What fellowships support women in science?

Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowships - supports excellent scientists and engineers at an early stage of their career. This is specifically for people who require flexible working (eg caring responsibilities) and aims to support progress to permanent academic positions in the UK.

See: http://royalsociety.org/Dorothy-Hodgkin-Fellowships/

Daphne Jackson Memorial Fellowships – aims to help graduates and post-graduates who have had careers in science, engineering or technology (SET) return to similar employment after a career break (typically two years).  The scheme helps to improve employability through the updating and gaining of new skills.

See: http://www.daphnejackson.org/

L’Oréal National Fellowships - With support of the National Commissions for UNESCO, these Fellowships are principally destined to enable women at the doctorate level to pursue scientific research in their home country. Go to:  http://www.loreal.co.uk then click “For Women in Science” for the UK site.

Q: Where can I find out more about funding from Charities?

Charities Commission – A searchable register of all UK registered charities by subject area which gives contact details and information concerning the charities’ remit. Some may provide funding for overseas conferences even though they do not explicitly advertise this.

See: http://www.charity-commission.gov.uk/

If you go to a computer cluster at the University Careers Service, you can access FunderFinder, a database of award schemes from charities and trusts. Location at http://www.careers.manchester.ac.uk/

AMRC (Association of Medical Research Charities) – Includes a grant search facility by funding category and links to all AMRC charities. See: http://www.amrc.org.uk/homepage/

Q: Which is of prime significance to funding bodies while assessing a research proposal: the quality/novelty/relevance of the deliverable outputs OR the writing up of the proposal itself?

Actually both are as important as each other. You need to provide a proposal that has been written in a clear, concise, organised, coherent style and which demonstrates good, innovative ideas. The quality of the proposal will go some way to enhancing a good (rather than a brilliant) idea, but an average idea is never going to be seriously considered no matter how well the proposal is written.

Crucial to the success of your proposal will be how well you have written for your intended audience. How relevant will your scientific idea be to the funding body you are approaching? Will the panel be made up of discipline-specific experts or will it be a multi-discipline panel?

Q: What are the typical success rates for different funding opportunities?

The Royal Society has a fairly good average for non-Fellowship applications (small equipment, travel etc); successful applications for Fellowships however are tough. For example in 2006/07 there were 150 applications, only 15 were awarded. The Leverhulme Trust has a better average but this funding body is looking for specific research areas to progress.  Success rates for Research Council Fellowships are at similar levels.  We know that for the EPSRC Career Advancement Fellowships in 2007/08, around 500 applications were received and only around 60 of those were selected to be developed into full proposals. At the latter stage, a 50% success rate is anticipated, but this is not yet finalised as the process is ongoing.

Q: When applying for grants and fellowships how important are the ideas versus your track record?

All grants are judged based on the career stage at which you are at, however you will be competing against people at the same career stage who have a proven track record. For this reason you should look to apply for small grants and bursaries, for example instrumentation funds or conference bursaries. Show that you have the ability to obtain funding even if it is only a series of contributions to date.

You do need to convince panels that you are capable of performing the research you say you can. This is particularly true if you have an innovative idea. At this stage in your career you need to balance risk with adventure. Your proposal will need to show that you have thought about how you will approach and pursue the research, providing options for showing how you could achieve the more realistic paths of your research idea.

When it comes to your track record your publications list is key. You need to be clear about whether you are first author and if you are not what your contribution was.

Q: Can I be a PDRA and Researcher Co-Investigator at the same time?

You can’t have more than 100% of your time paid for by the Research Councils, so if you are nearing the end of your PDRA contract you may be able to convince your PI to allow you to work for 50% of the time on their project and 50% on your own. However, how the other 50% of time is funded is, of course, an issue.

Q: How do I calculate the Full Economic Costings (FEC) within a proposal?

Contact your School Research Administrator who should be able to assist you with any FEC queries. They will hold generic information related to estates, the library, administration, computers and salaries that can complement the FEC that is specific to your project e.g. instrumentation costings. Be aware that SRAs will need time to support your grant proposals, so you should contact them at the earliest opportunity in the process.

Q: How do I know if my idea is of interest to the funding bodies?

Take a look at recent grants that were successfully awarded. Are you aware of the hot topics in international research? Will your research contribute anything to these topics? What are the current areas generating significant interest in key journals or conferences in your area? The EPSRC have six core and five strategic themed programmes – does your research contribute to these themes? See http://www.epsrc.ac.uk/about/progs/Pages/default.aspx

The other key point to keep in mind is how you “package your ideas”. You need to be able to show that your research will go someway to answering the big fundamental or applied questions. Think about how accessible your idea is and always think about your target audience for any given proposal. What are they going to be looking for? How familiar will the panel be with your research field?

You might have a great idea but may not have a fully formed, convincing story to tell. This is where peer review is essential.

Q: How long does it take for an award to come through?

For awards such as Fellowships you can wait up to a year for an award to be granted. For this reason you need to make yourself aware of the dates for proposal calls, for the submission deadlines and for the award dates. Don’t wait until the end of your PDRA contract before you think about applying for an award.

There are no university or faculty schemes to keep PDRAs in place until they hear about an award.  There may be provisions within your School or research group; however you are advised to speak to your PI.

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