What a Fellowship can offer
Fellowship Schemes are generally designed to develop scientific leadership among the most promising scientists, by giving fellows x years’ support. Early career fellowships enable sufficient time for the fellow to develop their research plans and to gain international recognition. Many funders offer fellowship networking and training activities, working with host institutions, to support the development of future leaders in the funders remit. Established career fellows need a strong vision for the research proposed and the team delivering it. Most funders will provide greater support as the expectation is that ‘world-leading’ individuals will deliver high quality research. All fellowships are there to develop the next generation of researchers.
Dependent on the stage of career, most fellows will gain greater leadership and communication skills; act as ambassador and advocate for their research field; develop a research team around them, which should lead to greater research income; and build a reputation that will attract other top academics to join BU.
Applying for a Fellowship
The majority of fellowships awarded by external funders will provide the fellow with funding to concentrate on research, which can mean significantly reducing the fellows teaching load from 50% up to 100% of their time. Therefore, it is vital that any potential applicants discuss their plans with their Head of Department, Deputy Dean for Research and Professional Practice or Dean of Faculty before starting the application process. Applicants will need to provide their Faculty with details on how an awarded fellowship will affect their current workload, if any time will be spent away from the university, and whether any additional staff will need to be employed as part of the fellowship, including replacement teaching for the applicant. To support ECRs applying for fellowships to major funders, the Prestigious Research Funders Scheme has a pathway to support any salary shortfalls from the funding.
Any applications that are given the initial go ahead by the Faculty will still need to go through the normal submission process at BU. Therefore, applicants will need to discuss with their RDS Funding Development Officer their intention to bid for a fellowship as soon as they have agreement to apply from the Faculty.
If you wish to discuss with RDS your research plans and/or the benefits of a fellowship then please contact your RDS Research Facilitator in the first instance.
Types of Fellowship
There are many fellowship opportunities available for all stages of an academic career. Examples of the most popular are shown below:
EPSRC – Postdoctoral Fellowships: EPSRC only allows these in a few thematic areas. They expect that fellows have gained their PhD by the start date of the fellowship but consideration will be given to applicants who have taken a non-standard career path after their primary degree. Applicants can apply for up to three years for Postdoctoral stage award. Funding of up to 100% of salary, included is travel and subsistence, visiting researchers, small equipment items, consumables, access to facilities, and public communication training.
Medical Research Council – Clinical Research Training Fellowships: The CRTF supports clinicians, including (but not limited to) medics, surgeons, dentists, clinical psychologists, public health specialty trainees, allied health professionals, nurses, midwives and veterinarians, to undertake a PhD or other higher research degree. The scheme also provides a route for post-doctoral applicants who achieved their PhD some time ago but who have not been research active since due to clinical training commitments to reacquire research skills. CRTFs are usually 3 years. The minimum tenure of a CRTF is 2 years. Up to 4 years’ funding is available for patient-orientated CRTFs where the project will require significant amounts of patient contact.
Medical Research Council – Career Development Award (CDA): Transition to independence: he CDA supports talented post-doctoral researchers to lead their own research plans and establish their own research team to make the transition from post-doctoral researcher to independent investigator. A CDA provides funding for a challenging research programme, and an ambitious programme of research training which offers accelerated personal and career development. The CDA provides up to five years’ support. Applicants are expected to take advantage of the full five years’ funding available. The CDA provides full personal salary costs, together with support for research staff, consumables expenses, travel costs and capital equipment appropriate for the research project.
NIHR – Doctoral Fellowships: This Fellowship will support applicants to undertake a PhD in an area of NIHR research. The majority of Fellowships will be awarded in response mode but with strategic components also being introduced for some awards. Fellowships will be 3 years WTE and may be taken up on a part time basis of between 50 and 100% WTE. Clinical applicants will be able to include up to 20% clinical time as part of the Fellowship, to ensure maintenance of clinical competence whilst undertaking the Fellowship.
NIHR – Clinical Lectureships in medicine: The NIHR has allocated funding for 100 Clinical Lectureships (CLs) for recruitment in 2020/21, part of the Integrated Academic Training (IAT) Programme. NIHR CLs provide opportunities for postdoctoral research and facilitate applications for further research funding for fully qualified GPs and doctors in specialty training. NIHR CLs fund: Specialist/Specialty Registrar (SpR/StR) doctors in higher specialty training (ST3+ entry) that have completed a relevant higher research degree (PhD or MD); GPs that have completed their clinical training and a relevant higher research degree (PhD or MD); up to 4 years salary, with a £1,000 per annum bursary for conferences
50% protected academic time.
Early Career Fellowships
AHRC – Research Development and Engagement Fellowship Scheme – Early Career Researchers: The scheme is designed to develop the fellow’s skillset and leadership capabilities, for example by enabling early career researchers (ECRs) to become future research leaders in their field, or by enabling mid-career and established researchers to extend their expertise into new research areas or to engage with non-academic audiences. The scheme provides opportunities for early career researchers who meet the eligibility criteria outlined in the Funding Guide. The scheme provides funding for a period of between 6 and 24 months. Proposals with a full economic cost of between £50,000 and £250,000 may be submitted.
EPSRC – Early Career Fellowships: EPSRC only allows these in a few thematic areas. Applicants can apply for up to 5 years of support for Early Career awards. Applicants can apply for up to five years for Early Career stage award. Funding of up to 100% of salary, included is travel and subsistence, staff, visiting researchers, equipment, consumables, access to facilities, and public communication training.
Leverhulme Trust – Early Career Fellowships: Offering fifty per cent match-funding for the salary costs of three-year academic research position, the scheme enables early career researchers to undertake a significant piece of publishable work. Applicants must have a track record of research, but should not have held an established academic appointment in the UK. Early Career Fellowships aim to provide career development opportunities for those who are at a relatively early stage of their academic careers, but who have a proven record of research. The expectation is that Fellows should undertake a significant piece of publishable work during their tenure, and that the Fellowships should lead to a more permanent academic position.
Medical Research Council – Clinician Scientist Fellowship: The CSF aims to support individuals transitioning to independence and is open to hospital doctors, dentists, general practitioners, nurses, midwives and members of the allied health professions. Veterinarians may apply where they have equivalent qualifications and providing their project is of relevance to human health. The CSF provides four years’ support. The CSF provides full personal salary costs, together with support for research staff, consumables expenses, travel costs and capital equipment appropriate for the research project.
NERC – Independent Research Fellowships: NERC IRFs are early career fellowships and provide support for five years, giving successful fellows time to develop their research, start to build a research group and become internationally recognised. Up to two years can be spent at a collaborative institution in the UK or overseas. There are no funding limits, but the fellowship applicant can be the only named researcher on the proposal and no equipment (costing more than £10,000 including VAT) can be requested.
NIHR – Advanced Fellowships: NIHR offer 2-5 years full-time funding (or part-time) to individuals at various points of their career. These include: Recently completed or be about to be awarded a PhD, but haven’t yet established yourself as an independent researcher; Established yourself as an independent researcher or you are in the process of doing so, but are not yet recognised as an international leader in your field; and Transitioned into applied health research from a basic science background or re-established your research career following a significant career break. Applicants must have a host institution; hold a relevant PhD or MD, or have submitted your thesis for examination at the time of application (you must have been awarded a PhD or MD by the time you attend the interview; not already hold a Chair at the point of application; and must complete the relevant pre-registration training (for clinical academic applicants).
Royal Society – University Research Fellowships: The scheme provides 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. It covers all areas of the life and physical sciences, including engineering, but excluding clinical medicine. Initially funding is provided for five years with the opportunity to apply for an extension of three additional years. The scheme provides: 80% of the basic salary costs up to £39,389.64 in the first year, estates costs and indirect costs; Research expenses (up to £13,000 for the first year and up to £11,000 annually thereafter).
Wellcome Trust – Research Fellowships: This scheme supports humanities and social science scholars at all stages of their career but not in an established academic post, who wish to undertake a period of research in any area of human and animal health. Strong preference is given to applicants with a good prospect of achieving an academic career in the field. The maximum duration is three years full-time equivalent. The awards are full-time but may be awarded on a part-time basis if a case can be made that personal circumstances require this. Fellowships provide research expenses and a salary, plus appropriate employer’s contributions.
Established Career Fellowships
AHRC – Research Development and Engagement Fellowship Scheme – Standard Route to support mid-career and established researchers: The Fellowship offers the opportunity to be innovative and bold in the types of activity which might be taken forward and allows Fellows to explore new avenues of their discipline or beyond, for example, shaping research agendas, developing emerging research areas, fostering interdisciplinary research in their field, providing intellectual leadership, etc. The scheme provides opportunities for mid and senior career researchers who meet the eligibility criteria outlined in the Funding Guide. The scheme provides funding for a period of between 6 and 18 months. Proposals with a full economic cost of between £50,000 and £300,000 may be submitted.
EPSRC – Established Career Fellowships: EPSRC only allows these in a few thematic areas. Applicants can apply for up to 5 years of support for Established Career awards. Funding of up to 100% of salary, included is travel and subsistence, staff, visiting researchers, equipment, consumables, access to facilities, and public communication training.
Leverhulme Trust – Research Fellowships: Offering up to £55,000 over three to twenty-four months for experienced researchers to conduct a programme of research in any discipline. Research Fellowships are open to experienced researchers, particularly those who are or have been prevented by routine duties from completing a programme of original research.
Leverhulme Trust – Major Research Fellowships: Providing replacement teaching costs over two or three years, to allow academics in the humanities and social sciences to focus on a specific piece of original research. These awards enable well-established and distinguished researchers in the humanities and social sciences to devote themselves to a single research project of outstanding originality and significance, capable of completion within two or three years. Candidates should state explicitly what the proposed outcomes of the award will be. Fellowships are particularly aimed at those who are or have been prevented by routine duties from completing a programme of original research.
Medical Research Council – Senior Clinical Fellowship: The SCF supports talented medically and other clinically qualified professionals, with an effective track record of internationally competitive independent research, to make the transition to research leadership. A SCF provides funding for a challenging research programme, and an ambitious programme of research training which offers accelerated personal and career development. The SCF provides five years’ support. The SCF provides full personal salary costs, together with support for research staff, consumables expenses, travel costs and capital equipment appropriate for the research project. Applicants applying for a senior fellowship are strongly advised to contact the programme manager via firstname.lastname@example.org to confirm their application fits the scheme
Medical Research Council – Senior Non-Clinical Fellowship: The SNCF supports researchers with a track record of effectively leading their own independent research to make the transition to research leadership and become an internationally recognised leader in their field. An SNCF provides funding for a challenging research programme, and an ambitious programme of research training which offers accelerated personal and career development. The SNCF provides full personal salary costs, together with support for research staff, consumables expenses, travel costs and capital equipment appropriate for the research project. Applicants applying for a senior fellowship are strongly advised to contact the programme manager via email@example.com to confirm their application fits the scheme.
NIHR – Clinical Lectureships in Priority Research Themes: NIHR awards Clinical Lectureships (CLs) in Priority Research Themes to Integrated Academic Training (IAT) partnerships to support research areas identified as priorities by the Department of Health and Social Care and NIHR. The themes are multidisciplinary in nature and cover a wide spread of potential clinical specialities. Candidates for the NIHR CLs are to apply directly to the IAT partnerships, not the NIHR, and should contact the relevant IAT Leads for further information including the anticipated timings for the advertisements.
Other types of Fellowship
EC – Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions fellowships: Individual Fellowships fund researchers looking to enhance their career development and prospects by working abroad. There are two types: European Fellowships open to researchers either coming to Europe or moving within Europe; and Global Fellowships which fund secondments outside Europe for researchers based in the EU or associated countries. European Fellowships last from one to two years, Global Fellowships from two to three years. The grant provides an allowance to cover living, travel and family costs. The grant is awarded to the host organisation, usually a university, research centre or a company in Europe. The research costs and overheads of the host organisation(s) are also supported.
Leverhulme Trust – Emeritus Fellowships: Providing research expenses of up to £22,000 over up to two years to enable senior researchers who have retired from an academic post to complete a research project and prepare the results for publication.
Daphne Jackson Fellowships: This Fellowship is a unique fellowship designed to return STEM professionals to their careers after a break. Fellows normally carry out their research part-time over 2 years, in a university or research establishment in the UK. The Fellowships are flexible and include a tailored training programme designed to update skills and knowledge and support you in your return to research. Whilst the Trust provides the infrastructure and dedicated staff to recruit and retrain Fellows and administers the awards, financial support for salaries, bench fees, consumables and other costs is provided by external sponsors such as the host university, a research council, charity or relevant learned society.
Health Education England – Wessex – internship and post-doctoral opportunities are available.
All call deadlines for specific fellowship opportunities will be in the links provided above. In addition, please view the Standard Calls for Major Funder’s research blog page for the latest deadlines for the majority of the above calls.
Do have a look at the Research Lifecycle on the blog to see how RDS can support you with your research plans. You can also see what training and development opportunities are available to support you when applying for funding – visit the RKE Development Framework to find out more.