To determine if you are eligible to apply for a scheme, please read the ‘scheme notes’, which can be accessed from the relevant scheme page.
For most schemes, applicants must be based in the UK. For international schemes, the applicant or co-applicant may be based at a host institution outside of the UK.
Applicants must be postdoctoral researchers at either a university or not-for-profit research organisation (such as a Research Council-funded institute). Some independent research organisations are also eligible. If you cannot locate your organisation on our grants system, please contact the Society with details of your organisation to determine its eligibility by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Except for Industry Fellowships, applications cannot be accepted from private or commercial organisations.
All applications require the support of the Head of Department and approval from the university Research Office.
Some applications also require the submission of a statement from a Head of Department or nominated referee. Applicants are responsible for ensuring that their nominated referee completes their statement by the deadline.
Proposals must be submitted through Flexi-Grant®. If you experience difficulties using Flexi-Grant® website, please contact us.
Please submit your application by the deadline on the relevant scheme page, ensuring that the relevant approval has been given by this date. Applications received after the deadline will not be considered.
Unsuccessful applications may be resubmitted for a new round but please note that these are treated as completely new applications. Referees need to provide a new reference through the Flexi-Grant® website, regardless of whether a statement was supplied for a previous version of the application.
All applications are checked by the Grants Office to ensure that they meet the scheme’s eligibility criteria. If the application does not meet all of the criteria for the scheme, the application will be marked ineligible and will not be considered any further.
The assessment process from this point onwards varies depending on the scheme, but all assessments are undertaken with the scientific merit of the application as the primary focus.
Small grant applications (less than £20k) are assessed by the panel members who provide scores and comments on each application. The panel members agree on a list of applications that should be funded and also a reserve list – this may take place at a meeting of the panel or it may be done virtually. Funding decisions are generally announced 3-4 months after the deadline.
Fellowships and large grants applications are initially assessed by panel members who comment on the application, score it on a scale of 1-7, and suggest appropriate external peer reviewers (when relevant). At this point all applications may proceed to external peer review, or alternatively a shortlist will be drawn up and only the top applications will be peer reviewed. The final funding decision is made at a meeting of the panel where comments from nominated referees, panel members and external reviewers are carefully considered. Funding decisions are generally announced 4-5 months after the deadline.
University Research Fellowships and Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowships follow the same process as other Fellowships and large grants but are subject to a second shortlisting stage based on the outcome of the peer review. Applicants that are still in consideration at this stage are then invited to interview. Funding decisions are generally announced 8 months after the deadline.
All applications for fellowships and larger grants are subject to peer review by at least two external reviewers. In order to ensure high quality peer review, reviewers are predominantly identified by panel members and are drawn both from the Royal Society Fellowship and the wider academic community.
The Society uses its panels to judge the relative quality of applicants and make a final decision on funding. Panels are always chaired by a Fellow of the Royal Society and generally have between 10-20 members. Panel members are selected from the wider academic community (and where relevant, industry) and include both Fellows of the Royal Society and non-Fellows.
Each panel considers applications from a wide range of fields (due to the breadth of the Society’s remit) and, to ensure that the panel has the requisite expertise to assess all applications, panel members are selected for their expertise in particular fields. Panel members usually serve for 3 years and a third of the panel retires each year.
Panels for the smaller grants schemes (those worth less than £20k) assess applications virtually and do not hold panel meetings. These panels tend to be much larger - they can have up to 90 members - and also peer review applications.
Interviews form the final stage in the University Research Fellowship, Sir Henry Dale Fellowships, Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowships and Research Professorship application process. The interviews have been introduced to give the appointment panels the opportunity to ensure that they appoint the best candidates to these prestigious long-term fellowships.
The aim of the interview is to solicit information about the applicant’s research and, where relevant, their path to independence.
Applicants are expected to dress appropriately – business wear is suggested.
Each interview is conducted by a sub-group of 8-10 members of the overall assessment panel. The panellists will have a strong background in the applicant’s area of research, but will not necessarily be experts in the applicant’s specialist field.
The interview lasts no longer than 25 minutes and operates as follows:
- The Panel Chair will welcome the applicant and introduce him or herself and the lead interviewer.
- The applicant will then be invited to give a brief overview of their application and area of research and provide an update on any progress since the application was submitted. This should last no longer than a couple of minutes and should not include slides or other media.
- The lead interviewer will then begin the questioning with other panel members asking questions following the lead interviewer
- For early career fellowships, the questions will focus on the following general themes:
- The science in the application
- The choice of host institution/group
- The route to independence
- Response to concerns highlighted by referees
Decisions, notifications and announcements
Applicants are initially notified by email. For some schemes, award letters are also sent to the applicant and host organisation.
The Society announces details of funded grants and fellowships throughout the year and we provide information about our current grant holders on this website.