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Making a grant application

Check you are eligible

It is important that you thoroughly read the scheme notes for the specific round of the scheme you are applying for before starting an application. These scheme notes can be found at the top of each scheme page and will be up to date for the specific round open at the time. Scheme notes contain all eligibility information.

If you need to clarify whether you are eligible for a particular scheme, contact grants@royalsociety.org.

Check your host organisation is eligible

I want to hold my award at a Higher Education Institute or Research Council Institute in the UK

All UK Higher Education Institutions that receive grant funding from one of the UK higher education funding bodies are eligible to receive funds from the Royal Society for research and associated activities, including Research Council Institutes.

I want to hold my award at an Independent Research Organisation in the UK

Independent Research Organisations (IROs) may be eligible for Royal Society funding if they have the capacity to carry out research that extends and enhances the national research base. To view current eligible IROs, visit our list of eligible organisations.

I want to hold my award at an Independent Research Organisation in the UK which is currently not recognised by the Royal Society

Any UK based organisation wishing to apply for IRO status should contact the Royal Society's grants team at grants@royalsociety.org in the first instance for further instruction. When contacting the Royal Society please include ‘Application for IRO status’ in the subject heading, and provide details of the full name and postal address of your organisation. To check whether your organisation is eligible, read our guidelines on eligible IROs.

I want to hold my award at a private or commercial organisation in the UK

Applications can only be accepted from private or commercial organisations for the Industry Fellowship or Short Industry Fellowship.

I want to hold my award at an organisation outside of the UK

A number of the Royal Society’s programmes support collaboration between UK and overseas researchers. However, these collaborations are funded through the UK organisation. 

Exceptions do exist through a number of programmes where the overseas organisation will receive funding, which are listed below:

  • Organisations in sub-Saharan Africa wishing to apply for FLAIR Fellowships, in partnership with the African Academy of Sciences
  • Organisations in the Republic of Ireland wishing to apply for University Research Fellowships, in partnership with Science Foundation Ireland

Submitting your application

Your application for funding must be submitted through the Society's grants management tool, Flexi-Grant®. The scheme notes contain guidance on how to complete your application and how to use Flexi-Grant®. If you experience any technical difficulties, contact grants@royalsociety.org.

If you are applying for the Sir Henry Dale Fellowship, you should apply via the Wellcome Trust Grant Tracker.

Application deadline dates and times are listed on each scheme’s page. Applications received after the deadline will not be considered.

Request approval from your host organisation

For any application you submit to the Society, your Research Office, or equivalent, has to approve your application and carry out financial checks. Your Head of Department, or equivalent, must also give their consent for you to hold your award in their department. 

If you are submitting an application for a Research Fellowship, you will also need a statement of support from your Head of Department, or equivalent, or nominated referee. You must make sure your nominated referee completes their statement by the application deadline.

How the assessment process works

Your application will be checked by the Society to ensure it meets the scheme’s eligibility criteria. If your application is found to be ineligible, it will be closed and you will be notified.

The Society uses panels to review applications and to make final decisions on funding. These panels are chaired by a Fellow of the Royal Society and generally consist of between 10 and 20 members. For smaller grants of less than £20,000, panels tend to be much larger. Panels consist of Fellows of the Royal Society, other esteemed researchers from the wider academic community, and, for industry schemes, leading industrial researchers. For all schemes, apart from the University Research Fellowship, the panel covers disciplines from across the remit of the Royal Society.

For the University Research Fellowship, there are four panels:

  • Ai - Astronomy; cosmology; physics; environmental physical sciences and geosciences
  • Aii - Chemistry and engineering
  • Aiii - Pure and applied mathematics; computer science; statistics; communications and computer engineering; mathematical aspects of astronomy, physics, cosmology, gravitation and theoretical physics
  • B - Molecular and cellular biology; zoology; plant sciences and physiology

I am applying for a small grant of less than £20,000

Your application will be reviewed by a panel who will provide scores and comments. They will agree on a list of applications that should be funded and will also draw up a reserve list. This process will either happen at a meeting of the panel or it may be done virtually. You will hear about the funding decision approximately three to four months after the deadline.

I am applying for a Research Fellowship (excluding a University Research Fellowship, Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship, Sir Henry Dale Fellowship or Research Professorship) or other large grant

If you apply for any large grant or Research Fellowship, your application will be reviewed by a panel who will provide scores, comments and suggestions of appropriate external peer reviewers. Your application will then be reviewed by peer reviewers who are drawn both from the Royal Society Fellowship and the wider academic community. The panel will then draw together comments from nominated referees, panel members and external reviewers to make a funding decision. You will hear about the funding decision approximately four to five months after the deadline.

I am applying for a University Research Fellowship, Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship, Sir Henry Dale Fellowship or Research Professorship

The assessment process for these fellowships follows the same stages as for all large grants until the peer review stage. After peer review, the panel draws up a second shortlist to invite to an interview. You will hear about the funding decision approximately eight months after the deadline.

How the interview process works

If you apply for a University Research Fellowship, Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship, Sir Henry Dale Fellowship or Research Professorship and you pass the second shortlisting stage, you will be invited to an interview. If you apply for a Sir Henry Dale Fellowship, your interview will either be hosted at the Royal Society or the Wellcome Trust. For the other Research Fellowships your interview will be hosted at the Royal Society.

The aim of the interview is for you to demonstrate the importance and scientific validity of your work, and for the early career fellowships, for you to also describe how the award will lead to your scientific independence.

In general, your interview will last approximately 25 minutes and will follow the format:

 

The Panel Chair will welcome you and introduce themselves and the lead interviewer.

  • You will then provide a short overview of your application, area of research and updates on any progress made since you submitted your application. You will not be able to use slides or props.
  • The lead interviewer will begin questions with other panel members contributing questions where applicable. For early career fellowships, the questions will focus on the following themes:
    • The science of your application
    • Your choice of host institution
    • How the fellowship will establish a route to independence
    • Any concerns highlighted by referees

How decisions are announced

The timelines for when decisions are announced are scheme specific and you can find these on the scheme webpage.

You will be initially notified by email of any funding decision, and if you apply for certain schemes you will also be sent an award letter.

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