Before applying for a scheme, please check that you are eligible to receive funding by reading the scheme notes, which can be downloaded from the relevant scheme page.
Most proposals should be submitted through the e-GAP website. If you have difficulties using the e-GAP website, please contact us.
All applications should be completed and submitted by the deadline displayed on the website and in the scheme notes. 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 Nominated Referee’s statement. Applicants are responsible for ensuring that their Nominated Referee completes their statement by the deadline, which is usually one week after the submission deadline.
Eligible organisations are UK universities and not-for-profit research organisations including Research Council funded institutes. Application cannot be accepted from private or commercial organisations.
Independent Research Organisations (IROs) may be eligible if they possess an existing in-house capacity to carry out research that materially extends and enhances the UK research base and are able to demonstrate an independent capability to undertake and lead research programmes.
The organisations must also satisfy all the following conditions:
- Organisations which are, or which are constituent parts of, a charity registered with the Charities Commission; or associations which are eligible for exemption from Corporation Tax under schedule 508 of the Income and Corporation Taxes 1988; or organisations which are wholly owned subsidiaries of an association approved under section 508 of the Income and Corporations Taxes Act whose articles of association require that all profits are returned (gift-aided) to the section 508 association.
- The organisation must be a legal entity which is not a) owned; b) established; or c) primarily (ie 50% or more) funded for research purposesby any single part (or related parts) of the public sector (other than by a Research Council, HEI, National museum/archive/botanical garden/observatory) or by a business.
- The organisation must possess an existing in-house capacity to carry out research, in the field or discipline in which it wishes to be funded, that materially extends and enhances the UK research base; and be able to demonstrate an independent capability to undertake and lead research programmes, as demonstrated by:
- Sufficient high-quality current research capacity. This requires:
- a minimum of ten researchers with a significant number of publications in top quality journals and/or monographs with key academic publishers, and/or other outputs that have been subject to the highest standards of peer review. Journal quality should take account of benchmark measures appropriate to the discipline.
- a track record of staff, while employed at the organisation, leading or co-leading innovative research projects in the previous five years, including directing other postdoctoral researchers and/or research students. This should include evidence of the size and complexity of the projects and details of how they were managed and coordinated.
- Sufficient financial support for research at the organisational level to ensure the availability of essential infrastructure and the long-term sustainability of research activity, as evidenced by research income from independent sources averaging at least £0.5M pa over the previous three years.
- Evidence of the organisation having a strong track record of maximising the wider impact and value of its research to the benefit of the UK economy and society.
List of Independent Research Organisations.
Initially all applications are checked by the Grants Office to ensure that they meet the scheme’s eligibility criteria (these are listed in the ‘scheme notes’ for each scheme). 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 grants (less than £15k): Applications 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: Applications follow the same process as other Fellowships and large grants (see above) 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 will consider 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 £15k) 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 application process. No other schemes include interviews as part of this 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 not to ‘trip up’ the applicant but instead to solicit information about their research and path to independence.
Interviews for the University Research Fellowship scheme take place between March and April and they are held at the Royal Society in London. 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 himself 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
- 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
The final decisions are made at the end of April .