The application and assessment process

The Royal Society is committed to pursuing excellence in science and to promoting openness and fairness at all stages of the grant-making process. This page explains how to apply for Royal Society research funding, how applications are assessed, and how funding decisions are made and communicated.

This guidance applies to research funding only. There are separate instructions for schools and museums seeking to undertake engagement projects, which are detailed in the relevant scheme pages.  

For any queries about application and assessment for individual schemes, please contact the relevant team for the scheme you are interested in.

How to apply for research funding

  • We offer fellowships and grants across disciplines and career stages - for researchers currently based in the UK and overseas. Look at what’s available. Use the filters to help focus your options and select the scheme that’s right for you. 
  • Open, close and decision dates for all schemes are available to view.  
  • Receive the latest information on Royal Society grants and other opportunities by signing up for our newsletters at the bottom of this page.  

  • Check that the research you are proposing to undertake falls within the natural sciences remit of the Royal Society. Any variation to this will be outlined on specific scheme pages.
  • Shortly before each scheme opens for a round of applications, the scheme pages are updated with any changes to eligibility criteria. It is important to consult the scheme pages to access up-to-date eligibility information for the specific round in which you intend to apply.  
  • If you need to clarify whether you are eligible for a particular scheme, contact the relevant team

  • Check that your current/prospective host institution is eligible for the scheme you have identified by referring to the scheme notes.   
  • 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.  
  • Independent Research Organisations (IROs) and Public Sector Research Establishments (PSREs) in the UK may be eligible for Royal Society funding if they meet our eligibility criteria. Please refer to our position on eligible organisations for more details. 
  • Private or commercial organisations in the UK may be eligible hosts for Industry Fellowships or Short Industry Fellowships only. 

  • Each scheme page contains scheme notes which give detailed information on the award, funding, references and application process. Some scheme pages will also have answers to Frequently Asked Questions.  
  • If you have a question not addressed in the scheme notes or FAQs, you can contact the relevant team

  • You should discuss your intention to apply with your current or prospective host department and research support office as early as you can; they may be able to offer you support with your application. They will also need to be available to give consent before the application deadline. 
  • For fellowship applications, we also recommend having a discussion with the host department about the support you can expect from them if your application is successful.
    • If you are applying for one of our longer-term fellowships, you should discuss and agree with your host department in advance: 
      Space - Any office/laboratory space any equipment or access requirements. 
      Additional resources - Any additional support they may offer (funding, students, technical support etc).  
      Proleptic appointments - the possibility of a proleptic appointment now or during the course of your fellowship. 
      Professional development - Any plans to provide you with a mentor or with other training or professional development. 
      Anything else – If you secure an eight- or ten-year fellowship, you are a valuable commodity to your University.  You should therefore use your application as an opportunity to negotiate with your university
    • Your host organisation is not required to agree to the above, however many of our Research Fellows do secure such support on their long-term fellowships.

  • Many Royal Society programmes support and encourage collaboration, whether this is with researchers at other UK institutions or companies, or between UK and overseas researchers.  
  • Where collaborations are supported, these are usually funded through the UK host organisation; check the scheme notes for the specific details on collaboration eligibility and management.  
  • When working with collaborators, there are a number of important considerations, particularly around the legislative requirements around the UK’s subsidy control regime when working with industry, and the UK National Security and Investment Act when working with researchers and organisations overseas. 
  • ‘Trusted research’ is a research and innovation sector term for protecting the UK’s intellectual property, sensitive research, people and infrastructure from potential theft, manipulation and exploitation, including as a result of interference by hostile actors. 
    • If you are planning to collaborate with an organisation overseas, you and your host organisation will be required to ensure that appropriate frameworks are put in place to meet national security obligations.  
    • UKRI have a comprehensive set of information on Trusted Research and Innovation.  
  • The Subsidy Control Act is relevant when the grant being awarded will lead to an economic advantage being passed onto one or more of the organisations involved, meaning the funding provided may result in being classed as a subsidy. For Royal Society funding, this may be the case in any grant but most commonly when working in collaboration with industry.   
  • We recommend you have early discussions with your research office if you are considering starting a collaboration with a company or an overseas organisation so they can help you navigate the complexities of collaboration. 

Refer to our policy pages for important information to consider before making your application. This includes guidance on the costing policy used for some of our schemes and our expected standards for academic conduct. You will be required to comply with the policies and procedures, as well as the conditions of award, if you are successful.

  • For all single-stage applications and for stage 2 of two-stage applications; the Research Office (or equivalent) must approve your application and carry out financial checks, and the Head of Department or equivalent (if applicable) must also give their consent for you to hold your award within their department.  
  • Some schemes will require a statement of support from the Head of Department (or equivalent) and/or nominated referee.  
  • It is your responsibility to ensure that all third-party statements of consent and support are submitted before the application deadline.

How your application is assessed

The Royal Society Grants Team will initially check all applications against the published eligibility criteria before they are submitted for panel assessment. If your application is found to be incomplete or ineligible, it will be closed, and you will be notified. 

  • The Royal Society uses Selection Committees (also known as Panels) to assess applications and to make recommendations on funding.  
  • For some schemes, the assessment process may include an independent peer review and/or interview stage. The assessment stages will be listed in the individual scheme notes. 
  • Panels are chaired by a Fellow of the Royal Society and membership generally comprises a pool of scientists with expertise and experience appropriate to each scheme.  
  • Each application is assessed by at least two Panel Members with the most relevant scientific expertise.  
  • Following Panel assessments, a shortlist is drawn up with oversight from the Panel Chair. Depending on the scheme, shortlisted applications can either be recommended for funding (usually after discussion at a Panel meeting) or sent out for independent peer review. For scheme-specific information about the assessment stages, please check the scheme notes.  
  • Membership of Panels is on a fixed-term basis and appointments are approved by the Grants Committee, which also approves the recommendations for funding made by each Panel.  
  • For further information on the selection Panels, please see our Standing Committees page. 

  • Applications are primarily assessed based on scientific merit of the individual(s) and the research proposed . Note that criteria for success is specific to each scheme and will be detailed in the individual scheme notes. 
  • We regularly review and revise policies and processes to embed equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) principles in all aspects of the grant making process and ensure all applicants have an equitable chance to succeed as per assessment criteria. 

  • If the scheme you apply to has an independent peer review stage, this will be detailed in the scheme notes.  
  • Established researchers with expertise directly relevant to the field of your application are identified and/or agreed by the Panel members. 
  • These independent peer reviewers have the necessary technical knowledge to assess the feasibility, novelty, and significance of the proposed work. They are asked to score and give constructive feedback on the application based on the published assessment criteria. 
  • Independent peer reviewers are instructed to treat applications with strictest confidence. 

  • If the scheme you apply to has an interview stage, this will be detailed in the scheme notes. Candidates who are invited to interview will be provided with guidance on the purpose and format of the interview.  
  • Interviews usually take place at the Royal Society but may be held online for some schemes or through a hybrid format to meet the needs of the candidate’s personal circumstances. You will be interviewed by members of the Panel. 
  • You may be asked before the interview to prepare a short presentation and will be briefed on the subject and purpose of the presentation. 
  • After each interview, the quality of the candidate’s answers will be assessed by the Panel and used to inform their funding recommendations.

  • Applications reaching the final stage of a scheme’s selection process will be scored by the Panel and ranked using all available information (including independent peer review and interview score, if applicable).  
  • If more applications reach the required standard for funding than we have places available, funding will be awarded in rank order from highest to lowest until all the places are allocated. One or more applications from the remaining ranked list may be placed on a reserve list. 
  • The selection panel will make their final recommendations for funding which are approved by the Grants Committee before decisions are announced.   
  • The date when decisions are announced is scheme-specific and detailed in the individual scheme notes.  
  • You will be notified by email of any funding decision. Successful applicants will receive an award letter, including the details of the offer. 
  • Whenever possible, feedback is given to unsuccessful applicants. For most schemes, feedback from independent reviewers can be provided on request. 
  • Personalised feedback is not always possible, for example, in schemes with very high numbers of applications.