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Discovery Fellowships

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Call status: Open
Deadline: 11 June 2020, 4pm

Note: The previously published deadline of 12th May 2020 has been extended due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and to allow applicants more time to submit their proposals

Where the call guidance downloads refer to the original 12th May 2020 deadline, this should be read as 11th June 2020.

Summary

The Discovery Fellowship (DF) provides support for researchers wishing to undertake independent research and gain leadership skills. The DF will support the transition of early stage researchers to fully independent research leaders. As such, the DF enables BBSRC to supply the UK with highly skilled, professional research leaders.

Nature of award

Awards are for three years and it is expected that up to 10 fellowships will be awarded, each of a value of up to £300,000 (80% fEC). Please note: BBSRC will provide funds of up to £300k (80% of the full economic cost). The total costs (100% full economic cost) requested may be up to £375,000.

This investment can be used to support personal salary as well as travel and subsistence, training activities, and research consumables, but not equipment. In addition to this investment, it is also expected that a substantial demonstration of support for the fellow be made by the host Research Organisation (see below – value for money). Proposals from candidates seeking flexible working arrangements (for example part-time) are encouraged; see the Fellowships handbook for further information (see downloads section).

Value for money

Applicants and host organisations should note that value for money is an essential criterion against which fellowship proposals will be assessed, alongside excellence and other key criteria. For this competition the reviewers and Research Committee E will be looking for evidence that the host organisation will contribute significantly, with financial and/or in-kind support if an award is made. Proposals that do not provide clear evidence that the research programme is highly competitive in terms of value for money, and in providing additional commitments, are unlikely to be successful.

To reflect this, the proposal now requires a template which must be completed by the host organisation Head of Department. This gives detail of the support the host commits to provide and should be attached as the Head of Department Statement, see the downloads section below. In previous rounds, host organisations have offered significant additional financial support, items of equipment or access to additional staff members or students to our fellows. It is expected at a minimum that hosts should provide support in terms of access to facilities, training courses and support for career development.

In addition, the justification of resources attachment must clearly show why the resources requested are good value for money and why it is in BBSRC's interests to provide investment. Also, letters of support from all parties contributing financial or other support should be uploaded to the proposal under the Letter of Support attachment type giving full and accurate details of the commitments to be made.

Research areas

Proposals can be submitted in any area of science within our remit. We particularly encourage applications that are aligned with our overarching strategic priorities (see related links including our strategic priorities).

If you are unsure whether your project is within BBSRC remit, please contact the Office using the details provided below.

Background

Aimed at early career researchers who want to conduct their own independent research within a host laboratory. Applicants will have demonstrated high potential to become future research leaders.

Eligibility

Applicants should have a PhD or be expecting to have undergone successful PhD viva prior to 30 November 2020. The previous requirement for applicants to have no more than 5 years postdoctoral research experience has been removed.

There is no limit on the number of years of postdoc experience. However, applicants should not hold, or have held, an academic position of lecturer level (or the equivalent in institutions other than universities) or an equivalent competitive fellowship that provides the opportunity to establish an independent research group and therefore independent researcher status. Nor should they have had an offer of such an appointment prior to the commencement of a fellowship, if awarded. This applies to both fixed term and permanent positions.

BBSRC would consider fellowships where the applicant is eligible to supervise PhD students or submit research grants as a PI as equivalent to a lectureship. For example, Wellcome Trust Sir Henry Dale Fellowships, MRC Career Development Awards or NERC Independent Research Fellowships. Note: holders of postdoctoral training fellowships such as the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions can apply. Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkins Fellows who meet the research experience eligibility requirement outlined above may also apply.

Please note that if applicants have previously applied for BBSRC grant funding as a Principal Investigator or Co-Investigator (therefore confirming that they hold a lecturer level or equivalent post) they are not eligible to apply for a fellowship.

Prospective applicants on university “tenure track” fellowships should contact postdoc.fellowships@bbsrc.ukri.org to discuss their eligibility.

Applicants must notify BBSRC Office if they apply for, or are planning to apply for, any other UKRI funding (as either a PI or a Co-I) while their fellowship proposal is under review. If BBSRC discovers that an applicant has applied for alternative funding and has not notified the Office, BBSRC may withdraw the proposal or fellowship funding even if the applicant is successful.

Note: DF applicants are not eligible to apply to any additional 2020 BBSRC fellowship competitions or to the UK Research and Innovation Future Leaders Fellowship call in the same calendar year. Please see the Fellowship Handbook for further details on eligibility criteria.

International applicants

Proposals are welcomed from applicants of all nationalities, subject to the fellowship being hosted by a UK university or BBSRC-sponsored institute.

Information for Non-European Economic Area Applicants - From 20 February 2020 all successful applicants who require a visa to work in the UK will be eligible to be considered under the Global Talent route. This replaces the previous Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) route. In line with the highly prestigious nature of the award, this visa route is designed for international researchers, who bring new ideas and perspectives, enriching the UK’s research and innovation workforce and enables the holder to be both adaptable and flexible during their research in the UK.

The grant of any visa is always subject to the standard Home Office general grounds for refusal of a visa. UK Research and Innovation is able to provide additional guidance regarding the appropriate evidence required to complete the visa application process under the Global Talent visa. Please contact globaltalentvisa@ukri.org for further details

Information for Economic Area Applicants - EU applicants should refer to guidance on the UKRI website regarding the effects of EU exit.

Assessment criteria

In assessing proposals Research Committee E will consider an applicant’s research proposal, personal track record and future plans and the research environment in which the fellowship will be held.

As such, the research proposal should be sound and of a novelty and timeliness that will add to the understanding of the research area, the applicant should have an excellent track record (accounting for their research experience) and have considered their training needs (as detailed in the Career Development Plan), and the research environment should be supportive and the best place for the applicant to carry out their research project and advance their career.

Each proposal will therefore be assessed based on the project, person and research environment. Further details of assessment criteria can be found in in the fellow’s handbook.

Applicants will be given the opportunity to reply to comments provided by reviewers prior to the assessment meeting.

How to apply

  1. Log in to Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system
  2. Select Council: BBSRC
  3. Select Document Type: Fellowship Proposal
  4. Select Scheme: Fellowship
  5. Select Call/Type/Mode: 2020 Discovery Fellowships
  6. Click Create Document

Proposals will require the following mandatory attachments (see also DF Je-S help text in application downloads below):

  • CV. You should complete the standard CV template. (see application downloads below). This now includes a section to list applicant publications. We do not accept standalone CVs or publication lists.
  • Case for support and track record
  • Diagrammatic workplan
  • Data management plan
  • Head of department statement. BBSRC has now introduced the use of a template for the Head of Department statement, see application downloads below. BBSRC will not accept a standalone statement.
  • Statement from host group Principal Investigator (The Principal Investigator of the proposed host laboratory should hold their post for the duration of the fellowship and be of at least lecturer level or equivalent.)
  • Justification of resources
  • In light of the UKRI announcement regarding removal of the Pathways to Impact attachment and corresponding Impact Summary in Je-S, updated guidance is available on how impact activities should now be incorporated into UKRI-BBSRC fellowships proposals. If you have submitted a proposal to the Discovery Fellowships or David Phillips Fellowships funding opportunities before this release, we will be able return your proposal for amendment, thereby ensuring you have the opportunity to re-submit revised documentation that is in-line with guidance.
  • Career development plan (this must be attached to your proposal to allow submission)

Animal usage mandatory requirement:

For proposals with overseas animal use, please refer to our grants guide (see downloads section), paragraph 4.18, for details of the additional information for specific species that must be provided with the proposal.

Fellowships are awarded under full economic costing (fEC). Support for proposed research should be costed in line with the grants guide.

Detailed guidance on how to complete proposal forms and attachments, including the Career Development Plan, can be found in the DF Je-S help text (see application downloads below) and in the Fellowships Handbook (see downloads section). Note: Please do not use the fellowship help text in the Je-S system.

We do not accept late proposals.

Important: applicants should ensure proposals are submitted to their host institution's Je-S submitter/approval pool well in advance (a minimum of 5 working days) of the published deadline. This enables institution checks to be carried out before final submission to BBSRC.

Please also refer to the full UK Research and Innovation terms and conditions, our grants guide and fellowship handbook.

Application downloads

Fellowships: CV template (DOCX 124KB)

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Head of Department statement template (DOCX 31KB)

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Discovery Fellowships: Frequently asked questions (PDF 119KB)

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Discovery Fellowships: Top submission tips for applicants (PDF 123KB)

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Peer review

Application deadline 11 June 2020, 16:00
Reviewing stage June - September 2020
Fellowship shortlisting for interviews October 2020
Fellowship interviews November 2020
Fellowship award notification December 2020 / January 2021

Contact

postdoc.fellowships@bbsrc.ukri.org


Related calls: skills and training people early career fellowships