02 How to write a good AHRC grant application (Reserach Grants and Fellowships)Presentation Transcript
How to write a goodAHRC grant application(Research Grants & Fellowships)Arts and HumanitiesResearch Council
The content and the quality of the grant application submittedto the AHRC determines whether or not the applicant issuccessful in receiving the funding for which they haveapplied.To make sure that an application has the best possiblechance of being funded, it is important that applicants,research officers and other staff, who assist them in preparingand submitting an application, have a thorough understandingof the application process and of what makes a goodapplication.
The following slides focus on ResearchGrants and Fellowships with the notesproviding informal guidance for applicantsand research officers.The AHRC advice applicants to read theAHRC Funding Guide and all relevantscheme guidance.Other schemes may vary at any stage soplease check the relevant guidance.
Deadlines:Research Grants (RGs) and Fellowship (Fels) schemes operate withoutformal deadlines and applicants can submit proposals at any time of theyear.Assessment Process:Unless otherwise stated, the assessment process for a proposal will takeapproximately 30 weeks. The start date entered on the proposal shouldbe no earlier than 9 months after submission and should be no later than18 months after submission.On occasions, where there is a delay in obtaining the peer reviews for aproposal, the assessment process may take longer. In suchcircumstances the AHRC will contact applicants regarding any delay.
Terms and conditions:Anyone involved in the preparation and submission of a proposal shouldfamiliarise themselves with the terms and conditions for fEC grants andthe AHRC’s regulations. Details of all the requirements and the termsand conditions for research proposals can be found in the AHRC’sResearch Funding Guide.Submission:Applicants should complete the proposal form on the Joint ElectronicSubmission System (Je-S). AHRC uses the Standard Grant Proposalforms on Je-S.When the proposal is completed it is initially submitted to the hostorganisation’s administration to undertake quality control includingchecking the completeness, validity and accuracy of the costs sought.If the proposal is being submitted against a Call for Proposals thensufficient time should be allowed for the organisation to process theproposal and submit it to the Council before the specified time andclosing date.
To consider - 1Check the Research Funding Guide and scheme guidance to ensure:• the proposal will be eligible• the proposal fits the scheme• you know what the assessment criteria are (read the peerreview section so that you know what reviewers are beingasked to consider)•funder - which funder and which scheme?•time – needed: (1) to prepare, to liaise with collaborators and tocomplete the application including any internal institutional approvalprocesses and submission to Council, (2) to ensure proposed start datesfactor in internal approval processes and the recruitment of PDRAs orProject Students.•Applicants should carefully consider the grant processing times inrelation to their start date to ensure that they will have enough time torecruit staff and students to the grant. AHRC only allows slippage to startdates in exceptional circumstances.
To consider – 2•feedback - discuss your proposal with colleagues, peers and theResearch Office and get their feedback. If applicable, get partners onboard and allow time for them to contribute to the proposaldevelopment•costings – consult the Research Office on realistic costings•content – research question, methodology and context•impact and dissemination – read the guidance, consider theoptions and consult•presentation – making best use of space in the form. Read the Je-S‘Help Text’ to check exactly what is needed in each scheme•page limits – proposals exceeding page limits will be returned•check and double check – that all information is included and isaccurate.
Subject area and keywords• For all schemes applicants are asked to classify a proposal in termsof subject area and keywords. This information will be used to assistin selecting Peer Review College reviewers and, for ResearchGrants proposals, determine the panel to which an application will besubmitted.• In framing a proposal, an applicant should ensure that itcomprehensible to a wide academic audience, as panellists may nothave specific expertise in the particular subject area of the proposal• Specialist advice is made available to the peer review panel via thereviews provided by Peer Review College members• The AHRC is committed to the principle that the work it funds shouldbe disseminated to as wide an audience as possible, both within theUK and internationally. The Summary section on the proposal formasks applicants to describe the proposed research in simple terms ina way that could be publicised to a general audience and may bepublished on the AHRC’s website if the application is successful.
Academic beneficiaries• The Academic Beneficiaries section asks applicants to summarisehow their research will benefit other researchers in the field and –where relevant – academic beneficiaries in other disciplines.• Academic communication and dissemination plans should beelaborated further in the Case for Support.
Impact summary• The Impact Summary asks applicants to address two questions:– who will benefit from the research?– how will they benefit from the research?• Applicants are asked to consider users and beneficiaries of theresearch who are outside the academic research community (theycan be individuals, specific organisations or groups/sectors).• Please note that the Impact Summary may be published todemonstrate potential impact of Research Council funded researchand so should not include any confidential information.Research Officers are advised also to refer to Section 5: ‘Impact’ in theResource Pack.
Pathways to impact - 1The Pathways to Impact (Impact Plan) is primarily for detailing theactivities which will help develop potential economic and societal impacts.It should continue on from the two questions, addressed within the ImpactSummary, by addressing the following question:•What will be done to ensure that potential beneficiaries have theopportunity to engage with this research?The Pathways to Impact attachment is the applicant’s opportunity todescribe in more detail how the potential impacts of the research beyondacademia, as outlined in the Impact Summary, will be realised:•how will the proposed research be managed to engage any users andbeneficiaries that have been identified, or are identified, as the researchprogresses?•How will the applicant tailor and target their impact activities to ensurethat these are relevant to the specific user and beneficiary groups?•How will the applicant tailor and target their impact activities to ensurethey are appropriate for supporting the potential research impactsoutlined?Innovative and creative approaches are strongly encouraged.
Pathways to impact - 2• Applicants should consider (and address if appropriate) methodsfor communications and engagement, collaboration andexploitation.• They should also detail who will be undertaking any impactactivities and include any resource implications in the financialsummary and in the separate Justification of Resourcesattachment.The attachment should be:• up to 2 sides of A4• in Arial font no smaller than size 11.
AttachmentsAttachment Research Grants Research Fellowships Research Fellowshipsearly careerCase for support X X XCurriculum Vitae X X XPublication lists X X XVisual evidence (optional) X X XTechnical Plan (ifapplicable)X X XJustification of resources X X XPathways to impact X X XWork plan X XHead of DepartmentStatementX XMentor Statement X
Curriculum Vitae• summary curriculum vitae should be attached as separatedocuments for each Principal Investigator and any Co-Investigators,named postdoctoral researchers or named project students.• each CV: no more than two sides of A4 paper• in an Arial font no smaller than size 11• CVs should include basic information about education, employmenthistory, and academic responsibilities.Applicants should bear in mind that the CV will help peer reviewers toassess whether they are well placed to undertake the proposalproject.
Publication Lists• summary lists of publications/research outputs should be attached asseparate documents for each Principal Investigator and any Co-Investigators or named postdoctoral researchers.• these should cover major publications/outputs in the last five years• no more than one side of A4 paper• in an Arial font no smaller than size 11• brief articles, conference papers, etc. should not be included.• applicants should asterisk those publications/research outputs ofparticular relevance to their current research proposal.
Visual evidence• Applications may include no more than two sides of A4 non-textual,visual evidence in support of the proposal, to illustrate the proposedaims and objectives and/or research methods.• It is not permitted to include this material to supplement or replacethe applicant’s CV or publications list or to illustrate previous work inany way nor should it be used to circumvent the page limit for thecase for support.• Web links are not checked and therefore should not be included.
Technical Plan - 1Please read the Research Funding Guide for full guidance on theTechnical Plan. Applicants should consider carefully its definitionswithin the context of their research proposal.A Technical Plan should be provided for all applications wheredigital outputs or digital technologies are an essential part to theplanned research outcomes.A digital output or digital technology is defined as an activity whichinvolves the creation, gathering, collecting and/or processing of digitalinformation. In this context, digital technologies do not includeconventional software such as word processing packages and ICTactivities such as email.You do not need to complete a Technical Plan if the only proposeddigital output or technology consists of web-pages containinginformation about the project (as opposed to data produced by theproject).
Technical Plan - 2• The purpose is to demonstrate to the AHRC that technical provisionswithin a research proposal have been adequately addressed in termsof:– delivering the planned digital output or the digital technology from apractical and methodological perspective;– doing so in a way which satisfies the AHRCs requirements forpreservation and sustainability. The AHRC has a responsibility toensure that the research which it funds is achievable and high-quality, and that the outputs of the research will whereverappropriate be accessible to the community over the longer term.• The level of detail provided should be proportionate to the envisagedvalue and importance of the proposed digital output or technology andto the cost of developing it.
Technical reviewersTechnical reviewers are selected from the Peer Review College toprovide grades and comments on the technical aspects of a proposalsubmitted in the Technical Plan and will be asked to provide anassessment covering the following:•project management•data development methods•infrastructural support•data preservation and sustainability•access•copyright and intellectual property rights (IPR)They will provide an overall assessment (grade and overall conclusionson the proposal, including strengths and weaknesses).The AHRC also asks technical reviewers to provide a brief summary ofthe overall technical feasibility and merit of the proposal as well as anyreservations and/or recommendations which are relevant.
Justification for resourcesPeer reviewers are asked to consider ‘Value for Money’, so please consider thiswhen justifying your resources.Applicants should:•explain why the indicated resources are needed, taking account of the nature andcomplexity of the research proposed. It is not sufficient merely to list what is required•have regard for the breakdown of resources into the summary fund headingsDirectly Incurred, Directly Allocated and (where appropriate) Exceptions•in some cases, such as investigator time, use of internal facilities and shared staffcosts (all likely to be Directly Allocated costs), the basis of the costing need not bejustified, but the need for the resources does need justification•try to be explicit about the need for the level of investigator time sought, bearing inmind the complexity of the research, the need to manage the project and supervisestaff and any wider considerations such as collaboration, research communicationor facilities usage.There is no need to justify estates and indirects.Any proposals requesting items that would ordinarily be found in a department, forexample non-specialist computers, should include justification both for why they arerequired for the project and why they cannot be provided from the ResearchOrganisations own resources (including funding from indirect costs from grants).
Case for Support - 1A proposal must be accompanied by a Case for Support attachment.It is extremely important that this includes the information described inthe Research Funding Guide.The Case for Support headings have been developed based onfeedback from peer reviewers and applicants should use theseheadings when writing their Case for Support.•Proposals containing attachments exceeding the stated limits, or notadhering to the specified format, will not be considered.•If an applicant choose to include footnotes or a bibliography(applicants are not required to do so) these must be included within thepage limit.•The Case for Support should be in Arial font no smaller than size 11.•Scheme-specific guidance on what should be included in the Case forSupport is contained in Section One of the Funding Guide.
Case for Support - 2Page limits for each scheme are:•grants (standard and early career route): 7 pages•fellowships (standard and early career route): 7 pagesThe statement of eligibility for the early career route does not count aspart of the page limit and should be written on 1 separate page.While applicants should aim to make the Case for Support as concise,specific and clear as possible, the work to be undertaken shouldnonetheless be fully explained, as failure to provide adequate detail onany aspects may seriously prejudice the application.All Cases for Support need to include a heading of Technical Summary.
Case for Support - 3All Cases for Support need to include a heading of Technical Summary.If digital outputs or digital technologies are essential to the plannedresearch outcomes of your proposal, then you should:-•a) use this section to provide a brief description of the project’sproposed digital outputs and/or digital technologies.AND•b) complete a Technical Plan and add this as an attachment to yourproposalIf your application does involve digital outputs or digital technologies, butyou believe that the inclusion of a Technical Plan is not warranted, youshould use this section to explain and justify this, for instance on thegrounds that the digital output or technologies are not essential to theplanned research outcomes.
Case for Support - 4Applicants should describe their proposed project/programme ofresearch using the required headings for their scheme (see tablebelow).Required case forsupport headingsFellowships Fellowships earlycareerResearch GrantsStandardResearch Grantsearly careerHighlight notice (ifapplicable)x x x xResearch questionsor problemsx x x xResearch context x x x xResearch methods x x x xLeadershipdevelopment plansx xTechnical Summary x x x xProject management x x x xDissemination x x x xStatement ofeligibilityx xFor more information,go to Research FundingGuide:Section 1.3 Section 1.4 Section 1.1 Section 1.2
Completing the proposal• All proposals must be completed and submitted via Je-S.• To submit proposals using Je-S, both individual applicants and thesubmitting Research Organisation (the one that will hold the award)must be registered on the system.• Applicants should ensure that their correct contact details are in their Je-S record, as the AHRC uses this to notify applicants of the outcome oftheir applications.• Detailed Helptext within the Je-S system provides information on how tocomplete each section of the proposal form.• Dedicated Je-S help desk available between 9am and 5pm, Monday toFriday, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone: 01793 444164.
Creating a proposal - 1• to prepare a proposal form in Je-S, the applicant should log intotheir account and choose ‘New Document’, then select AHRC asthe Council, choose their Document Type and Scheme to whichthey are applying and ‘Create Document’.• Je-S will then create a proposal form, displaying section headingsappropriate to the Scheme the applicant has chosen.• using the ‘Help’ link at the top of each page will provide guidancerelevant to that section of the Je-S form.• once complete, applicants should upload a Case for Support andother supporting information as attachments, and submit theirproposal.
Creating a proposal - 2• Je-S will forward the applicant’s proposal to their ResearchOrganisation, who in turn will submit the proposal to AHRC.• Ensure sufficient time is allowed prior to AHRC deadlines for theResearch Organisation to be able to do this (note that someResearch Organisations will have their own internal deadlines).• The published scheme deadline is for submission of the completedapplication to the AHRC by the Research Organisation.• Late proposals will not be accepted.• Proposals containing attachments exceeding the stated limits, or notadhering to the specified format, will not be considered.
ASSESSMENT CRITERIAANDPEER REVIEWUnless otherwise stated in the scheme specific guidance, thefollowing criteria will be taken into account by the peerreviewers in assessing a proposal.
The AHRC is fundamentally committed to competitive bidding andassessment by process of peer review, and for this reason it brings itspeer reviewers together as part of its Peer Review College.College members are a key part of the system, which is designed toensure that peer review is conducted with the utmost attention tofairness and transparency, and to the requirements of academicrigour.College members have a duty of confidence and, on joining theCollege, agree to treat all applications made to the AHRCconfidentially.
Quality and importance• the extent to which the proposal meets the specific aims of thescheme to which the applicant is applying• the significance and importance of the project, and of thecontribution it will make, if successful, to enhancing or developingcreativity, insights, knowledge or understanding of the area to bestudied in a national or international context• the extent to which the research questions, issues or problems thatwill be addressed in the course of the research are defined and theirimportance and appropriateness specified• the appropriateness of the research context and specification of whyit is important that these particular questions, issues or problems areaddressed. The extent to which other current research conducted inthis area has been considered, and the range of audiences thatmight be targeted• the appropriateness, effectiveness and feasibility of the proposedresearch methods and/or approach.
People• the quality and importance of the applicant’s work to date• the applicant’s ability to monitor the project and bring it to completionas demonstrated in the application• the appropriateness of the level and balance (in terms of time andseniority) of the proposed staffing on the project, and the extent towhich opportunities will be made available for less experiencedresearchers• whether the other named participants have the appropriateexperience and expertise to deliver the project.
Management of the project• whether the lines of responsibility and accountability are clearlyarticulated.• whether a realistic timetable, incorporating milestones, is presentedwhich will achieve the project’s aims and objectives within theproposed timescale• the extent to which the applicant has understood the amount of workto be involved, allocated sufficient time and resources to achievingeach aspect.
Value for money• the extent to which the likely outcome of the research will representvalue for money, and in particular the relationship between thefunds that are sought and the significance and quality of theprojected outcomes of the research• whether the resources requested are reasonable in the context ofthe proposed research.
Outputs, dissemination and impact - 1• the appropriateness and effectiveness of the proposed disseminationmethods• the extent to which the research process is documented or recordedin a way to enable dissemination of research outcomes to the widestpossible audience• the likelihood that the outputs and outcomes of the project will behighly valued and widely exploited, both in the research communityand in wider contexts where they can make a difference• whether the plans to increase impact are appropriate and justified,given the nature of the proposed research• whether sufficient attention has been given to who the beneficiariesof the research might be and appropriate ways to engage with themthroughout the project.
Outputs, dissemination and impact - 2• Applicants are encouraged to disseminate their research and itsoutcomes to as wide an audience as possible, and whereappropriate to engage in communication, dissemination andexploitation activities throughout the period of the project.• Applicants should therefore specify the audiences to whom theirresearch could be of interest, and how they propose to engage withthose audiences about their research.
The Peer Review College• All proposals will be considered where possible, by a minimum ofthree members of the AHRC’s Peer Review College. A complete listof Peer Review College members is available on the AHRC website.• The Peer Review College members will provide the AHRC withcomments and graded reviews.• The AHRC reserves the right to seek reviews from specialists whoare not members of the Peer Review College if suitable Collegemembers are not available, or where such peer review input isrequired as part of agreements with other funding bodies.• Reviews may be sought from specialists within the UK or abroad.• All peer reviews are subject to a quality check. Reviews deemed bythe AHRC to be of insufficient quality will either be sent back to thereviewer for revision, or rejected from the assessment process.
Peer Reviewer grading scaleThe grading scale used by peer reviewers can be found in theResearch Funding Guide , section 5.8. Grades are from 6 (outstanding)to 1 (unsatisfactory).Sifting of proposalsProposals will be sifted before going to moderating panel based on thefollowing principles:•The AHRC will reject a proposal upon submission where the proposaldoes not meet the published eligibility criteria; either relating todocumentation requirements or where it does not meet the aims orcriteria of the scheme to which it has been submitted.(See also slides on ‘Sifting Process’)•The AHRC will sift proposals against quality criteria, solely on thebasis of information supplied by an AHRC peer review process.
The sifting process - 1The sifting process occurs in two stages:Sift stage 1:AHRC officers will check that:•All applicants and named staff are eligible under the schemerequirements•The proposal meets the aims and criteria of the scheme to which it hasbeen submitted.•All application documents are eligible under the scheme requirements.Proposals which do not meet these criteria will be rejected and returnedto the applicant with feedback on why it could not proceed.
The sifting process - 2Sift stage 2:A sifting decision is made based on the overall confidence levels andgrades given by the peer review process.A proposal is rejected if it receives two or more reviews that givethe proposal an unfundable grade.A grade is considered ‘unfundable’ where it is described as either NotRecommended for Funding or Not Suitable for Funding (grades1, 2 or 3).Applicants of rejected proposals will receive the reviewers’ commentsfor information.
Technical review• Where the proposal requires completion of the Technical Planattachment (see the Research Funding Guide, Section Four:Application Guidance) then the proposal will be forwarded to aTechnical Reviewer from the Peer Review College to assess thetechnical feasibility of the proposal.• This technical review will be included in the PI Response process.• Technical Reviews will also be forwarded to the peer review panels,or other decision making body as appropriate, to assist them inmaking their grading decisions.• Please note that Technical Reviews will not be taken into accountwhen assessing eligibility, or during the sifting of proposals.
Principal Investigator response - 1Applications which receive two or more grades of 4, 5 or 6 will proceedto the next stage of PI –response.The applicant will be given the right of reply to the reviews received.•The PI response allows applicants to correct any factual errors orconceptual misunderstandings, or to respond to any queries highlightedin the comments from the peer reviewers. It is not intended to be anopportunity to change or re-constitute a proposal in the light of thereviewers comments.•Applicants are not obliged to submit a response, but it isrecommended that they do so as responses are forwarded to the peerreview panel(s), and are taken into account in the grading andprioritisation of proposals.
Principal Investigator response - 2• The AHRC is not able to provide applicants with exact dates of whenthey will be contacted for the PI response. Once the reviews havebeen obtained, applicants will be sent an e-mail which details thepage limit and deadline that apply to their PI response. These varyaccording to the scheme and the number of reviews, which havebeen received, so it is vital to read the email carefully.• Applicants may wish to refer to the guidance note on PI Response.• If a PI response is not received within the period stated, then anapplication will proceed to panel without it.
Moderation panelsModeration panels assess Research Grant and Fellowships proposals.Members do not re-assess proposals but moderate the reviews whichhave been received, along with the PI Response to those reviews, anduse this as the basis for ranking.In order to do this, members need to use academic judgment based onthe reviews and PI Response.Based on the recommendations of the panel, the AHRC makes the finalfunding decision.
Peer review panelsNon-standing Peer Review Panels are convened on an ad hoc basis fromthe Peer Review College membership.•In selecting panel members the AHRC aims to achieve a balance interms of gender, ethnicity, institution and regional distribution, and toachieve a range of expertise which broadly reflects that of the spread ofapplicantions.•The proposal, peer reviews, technical review (where applicable) and thePI’s response to these reviews will be considered individually bymembers of the peer review panel and then discussed at the panelmeeting.•The peer review panel will determine a final grade for each applicationand will rank proposals in order of priority for funding. The panel willconsider only the expert peer reviews, technical review (where applicable)and the PI’s response to these reviews to reach its decisions. Finalfunding decisions will rest with the AHRC.•Peer review panel members are not permitted to discuss with applicantsthe content of any proposals they have reviewed, either during or after theassessment process.
Notification of the outcome• The AHRC is not able to notify applicants of the outcome of theirproposal by telephone.• All outcome notifications are sent electronically to the emailaddress shown on the applicant’s Je-S record.• If an applicant is unsuccessful, they will receive an email advisingthat they have not been offered an award, and indicating the finaloutcome their proposal received.• The AHRC is unable to provide information on why their proposalwas unsuccessful.Applicants are advised that under no circumstances should theycontact peer review panel members to discuss individualproposals, meeting details or outcomes.
Resubmission policy• In line with the AHRC’s approach to demand management,unsuccessful applicants are not permitted to resubmit the same, orsubstantively similar, proposal to the same scheme.• In very particular circumstances the AHRC may, exceptionally,decide to invite an applicant to resubmit the proposal. This willhappen only where the panel identifies an application of exceptionalpotential and can identify specific changes to the application thatcould significantly enhance its competitiveness.• Invited resubmissions will be assessed in the usual way incompetition with all other proposals.
Monitoring• The AHRC no longer requires award holders to complete a FinalReport at the end of their award.• Award holders are required to submit outputs, outcomes and impactslinked to their grants through the Research Outcomes System (ROS).• Information can be added to ROS at any point once the grant hasbeen made and beyond its conclusion. This allows for a deeper andlonger-term record of the results of AHRC funding. ROS is availableat www.rcuk.ac.uk/researchoutcomes and log-in in through awardholders’ Je-S account details.• More details on ROS will be sent to award holders once their grant isin place.• There will also be annual reminders for award holders to update thesystem with new information.