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ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowship – How to Apply

How to apply

All applicants must submit proposals on the provided submission form along with required attachments by 16.00 on 23 March 2018 to

The South Coast DTP will peer review the proposals and make funding decisions on behalf of ESRC.  Successful applicants will be required to submit their proposal through the Research Council’s Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system.

The Postdoctoral Fellowship application form can be downloaded at the following link:

SCDTP – PostDocFellowship application form

Assessment criteria

Proposals will be assessed on the following criteria:

1. Quality of work programme
Is the workload clearly defined and specified objectives achievable and realistic within the time allocated?
Are the proposed activities clearly justified in terms of supporting their longer term career aspirations?

2. Value for money
Are costs clearly and adequately justified?

3. Impact and outputs
Is the planned output during the fellowship appropriate and attainable? Are there adequate plans to share the results and engage with academic and non-academic audiences?

4. Consideration of ethical issues
Does the proposal show sufficient awareness of any ethical issues that may be raised by the proposed fellowship, and how might these be addressed?

Mandatory attachments

In addition to an application pro forma, the following seven attachments are mandatory and must be included with your proposal in a minimum of font size 11:

1. Case for support (maximum six sides of A4)
This should be structured to include the following headings:

• Abstract/ summary of progress
Applicants should provide either a summary or abstract of their in-progress or completed thesis. This should be no more than one page and should include its main claims to originality and excellence, methodology used and significant findings.

• Impacts of your research
This section should describe the impacts your research has had or that you expect it to have. Impacts include the impact of completed research and any planned further limited research, the dissemination of its results and the building up of a publication track record, the development of the research field and the behaviour or understanding of users and policy-makers. We are also interested in the impact the applicant’s training to date has had on their skills development and on their prospects for a successful academic career.

• Research-related achievements
This section requires a well-structured summary of ‘where you are now’ in your training and personal development. This will help reviewers decide whether an applicant is at a stage in their career development where a fellowship will have an important and lasting impact on their ability to work as a professional researcher.

• Planned programme of activities
This section should detail your planned programme of activities and the key milestones for these activities. Please note that the programme of activities should be tailored to support your longer term career aspirations, whether you are aiming for a career in academia or a research career in the broader economy.

Fellows are not expected to undertake major new research during a grant. However, limited additional research directly linked to the PhD can be undertaken. The Fellowship does not have to be directly building on the work of the PhD; however, it does need to follow on or be related to it.

The programme of activities should provide the fellows with time to maximise the impact of their PhD, which could include communicating the research findings arising from their doctoral work, building international networks to develop impact and further research, collaborating with users, learning the skills of writing for publication, and further improving their research and related skills.

We recognise that during the grant period a limited amount of teaching could be beneficial to the professional development of the fellows. Grant holders will therefore be permitted to put aside a maximum of six hours per week (pro rata) to teaching including preparation time.

2. Justification of resources (maximum two sides of A4)

This statement should be used to break down and justify the resources required to undertake the research project.

• Explain why the indicated resources are needed, taking account of the nature and complexity of the programme of work being proposed. Note that it is not sufficient merely to list what is required.
• Estates and indirect costs do not need to be justified.
• Break down resources into the following directly incurred fund headings:
o Staff (salary costs of fellow)
o Travel and subsistence
o Other costs (to include mentoring costs, conference attendance, training, fieldwork, impact-related costs, networking)
• Travel and subsistence and other costs under the directly incurred fund heading must not exceed £10,000.

3. CV (maximum two sides of A4)

The CV needs to provide the date the PhD viva voce was passed, or the scheduled date for the viva voce, brief details of education to date, any awards received for work or training, previous employment history, and any conference papers or publications.

4. List of publications

The list of publications should contain the bibliography for references cited in the proposal. The applicant’s own publications should be included with their CV.

5. Head of department statement (maximum one side of A4)

The head of department at the host RO must complete a statement confirming the RO’s support for the proposal. Host ROs must demonstrate their strong support for the proposal guaranteeing as a minimum that the named mentor will be available and that appropriate support facilities, including office space and appropriate computing facilities, will be made available to the fellow during the period of the grant. In addition, the host RO will be expected to show they have a commitment to the support and promotion of early career researchers and lecturers.

The head of department statement should:
• confirm that the applicant will be accepted into the department as a member of staff for the purpose of undertaking the proposed programme of work
• explain how the proposed programme of work will fit in with the department’s wider research programme
• confirm that the applicant will have access to the same training and development opportunities open to permanent members of academic staff at the institution
• confirm that the applicant’s work and progress will be subject to the same monitoring and appraisal as those of other academic staff within the host RO.

6. Mentor statement and summary CV (maximum two sides of A4)

A combined mentor statement and CV must be included as an attachment to the proposal. Where there is more than one mentor, the statement should be completed by the primary mentor but must detail the contribution to be made by all mentors. Brief CVs of not more than one side of A4 should be included for each of the other mentors.

Fellows will be required to have a mentor throughout the period of the grant and they should be identified at the time of applying. The mentor should ideally have research experience in the same field as the applicant but should not, wherever possible, be the PhD supervisor. The mentor will need to be a senior colleague within the host RO. The reviewers will emphasise the role of the mentor seriously and will look for strong evidence of support. Thus the mentor statement should demonstrate that the mentor:
• has considered the individual applicant’s needs carefully and tailored their programme of support to their individual needs
• will ensure the fellow is kept properly active and focussed throughout the year
• will also keep the fellow’s long-term career prospects clearly in mind.

7. Referee statement (maximum one side of A4)

The applicant must provide one referee statement to contribute to the assessment process. The referee may be the PhD supervisor, however if the supervisor is the proposed mentor, the referee statement should be from a second academic.

8. Other attachments

If you are intending to visit an overseas institution within the period of the fellowship, a letter of support from the institution must be provided, supporting the visit in principle.

No other additional attachments will be accepted, and your proposal may be returned or rejected if you include attachments that are not permitted under this call or if any of the mandatory attachments are missing.

All applications and mandatory attachments should be sent by 16.00 on 23 March 2018.

The Postdoctoral Fellowship application form can be downloaded at the following link:

SCDTP – PostDocFellowship application form

A list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) can be found at the following link:

ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowships – FAQs


For queries related to the call, please contact