Funding Advice

This page provides links to potential funders and advice about how to apply for funding, particularly for those early in their careers who are likely to have little or no experience of this aspect of academia.

Please contact the Early Career Forum if you have any other funding sources you'd like to share with the rest of the members.

Types of funding available to early career academics:

  • Postdoctoral fellowships
  • Assisting on someone else's research grant
  • Applying for your own research grant

Postdoctoral fellowships

A postdoctoral fellowship gives you the opportunity to develop your research profile and is focused on you as an individual researcher. This is a good springboard into an academic career and offers a chance to, for example, explore another aspect of your PhD, work on publications, engage in research-related activities, or focus on a new area of research.

These are especially useful for those who are less likely to engage in collaborative projects, which tend to be the focus of much other funding.

Assisting on someone else's research grant

Working as a postdoctoral research assistant is another option post-PhD. You may come across adverts for these posts, working on a more senior academic's research project. Alternatively you might know someone who's applying for funding and needs an assistant. They can name you on their funding bid as an assistant. This is a great opportunity to learn more about research and gain useful experience. If you are not working in academia this is also a way to get funding, by including the name of someone more senior as the principal investigator and yourself as a researcher - just make sure they are interested in the project rather than just adding their name for the sake of it. This way you will learn from them as well.

Applying for your own research grant

Gaining funding for your own research at an early stage is very difficult. In the past small grants tended to be the best avenue, which then could feed into a later application for a larger pot of money. Unfortunately many of the research councils' smaller grants have been scrapped, but there are still some opportunities and charities and foundations are alternative routes for funding. If applying for a large grant it makes sense to include someone with experience of securing funding as the principal investigator.

Applying for funding

N.B. Funding opportunities are in a process of change at the moment due to alterations in council budgets and priorities so keep an eye out for new opportunities as well as being aware that some previously available funds may no longer be a possibility. We will do our best to update this document when major changes occur.

Below are some examples of opportunities specifically for early career researchers.

Research Councils

ESRC - Economic and Social Research Council
- Future Leaders Scheme -

  • Not more than 4 years post-PhD (from submission of thesis)
  • For those with or without a permanent academic post
  • Focus on knowledge exchange
  • 70 awards available
  • Up to 3 years, overall limit of £215,000, 100% full economic costing
  • Up to 60% of grant holder's time funded
  • Outline proposals by 15th September 2011 - start date October 2012

AHRC - Arts and Humanities Research Council
- Research grants route for early career academics -

  • For collaborative research projects - not for individual scholarship
  • To gain experience of managing and leading research projects
  • Full economic costs £20,000 - £200,000
  • Up to 60 months duration
  • No set deadlines
  • Eligibility - within 8 years of award of PhD/equivalent or within 6 years of first academic appointment

- Fellowships for early career academics -

  • Salary and associated costs
  • Three to nine months
  • For an individual researcher to work on a specified research project or programme
  • Proposals for full economic costs up to a maximum of £120,000 may be submitted
  • Can include publications from research (e.g. PhD) carried out prior to fellowship

Examples of other funders

British Academy - The UK's national academy for the humanities and social sciences
- Postdoctoral fellowships -

  • Designed to give experience of research and teaching in a university environment
  • Full economic costing
  • Three years duration
  • Outline proposals by October 2011 for 2012 start

Leverhulme Trust
- Early career fellowships -

  • 50% of total salary up to £23,000 p.a. - balance paid by host institution
  • 2-3 years full time
  • Viva not more than 5 years from closing date
  • Up to £6,000 research expenses available
  • Not eligible if you have held a full-time academic post
  • Around 70 awards
  • 2011 date has passed - look out for 2012, maybe March

Max Weber Programme for Postdoctoral Studies

  • 1 and 2 year fellowships
  • Eligible for up to 5 years after PhD completion
  • Funded by the European Commission and hosted by the European University Institute in Florence
  • Research activity engagement in house as well as working on your own research agenda
  • 25th October deadline annually

The British School at Rome Humanities Awards- Early Career Scholars
Fulbright Awards - exchange UK to USA and vice versa

A number of charities and foundations also award funding for research.

Further links

Some useful guides can be found on various funders' websites, including the following:

In addition some sites and publications offer a list of current opportunities and can often be signed up to for email updates:

  • Times Higher Education Supplement (THES)
  • Seminars and workshops focused on how to apply for funding e.g. Missinden Centre.
  • Publications and Internet resources. E.g.  Gaining Funding for Research: A Guide for Academics and Institutions - Dianne Berry, Winning Research Funding - Abby Day Peters, Winning and Managing Research Funding - Jane Kenway, Rebecca Boden and Debbie Epstein.