Doctoral Prize - EPSRC

The EPSRC Doctoral Prize helps universities retain and recruit the best doctoral students receiving EPSRC support to increase the impact of their doctorate, and to improve retention of the very best students in research careers.

EPSRC does not invite individual applications for EPSRC Doctoral Prizes, if you have questions about the EPSRC Doctoral Prize please contact universities directly.

The awarding university is responsible for administering all aspects of the award including selection of a suitable candidate.

The Prize

EPSRC has integrated this type of support into normal business and institutions may choose to use up to 10% of their Doctoral Training partnership (DTP) allocation (and subsequent allocations) to support PhD Plus – which we have renamed as EPSRC Doctoral Prize following advice from an independent evaluation panel. In addition we have extended the period of support offered from up to one year to up to two years.

Any student who has recently received support for their doctoral studies from EPSRC in the form of fees and/ or stipend is eligible for an EPSRC Doctoral Prize, even if this was a different type of training award eg CDT or ICASE studentship. They must however be timely and have submitted their thesis (and ideally completed their viva) before the EPSRC Doctoral Prize support begins – award holders may receive up to two years additional support through this mechanism.

While selection of the awardees and the exact nature of the support provided is at the discretion of the institution to decide what is appropriate, the flexible support should target the top 10-15% of EPSRC-funded students at a meaningful level and institutions should refer to best practice identified during the pilot phase for further guidance.

Monitoring and reporting

To assist monitoring and reporting requirements, individual award holders should be funded from one DTPs only (although as one DTPs comes to an end, there will be some flexibility for current support to be completed on an existing DTPs). Please note that while we would encourage the leverage of funds to maximise Doctoral Prize support, this should not include other (non-DTPs) EPSRC funds.

Details of individuals supported through the EPSRC Doctoral Prize will not be collected via Je-S rather institutions will be responsible for maintaining off line records to provide to EPSRC upon request. Also details of the funding used for this purpose must be identified separately when the DTPs Final Expenditure Statement (FES) is submitted to EPSRC.

Best practice

The evaluation panel for the EPSRC Doctoral Prize identified the following best practice based on the information provided and through discussions held with university representatives. Universities should:

  • advertise the scheme externally and encourage applicants to move organisations and into new research areas
  • include induction, mentoring and career development planning as important elements of support that should be delivered by universities
  • provide award holders with a mentor who is not their former supervisor
  • ensure there is a rigorous selection and interview process
  • provide support to individuals in preparation for PhD Plus application
  • expect the award holder to deliver outreach as part of their support.

Background

In 2009 EPSRC initiated a two-year pilot programme called PhD Plus which provided a new £10 million funding stream within Doctoral Training Partnerships. PhD Plus intended to help universities retain and recruit the best PhD students receiving EPSRC support to increase the impact of their PhD, and to improve retention of the very best students in research careers.

A trial group of universities were asked to selectively target the most able students completing their PhD in 2009 and 2010 and to use the funding to develop them beyond the end of their PhD providing up to one years additional support to help launch a successful career in research.

The scheme was renamed the EPSRC Doctoral Prize.

Evaluation report

An interim evaluation of PhD Plus took place in November 2010 and the independent panel was impressed with what had been achieved in the pilot and stressed the importance of it in developing the careers of early-stage researchers.

You can read the evaluation report on the UK Government Web Archive.

Last updated: 26 January 2022

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