Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Nuclear physics consolidated grants: 2023

Start application

Apply for funding to support nuclear physics research.

You must be based at a UK research organisation eligible for STFC funding and a member of the nuclear physics community.

This grant round takes place every 3 years.

The grant period is between 1 October 2024 and 30 September 2027.

Who can apply

Proposals for research grants must fall within the nuclear physics remit of STFC.

This grants round is only open to the nuclear physics community.

Check if you are eligible for STFC funding.

Cross-disciplinary or cross-council proposals

For advice on cross-disciplinary or cross-council proposals please see the eligibility of subject area.

What we're looking for

Following the recent spending review, STFC will be able to provide an uplift to the nuclear physics consolidated grant programme. It is likely that this increase will allow STFC to offset inflationary increases to the cost of the programme.

It is therefore important that proposals are ambitious and forward looking and that groups still request what they need to carry out their full programme of work. However, it may be the case that expansion of the overall programme will not be affordable.

The grants round and these guidelines have been developed to ensure that the process:

  • is transparent and accountable, particularly with respect to the means of prioritisation
  • is efficient, in terms of the requirement for applicants (length of proposals and detail provided), the reviewers, panel members, and the use of STFC office resources
  • provides a timely outcome

Funding available

Capital funding for equipment will be available and can be requested.

Funds for capital and resource are separate and an award of capital will not reduce the availability of resource available and vice versa.

Duration

This grant round takes place every 3 years to support nuclear physics research.

Funding is available from 1 October 2024 to 30 September 2027.

Impacts of COVID-19

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) recognises that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused major interruptions and disruptions across our communities.

We are committed to ensuring that individual applicants and their wider team, including partners and networks, are not penalised for any disruption to their careers, such as breaks and delays, disruptive working patterns and conditions, the loss of on-going work, and role changes that may have been caused by the pandemic.

Reviewers and panel members will be advised to consider the unequal impacts that COVID-19 related disruption might have had on the track record and career development of those individuals included in the proposal and will be asked to consider the capability of the applicant and their wider team to deliver the research they are proposing.

Where disruptions have occurred applicants can highlight this within their application, if they wish, but there is no requirement to detail the specific circumstances that caused the disruption.

UKRI acknowledges that it is a challenge for applicants to determine the future impacts of COVID-19 while the pandemic continues to evolve. Applications should be based on the information available at the point of submission and, if applicable, the known application-specific effects of COVID-19 should be accounted for.

Where known impacts have occurred, these should be highlighted in the application, including the assumptions or information at the point of submission. There is no need to include contingency plans for the potential impacts of COVID-19.

Requests for travel both domestically and internationally can be included in accordance with the relevant scheme guidelines, noting the above advice.

Reviewers will receive instructions to assume that changes that arise from the pandemic, post-submission, will be resolved and complications related to COVID-19 should not affect their scores.

How to apply

You must apply using the Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system.

You can find advice on completing your application in:

We recommend you start your application early.

Your host organisation will also be able to provide advice and guidance.

Submitting your application

Before starting an application, you will need to log in or create an account in Je-S.

All investigators involved in the project need to be registered on Je-S.

Any investigators who do not have a Je-S account must register for one at least 7 working days before the opportunity deadline.

When applying:

  1. Select ‘documents’, then ‘new document’.
  2. Select ‘call search’.
  3. To find the opportunity, search for: Nuclear Physics Consolidated Grants 2023

This will populate:

  • council: STFC
  • document type: standard proposal
  • scheme: standard
  • call/type/mode: Nuclear Physics Consolidated Grants 2023

Once you have completed your application, make sure you ‘submit document’.

You can save completed details in Je-S at any time and return to continue your application later.

Deadline

STFC must receive your application by 7 February 2023 at 4pm.

You will not be able to apply after this time. Please leave enough time for your proposal to pass through your organisation’s Je-S submission route before this date.

You should ensure you are aware of and follow any internal institutional deadlines that may be in place.

Attachments

In addition to the online application form which must be submitted through Je-S, the following documents are required:

  • a case for support which is a single document containing the following:
    • section 1: group overview report and proposal
    • section 2: cases for the themes
    • section 2a: cross community cases
    • section 3: publications list
  • separate attachments are required for each of the following:
    • data management plan
    • form X (staff details form)

Please classify documents correctly using the options available and submit as PDFs. Failure to do so will result in incomplete proposals being sent out to reviewers. For example, documents classified as ‘Other’ are not sent out for review.

The case for support, impact and data management plan should be uploaded as attachments to the Je-S proposal.

The form X spreadsheet should be emailed to pp@stfc.ac.uk

Case for support

Section 1: group overview report and proposal

Section 1 should provide a concise report on the scientific progress of the group since the last review, and set out proposals for the future programme.

Section 1 should include the following:

Summary of the group’s activities and strategy

The report should begin with a summary of the group’s activities or achievements and the strategy for the future programme.

Reference should be made to the support your institution provides to your group, with emphasis on recent investments that are relevant to the group’s research programme and its component themes.

If relevant, you should also refer to any future Projects Peer Review Panel (PPRP) proposals expected to be submitted over the next grant period. This part of the report is expected to be no more than 2 sides of A4 in length.

References to individuals in the group’s reports should be highlighted in bold face.

Only the publications and equivalent material since 1 October 2019, should be used which provide a track record and appropriate context for the case for support, and references should be made to these in section 3, rather than including the bibliographic information several times.

If a theme was funded in the previous consolidated grant round but will not continue into the new round, then a report on the programme of work carried out by group members in that theme since 1 October 2021 should be included.

The maximum length for each theme here is half a page per full time equivalent in the theme, or 1 side of A4 per theme, whichever is the greater. This is in addition to the 2 sides of A4 limit above.

The following information should also be provided, but does not count towards the page limits set above:

  • for the programme of work carried out since 1 October 2021, an explanation of any expenditure which has resulted in a variation of 20% or more against the funds awarded against each heading in the original announcement
  • other STFC support and non-STFC support: the grants panel seeks information on STFC support outside the consolidated grant over the review period, for example grants funded through PPRP, innovations partnership scheme, and fellowships. Examples of non-STFC support include organisations like the European Research Council. The panel is only interested in support which has been obtained for equipment, consumables, travel and staff posts directly involved in the programme. It is not necessary to detail any other items
  • concordat to support the career development of researchers: the applicant is required to report on how the concordat is being implemented within the context of the group
Group-wide support posts

A case, no longer than 1 side of A4, should be made for the administrative and computer support requested.

Where administrative or computing support is requested under the ‘Other Directly Allocated’ heading, the following information should be provided for each post:

  • type (for example, administrative support or computing support)
  • name
  • full time equivalent
  • duration
  • total cost per person

The cases for support posts should be in alphabetical order by surname, or post title for unnamed posts. Support posts should be included on form X below the scientific and technical posts. The order and format of names should be consistent in both the case for support and form X.

Group-wide non-staff costs

A case, no longer than 1 page, should be made for group-wide non-staff costs such as public engagement resources and consumables (which include equipment items under £10,000).

Where items of equipment over £10,000 are sought, a case for support should be provided (maximum half a side of A4 per item, which is in addition to the 1 side of A4 limit).

This should:

  • provide a technical justification related to the programme of research it is intended to support, noting whether the equipment is critical for the programme of work
  • set out the full cost of the equipment with the institute’s proposed contribution
  • give an indication of when the equipment is needed

Section 2: cases for the themes

This part of the proposal should provide the information requested by theme. A theme consists of a clearly defined, cohesive, scientific programme of work. Where there are strong synergies between themes within a proposal, applicants should consider if it would be more appropriate to combine themes in order to create a cohesive programme.

Part A

A report on the programme of work carried out by group members since 1 October 2019. This should explain if there have been any major changes to the programme compared with the original plans, and provide an assessment of the extent to which the major aims have been met.

Part B

A science case for the group’s future programme for the time period 1 October 2024 to 30 September 2027. This should set out the science case for the proposed programme of work over the requested period. For each scientific area it should address the following:

  • what are the major goals and scope of the programme or theme?
  • how does the programme or theme fit within the international context?
  • how will the programme or theme advance the field?
  • explain how the main highlights of related previous research since 1 October 2019 relate to the proposed programme of work
  • what methodologies and techniques will be applied to the research and what facilities will be required to achieve the programme aims?
  • where work on the scientific area is proposed as part of a consortium of university groups, the relationship between the groups and added value of funding the area as a consortium should be explained. Alternatively, if not applying as a consortium please explain the synergies with other groups carrying out similar activities

The maximum page limit for parts A and B for all the themes is half a side of A4 per full time equivalent for part A and one side of A4 per full time equivalent for part B.

Full time equivalent is defined as per-head for an academic or fellow, and the actual proportion of time for a researcher (includes PDRAs). To reflect that themes may vary in their size of programme, it is up to groups to determine how they wish to split the overall page limit by theme.

Where page limits are not adhered to, proposals will be returned. Where an individual is working on more than one theme, a justification needs to be made within each theme whilst remaining within the page allowance. The page allocation should be divided between the themes.

Scientific posts

A case relating to the proposed programme and form X must be made for the continuation of each current staff post, or fraction of a post, and for initiation of new posts. In line with the principles of full economic costs, cases must be included also for academic staff posts for which no salary funding is sought.

A scientific case for each post (including project studentships) should be made, with a maximum of half a page allowed for each post indicating if the post is cross-community or should be considered core, and a proposed plan of work identified for the next relevant period of the post identifying the full time equivalent fraction spent on the theme. The case for investigator time should be justified in terms of the future programme, not past productivity, including posts where no funding is sought.

Posts should be justified in the following order:

  • academic posts
  • core posts
  • non-core posts
  • support posts
  • cross-community effort requested

Within each category, posts should be listed alphabetically by surname, post title for unnamed posts, or post title for generic cross-community effort requested, specifying the type (target making, technical support, mechanical, electronics and software engineering). The posts on form X must be listed in the same order.

The naming format used must be consistent on the case for support, Je-S form and form X. All posts should have the same name and number as given on the Je-S form so that it is clear how each case for support relates to a post listed on the Je-S form.

For each academic post listed, the level of effort and experience and skills required should be justified in terms of their specific activities in the programme of work. Biographies and CVs are not appropriate for this purpose.

For non-academic staff, applicants should describe their role in the programme of work in terms of their specific skills and activities, and describe any non-publication related scientific output.

Academics should apply for the actual amount of their time they expect to spend on research, taking into account other commitments (for example, teaching, other funded research activity). The typical amount of time requested is 60% full time equivalent per year.

Academics are entitled to request 60% full time equivalent and will not be disadvantaged relative to those requesting less time. If a proposal is only requesting a particular investigator’s time for part of the grant duration (for example, if an academic has fellowship funding for the first 2 years of the grant and so only seeks funding for the last year), this needs to be made clear in the text, as the Je-S form does not have the facility to enter this information.

Similarly, if an academic is requesting variable levels of full time equivalent support during the grant this also needs to be made clear, with the different amounts of full time equivalent and exact start and end dates of the changes specified. If no salary costs are requested for a particular investigator but estates and indirect costs are requested for that investigator, this needs to be made clear in the text as it will not be apparent from the Je-S form.

It is imperative that the correct level of time is sought, because it is likely that scaling of some kind may be applied to the academic positions.

Bids for continuation of existing posts, and for additional staff support, will be assessed on their merits by the nuclear physics grants panel. The overall group size and the number of academics in the group are among the factors that the nuclear physics grants panel may take into account in their deliberations.

If cross-community expertise is required, applicants should make a case for and justify the level of support required for each theme in their proposal. All cross-community support requests should be discussed with Marc Labiche (marc.labiche@stfc.ac.uk) in advance. Following these discussions, the formal request for cross-community expertise should be made to Marc Labiche, copied to STFC (pp@stfc.ac.uk) by 9 December 2022.

In your request, you should specify the type of expertise required, (target making, technical support, mechanical, electronic and software engineering), level of full time equivalent required and when the expertise is required. This will allow the groups applying for funding for the cross-community experts, sufficient time to feed the requests into their proposal and also allow the cross-community committee to provide input to the nuclear physics grants panel.

Please note that if cross-community expertise is required and is not requested by this date, then your request will be considered a lower priority. Please ensure that all requests that are likely to occur within the duration of the consolidated grant are included.

Requests for activities that support the overall UK nuclear physics programme (for example projects and maintenance or minor upgrade of existing detectors used by the UK community or those requiring ongoing support) should be requested in section 2 as a separate theme, following the guidelines above.

This should be included as part of the overall page limit for section 2. Within this theme, constituent projects and activities should be clearly numbered as sub-themes, with the sub-theme numbering used for parts A and B, and the staff resources request, so that they can be easily reviewed.

New themes: for any new activities or initiatives, part A above should be replaced by a description of the applicants’ previous work in the field and its relevance to the work proposed. The same page limit applies.

List of references: the reference list, given in Section 3, is supplementary and is not counted in the page limit.

Non-staff costs

A case, maximum 1 and half sides of A4 in total within each theme, should be made for travel and subsistence, public engagement resources and consumables (which includes equipment items under £10,000).

Where items of equipment over £10,000 are sought, a case for support should be provided (maximum half a side of A4 per item, which is in addition to the 1 page limit). This should provide a technical justification related to the programme of research it is intended to support and note whether the equipment is critical for the programme of work, set out the full cost of the equipment with the Institute’s proposed contribution and an indication of when the equipment is needed.

It should also be made clear where items are being purchased for shared use with other institutions and where items are being purchased to build one larger item. It should be noted that it is possible for 1 university to make a bid for equipment on behalf of several groups.

Detector systems or other equipment which will be jointly constructed by more than 1 group should have a single case in 1 consolidated grant proposal which should be referred to by the other groups that intend to request a share of the costs instead of each group presenting a separate case for the same equipment.

In general, STFC expects to contribute around 50% of the cost of equipment items, with matched funding from the university. You can request a STFC contribution of more than 50%, however a case will need to be made for the increased level of funding and this will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. For further information please see the ‘Other’ costs within the guidance for applicants (PDF, 415KB).

You should request the full estimated cost of group travel, in line with the rules of their institution, including a justification of the request. The nuclear physics grants panel also expects that groups should seek travel funds from sources other than their institutions.

Other Directly Incurred (ODI) costs

When applying for ODI costs, please ensure that the funds requested are clearly listed under the separate headings given below in your case for support.

The cost of the items listed should agree with those provided in the Je-S form.

Please refer to the ‘Costs we fund’ when putting together these lists and ensure that these items are individually less than £10,000. Requests for consumables which support the whole proposal should not be split proportionally across themes. Instead, they should be presented as an overall cost on the proposal. Please ensure that items are not included that should be part of the ‘Estates’ or ‘Indirects’ or met by the university.

Computing: standard desktops and laptops should normally be provided by the institute. Where higher specification desktops or laptops are required, for the completion of specific grant related activities, justification should be given.

Public engagement: you may request funds for public outreach activities on consolidated grants, subject to a well justified case. A description of the proposed activities and a justification of the resources requested should be included as a separate section within section 2 of the proposal document This section should be a maximum of 1 side of A4.

Read the public engagement guidance.

Section 3: publications

In 2021, the high-level assessment criteria changed, and the term productivity was removed. This is because it is the track record that we need to measure rather than simple productivity. There is therefore no longer a requirement for a publication table to be provided. Instead, we invite each academic to evidence their leadership, planning, and project management within their personal case.

A list of the theme areas publications from 1 January 2020 to 31 December 2022 should be provided. This list should include any PhD theses completed, naming the primary supervisor in the science area. Members of experimental collaborations should only include the collaboration papers they made an explicit contribution to beyond the norm (for example if they have written the paper or contributed a new method at the centre of the work), a count of the total number of collaboration papers can be noted in the academic case if desired.

Where disruptions have occurred due to COVID-19 or other events, the applicants can highlight this within their personal case, if they wish, but there is no requirement to detail the specific circumstances that caused the disruption.

Section 4: guidance for Manchester, Liverpool and Daresbury cross-community requests

In addition to the information already provided above, the requests for cross-community posts at Daresbury, Liverpool, and Manchester should be provided as a separate section and follow the format below.

Summary

This should be 2 sides of A4 overview of the cross-community effort, highlighting the role of the cross-community effort, previous achievements and the future strategy.

Part A and B (as described above) for each of the cross-community teams. Part B should demonstrate that there is a community wide need for the skills and expertise of this post and funding is contingent on this case being accepted. A plan detailing the projects in which the post is likely to be involved should also be supplied, accepting that this is likely to be less certain in the medium to longer term.

The science case for each activity does not need to be re-made as this can be found in the themes requesting the cross-community effort. The page limit for this section is 2 sides of A4 for each team requested (for example, electronic, mechanical, software).

Description of the laboratories

This should be a maximum of 2 sides of A4.

Staff request

This includes:

  • summary table of the cross-community staff requested (name, full time equivalent requested and area of expertise)
  • summary table of all themes (across the community) requesting cross community effort and the full time equivalent requested in each team area
  • case for each post requested (maximum half a side of A4 per post)
  • non-staff cost request: maximum 4 sides of A4. A breakdown of costs by financial year is not required at this stage

The number of cross-community posts requested should reflect the overall level of requests by the community. Individual posts cannot have more than 100% of their time allocated. Where an individual does have requests totalling more than 100%, an additional post should be requested and can be unnamed.

Impact guidance

In previous grant rounds part of the submission has included a pathways to impact document.  This process has now changed, and the impact should be included as part of the case for support.

As part of this change, the panel are now asked to consider this as part of the assessment criteria.

Please see STFC impact guidance (PDF, 347KB) for details on what to include in your proposal.

Data management plan

You are required to provide a data management plan.

Please note proposals must include an acceptable data management plan before a grant will be awarded.

Form X (staff details form)

Groups should provide the details of staff posts by completing the form X using the Excel workbook provided.

The years on the form relate to academic year.

Form X is intended to give the nuclear physics grants panel an indication of how the focus of effort for each staff post has changed since the previous review and how it will change through the period of the grant. Effort should be given as a percentage and be entered as a number between 0 and 100 without the percentage sign.  For current support, academics should show the time worked not what has been awarded, and for the requested support academics should show the time they expect to work on a project.

All group staff should be included on form X, including those funded from other sources, please list these at the end of the table. This is to allow a complete picture of the effort required. Staff should be listed in the following order:

  • academic posts with fellows at the end of this list
  • non-academic core posts
  • non-core posts, for example postdocs, support posts, students

Within the sub-categories the posts should be listed in the same order as in section 2, for example alphabetically by surname, or post title for unnamed posts. It is essential that the names used are consistent between the Je-S form, the case for support and form X. STFC will return forms that do not match.

The blocks given on the spreadsheet should be copied to allow for entries for each staff member. Please indicate staff type and if posts are core or non-core. Each staff member should have a line for each of the scientific themes in which they are involved. Current support and the new request should be shown as two separate lines.

Please ensure the colour coding is used to distinguish between the 2 so that the spreadsheet can be read more easily. All other funding should be identified in white.

If your grant has been extended, the current and new requests will overlap. Please take extra care when providing details in the overlapping year.

It should be made clear on the form X where one post is replaced by another. Where there has been a change in postholder, please put ‘vice (name of previous postholder)’ in the cell below the name of the new staff member. Please place the corresponding posts one under the other.

Where other sources of funding have been specified, please explain what this is in the case for support.

Justification of resources

All costs associated with the research proposal must be justified, with the exception of:

  • estates
  • indirects
  • infrastructure technician costs
  • unit cost of TRAC-determined elements, such as investigator salary costs or research facility charge-out costs

An explanation for all costs requested on the Je-S form must be given in the case for support. Each directly incurred post must be given a name or, for unnamed posts, a unique number (for example, RA1 or RA2).

The same name or number must be used in the Je-S proposal, case for support and the form X.

Where these details do not match the documents will be returned for correction.

How we will assess your application

Peer review process

Introducers

At least 2 members of the nuclear physics grants panel will be allocated as ‘introducers’ for each consolidated grant proposal.

As in previous rounds, the introducers role is to clarify any issues which are unclear in the grant proposal documentation and lead the discussion at the peer review meeting.

Meetings with groups

Video conference meetings will be arranged with each applicant group to clarify any issues arising from the proposals. The purpose of the meetings is clarification to help the introducers fully understand the grant proposal and is not an opportunity to re-make the science case. The meeting will involve:

  • STFC
  • the introducers
  • the principal investigator
  • key applicants

No more than 3 university members of staff are expected to be present at any given time.

Reviewers

The proposal will be sent to reviewers of international standing for assessment. Separate reviewers will be asked to consider each of the themes.

Rather than nominate a single reviewer on the proposal form, applicants are invited to send reviewer nominations for each theme to pp@stfc.ac.uk

The nuclear physics grants panel will take the nominations into consideration when assigning reviewers, but it is not guaranteed that the nominated reviewers will be used.

Applicant’s response to reviewers’ comments

Following the reviewers process, applicants are then given the opportunity to see and comment on the reports via the Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system.

Peer review meeting

Peer review meetings will take place to consider the consolidated grant proposals and make recommendations on the programme to Science Board and the STFC Executive.

Assessment criteria

The nuclear physics grants panel will assess all proposals in accordance with the assessment procedures set out in the review and assessment of proposals.

Contact details

Get help with developing your proposal

For help and advice on costings and writing your proposal please contact your research office in the first instance, allowing sufficient time for your organisation’s submission process.

Ask about this funding opportunity

Mrs Jane Long, Senior Programme Manager for Particle and Nuclear Physics Awards

Email: jane.long@stfc.ukri.org

Ms Lindsay Clark, Programme Manager for Particle and Nuclear Physics Awards

Email: lindsay.clark@stfc.ukri.org

Get help with applying through Je-S

Email

jeshelp@je-s.ukri.org

Telephone

01793 444164

Opening times

Je-S helpdesk opening times

Additional info

Research Fish

Outputs are made available through the research councils’ Gateway to Research portal.

Further information can be found on the Introducing the Gateway to Research Portal.

Supporting documents

Guidance for applicants (PDF, 415KB)

Equality inclusion impact assessment (PDF, 213B)

Impact guidance (PDF, 347KB)

This is the integrated website of the seven research councils, Research England and Innovate UK.
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