Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Particle physics experiment opportunity for postdoctoral research assistants

Apply for funding to support new responsive postdoctoral research assistant (PDRA) posts in the area of experimental particle physics.

You must be based at a UK research organisation eligible for STFC funding.

This round is intended to complement the 2021 consolidated grants (CG) programme.

You may apply for a maximum of four PDRA posts per group on a single proposal, for a maximum of 2.5 years.

Who can apply

This opportunity is open to the UK’s particle physics experiment community.

You must adhere to STFC’s eligibility criteria.

Check if you are eligible for STFC funding.

What we're looking for

We invite proposals to apply for funding to support responsive postdoctoral research assistant (PDRA) posts in the area of experimental particle physics.

This round is intended to complement the 2021 consolidated grants (CG) programme, recognising that reduced funding in the CG has had a negative impact on the exploitation of the UK particle physics programme.

The proposals must lie in the experimental areas where CG support is provided by the Particle Physics Grants Panel (PPGP), namely for exploitation of running experiments, or for blue-skies research and development not focused on a specific experiment.

They may be for new initiatives within or in addition to the existing programme, but proposals for PDRA positions for construction or project or experiment-focused research and development are not eligible. Support in these areas should be sought through the Projects Peer Review Panel (PPRP).

You may apply for a maximum of four PDRA posts per group on a single proposal, which may be for a maximum of 2.5 years, for the period 1 April 2023 to 30 September 2025. Posts are not renewable. Funding for posts beyond this period will be considered as part of the next CG round in 2024.

No cost extensions for these posts may be requested but are limited to six months (so the extension can go up to March 2026).

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

  • is transparent and accountable
  • is efficient, in terms of the requirement for applicants, reviewers and STFC
  • provides a timely outcome.

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 ongoing work, and role changes that may have been caused by the pandemic.

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.

The panel 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.

Where an application is successful, any changes in circumstances that affect the proposal will be managed as a post-award issue.

How to apply

This section should be read in conjunction with guidance in the STFC guidance for applicants.

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

You can find advice on completing your application in:

STFC will only expect to see the principal investigator and the co-investigators (who are providing support to the PDRA) named on the Je-S form and Form X (as referenced under ‘attachments’ below). We would expect these positions to be on the grant in name only, with no costs associated with them.

Submitting your application

When applying:

  1. Select ‘documents’, then ‘new document’.
  2. Select ‘call search’.
  3. To find the opportunity, search for: PPGP Experiment Responsive RA Call 2022.

This will populate:

  • council: STFC
  • document type: standard proposal
  • scheme: standard
  • call/type/mode: PPGP Experiment Responsive RA Call 2022.

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 27 October 2022 at 16:00.

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:

  • case for support
  • Form X: staff details and programme or project participation (should not be submitted through Je-S).

You should be careful to classify documents correctly using the options available and submit as a PDF. The case for support 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

The following should be made clear:

  • the specific scientific aims which are well matched to the requested funding period
  • the scientific objectives of the group
  • what scientific return and impact of the research is expected.

A full and detailed case for support is required describing past research highlights (for existing posts), proposed future work and the resources requested. A complete overview of the proposal should accompany each grant application. All resources must be justified in the case for support. The entire case for support should be a maximum of ten pages of A4.

The introduction should be no more than two pages of A4 and should provide an overview for the group on how the programme has evolved since the consolidated grants submission in February 2021. Please also provide brief descriptions of any academics that are to be named on the proposal, detailing how they will support the post, and the percentage level of time required to support the post.

Each PDRA post requested should be a maximum of two pages of A4 and should outline:

  • if the post is a continuation of an existing post or a new addition to the group
  • the track record of the post holder
  • the impact of the planned work
  • a future outlook.

This should also outline and justify any non-staff costs requested.

Standard STFC eligibility rules apply for the proposals, which can be found within the guidance for applicants.

The start date of the posts may be at any time during the period of the award. Travel and consumables for non-project-specific related costs may be requested.

The case for support should include the following.

Justification of resources

All costs associated with the research proposal must be justified, with the exception of estates, indirects and infrastructure technician costs, and the unit cost of TRAC-determined elements such as investigator salary costs or research facility charge-out costs.

However, the amount of resource required does need to be justified. An explanation for all costs requested on the Je-S form must be given in the case for support.

Non-staff costs

A case should be made, within the page limits outlined above for travel and subsistence, public engagement resources and consumables.

This should be included within the total case for support page limit.

For information purposes, we have provided figures that the grants panel used during the last grants round to arrive at the non-staff cost awards. These are only indicative and will not necessarily be the figures used in this round. The total amount awarded for three years per full time equivalent (FTE) was:

  • travel and subsistence: £3,300
  • consumables (other directly incurred): £4,875.

For travel and subsistence, you should request the full estimated cost required for each individual in line with the rules of your institution, including a justification of the request.

Support for journeys within the UK and overseas should be sought only where these are not directly connected with approved experiments which are funded through the experiments funding line. Funds may be requested to make visits to discuss new projects if these cannot be combined with other journeys.

When applying for other directly incurred costs, please ensure that the funds requested are clearly listed for each person. The cost of the items listed should match up with those provided in the Je-S form. Please refer to STFC’s ‘other costs’ guidance when putting together these lists and ensure that these items are individually less than £10,000 (the threshold for consumables).

Form X

Form X is intended to give the Particle Physics Grants Panel (PPGP) an indication of how posts will focus their effort. Please provide the details of posts requested by completing the Form X using the Excel workbook previously provided and email it to pp@stfc.ac.uk by the deadline.

Form X must be completed by the financial year (from April to March). Effort should be given as a percentage of FTE. Where some columns cover only half a financial year, the maximum effort percentage noted in these cells should be 50%. Information should only be provided for the postdoctoral research assistants (PDRA’s) requested.

The Form X and its associated guidance has been emailed to the consolidated grant principal investigators.

Data management plan

You are not required to provide a data management plan unless you wish to do so.

On this occasion, you may refer to the data management plan provided as part of the 2021 consolidated grants (CG) submission. Where you choose this option, the Je-S system will still ask you to provide a document. All that is necessary is to submit a dummy document referring to the group’s CG submission and provide the grant reference.

Where providing a data management plan, proposals must include an acceptable plan before a grant will be awarded. Find out more about what to include in your proposal.

Costings

Details relating to grant costs can be found in STFC’s guidance for applicants.

How we will assess your application

Peer review process

There will not be an external review process for this grants round. The proposals will be considered by the panel only.

Two or three members of the Particle Physics Grants Panel (PPGP) will be allocated as ‘introducers’ for each grant proposal. The lead introducers for your proposal may contact the principal investigator by phone or email if they have any points they wish to clarify.

Proposals will be assessed according to the STFC peer review criteria. Find out more about the review and assessment of proposals.

The criteria are as follows:

  • scientific excellence
  • international competitiveness
  • strategic value within the STFC programme.

A peer review meeting will take place to consider the proposals and then make its recommendations to the Science Board at the December 2022 meeting.

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

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

Email: jane.long@stfc.ukri.org

Phone: 01793 442141

Lindsay Clark, Programme Manager, Particle and Nuclear Physics Awards

Email: lindsay.clark@stfc.ukri.org

Phone: 01793 442089

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

Cross-disciplinary or cross-council proposals

Discover what to do if your research spans different disciplines.

Unconscious bias and the peer review framework

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Researchfish

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Supporting documents

Guidance for applicants (PDF, 223KB)

PPGP equality inclusion impact assessment (PDF, 231KB)

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