Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: STFC Ernest Rutherford Fellowship

Apply for an STFC Ernest Rutherford Fellowship to work on an independent research project via the UKRI Funding Service. The project must be within the remit of the STFC core science programme.

You must be an early career researcher.

You must not hold a tenured academic post or academic position at lecturer level.

Your application must be hosted and supported by an eligible UK research organisation with a STFC ERF quota.

You must hold a PhD or have relevant experience and clear leadership potential.

We will fund your proposal at 80% of its full economic cost. Your host research organisation must agree to fund the rest.

The fellowship will last up to five years.

Who can apply

Before applying for funding, check the following:

Who is eligible to apply

Ernest Rutherford Fellowships are intended for early career researchers who do not hold a tenured academic position at lecturer level. You are not eligible if you currently hold an academic position at lecturer level or the equivalent in institutions other than universities. If you secure an academic position at lecturer level prior to the offer of a fellowship, you will be ineligible to hold the fellowship.

You must hold a PhD or have relevant experience at the time of applying for an Ernest Rutherford Fellowship.

Years of experience

STFC no longer defines eligibility for Ernest Rutherford fellowships in terms of a minimum number of years of experience. Instead, you should read the competency profile in Additional Information to determine if you have the skills, knowledge and experience to apply for an Ernest Rutherford Fellowship.

You must hold a PhD or have relevant experience at the time of applying for an Ernest Rutherford Fellowship.

Eligible institutions

Fellowships may be held at an eligible UK research organisation with an STFC ERF quota.

ERF departmental quota

You are advised to contact your proposed host department as early as possible and certainly well ahead of the deadline for submission of applications. Departments may have internal processes to select which candidates to support and the deadlines for these may be several weeks in advance of the STFC closing date. Departments should not expect you to accept an offer to be hosted before 10 August 2023.

STFC sets a strict limit on the number of applications that each department may submit. Therefore, it may not be possible for a host to support all interested applicants.

See the list of departments, contacts and internal deadlines (PDF, 203KB).

Any departments who exceed their limit will be required to withdraw the excess applications. It is therefore very important that you seek assurance from your proposed host department that your application can be accommodated within its limit.

Fellowship applications associated with the Cockcroft Institute are made through the relevant partner institution but are counted against the Cockcroft Institute limit and should be flagged in their application.

Fellowship applications associated with are counted against the University of Edinburgh School of Physics and Astronomy limit.

Inclusive selection process

Host organisations must provide a statement describing the inclusive process they have used to select their chosen candidates by completing an online survey by 21 September 2023.

The intention of this survey is to better understand the process by which departments are selecting candidates and to identify examples of best practice. The statement should describe the process used to identify potential candidates. It should not include personal details of potential candidates nor any details that may enable them to be identified.

Applications submitted by host organisations will be assessed by the STFC Education, Training and Careers Committee. If departments do not submit this statement STFC will consider appropriate follow up action.

A list of the questions that will be on the survey can also be found in the Additional Info section.

Choice of organisation

You should ensure you discuss with your prospective research organisation the opportunities and support they are offering should your application be successful.

Who is not eligible to apply

You are not eligible to apply if you hold a tenured academic post or academic position at lecturer level. If you secure an academic position at lecturer level prior to the offer of a fellowship, you will be ineligible to hold the fellowship.

International applicants

Fellowships are open to applicants of any nationality. Where applicable, you will need to comply with Department of Employment requirements and hold a work permit prior to taking up the Fellowship. Work permits are a matter for direct negotiation between the institution, the Department of Employment and the Home Office.

All successful applicants who require a visa to work in the UK will be eligible to be considered under the Global Talent visa route.

In line with the highly prestigious nature of the award, this visa route is designed for people who are internationally recognised as world leaders or potential world-leading talent in the fields of science and the arts and enables the holder to be both adaptable and flexible during their research in the UK.

The grant of any visa is always subject to the standard Home Office general grounds for refusal of a visa. UKRI is able to provide additional guidance regarding the appropriate evidence required to complete the visa application process under the Global Talent visa route.

Applications are welcome from candidates who intend to use the Fellowship as a means of re‐establishing themselves in the UK following a period overseas.

Other funding

You should not be in receipt of duplicate funding for the same or similar proposal from more than one funding agency. Details of similar proposals that have been submitted to other funding agencies must be added in the ‘Other funding support’ section of the application. You must advise STFC if a successful funding decision is made by the other funding agency.

Applicants who have applied for the UK Research and Innovation Future Leaders Fellowships can also apply for an Ernest Rutherford Fellowship but cannot hold two fellowships which fund their working time simultaneously.

Applicants who have a current application for the UK Research and Innovation Stephen Hawking Fellowships where a funding decision hasn’t been made cannot also apply for an Ernest Rutherford Fellowship.

Resubmissions

You can apply to subsequent fellowship rounds if you were previously unsuccessful, with the same, modified or a different fellowship application providing that you still meet the eligibility criteria. If you are resubmitting the same project, you should ensure that any feedback previously given by the panel has been addressed.

Equality, diversity and inclusion

We are committed to achieving equality of opportunity for all funding applicants. We encourage applications from a diverse range of researchers.

We support people to work in a way that suits their personal circumstances. This includes:

  • career breaks
  • support for people with caring responsibilities
  • flexible working
  • alternative working patterns

Find out more about equality, diversity and inclusion at UKRI.

Applications are welcome from those seeking to resume a research career, following a period of absence from active research of, normally, at least one year. The break may have been due, for example, to long term illness, injury or disability, family or caring responsibilities, parental leave, personal reasons, working in non‐academic employment.

If this applies to you then you could consider applying for the STFC Return to research support bursary.

You should make clear any substantive periods of absence from research within your application. This can be included in the Résumé for researchers and innovation in the ‘Additions’ section. Further details on the nature of the absence and how it has affected track record, productivity and career progression may be provided if desired. Information provided will be used only to make appropriate adjustments when assessing an individual’s track record, productivity and career progression.

Full or part time

Fellowships can be held either on a full‐time or a part‐time basis by applicants wishing to combine their fellowship with caring responsibilities.

A part‐time award can be held at 50% or above of full‐time equivalent. A part‐time fellow may not hold another part‐time position in conjunction with the fellowship. The period of award for fellowships held on a part‐time basis will be extended on a pro rata basis.

What we're looking for

Scope

STFC is offering up to 10 Ernest Rutherford Fellowships to outstanding researchers at an early stage of their career. The aim is to support future scientific leaders to establish a strong, independent research programme.

The project must afford scope for original work and align to STFC strategic objectives and core business activities:

  • accelerator physics
  • astronomy
  • cosmology
  • nuclear physics
  • solar and planetary science
  • particle astrophysics
  • particle physics

If you are unsure if your research falls under STFC’s remit, please email fellowships ahead of the application process.

The role of the fellow will be to undertake their own research programme.

Duration

The duration of this award is 5 years.

Fellowships will normally begin on 1 October 2024. The earliest a Fellowship may start is 1 June 2024. The offer of a Fellowship will not be held open for more than six months from the announced start date of the award. All Fellowships must be taken up by 31 March 2025.

Funding available

Fellowship applications are costed on the basis of full economic cost (FEC). If a fellowship is awarded, STFC will provide funding at 80% of the FEC requested.

The host institution must agree to fund the balance of FEC for the proposal from other resources. Universities and other higher education organisations use the transparent approach to costing (TRAC) methodology to calculate FEC.

For further information about FEC, see the STFC guidance for applicants.

What we will fund

Ernest Rutherford Fellowships provide funds to cover your salary, the costs of personal travel and some minor equipment costs. These will have been awarded under the Directly Incurred Costs heading. Fellows who have returned from a career break may also use funds applied for retraining and updating their skills where this has been justified in the context of the proposed research project.

Salary

Your salary will have been agreed with your proposed host institution prior to submitting an application. The agreed salary should be in accordance with the institution’s standard recruitment and employment practices. The appointment level on the institution’s salary scale should be justified in the application. The salary costs requested should include employer’s national insurance and superannuation contributions.

Salary increments over the period of the Fellowship should be taken into account, but not anticipated future pay awards. STFC will award funds on the basis of the agreed salary scales at the time of announcement, with provision for future years increase on the basis of standard UKRI indexation rates. Once announced the grant will not normally be increased to take account of different indexation rates.

Travel

Personal travel is taken to include necessary collaborative visits and fieldwork, and attendance at one conference workshop or symposium during each year of the fellowship. This excludes fieldwork and visits that form part of the work of a research group with which you may be associated.

If you are associated with an STFC research grant, you must ensure that any travel connected with the research project for which the grant was given is claimed from that source.

You should estimate in your application all personal travel and subsistence funds required during the lifetime of the fellowship. Travel and subsistence costs are expected to be around £2,000 each year. If there are exceptional circumstances for applying for additional funding in excess of the guidance levels. Please give justification in your application.

Other costs

Applicants may request minor equipment and consumables up to a total of £5,000 for the duration of the fellowship under ‘directly incurred other costs’.

At the end of the fellowship, any resources purchased will belong to the institution. If there are exceptional reasons for applying for more than the guideline level, then justification of these costs should be included in your case for support.

STFC do not fund mentoring time and this cost should not be included in the funding costs. Laptops may be costed where a new member of staff (for example, a fellow) who is employed purely for the grant will require this, or where a higher specification is required for the completion of specific grant related activities such as data modelling or enhanced graphics.

These costs should be applied for under ‘directly incurred other costs’.

Relocation and visas

Applicants moving to the UK from overseas to take up an award may request relocation and visa costs including Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) and Certificate of Sponsorship.

These costs should be applied for under the ‘directly incurred other costs’ heading on the proforma and are in addition to the £5,000 under ‘other costs’.

STFC will award a maximum of £1,200 if moving from Europe or £3,000 if moving from outside of Europe.

Directly incurred costs

Costs that are explicitly identifiable as arising from the conduct of a project are charged as the cash value actually spent and are supported by an auditable record. Ernest Rutherford Fellowships provide funds to cover your salary, the costs of personal travel and some minor equipment costs.

These should be requested under the ‘directly incurred costs’ heading. Applicants who are returning from a career break may also apply for funds for retraining and updating their skills where this can be justified in the context of the proposed research project.

Directly allocated costs

Estates costs include building and premises costs, basic services and utilities and appear under the ‘directly allocated costs’ heading. Estates costs are calculated by the research organisation on application.

Indirect costs

Indirect costs include the costs of administration, such as personnel, finance, library and some departmental services. Like estate costs, indirect costs will be calculated by the research organisation and a single figure will be entered on the application.

Read about funding available in the STFC guidance for applicants.

What we will not fund

Publication costs

STFC will no longer provide funding in research grants for any publication costs associated with peer-reviewed journal articles and conference papers. UKRI provides direct funding to research organisations for this purpose. Fellows that were awarded publication costs associated with research outputs other than journal articles and conference papers, such as books, monographs, critical editions, catalogues etc. may, however, claim these as a Directly Incurred Other Cost.

Supporting skills and talent

We encourage you to follow the principles of the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers and the Technician Commitment.

International collaboration

If your application includes international applicants, project partners or collaborators, visit Trusted Research for more information on effective international collaboration.

How to apply

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Funding Service

We are running the funding opportunity on the new UKRI Funding Service. You cannot apply for this opportunity on the Joint Electronic Submissions (Je-S) system.

If you do not already have an account with the UKRI Funding Service, you will be able to create one by selecting the ‘start application’ button at the start of this page. Creating an account is a 2-minute process requiring you to verify your email address and set a password.

If you are a member of an organisation with a research office that we do not have contact details for, we will contact them to enable administrator access. This provides:

  • oversight of every UKRI Funding Service application opened on behalf of your organisation
  • the ability to review and submit applications

Research offices that have not already received an invitation to open an account should email support@funding-service.ukri.org.

To find out more about the role of research office professionals in the application process, watch a recording of a recent research office webinar on YouTube.

Submitting your application

Applications should be prepared and submitted by the lead research organisation but should be co-created with input from all investigators, and project partners, and should represent the proposed work of the entire consortia.

To apply:

  1. Select the ‘Start application’ button at the start of this page.
  2. This will open the ‘Sign in’ page of UKRI’s Funding Service. If you do not already have an account, you’ll be able to create one. This is a 2-minute process requiring you to verify your email address and set a password.
  3. Start answering the questions detailed in this section of ‘How to apply’. You can save your work and come back to it later. You can also work ‘offline’, copying and pasting into the text boxes provided for your answers.
  4. Once complete, use the service to send your application to your research office for review. They’ll check it and return it to you if it needs editing.
  5. Once happy, your research office will submit it to UKRI for assessment. Only they can do this.

As citations can be integral to a case for support, you should balance their inclusion and the benefit they provide against the inclusion of other parts of your answer to each question. Bear in mind that citations, associated reference lists or bibliographies, or both, contribute to, and are included in, the word count of the relevant section.

Deadline

STFC must receive your application by 21 September 2023 at 4:00pm UK time.

You will not be able to apply after this time.

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

STFC, as part of UKRI, will need to collect some personal information to manage your funding service account and the registration of your funding applications.

We will handle personal data in line with UK data protection legislation and manage it securely. For more information, including how to exercise your rights, read our privacy notice.

STFC UKRI, will publish the outcomes of this funding Opportunity here.

If your application is successful, some personal information will be published via the UKRI Gateway to Research.

UKRI Funding Service: section guidance

Summary

In plain English, provide a summary that can be sent to potential reviewers to determine if your proposal is within their field of expertise.

This summary may be made publicly available on external facing websites, so please ensure it can be understood by a variety of readers, for example:

  • opinion-formers
  • policymakers
  • the general public
  • the wider research community.
Guidance for writing a summary

Succinctly describe your proposed work in terms of:

  • its context
  • the challenge the project addresses and how it will be applied to this
  • its aims and objectives
  • its potential applications and benefits.

Word count: 550

Applicants

List the key members of your team and assign them roles, for example:

  • fellow

Section: Classification of proposal

Question: Please select one of the following classifications that are the closest match to your proposal for peer review purposes.

What the assessors are looking for in your response
  • accelerator physics
  • astronomy extragalactic
  • astronomy near universe
  • astronomy near universe exoplanet / solar
  • nuclear physics
  • particle astrophysics and cosmology
  • particle physics experiment
  • particle physics theory

Section: Years postdoctoral experience

Question: Please add the number of years postdoctoral experience you will have on 1 September 2024.

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Number of years postdoctoral experience on 1 September 2024.

Section: Vision

Question: What are you hoping to achieve with your proposed work?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Explain how your proposed work:

  • is of excellent quality and importance within or beyond the field(s) or area(s)
  • has the potential to advance current understanding, generates new knowledge, thinking or discovery within or beyond the field or area
  • is timely given current trends, context and needs
  • impacts world-leading research, society, the economy or the environment

Within the Vision section we also expect you to:

  • identify the potential direct or indirect benefits and who the beneficiaries might be

STFC specific guidance for completion of the Vision section:

  • have a clear and distinctive strategic vision for own research in the context of the broad research area within which you work including internationally
    • explain the excellence and vision of the proposed project to warrant consideration for funding
  • describe how your research plans fit into an international context
    • describe your research in a wider national and international context

Word count: 400 Words

Section: Approach

Question: How are you going to deliver your proposed work?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Explain how you have designed your approach so that it:

  • is effective and appropriate to achieve your objectives
  • is feasible, and comprehensively identifies any risks to delivery and how they will be managed
  • if applicable, uses a clear and transparent methodology
  • if applicable, summarises the previous work and describes how this will be built upon and progressed
  • will maximise translation of outputs into outcomes and impacts
  • describes how your, and if applicable your team’s, research environment (in terms of the place, its location, and relevance to the project) will contribute to the success of the work

STFC specific guidance for completion of the Approach section:

  • the planned programme of research shows potential to significantly advance the field with the appropriate balance of risk versus reward
    • describe the methodology to be used in pursuit of your research to advance the field and justify this choice
    • highlight plans that are particularly distinctive and important
    • explain how new techniques or particularly difficult or risky studies will be tackled and outline alternative approaches should this fail
  • a project that is feasible within the period of the fellowship demonstrating a rigorous approach to reach achievable goals
    • detail the progress of the research, for provide milestones and the timetable for the work against which the outputs, outcomes and impacts of the work will be assessed
    • provide evidence of feasibility and timeliness of the proposed programme of research
  • demonstrate the alignment of the project to the STFC programme

Word count: 1200 Words

Section: Applicant capability to deliver

Question: Why are you the right individual or team to successfully deliver the proposed work?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Evidence of how you have:

  • the relevant experience (appropriate to career stage) to deliver the proposed work
  • the right balance of skills and expertise to cover the proposed work
  • the appropriate leadership and management skills to deliver the work and your approach to develop others

Use the Résumé for Research and Innovation (R4RI) format to showcase the range of relevant skills you, and if relevant your team (investigators, researchers, other (technical) staff for example research software engineers, data scientists and so on, and partners), have and how this will help to deliver the proposed work. You can include individuals’ specific achievements but only choose past contributions that best evidence their ability to deliver this work.

Complete this section using the R4RI module headings listed below. You should use each heading once and include a response for the whole team, see the UKRI guidance on R4RI. You can enter N/A for any you think irrelevant, and will not be penalised for doing so, but it is recommended that you carefully consider the breadth of your experience:

  • contributions to the generation of new ideas, tools, methodologies, or knowledge
    • have a track record of ambitious, innovative and novel research in their area which demonstrates an upward trajectory
    • substantial contributions to high quality outputs appropriate to their field for example, publications, software, hardware infrastructure, technical reports or instrumentation
    • received external recognition of research excellence with high profile invitations to seminars or conferences to present their research
    • received recognition through prizes and awards
    • have clear plans to establish their own research profile that will enable them to become an intellectual independent research leader and if applicable establish their own research team
    • demonstrate potential to lead research, for example by initiating collaborations with teams in other departments either nationally or internationally, research organisations or other disciplines
    • beginning to demonstrate evidence of recognition and prominent leadership positions in the community on an international scale through mechanisms appropriate to their discipline
  • the development of others and maintenance of effective working relationships
    • have identified opportunities to access career development support from the host organisation or outside organisations for example, mentoring and professional training development and relevant training courses that would underpin their future career ambitions
    • show an ability to identify and maximise potential in others. For example, through the day to day support and development of graduate and undergraduate students or early career researchers, providing career support or by actively networking or coordinating the work of others
  • contributions to the wider research and innovation community
    • show an understanding and have clear plans of how to influence their research field and awareness of ways to influence the wider research agenda. For example, through experience of participation in peer review, participation in internal committees, acting as an ambassador or advocate for a research field or theme, or influencing policy, or organisation roles in research workshops
    • a credible plan for how research outcomes will be communicated and disseminated to achieve the maximum impact within the research community, building on previous experience and track record
      • provide evidence that you can communicate clearly and through your plans have the potential to inspire and lead others
      • describe how you would communicate and disseminate your research outcomes from the ERF within your research community referencing your previous track record.
    • evidence of engagement that is integral to their own research community, for example, running a journal club, hackathons. Have effective communication and interpersonal skills across the wider research community, for example presentations at conferences, workshops
  • contributions to broader research or innovation users and audiences and towards wider societal benefit
    • a credible plan to communicate and disseminate the impact of the research outside of the community, across different audiences, building on previous experience and track record for example, through collaboration with private, public or third sector bodies, publications for a non-academic audience, social media or public engagement activities
      • briefly outline any track record in public engagement or science communication and plans for future engagement.
      • describe how you would communicate and disseminate your research outcomes outside your research community.
  • additions (you can use this heading to provide information which provides context to the wider application, such as detail of career breaks – it is not a requirement)

You should complete this as a narrative and you should avoid CV type format.

Word count: 1,600

Section: References

Question: List the references you’ve use to support your application.

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Ensure your application is a self-contained description. You can provide hyperlinks to relevant publications or online resources. However, assessors are not obliged to access the information they lead to or consider it in their assessment of your application. You must not include links to web resources in order to extend your application. If linking to web resources, to ensure the information’s integrity is maintained include, where possible, persistent identifiers such as digital object identifiers.

Word count: 200

Section: List of directly relevant research publications or outputs

Question: You will need to provide a list of directly relevant publications and research outputs by year.

What the assessors are looking for in your response

List directly relevant research publications and outputs that have been submitted.

You can also list preprints but please make clear those still in progress.

Your list of publications should not include presentations.

Word count: 400

Section: Your Organisation’s Support

Question: provide details of support from your research organisation.

What the assessors are looking for in your response

The committee will be looking for a strong statement of commitment from your research organisation.

Upload details are provided within the service on the actual application.

Word count: 400

Section: Data management and sharing

Question: how will you manage and share data collected or acquired through the proposed research?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Provide a data management plan which should clearly detail how you will comply with STFC’s published Data Sharing Policy, which includes detailed guidance notes.

Word count: 200

Section: Other funding support

Question: Please give us details of support sought or received from any other source for this or other research in the same field.

What the assessors are looking for in your response
  • awarding organisation
  • awarding organisation’s reference
  • title of project
  • decision made yes or no
  • award made yes or no
  • start date
  • end date
  • amount sought or Awarded (£)

Section: Intellectual property rights (IPR)

Question: provide a brief description of the intellectual assets underpinning the proposed work

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Include any IPR if appropriate. If your IPR is a patent, please include the patent number or numbers along with a summary scope of the claims. STFC recognises that not all applications to the Ernest Rutherford Fellowship will have a patent or other IPR.

Word count: 500

Section: Ethics and Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI)

Question: What are the ethical or RRI implications and issues relating to the proposed work? If you do not think that the proposed work raises any ethical or RRI issues, explain why.

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Using the text box, demonstrate that you have identified and evaluated the relevant ethical or responsible research and innovation considerations, and how you will manage them.

If you are collecting or using data you should identify:

  • any legal and ethical considerations of collecting, releasing or storing the data including consent, confidentiality, anonymisation, security and other ethical considerations and, in particular, strategies taken to not preclude further reuse of data
  • formal information standards with which study will be compliant

Additional sub-questions (to be answered only if appropriate) relating to research involving:

  • animals
  • human participants
  • genetically modified organisms

Word count: 200

Section: Research involving the use of animals

Question: does your proposed research involve the use of vertebrate animals or other organisms covered by the Animals Scientific Procedures Act?

If not, enter ‘N/A’ into the text box, mark this section as complete and do the same for the next question.

What the assessors are looking for in your response

If you are proposing research that requires using animals, write ‘Yes’ in the text box. Then, download and complete this document (DOCX, 74KB), which contains all the questions relating to research using vertebrate animals or other Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 regulated organisms. Then, save it as a PDF.

Word count 200

Section: Conducting research with animal overseas

Question: will any of the proposed animal research be conducted overseas?

If not, enter ‘N/A’ in the text box, mark as complete and move to the next question.

What the assessors are looking for in your response

If you are proposing to conduct overseas research, it must be conducted in accordance with welfare standards consistent with those in the UK, as per Responsibility in the Use of Animals in Bioscience Research, on page 14.

You should also ensure all named applicants in the UK and overseas are aware of this requirement and provide a statement below to confirm that:

  • all named applicants are aware of the requirements and have agreed to abide by them
  • this overseas research will be conducted in accordance with welfare standards consistent with the principles of UK legislation
  • the expectation set out in ‘Responsibility in the Use of Animals in Bioscience Research’ will be applied and maintained
  • appropriate national and institutional approvals are in place.

Overseas studies proposing to use non-human primates, cats, dogs, equines or pigs, will be assessed during NC3Rs review of research proposals. The required information should be provided by completing the template from the question ‘Research Involving the use of animals’.

For studies involving other species listed below, you should select the relevant checklist or checklists, complete it and save it as a PDF and use the file upload feature to attach. If you need to complete more than one checklist, you should merge them into a single document and then save it as a PDF before uploading it.

Species checklists:

Word count 200

Section: Resources and cost justification

Question: What will you need to deliver your proposed work and how much will it cost?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Using the text box, demonstrate how the resources you anticipate needing for your proposed work:

  • are comprehensive, appropriate, and justified
  • represent the optimal use of resources to achieve the intended outcomes
  • maximise potential outcomes and impacts

This section should not simply be a list of the resources requested, as this will already be given in the detailed ‘costs’ table. Costings should be justified on the basis of full economic costs (FEC) of the project, not just on the costs expected from UKRI. For some items we do not expect you to justify the monetary value, rather the type of resource, such as amount of time or type of staff requested.

Where you do not provide adequate justification for a resource, we may deduct it from any funding awarded.

You should identify:

  • support for activities to either increase impact, for public engagement, knowledge exchange or to support responsible innovation
  • support for access to facilities, infrastructure or procurement of equipment
  • support for preserving, long-term storage, or sharing of data
  • support from your organisation or partner organisations and how that enhances value for money

Word count: 200

Section: Sensitive information

Question: Is there sensitive information you need to share with UKRI that you do not want shared with assessors?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

If not, enter ‘N/A’ into the text box, mark this section as complete and move on to the next section.

If you, or a key team member, need to tell us something you wish to remain confidential, please enter the words ‘email sent’ in the text box below.

Then contact the Funding Service helpdesk. Include your application name and number in the subject line, after the pre-populated words ‘sensitive information’.

Typical examples of confidential information include:

  • applicant is unavailable until a certain date (for example due to parental leave)
  • declaration of interest
  • additional information about eligibility to apply that would not be appropriately shared in the ‘applicant and team capability’ section
  • conflict of interest for UKRI to consider in reviewer or panel participant selection
  • the application is an invited resubmission

For information about how UKRI handles personal data please see UKRI’s privacy notice.

Word count: 5

How we will assess your application

Assessment process

We will assess your application using the following process.

Assessment criteria

In considering your Fellowship application, the Fellowship Panel will use the following criteria:

  • the excellence of the research achievements of the applicant
  • the potential of the individual to lead their research discipline
  • the capability to maximise the potential of others and the ability to be, or become, a clear communicator and disseminator of knowledge
  • the excellence, timeliness, feasibility, distinctive vision and importance of the proposed research
  • Strategic value within the STFC programme.
The excellence of the research achievements of the applicant

You should:

  • have a track record of ambitious, innovative and novel research in your area that demonstrates an upward trajectory
  • show substantial contributions to high quality outputs appropriate to your field, for example publications, software, hardware infrastructure, technical reports or instrumentation
  • have received external recognition of research excellence with high profile invitations to seminars or conferences to present your research
  • have received recognition through prizes and awards.

These competencies should be highlighted in the applicant capability to deliver section.

The potential of the individual to lead their research discipline

You should:

  • have clear plans to establish your own research profile that will enable you to become an intellectual independent research leader and if applicable, establish your own research team
  • demonstrate potential to lead research, for example by initiating collaborations with teams in other departments either nationally or internationally, research organisations or other disciplines
    show evidence of independence and initiative in obtaining funding
  • show the beginnings of evidence of recognition and prominent leadership positions in the community on an international scale through mechanisms appropriate to your discipline
  • show an understanding and have clear plans of how to influence your research field and awareness of ways to influence the wider research agenda for example, through experience of participation in peer review, participation in internal committees, acting as an ambassador or advocate for a research field or theme, or influencing policy or organisation roles in research workshops
  • show a credible plan for how research outcomes will be communicated and disseminated to achieve the maximum impact within the research community, building on previous experience and track record

This competency should be highlighted in the applicant capability to deliver section.

The capability to maximise the potential of others and the ability to be, or become, a clear communicator and disseminator of knowledge

You should:

  • have identified opportunities to access career development support from the host organisation or outside organisations, for example mentoring and professional training development and relevant training courses that would underpin your future career ambitions
  • show an ability to identify and maximise potential in others for example, through the day-to-day support and development of graduate and undergraduate students or early career researchers, providing career support or by actively networking or coordinating the work of others
  • show evidence of engagement that is integral to your own research community for example, running a journal club, hackathons and have effective communication and interpersonal skills across the wider research community for example, presentations at conferences, workshops
  • also show a credible plan to communicate and disseminate the impact of the research outside of the community, across different audiences, building on previous experience and track record for example, through collaboration with private, public or third sector bodies, publications for a non-academic audience, social media or public engagement activities.

This competency should be highlighted in applicant capability to deliver section.

The excellence, timeliness, feasibility, distinctive vision and importance of the proposed research

You should:

  • have a clear and distinctive strategic vision for your own research in the context of the broad research area within which you work, including internationally
  • be able to describe how your research plans fit into an international context
  • be able to show how the planned programme of research demonstrates potential to significantly advance the field with the appropriate balance of risk versus reward
  • demonstrate that the project is feasible within the period of the fellowship, showing a rigorous approach to reach achievable goals.

This competency should be highlighted in the vision and approach sections.

Strategic value within the STFC programme

You should show the importance and alignment of the project to the STFC programme.

This competency should be highlighted in the vision and approach sections.

The STFC challenges in frontier physics questions will give more information.

Competency framework

The competency framework in Additional Information gives an additional indication of how your application can provide evidence of the level of experience and abilities expected.  It also informs you of where to record the evidence in your application.

Peer review

We will invite peers to review your application independently, against the specified criteria for this opportunity.

Principal investigator response

Reviewer comments on your application will be made available to you from early January 2024 and you will have an opportunity to respond to any factual inaccuracies. You should address your response to the Fellowship Panel and not the reviewers. You will have 10 working days to complete and submit your response.

Panel

Your application, reviewer comments and principal investigator response will be considered by the Fellowship Panel, operating as eight sub‐panels:

  • accelerator physics
  • extragalactic
  • near universe
  • near universe solar/exoplanet
  • nuclear physics
  • particle astrophysics and cosmology
  • particle physics experiment
  • particle physics theory

Your application will be assessed against the criteria. The top‐ranked candidates in each sub‐panel area will be invited for interview.

The Fellowship Panel will take into account time spent outside of active research. In assessing the effects of career breaks, the Panel will note the applicant’s career trajectory and potential at the beginning of the break, relative to the stage of the applicant’s career. In assessing applicants, the Panel will recognise that the effects on productivity of a career break, may continue beyond the return to work.

Examples of areas that may be affected are:

  • presentation and publication record
  • patents filed
  • track record of securing funding, including time to obtain preliminary data
  • maintaining networks of research / innovation contacts and collaborations
  • time required for training
  • the ability to take up opportunities in different geographical locations
  • the ability to take up courses, sabbaticals, ‘visits’, placements and secondments

Interview

An expert interview panel will conduct interviews with applicants after which the panel will make a funding recommendation.

We expect interviews to be held week commencing 15 April 2024.

Funding decision

STFC will make the final funding decision.

The highest ranked candidates from the interviews will be offered Ernest Rutherford Fellowships. If any of these candidates withdraw, Fellowships will be offered to the ranked list of reserve candidates.

Find out more about STFC’s assessment process.

Feedback

In addition to reviewer comments you will receive short panel feedback.

Principles of assessment

We support the San Francisco declaration on research assessment (DORA) and recognise the relationship between research assessment and research integrity.

Find out about the UKRI Principles of Assessment and Decision Making.

We reserve the right to modify the assessment process as needed.

Contact details

Get help with your application

For help on costings and writing your application, contact your research office. Allow enough time for your organisation’s submission process.

Ask about this funding opportunity

Email: support@funding-service.ukri.org

We aim to respond to emails within 2 working days.

Phone: 01793 547490

Our phone lines are open:

  • Monday to Thursday 8:30am to 5:00pm
  • Friday 8:30am to 4:30pm

Additional info

Background

Terms and conditions

STFC fellowships are governed by the grant conditions as set out in the research grants guidance for applicants, unless otherwise stated.

Applications are accepted and awards are made on the understanding that research organisations and fellows agree to observe the terms and conditions and the scheme requirements set out in this guidance and any amendments issued during the currency of the award.

STFC intends its scheme to be flexible and reserves the right to deal as it thinks fit with applications of unusual character and to waive any rule at its absolute discretion.

For further information, you should refer to:

Research organisations must appoint research fellow employees for the full duration of the award and integrate the research fellow within the research activities of the host department, while ensuring that they are able to maintain independence and focus on their personal research programme.

Awards are made on the understanding that the fellow’s work and progress are subject to the same monitoring and appraisal procedures as those of other academic staff within the host institution, and that there are adequate facilities at the host institution for the research proposed.

See the terms and conditions guidance for Ernest Rutherford Fellowships

Supporting documents

ERF competency framework (PDF, 199KB)

ERF departmental quota limits, contacts and internal deadlines (PDF, 203KB)

ERF ED&I host department statement questions (DOCX, 62KB)

ERF equality impact assessment (PDF, 199KB)

Global Talent visa

STFC Ernest Rutherford Fellows are eligible for a Global Talent visa under the ‘exceptional promise’ category for future research leaders.

Updates

  • 8 August 2023
    Bulleted list updated under 'The potential of the individual to lead their research discipline' heading in the 'How we will assess your application' section.
  • 6 July 2023
    Updated 'ERF departmental quota limits, contacts and internal deadlines' document in the 'Who can apply' and 'Additional info' sections.
  • 22 June 2023
    Wording amended under the 'eligible institutions' section in 'who can apply'. Also replaced the 'ERF departmental quota limits, contacts and internal deadlines' document with an updated version under 'supporting documents'.

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