Skills and experience needed to win support

To be considered suitable for an MRC fellowship or new investigator research grant, you should be able to clearly demonstrate that your skills and experience match those relevant to your career stage as outlined.

When looking at your skills and experience, the panel that assesses your application will take into account any:

  • career breaks, part-time working or changes in discipline
  • specific disruptions to previous or current research caused by the COVID-19 pandemic

Before you make an application, work with your host organisation to evaluate your track record and assess whether you meet the skills and experience outlined.

Career stage: training (PhD students)

Relevant funding opportunities

These include:

Key criteria

You should:

  • plan to pursue a research career
  • show a clear understanding of how the research project will progress knowledge within the field

Research vision

You should have a clear understanding of:

  • how your research project will progress knowledge within the field
  • the project’s relevance to human health

Research experience and potential

You should be able to demonstrate your plans to pursue a research career through, for example:

  • undergraduate research project experience
  • informal placement
  • academic training positions for clinicians

Personal development

You should:

  • have worked with your supervisors and host organisation to develop:
    • a clear research question and project
    • training plans to develop the skills to underpin a future research career
  • be aware of and seek access to career development support, such as mentoring

Leadership

Not strongly applicable at this career stage.

Communication and engagement skills

You should:

  • show awareness of the context of your research in reference to societal and ethical issues
  • understand the importance of public engagement activities and have an interest in developing relevant skills and experience

Profile and influence

Not strongly applicable at this career stage.

Career stage: exploration (early postdoctoral)

Relevant funding opportunities

These include:

Key criteria

You should:

  • have plans for a coherent and integrated training programme
  • have delivered previous research projects and have evidence of outputs

Research vision

You should:

  • have a clear understanding of the contribution of your research to your field
  • be able to:
    • demonstrate independent research ideas
    • show an awareness of research in other fields
    • show an appreciation of the importance of working across different sectors and disciplines of the research and innovation landscape
  • have planned a coherent and integrated research project that aligns with the specified scientific priority areas and which enables you to develop your research skills

Research experience and potential

You should:

  • have delivered previous research projects and show evidence of outputs, for example, publications, conference presentations
  • be starting to establish research contacts independent of your current group leader or supervisor

Personal development

You should:

  • have a clear proposal of how specific, high quality training will enable you to gain the additional skills needed to deliver your research plans
  • be able to outline how you will seek opportunities to access career development support, for example professional training development and relevant training courses

Leadership

You should show potential to lead and inspire, for example through organising peer activities, workshops, journal clubs or supporting individuals at an earlier career stage.

Communication and engagement skills

You should:

  • have excellent communication and interpersonal skills and aim to develop these across different audiences
  • show how your research outcomes will be communicated and disseminated within and outside the research community

Profile and influence

You should have a strong, practical sense of how you will develop your career to become a leading researcher.

Career stage: transition to independence

Relevant funding opportunities

These include:

Key criteria

You should:

  • show productivity across past appointments and an upward trajectory
  • demonstrate clear plans to establish your own research niche

Research vision

You should:

  • have your own research plans or ideas which do not significantly overlap with those of your current group leaders or proposed sponsors
  • describe how your research plans fit into an international context
  • be able to explain plans to establish your intellectual niche and your own research team that will enable you to become an independent research leader
  • have a network of research contacts, independent of your current group leader, including appropriate collaborations nationally, internationally and across disciplines

Research experience and potential

You should:

  • have a track record of challenging, original and productive research in your area which shows productivity across past appointments (typically at least one postdoctoral appointment), as well as an upward trajectory (for example as demonstrated by the quality of science within first author papers or a critical contribution to multiauthor publications; explain your role in multiauthor publications in your application)
  • demonstrate potential to lead independent research, for example by having collaborated with teams in other departments, research organisations or other disciplines, or by having won small amounts of independent funding
  • start to show evidence of recognition and leadership in the community on an international scale, for example through citations to your publications, invitations to seminars or conferences

Personal development

You should:

  • have identified, and where appropriate, pursued opportunities for development, such as time in a second research centre within the UK or overseas, or time spent within industry, or learning new skills
  • have identified opportunities to access career development support, such as mentoring and professional training development, and relevant training courses that will underpin your future career ambitions

Leadership

You should show an ability to identify and maximise potential in others. For example, through the day-to-day support of masters and PhD students or early career scientists.

Communication and engagement skills

You should:

  • have excellent communication and interpersonal skills across different audiences, including academic and public (for example through presentation at scientific conferences and public science fairs)
  • show how research outcomes will be communicated and disseminated within and outside the research community

Profile and influence

You should show an understanding 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, invitations to give lectures or seminars, or participation in internal committees.

Career stage: transition to leadership

Relevant funding opportunities

These include:

Key criteria

You should:

  • have a track record of nationally competitive research and managing your own independent research group
  • have clear plans to develop into an internationally recognised leader in the field

Research vision

You should:

  • develop an ambitious research and career development programme with a credible pathway to developing as an international leader
  • demonstrate an effective track record of nationally competitive independent research
  • demonstrate appropriate national or international collaborations, within, between or across disciplines as required
  • describe how your research plans fit into an international context

Research experience and potential

You should:

  • have a strong track record of original and productive independent research with impact in the field (for example evidenced by senior author publications)
  • have success at securing research funding, such as previous intermediate fellowships to establish independence
  • have standing or influence within the field and the community
    be able to demonstrate a track record of effective management of your own laboratory staff

Personal development

You should:

  • identify and pursue research training opportunities that broaden development, such as time in a second research centre or in industry
  • be able to outline how you will use the fellowship to seek opportunities to develop your career, such as through mentoring and management and leadership training or other professional training development

Leadership

You should have a track record of identifying and maximising potential in others. For example, through managing and mentoring your own staff and early career researchers, and as primary supervisor of PhD students.

Communication and engagement skills

You should:

  • have excellent communication and interpersonal skills across different audiences, for example academic, public and media
  • show how research outcomes will be communicated and disseminated within and outside the research community

Profile and influence

You should show evidence of advising and influencing the research agenda. For example through development of research standards or guidelines, committee membership, research strategy at the level of your research organisation as well as the national or international level.

Get advice on your suitability for a funding opportunity.

Email: fellows@mrc.ukri.org

We can advise if you’re suitable for a particular MRC funding opportunity. Send us:

  • your CV (using the MRC fellowship CV template)
  • a list of relevant publications (no more then one-side of A4)
  • a description of how you meet the skills and experience required for the relevant opportunity
  • a one page project outline

Last updated: 17 August 2023

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