The British Academy offers a portfolio of fellowships for Post-doctoral, Mid-career and Senior researchers. With no strategic priorities other than research excellence, it also takes a punt on risky, explorative small-scale research projects. But competition is rife and so insights into how awards are allocated are welcome. Here are some highlights from a session organised by Research Services in October. Your proposal will be judged on unsurprising criteria: academic merit, originality, the realtion of your proposal to what is already out there, feasibility, specificity, and outcomes. There are lots of other opportunities including Rising Star Engagement awards, BA/Wolfson Professorships (for Fellows of the BA mainly), Newton Fund calls, International challenges, and so on, but this session focused on a few specific themes. See also Phil Ward’s reflections.
The Bulk of Funding goes to Research Fellowships
There are opportunities for Post-doctoral, MId-career and Senior Fellowships. The Post-doctoral Fellowship competition (3 years funding, fEC) is tough with a success rate of around 5% (roughly 45 awards each year) and demand management processes are in place. Choose an opportune moment to apply because this is a one-shot deal and if you don’t get past the first stage of the process then it is game over. You have to nominate a referee and have a very good reason if you don’t choose the external examiner for your PhD. Your chances with a Mid-career Fellowships (6-12 months, fEC) are a bit better with a success rate of 10% (roughly 35 awards each year). You’ll be judged on the excellence of your research proposal as well its potential its to say something to a broad audience. Senior Fellowships (1 year, non-fEC) are rarer (roughly 8 awards each year). They are meant to help get a major programme of research over the finishing line.
Small Grants are for Risky, Explorative Research
BA/Leverhulme Small Grants (up to 24 months, £10K max) are a flagship scheme with a success rate of 20% (around 350 per year). They are looking for risky ideas and pilots that could lead to something more significant. Take a look at the special funds which also contribute to this scheme because if you specify their relevance to your application it can improve your chances. Given the number of applications they have to plough through – and in fact there is only one person managing this – make your proposal supremely readable!