The ESRC has officially launched its Future Leaders scheme. This scheme was announced in the Council's Delivery Plan in December, and discussed at the London workshop and regional events.
The scheme will use a two part application process, which suggests that the ESRC expects a high number of applications, despite limiting the eligibility to less those with less than four years experience since their PhD (measured as the thesis submission date). This might be a narrow window, but the view's far-reaching (if you'll excuse the tortured metaphor): it's open to people from anywhere in the world, as long as they've got the support of a UK institution.
You can apply for up to £215k (100% fEC - or £172k at 80% fEC, which is what they'll actually give you), for support for up to three years. They aim to fund 70 awards. The deadline for applications is 15 September 2011.
So what will a successful FL project look like? Well, you'll need to have the following:
- a mentor 'of high international research standing';
- a programme of research skills development;
- a programme of knowledge exchange skills development;
- plans for maximising potential impact, and a 'clear strategy to build relationships and networks with potential beneficiaries and users';
In terms of the type of research they want, it's open, but they're keen on:
- research proposals involving secondary analysis of existing datasets and the application of innovative research methods;
- inter/multidisciplinary working both within and beyond the social sciences;
- international working;
- strong impact.
That's not much to ask, is it? So really, it's an international multidisciplinary analysis of existing datasets involving end users, or nothing. Get your thinking caps on.
Proposals will be assessed using the following criteria:
- Academic potential of applicant;
- Research design and methods;
- Outputs and dissemination;
- Knowledge exchange, including impact plans;
- Organisational support, including mentor, and commitment of organisation to applicant's career development.
Finally, from what I understand they're not so much looking for applications from established academics, but more from those hoping to enter the profession with the potential to be 4* researchers, who will move into a permanent position when the grant finishes. In addition they expect the applicant's salary to be (at least 40%) match funded by the host university. So in essence it's a little like a combination between the RCUK's erstwhile Academic Fellowships, and the Leverhulme Early Career Fellowships.