Thursday, 15 September 2011

Changes to AHRC Fellowships: Blackout Ahoy!

The AHRC has announced that it will be making some significant changes to its Fellowships scheme, in line with its Delivery Plan 2011-15 (pdf), during the final week of September 2011. As a part of implementing these changes they will be amending their application forms. Accordingly the last date for submitting Fellowship applications will be 17 October 2011, and they will reopen again in January.

Another application blackout! Whey-hey! The AHRC does like its blackouts. Remember the move to the Shared Services Centre? That necessitated a month long blackout. Before that, their move to Swindon required a three month blackout. A cynic might suggest that they're a bunch of work-shy fops, wilting at the first sign of disruption, the whole office flaked out on day beds.

But that's cynics for you.

Anyway, what are the gnomic 'significant changes' that the press release refers to? Looking at the Delivery Plan, there are 12 references to fellowships, the most relevant of which are:
'The AHRC will allocate the majority of its Fellowships to areas of strategic priority and national capability (e.g. languages, digital humanities, creative economy, heritage, and interdisciplinary research with science subjects) and to deliver research of exceptional scale and importance' (section 1.4, p4)
'The Fellowship scheme will be further developed. Fellowships will be used for particular purposes as above and to develop research leadership skills, collaboration (where appropriate) and early-career support' (section 1.7, p5)
So come the end of the blackout expect a much closer grilling on how your research ties in with their strategic priorities or (ahem) 'particular purposes'. I've also heard that the AHRC will be expecting universities to do more of the filtering of fellowship applications, as the Council moves into line with the ESRC and EPSRC demand management strategies, and that they will allow ECRs an additional year post-doctoral experience to qualify for the early career route.

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