Further information - research grants
For complete information on the application procedure read the NERC research grants and fellowships handbook. The following is a brief introduction.
Applicants to a Standard, Large or Knowledge Exchange grant call may submit up to one proposal as the Principal Investigator or as a Co-Investigator, and one further proposal as a non-lead Principal Investigator or Co-Investigator.
Large grant proposals will only be accepted if an outline proposal has previously been submitted and invited to proceed to the full proposal stage.
Applicants must ensure that their proposal is received by NERC by 16:00 on the relevant closing date. The JeS system will close at 16:00 and proposals will not submit to NERC after that time. They should leave enough time for their proposal to pass through their organisation's JeS submission route before 16:00 on the relevant closing date. Any proposal that is incomplete or does not meet the eligibility criteria of NERC, will be rejected and will not be considered.
For some of our schemes we allow the award to be joint between several research organisations. Each component, greater than £65k 100% FEC, may be submitted separately with a named Principal Investigator but the project title, objectives, summary, academic beneficiaries and impact summary should be common to all component proposal forms.
All attachments submitted through the JeS system must be completed in single-spaced typescript of minimum font size 11 point (Arial or equivalent), with margins of at least 2cm. References should also be at least 11 point font. The correct attachment type should be used in JeS as that determines whether attachments are visible to reviewers and/or moderating panel members. Letters of support must be on headed paper and signed/dated. Attachments must not exceed the page limits specified for the attachment type and scheme, regardless of the number of component Research Organisations.
For all proposals for NERC grants (research and fellowships), the Principal Investigator must submit the relevant JeS form, together with a Case for Support. The maximum length of the Case for Support depends on the scheme type. It must be completed in single-spaced typescript of minimum font size 11 point (Arial or equivalent) with margins of at least 2cm. References must also be font size 11 point. Applicants should avoid the use of colour graphs or pictures, which will not be reproduced in colour in any hard copies used during assessment. Any proposal in which the Case for Support does not comply with these specifications will be rejected.
Case for Support
The Case for Support for most schemes should have three parts:
Part 1 - Previous Track Record
- A summary of results and conclusions of recent relevant work in the technological/scientific area that is covered by the research proposal. Include reference to both NERC and non-NERC funded work. Detail of any relevant past collaborations.
- Specific expertise available to the project for the research at the host organisation and that of any associated organisations and project partners.
- An indication of how previous work has achieved significant academic or socio-economic impact.
Part 2 - A Description of the Proposed Research
- Underlying rationale, scientific and technological issues to be addressed.
- Specific objectives of the project including their potential relevance to UK and international research work in the field, relevance to the NERC Strategy and anticipated achievements and outputs, including datasets.
- Methodology and approach.
- Risks and mitigation strategies
- Programme and/or plan of research, evidence of access to required facilities, data, collections.
- Management of the project and resources, identifying the training and career development opportunities for personnel working on the project.
Part 3 - Outline Data Management Plan
The Outline Data Management Plan should identify data sets likely to be made available to NERC Environmental Data Centres for archiving and reuse at the end of the grant. One page should be used only for this purpose. Costs associated with management of the data once it has been passed to the Data Centres will be funded separately from the grant and should not be included in the grant proposal. Any costs associated with preparation of the data by the Investigators team should be included on the grant proposal. The Case for Support for successful proposals will be made available to the NERC Environmental Data Centres and where appropriate, used by them to draft, in collaboration with the Principal Investigator, a full Data Management Plan (DMP). This full DMP should be mutually agreed between the Data Centre and the Principal Investigator within three months of the start date of the grant.
All parts of the Case for Support must be submitted as one document; these parts must not be attached separately under other attachments types. Further parts are required for some grant schemes (eg Large Grants) and Parts 1 and 2 are combined for the Fellowship scheme.
Justification of Resources
The Justification of Resources (JoR) should be submitted as a separate attachment in the JeS system. It should include justification for all Directly Incurred Costs, Investigator effort, use of pool staff resources and any access to shared facilities and equipment being sought. Up to two pages of A4 are allowed for this purpose (except for Large grant schemes, where four pages are allowed). No justification for Directly Allocated Estates and Indirect Costs is required. If resources are not fully justified, they will be subject to reduction.
An example of a well-written Justification of Resources is provided below. Our thanks to the authors of this text for providing their permission to publish it as a good practice guide.
Guidance on what should be included is also available in the JeS Helptext (under the Standard Proposals then Case for Support and Attachments section). This has been agreed by all Research Councils. The JoR should also include full justification of all sea-time and facility costs requested on proposals. For HPC no cost estimates are required, but an estimate of the use of HECToR in Million Allocation Units (MAUs) should be included and an application must be attached when use of HECToR exceeds 38MAU (in any one year).
NERC also requires all grant proposals to include a Pathways to Impact attachment, which should focus on engagement with users (industry, business, government, charities or the general public). This should not exceed two sides of A4. Any costs associated with socio-economic impact activities must be included in the appropriate section of the JeS form. Academic impact activities, such as conferences, should not be included in the Pathways to Impact. The Pathways to Impact should consider:
- Who could potentially benefit from the proposed research over different timescales?
- How might the potential beneficiaries benefit?
- What will be done during and after the project to increase the likelihood of the research reaching the identified beneficiaries and maximise the likelihood of the identified benefits being achieved?
Points a. and b. should be described in the Impact Summary section of the proposal and point c. should be detailed in the pathways to impact attachment. In both cases these refer to economic and societal impacts only. Full details of the requirements can be found on the pathways to impact webpage.