Frequently asked questions

Eligibility

Am I eligible?

You may apply to the fund if you are a current employee of the collegiate university holding an academic post, or a research fellowship awarded competitively and intended to enable you to establish an independent research career. Further details are given at http://www.admin.ox.ac.uk/pras/jff/notes/

For small awards (that is, for sums of below £7,500), applications may also be considered from an employee who does not as yet hold an academic post or fellowship, subject to inclusion of a letter from the applicant’s line manager confirming that the manager supports the application and that it is consistent with the applicant’s existing duties (e.g. the requirements of external funding bodies).

If in doubt, you should talk to your departmental administrator and/or Head of Department (or Chair of Faculty), and to the relevant divisional office – for divisional contacts, see under ‘Advice’ below.

I am in Medical Sciences but am not an academic or equivalent – am I eligible?

You should consult the divisional office at jff@medsci.ox.ac.uk, and, subject to their advice, ask your Head of Department to supply a covering letter confirming that they consider you to be eligible to apply to the John Fell Fund.

I am a Clinical Research Fellow – may I apply?

You may not apply unless you have already successfully completed your DPhil.

I am retired – am I eligible?

No, retired and Emeritus Fellows may not apply to the John Fell Fund.

I am a student – am I eligible?

No, students may not apply to the John Fell Fund.

How do I know whether I qualify as an 'early career researcher'?

To qualify as an early career researcher you should be in the early stages of your career as an independent researcher. You will have held a post that includes responsibility for developing your own research agenda for less than 5 years in all (including periods at other institutions). If you have had a career break, and/or work part-time, this requirement will be relaxed proportionately. To assist us in evaluating your application, please provide details on the timeframe for such circumstances (it is not necessary to disclose personal information relating to these circumstances). If you hold, or have held, a post of professor, reader, or senior lecturer, you are not eligible under this category.  If however you hold the title of Associate Professor at Oxford, you are eligible, provided that you fulfil the other requirements outlined above.

Can applications be made by staff who are not yet in post?

Yes, the John Fell Fund will accept applications from staff who have been appointed to the University but who are not yet in post, providing the applicant has signed a contract with the University. Please note that funds will not be made available until the applicant has taken up the appointment.

Purposes of grants

May I apply for funds for a studentship?

The committee will not support a studentship under the following award categories: 'pump-priming', or 'early career researcher', or 'other academic activities'. A studentship covers a longer period than these types of awards are expected to last. The Fund will not support a student who is already on course. In exceptional cases, it may be willing to make a contribution to an application to an external body for a research project or scheme that includes new studentships, provided that a strong strategic case is made for matched funding, under the award category 'support related to bids for external funding'.

I am an early career researcher: may I apply for funds for a research assistant?

Yes, you may apply for a grant for a research assistant, provided that this is for a project that is at too early a stage to take to an external research body. We would expect the employment of such an assistant to be aimed at establishing your research in Oxford, and therefore the JFF would normally provide less than 2 years funding. You should make clear how you would propose to fund your research subsequently: normally this would be by applying to an external body on the basis of the initial support from the John Fell Fund.

Will the John Fell Fund pay for conferences, workshops or symposia?

The committee recognizes that in some disciplines these provide a major contribution to pump-priming research. It will therefore consider such applications provided that they make clear: (a) to what future opportunities the event is expected to lead, including external funding bids and future research collaborations, highlighting the benefits that these will bring to Oxford, and (b) why the full cost cannot be met from other sources, which would normally be expected to cover the cost.

The committee requires clear information about income AND expenditure in the application form, clearly showing which items the Fell Fund is being asked to support. The committee will expect to see evidence of attempts to raise external *and* internal funds, in particular external funding applications submitted through the relevant faculty, and also matching private funding or sponsorship (for example from individuals or publishers) and faculty or college support (which may be 'in kind' such as the free use of rooms and/or reduced accommodation rates). Conferences, workshops or symposia for which the Fell Fund is requested to provide support should normally charge a registration fee to non-university members that is sufficient to cover venue, publicity and support costs. For applicants in the Humanities, the Division provides further guidance on requests for conference support at:  https://sharepoint.nexus.ox.ac.uk/research 

Can the John Fell Fund be used to meet the travel and subsistence costs of non-Oxford attendees at a conference or workshop?

It is expected that the attendees at a conference or workshop will normally meet travel and subsistence costs from their own home institution's funds. However, the John Fell Fund may meet such costs in exceptional circumstances. The case will need to make clear why the individual cannot receive funding from their home institution and why it is in Oxford's interests to pay for their attendance. An example might be where a certain individual from a developing country is key to developing a new collaboration.

Can the John Fell Fund be used to pay an honorarium for a speaker, or for receptions?

No, the Fell Fund will not under any circumstances fund receptions, honoraria or similar costs. It is highly unlikely that conferences to be held outside of Oxford will be supported.

How do I find out the costs of organising a conference? Can you find out flight prices/ hotel costs for me?

We recommend that you discuss arrangements with your departmental administrator in the first instance.

Process

Who needs to sign the application form, and when?

The applicant must give the name of the individual who has approved the application on behalf of the department or faculty, but a signature is not necessary. Approval of the Head of Department must be obtained before the application is submitted to the division. Approval is subject to checking, and any award for a bid that is not approved by the department or faculty will be withdrawn.

What happens to the application after I've sent it to you?

All applications should be submitte online and are, if approved at department, forwarded to the appropriate Divisional Office. These applications are then reviewed by the relevant divisional committee and put forward to the John Fell Fund Secretariat in priority order. Main awards are then approved by the John Fell Fund Committee. Small and divisional awards are subject to approval by the Chair of the John Fell Fund Committee.

Can you read my proposal and comment on it?

Applicants should contact their departmental administrator in the first instance as assistance may well be available locally, or there may be a research facilitator who can provide some informal feedback on your application. 

Do I need to seek ethical approval for my project?

In all relevant cases, you must seek ethical approval before you commence work on the project. See details of university ethical approval policy and process at http://www.admin.ox.ac.uk/curec/. In approving the application, the Head of Department undertakes that any ethical requirements will be covered.  Divisions or the John Fell Committee may also require as a condition of an award that ethical approval be provided.  In such cases, confirmation of ethical approval must be supplied to johnfellfund@admin.ox.ac.uk before funds can be released. 

Do I need to acknowledge support from the Fell Fund, and if so how?

Where a publication results from a project supported by the John Fell Fund, this should be acknowledged in the publication by a statement along the lines, 'This publication arises from research funded by the John Fell Oxford University Press (OUP) Research Fund'.

What happens if there is a delay in starting or completing my project?

If you are unable to start your project within six months of the start date you originally proposed, and/or if you expect the end date to be different, you should request a change in dates using the 'Request Extension' tool alongside your award listing on 'My applications and awards' setting out the new expected start and end dates and explaining the reasons for the delay. Changes in start and end dates are subject to approval by departmental approvers and by the John Fell Committee.

How do I apply for extension requests and submit final reports?

Applications for extensions to John Fell awards should be made via the online system, accessed using your SSO, using the 'Request Extension' tool, accessed using the button alongside your award listing on 'My Applications and Awards'. Extensions must be approved by your departmental approver before being reviewed by the John Fell Secretariat. Final reports are submitted using the 'Final Report' button.  Please ensure that any final reports outstanding on John Fell awards are submitted as soon as possible.

Costs

Which costs are eligible?

Awards will normally be made only for the directly incurred costs of research. Applications should make clear both the full economic costs of the project, and the directly incurred costs that they request from the John Fell Fund.

How are John Fell awards to be managed?

The John Fell Committee expects that awards will be managed by PIs working in departments within the University.  If, exceptionally, it is proposed to make an arrangement whereby some  of a John Fell award would  be transferred upfront to a third party outside the University, on the basis that that party would then administer those funds on the University’s behalf (e.g. to arrange payments in a developing country), you are advised as follows:  (a) that the committee would expect that no more than 30% of the value of a John Fell award, or £10,000 (whichever is the greater) will be handled in this way; (b) that before applying you should discuss the proposal with the Research Services Office; and (b) that you must make clear in the application to the Fell Fund the rationale for the arrangement, the proposed payment arrangements (including the total amount and spread of payments to the third party), and the main terms of the proposed agreement, including implications for Intellectual Property.  If funds are awarded in such a case, it will be a condition of the award that any transfer of funds will be governed by a research contract, to be negotiated through the Research Services Office.

The above requirements do not apply in respect of retrospective payments to third parties for goods or services rendered, nor to funds to be managed by staff within Oxford colleges.

Do I need to include Full Economic Costs and an X5 costing if my project does not include staff costs, or if I am applying for a small award?

No, there is no need to submit these with your application.

How do I calculate the Full Economic Cost of my project?

Please consult your administrator about the preparation of costings.

What happens if I want to change the original budget?

John Fell awards are cash-limited and will not be increased. If you do not need certain items that were originally budgeted for, the relevant funds should be returned to the fund for the benefit of future applicants. If you wish to vire funds from one heading to another, you should write to the John Fell secretariat setting out the proposed change, explaining why this was not proposed at the outset and justifying the proposed new arrangements. Changes in the budget are subject to approval on behalf of the committee.

Our project has exceeded the original budget due to a member of staff being paid more than we calculated. Will the John Fell Fund accept that as it is over the approved limit and fund the difference or will the Faculty have to make the difference?

Additional costs that are over and above those stated within the original application will not be covered by the John Fell Fund and should be met by the department. In exceptional circumstances, it may be possible to reapply to the John Fell Fund for a supplementary small award to cover these additional costs: such a reapplication will be subject to approval by the relevant divisional committee, which will take into account the justification for the shortfall and the reason why the department cannot cover it, and set it against the needs of the new small award applications received in that round.

Are Article Processing Charges (APCs) eligible as part of a John Fell application?

Article Processing Charges (APCs) are not a permissible cost within John Fell applications.

Advice

Who can help me with my application?

Normally you should start with your departmental administrator or other colleagues in your department for advice on eligibility and costings.

For further advice, including on the types of purposes for which you may make an application, the relevant divisional contact may be able to help, as below:

You may also consult the John Fell secretariat, at johnfellfund@admin.ox.ac.uk