Notes for applicants

1. Eligibility

The John Fell OUP Research Fund is open to both academic and service units. All subject areas are encouraged to apply, and interdisciplinary and/or interdivisional projects are especially welcome.

The applicant should normally be a current salaried employee of the collegiate university holding an academic post (Professor or Associate Professor), or a research fellowship awarded competitively and intended to enable the holder to establish an independent research career (e.g. Royal Society University Research Fellow, Junior Research Fellow).

If you wish to apply for a main award (that is, for more than £7,500), you must hold a post that includes responsibility for developing your own research agenda. If you do not hold an academic post, but the department would nevertheless support a research application to an external body in your name as principal investigator, then you will normally be eligible to apply for a main award to the John Fell Fund. You are advised to consult your departmental administrator and/or Head of Department (or Chair of Faculty): your application will not be considered unless it is supported by your department or faculty via the on-line application process.  

If you wish to apply for a small award (up to £7,500), the same rules apply as for main awards, except that the committee will also consider applications from an early career researcher employed by the collegiate University who aspires to an academic post or fellowship, but does not yet hold such a post, provided that the applicant has the support of their line manager.  The line manager should supply a letter of support, including confirmation that holding the John Fell award would be consistent with the applicant’s existing duties, for instance in terms of meeting the requirements of external funders.  The application must also be supported by the department via the on-line process.

If you are in Medical Sciences and are not an academic or equivalent, you should consult the divisional office at jff@medsci.ox.ac.uk, and, subject to their advice, supply a covering letter from your Head of Department confirming your eligibility to apply to the John Fell Fund.  Clinical Research Fellows who have not yet completed their DPhil may not apply.

Retired and Emeritus Fellows, and DPhil and other students, are ineligible for funding.

2. Assessment criteria

Awards made to the John Fell Fund will be assessed against the following criteria;

  • Excellence and intrinsic merit of research
  • Potential for long term sustainability and academic impact of the project
  • Relevance to department and divisional research strategy
  • Necessity for John Fell Fund versus other sources of funding
  • Value for money, noting in particular the potential for shared use of equipment and other facilities

3. Types of application

Applications may be made for small, main or divisional awards, as follows:

  • Small Award Scheme - Requests to this scheme must not exceed £7,500. Applicants will need to demonstrate how the award would lead to further funding or research opportunities. For deadlines, see section IV.
  • Main Award Scheme - Applications under this scheme must be for over £7,500. There is no upper limit on the value of awards, but the higher the sum requested, the more exceptional the case will need to be. For deadlines, see under section IV.
  • Divisional awards - Special schemes are available in the following divisions to which applicants may apply: Humanities, Social Sciences.

4. Types of award

The John Fell OUP Research Fund will be used in a variety of ways to stimulate and sustain research.

The Fund will make available outright grants, underwriting, or loans. The division, department or faculty concerned will normally be expected to provide a contribution to the cost of the project and/or complementary expertise. Projects that will generate income are welcome.

Awards will not normally be made for projects that are eligible for support from external sources.

Applications will be made for any of the following purposes:

Award typeDescription
(a) Pump-priming For innovative projects and proof-of-concept work, especially of an interdisciplinary nature, that are currently at too early a stage to put to an external sponsor, the Fell Fund award being intended to bring the project to a stage at which a strong application for external funds can be made towards the end of the period of the award.
(b) Early Career Researcher

Start-up funds for applicants who are in the early stages of their careers as independent researchers, to accelerate establishment of their research and scholarship. You will have held a post that includes responsibility for developing your own research agenda for less than five years*.

*This condition will be relaxed proportionately for applicants who have had a career break or who work part-time.

(c) Other academic activities e.g. seminar series, international interactions - likely to lead to new research initiatives.
(d) Research facilitators i.e. administrators who are well-informed about sources of research funding, and encourage and/or assist with the preparation of bids to external sponsors, e.g. by mentoring academics, and/or fostering collaboration (see further information on research facilitators).
(e) Support related to bids for external funding Normally matching funds, usually in the form of a contribution towards a proposal that is about to be submitted to an external sponsor in order to enhance the chances of success: in such cases any award will be contingent on the success of the external bid. It is expected that the Fell Fund would not contribute more than 25% towards the total cost of the project, unless a higher contribution is explicitly required by an external sponsor.
(f) Strategic investment in research assets

Applications in this category must normally be for a minimum of £100k towards the cost of research equipment or other assets (such as datasets), which must represent a contribution towards a project of a major strategic nature where the balance of the cost is the subject of a bid to an external funding body that assesses bids by peer review.  It is normally expected that at least 75% of the cost of the project will be sought from the external body.  A contribution of up to 75% of the internal costs of the project (i.e. of the balance after the anticipated external contribution) may be available from the Capital Fund; the department or division is expected to contribute to the direct costs, and may seek an element from the John Fell Fund.  Normally, therefore, this category will apply only where the full cost of the project as a whole is over £500k, and any award will be contingent on the success of the external bid.  Applications under this heading should make clear the effect of the project on the division’s research strategy, and how running costs, including equipment replacement and maintenance, would be met over the next ten years. Individuals considering applying under category (f) should at an early stage (well in advance of the closing date) consult their divisional contact about the strategic case and financial package for their application.

5. Eligible costs and divisional/departmental contributions

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. For full details of all costing requirements please refer to eligible costs.

In all cases, departments/divisions are expected to cover the indirect costs of projects.  In respect of categories (a)-(e), they are encouraged where possible to contribute to direct costs.  For category (f), a contribution to direct costs is required.

6. Conditional awards

Where John Fell awards are made conditionally, funds will not be released until the condition is fulfilled.  In cases where ethical clearance is required from the Central University Research Ethics Committee (CUREC) or related bodies (IDREC and DREC), funds will not be released until clearance and a CUREC number has been confirmed to johnfellfund@admin.ox.ac.uk .  In exceptional cases where data from the initial stages of work will form an essential part of the application for ethical approval, or where ethical approval for subsequent stages of work necessitate completion of previous stages, please note that:

(a) the department should satisfy itself that all necessary ethical approvals are in place for the initial stage(s) of the work, and underwrite costs up to the point where CUREC gives approval for the full project;

(b) the department should charge the costs to itself and then recharge them later to the award if and when full CUREC approval comes through, on the understanding that if approval is not received, the John Fell award will be revoked;

(c) any request, in exceptional circumstances, to proceed other than as under (a) and (b) above should be referred to johnfellfund@admin.ox.ac.uk;

(d) decisions relating to any one award do not in any way set a precedent for ethical clearance of other awards, as the circumstances around CUREC and ethical approval relate directly and only to the nature of the research in each individual study.

7. FAQs

Further information on eligibility, purposes of awards, costs, and the application process is given in the FAQs section