5.8 Supporting Information

All proposals made to STFC require supporting information to be submitted along with the JeS pro forma. A Case for Support is mandatory for all proposals and for most this will also be the case for the Pathways to Impact and Data Management Plans. The following pages provide further information on how to complete these documents but individual scheme/call guidelines should also be referred to for specifics.

It should be noted that STFC do not require any CVs to be provided other than for Ernest Rutherford Fellowships and Public Engagement Fellowships.

Attachments uploaded in JeS and categorised as “Other” or “Proposal Cover Letter” will not routinely be made available to reviewers or panel members so it is important not to provide any information that is essential to the peer review process in documents of this type.”

Index

 

5.8.1 Case for Support - What to include

  • The completed proposal should be accompanied by a self-contained case for support.
     
  • Applicants should refer to the guidelines for the scheme for which they are applying, taking particular note of the assessment criteria that will be used by the research grants panels in assessing their proposal.
     
  • Applicants should note that, whilst there are no set rules against including web links in the case for support, reviewers are under no obligation to follow them so they should not be used as a way to provide critical information.
 

5.8.2 Case for Support – Justification of Resources

Justification of Resources within the Case for Support (CfS)

Part of the role of the CfS is to enable reviewers to make an informed judgement on whether the resources requested are appropriate for the research proposed.

The CfS should explain why the resources requested are appropriate for the research proposed taking into account the nature and complexity of the research proposal. It should not be simply a list of the resources required as this is already given in the Je-S form. Whether the grant is a large programme grant or a small travel grant, all items requested in the JeS form must be justified in the CfS.

Any proposals requesting items that would ordinarily be found in a department, for example non-specialist computers, should include justification both for why they are required for the project and why they cannot be provided from the research organisations own resources (including funding from indirect costs from grants). The CfS is a free text document. So that you don’t miss any costings from the J-eS form or any justifications for the items requested, we recommend that you match the costs to the proposal headings below (where appropriate).

Cost to the proposal Justification needed Questions to consider & answer in the Case for Support
Staff – directly incurred posts    
Researcher/Technician - need to justify why a researcher is needed for the proposed work and why the proposed time input is appropriate. Is the work of appropriate scientific content or technical difficulty to warrant employing a Research Assistant (RA)? Why has the level requested for the RA been asked for?
Staff – directly allocated posts    
Principal Investigator (PI)

 

Co-Investigator (Co-I) and Researcher Co-Investigator time

- The time that the PI and Co-I spend on the grant has to be justified.

- A PI or Co-I can not request time for supervising postgraduate research students, writing publications after the end of the project, writing grant applications or peer review. 

How much time do you intend to dedicate to the project? Will you be doing all the research yourself? What work packages are the PI and Co-Is involved with and why?  Have you factored in enough time to work with project partners, visiting researchers and other collaborators?  Are you only managing the staff on the project?

Travel and Subsistence

- need to give a full break down of the costs in the JeS form for example how many people are travelling and where are they going and why?

If you are planning to visit people to discuss your research, you should explain why those are the right people to talk to and how they can contribute to you meeting your objectives.  If you plan to attend conferences, you should comment on the advantages of conference attendance and give an indication of the number you want to attend during the grant, who will attend these and the type you want to go to – national/ international/ general/subject specific etc.

Travel costs incurred when using facilities should be included where necessary.

Other Directly Incurred Costs

- need to give a description of what has been requested and why?

- every item requested must be justified

You must justify the need for any equipment requested – please see section 5.1.6 regarding the justification of equipment and utilisation of capital assets

Other Directly Allocated Costs

In some cases, such as use of internal facilities and shared staff costs, the basis of the costing doesn’t need to be justified, but the need for the resources does

You need to explain what these are and why you need to use them.

Estates & indirect costs 

- do not need to be justified

 

Research Facilities (at Research organisations)

- only time needs to be justified

You need to explain what you are using the facility for and why you need to use this particular facility.

Pooled Technicians 

- for example workshop or laboratory technicians based at the University.  Usually not named

You need to explain why you are using a pooled technician and justify the amount of resource requested.

Infrastructure Technicians

- for example Health and Safety Officer at University.  Cost should be displayed separately to Estate and Indirect costs in the other Directly Allocated costs box. This cost does not need to be justified.  

 

 

5.8.3 Case for Support- Pathways to Impact Funding

Applicants may request funds for Pathways to Impact activities on grants. Prior to April 2015 this funding was limited to Public engagement activities, but all funding restrictions have been lifted, so that all activities relevant to delivering Pathways to Impact are eligible (subject to a well justified case).

A description of the proposed activities and a justification of the resources requested should be included as a separate section within the case for support of the proposal document. This is required in addition to the Pathways to Impact document so that the request can be peer-reviewed. For page limits please see specific call guidance.

Pathways to Impact activities can take many forms, and it is up to applicants to decide what approach is best for the project in question. In general terms, effective Pathways to Impact programmes will consider:

  • Who is the target audience?
  • How will both audience and researchers benefit?
  • How to engage, and when?
  • Who can support the activities?
  • How will the activities be evaluated and impact measured?

Applicants need not provide full details of each of the above considerations in their request for Pathways to Impact funding, but requests for resources must be justified, and are at the discretion of the panel.

For information on completing the Pathways to Impact document see 5.8.4.

 

5.8.4 How to Complete the Pathways to Impact document

A Pathways to Impact document (of a maximum of two pages) is required for some schemes, which will be detailed in the particular call instructions. The Pathways to Impact document is your opportunity to describe how the potential impacts of this research will be realised.

Further information on completion of the Pathway to Impact document and the types of impact activities that could be included can be found on the RCUK website.

A clearly thought through and acceptable Pathways to Impact is an essential component of a research proposal and a condition of funding in most cases. For schemes where a Pathways to Impact is required, grants will not be allowed to start until a clearly thought through and acceptable Pathways to Impact statement is received.

A clearly thought through and acceptable Pathways to Impact statement should:

  • be project-specific and not generalised;
  • be flexible and focus on potential outcomes;

Funds can now be requested for Pathways to Impact activities – see section 5.8.3 for more information.

Documents

 

5.8.5 Data Management Plan

A Data Management Plan is mandatory on most STFC schemes and should be a maximum of two sides of A4. If it is felt that a DMP is not relevant to the proposal then please upload a document stating why to pass the JeS validation requirement. Guidance on providing the data management plan.

 

5.8.6 Publications Publication Table

Each proposal should provide a statistical summary of the scientific productivity for each individual Applicant. It is recognised that productivity may be expressed in a number of forms. As a minimum each Applicant should list the number of refereed publications over a 5 year (AGP) or 4 year (PPGP and NPGP) period, or shorter specified period if appropriate and, where appropriate, the number of these on which they are first author. These data should be derived from ‘ADS’, or ‘Web of Science’.  The 4/5 years should be the most recent 4/5 calendar year period, if the Applicant had had a career break in this period it should be explained in a footnote. Please use names for Applicants that will, as far as possible, allow them to be uniquely identified in bibliographic searches.

Example form: Period covered January 2012 - Jan2016

Applicant Number of Refereed Number of first author refereed Number of technical reports Number of first author technical reports Number of conference proceedings (not required for AGP)
A.N.Other1          
A.N.Other2          
  1. Note: A.N.Other2 was on maternity for 6 months from June-Dec 2013.
  2. Technical papers are defined here as those specifically arising from instrument development or construction and not un-refereed science papers.

Publications by Applicant PDRAs should be presented in a similar way. Again, names for individual PDRAs should be included. PDRAs that are no longer with the group at time of submission are eligible (so long as they were supported via STFC grants during the preceding 3 years). The intention is to provide an indication of PDRA productivity in the context of career development, and to identify potential problems in management.

In the final row of the summary table, groups should include the total number of unique papers over the most recent 3 year period (this is not the same as summing output from individual investigators), and the total number of unique papers originating from within the group (i.e. total number of papers with Applicants, PDRAs, and PhDs as 1st authors).

In addition, if they wish to, Applicants can provide alternative measures to demonstrate their scientific productivity; for example, explaining authorship policies in explicit fields. Those engaged in hardware and software projects and other technical activities can also demonstrate past productivity, where appropriate, by listing technical reports published, and also by showing evidence of innovation and technical development, external contracts and other enabling activities.

It should be noted that any statistics provided will be used as a starting point in establishing overall productivity rather than to make fine distinctions in determining priorities for funding.

If there is any ambiguity on how to present publications in a particular case, Applicants should contact the Office. Note that the intention is to provide the AGP with unambiguous information on activity and productivity within the group

 

5.8.7 Project Partner Letter of Support Guidance

Each Project Partner must provide a Project Partner letter of support, of no more than 2 sides of A4 or equivalent on headed paper or by email. Emails must be included as an attachment to the grant on submission via Je-S. The letter or email should be written when the proposal is being prepared and should be targeted specifically to the project, it must therefore be dated within 6 months of the date of submission of the proposal. To provide assurance that the project partner has authorised the proposed contribution or commitment the letter or email should be signed by the named contact, stating the capacity in which they are providing the sign off. Project Partner letters of support that merely indicate that an organisation is interested in the research are not permitted. The individual named as contact for the Project Partner organisation cannot also be named as staff, for example Co-Investigator on a grant proposal.

A well written project partner letter of support will confirm the organisation’s commitment to the proposed project by articulating the benefits of the collaboration, its relevance and potential impact. The Project Partner letter or email should also, identify the value, relevance and possible benefits of the proposed work to the partner, the period of support, the full nature of the collaboration/support and how the partner will provide added value. Where relevant to the project, details should be provided of the projected market size, customers and sales and how the organisation will commercialise the technology beyond the project. Project Partner contributions, whether in cash or in kind, should be explained in detail in the project partner letter of support. Detail of how this support relates to the proposal as a whole should be included in the case for support and in the Pathways to Impact attachment.

The project partners should not submit any other ordinary letters of support unless in exceptional cases and where this has been agreed to with the research council. The Research councils reserve the right to remove all other letters of support from the proposal. Applicants should refer to the research council or call guidance for additional information regarding acceptable letters of support.

 

5.8.8 Letters of Support

Letters of Support are not a requirement on most STFC schemes and a maximum of three are allowed for any proposal. Where there is a specific requirement for an attachment of this type to be provided it will be detailed within the scheme/call guidelines. Any Letter of Support provided should be no more than two sides of A4 in length and can be provided as either an email or on headed paper. The letter or email should be written when the proposal is being prepared and should be specific to the project: it must therefore be dated within 6 months of the date of submission of the proposal.

STFC advise that providing a few, good quality Letters of Support is more beneficial to the Applicant/s than providing numerous, generic letters. A letter of support should have real purpose such as demonstrating agreement from an external collaboration for access to proprietary data or supporting claims of leadership within large consortia and/or data exploitation rights. Where there are multiple, generic letters there is a danger that peer review panel members and reviewers may miss those that really add something to the proposal.

Where an applicant chooses to upload multiple letters of support as one PDF or as “Other” attachments to bypass Je-S validation then the proposal may be returned or the panel/reviewers advised to read just three of those provided.

You may wish to consider that it is STFC best practice to not approach someone who has provided a Letter of Support to also be a reviewer. Given that reviewer comments are likely to have more impact than a Letter of Support it is advisable to only provide those which are required as part of the call guidance or are essential to the proposal.

 

5.8.9 Applicants Declarations of Interest

The Research Councils’ Code of Conduct and Policy on the Governance of Good Research Conduct outlines the expectation that applicants for Research Council funding are expected to observe the highest standards of integrity, honesty and professionalism and to embed good practice in every aspect of their work. As part of this, any private, personal or commercial interests relating to an application for funding to the Research Councils must be declared in a covering letter included as an application attachment. Guidance on providing declarations of interest can be found on the RCUK website.

Science and Technology Facilities Council Switchboard: 01793 442000