New Investigators (NI) FAQ - BBSRC

What does lecturer level mean?

This is the entry-level academic position after a few years of fixed-term research or teaching positions. They are responsible both for teaching undergraduates and conducting research. New unified research council Band E level, or Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Band 5 for research council institutes.

If you are in any doubt about whether your position is at lecturer level, please seek clarification from your head of department.

What is a principal investigator (PI)?

A PI is the primary named person on the grant with responsibility for the intellectual leadership of a research project and for the overall management of the research. As a new investigator, you would not have had a PI role on a grant which included staff costs. Please see BBSRC directly incurred costs for details.

What is the difference between a project partner, a collaborator, and a co-investigator?

A project partner is a third-party person who is not employed on the grant, or a third-party organisation, who provides specific contributions either in cash or in-kind, to the project. A collaborator is a third-party person, or organisation, who has a specific project role on the grant. A co-investigator (Co-I) assists the principal investigator in the management and leadership of the research project. There may be several Co-Is supporting the PI.

Am I eligible?

I have been a principal investigator, am I eligible?

Applicants must not have received, or currently be in receipt of, competitively obtained research or support funding from any source as a principal investigator where such funding includes or included postdoctoral research assistant (PDRA) staff support costs. This includes grants associated with fellowships.

I have been a co-investigator, am I eligible?

Researchers who have been co-investigators on successful grant applications are eligible to apply to the scheme.

I have received a fellowship. Am I eligible?

Contact the eligibility team by emailing eligibility@bbsrc.ukri.org to check eligibility, providing funding details of your fellowship.

When submitting an eligibility query, you must include a short description outlining your query, a detailed CV for the applicants the query concerns and any additional supporting information you may deem relevant, such as a letter from a head of department detailing the nature and responsibilities of a particular post or fellowship.

I have my second postdoctoral research assistant (PDRA) post. Am I eligible?

You need to be in a lecturer level position which can be confirmed by your head of department.

If I was listed as a researcher co-i (with post doc salary), would this make me ineligible to apply for a new investigator?

No, please see our eligibility requirements.

Can I submit applications to more than one research council at the same time?

An application for a project may not be submitted to more than one BBSRC committee, another research council, or any other funding body. BBSRC works with the other research councils to ensure that applications for funding for research that lie close to remit boundaries are addressed by the most appropriate council. If in doubt you should email bbsrc.remit@bbsrc.ukri.org with a brief outline of the research to be undertaken. For further information see our get support for your project section.

Is preliminary data required, and how much?

It is expected that preliminary data will be provided to support the research and must be relevant to the research project of your application. The amount of preliminary data is dependent on what is needed to adequately support your application. This applies if you have changed science area.

Is there any help available with submitting applications?

Contact the research grants administration team at your research organisation or your head of department to seek help with grant applications. The Je-S guide also provides useful guidance.

What is the level of funding available to new investigators?

The funding levels are the same as for BBSRC standard research grants. We will award 80% of the full economic costs of your research, and your organisation must agree to find the balance. Projects can range in size up to £2 million and last up to five years. Please see costs we fund for details.

Is there any advice on proposing to purchase a bigger piece of equipment as a part of a NI proposal?

Equipment may be sought as part of a grant, where the items of equipment requested are necessary for the successful delivery of the proposed research. All costs must be justified in the application.

Who should be nominated as a reviewer for my application?

Nominated reviewers should be experts in the research field and be able to provide an expert view on the value and benefits to users of the research proposal. Investigators should not provide reviewers from their own organisation or from current or proposed project partners, or where any possible conflict of interest may arise. International reviewers can be included.

Investigators should avoid nominating more than one reviewer from the same organisation. Details of four potential reviewers have to be provided.

Are you allowed to resubmit a proposal if it was deemed excellent, but not funded?

As with all standard research grants, resubmissions are not permitted unless invited by BBSRC. Details of our resubmission policy can be found on our resubmissions page.

Does the new investigator scheme cover the PI salary?

PI costs are covered for the time they spend on the grant. Please see directly incurred costs for more details.

Does a new investigator grant cover full salary costs for the investigator?

PI costs are covered for the time spent on the grant. Grants are awarded to the research organisation rather than to the PI. Please see costs we fund for more information.

What happens if I move to a new research organisation after a grant has been awarded?

If you wish to move institution after a grant has been awarded you will need agreement from the organisation to which the grant was awarded and the new organisation for the grant to be transferred. The new organisation will need to provide confirmation that they can offer the research facilities and support necessary for the grant to reach a successful conclusion.

What support from the department and industry is expected?

We will award 80% of the full economic costs of your research, and your organisation must agree to find the balance. We will not pay industry costs, so these should be met by the industry partner and are not included in the full economic costing of the project.

Can I have collaborators?

Collaborators are allowed but costs cannot be claimed for collaborators. There is no requirement for a specific number of collaborators, but you need to demonstrate that any collaborators are relevant to the research and a letter of support for each collaborator is required. Collaborators may be from overseas.

The extent and reasons for collaborations must be described fully in the case for support. Please see our collaborations section.

Is industry contribution to data collection accountable in the proposal?

Yes. It should be acknowledged in the application. Queries relating to Industrial Partnership Awards applications should be sent to industry.collaboration@bbsrc.ukri.org.

Do I need a letter of support from my head of department and what should it contain?

Yes. The head of department in which the research is to be carried out should confirm that your post will last for the duration of the grant and that they agree to provide research facilities and support for the duration of the grant.

I have changed institution. How will I be able to get the detailed department letter that I need?

They might not be familiar enough with your work yet, especially as department heads are not always working in the same area as you. The head of department is confirming your appointment and that they will provide research facilities and support for the duration of the grant. They do not, therefore, need to be familiar with your work.

Can two new investigators submit a joint application?

Yes, applicants who are all eligible for the new investigator scheme can submit a joint application. Joint research projects provide researchers from two or more eligible institutions with an opportunity to apply for resources and funding for the same research project with a view to undertaking specific areas of the research project at each institution.

Can I have a co-investigator or co-investigators and can they be from overseas?

There are no restrictions on the number of applicants named on a research grant application. All applicants must be actively engaged in the proposed research project and the intellectual input of each applicant to the research must be clearly defined in the case for support.

All applicants must meet all the eligibility criteria.

Are collaborators (as Co-Is) allowed if they provide different expertise?

Co-investigators can be included, and should have different expertise from the applicant.

Is the extension to three-year rule due to the pandemic being extended?

The time limit criterion has been removed as of 13 January 2022.

When are the funding opportunity dates?

Funding opportunity dates are posted on the UKRI funding finder.

Where should I send a remit query?

If you have a query regarding remit, you should email bbsrc.remit@bbsrc.ukri.org with a brief outline of the research to be undertaken.

How can industry contribute to the new investigator grant?

We do not fund the work of your industry partners or collaborators. Project partner or collaborator contributions, in cash or in-kind, should be additional to the research council’s contribution and are not considered part of the full economic costing of the project. Find out more about the Industrial Partnership Award (IPA) scheme. Queries relating to IPA applications should be sent to industry.collaboration@bbsrc.ukri.org.

Is it better to apply for three years’ rather than five years’ funding?

The duration should be the time that is required to bring the grant to a successful conclusion. The duration and all costs must be justified in the application.

What are the timescales for the application process?

All applicants are sent a process update document which provides details of the timelines. Funding opportunity dates are posted on the UKRI funding finder.

Can the Industrial Partnership Award (IPA) be combined with an NI application?

Yes, you can submit an IPA application as a new investigator.

Is preliminary data expected from your first year as a lecturer?

It is expected that preliminary data will be provided to support the research and must be relevant to the research project of your application. The amount of preliminary data is dependent on what is needed to adequately support your application.

How is the BBSRC responsive mode grant different from a fellowship application?

The new investigator scheme aims to enable an early career researcher who is in a lecturer level position to secure their first major element of research funding, whereas fellowships aim to facilitate independence and career progression and the career stage can vary from having just completed a PhD to having several years of postdoc experience.

The maximum length of the project, amount of funding available and the supporting documents required to be submitted with your application will also be different, and you should always refer to the call guidance to check on specific requirements.

Last updated: 24 November 2022

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