Skills and experience needed to win support - MRC

To be considered suitable for an MRC fellowship or new investigator research grant, applicants should be able to clearly demonstrate that their skills and experience match those relevant to their career stage as outlined below.

When looking at your skills and experience, the panel that assesses your application will take into account any:

  • career breaks, part-time working or changes in discipline
  • specific disruptions to previous or current research caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Before you make an application, work with your host institution to evaluate your track record and assess whether you meet the skills and experience outlined below.

Career stage: training (PhD students)

Relevant schemes

These include:

Key criteria

Applicants should:

  • plan to pursue a research career
  • show a clear understanding of how the research project will progress knowledge within the field.

Research vision

Applicants should have a clear understanding of:

  • how their research project will progress knowledge within the field
  • the project’s relevance to human health.

Research experience and potential

Applicants should be able to demonstrate their plans to pursue a research career through, for example:

  • undergraduate research project experience
  • informal placement
  • academic training positions for clinicians.

Personal development

Applicants should:

  • have worked with their supervisors and host institution to develop:
      • a clear research question and project
      • training plans to develop the skills to underpin a future research career
  • be aware of and seek access to career development support, such as mentoring.

Leadership

Not strongly applicable at this career stage.

Communication and engagement skills

Applicants should:

  • show awareness of the context of their research in reference to societal and ethical issues
  • understand the importance of public engagement activities and have an interest in developing relevant skills and experience.

Profile and influence

Not strongly applicable at this career stage.

Career stage: exploration (early postdoctoral)

Relevant schemes

These include:

  • industry postdoc.

Key criteria

Applicants should:

  • have plans for a coherent and integrated training programme
  • have delivered previous research projects and have evidence of outputs.

Research vision

Applicants should:

  • have a clear understanding of the contribution of their research to their field
  • be able to:
    • demonstrate independent research ideas
    • show an awareness of research in other fields
    • show an appreciation of the importance of working across different sectors and disciplines of the research and innovation landscape
  • have planned a coherent and integrated research project that aligns with the specified scientific priority areas and which enables you to develop your research skills.

Research experience and potential

Applicants should:

  • have delivered previous research projects and show evidence of outputs, for example, publications, conference presentations
  • be starting to establish research contacts independent of their current group leader/supervisor.

Personal development

Applicants should:

  • have a clear proposal of how specific, high quality training will enable them to gain the additional skills needed to deliver their research plans
  • be able to outline how they will seek opportunities to access career development support, for example professional training development and relevant training courses.

Leadership

Applicants should show a potential to lead and inspire, for example through organising peer activities, workshops, journal clubs or supporting individuals at an earlier career stage.

Communication and engagement skills

Applicants should:

  • have excellent communication and interpersonal skills and aim to develop these across different audiences
  • show how their research outcomes will be communicated and disseminated within and outside the research community.

Profile and influence

Applicants should have a strong, practical sense of how they will develop their career to become a leading researcher.

Career stage: transition to independence

Relevant schemes

These include:

Key criteria

Applicants should:

  • show productivity across past appointments and an upward trajectory
  • demonstrate clear plans to establish their own research niche.

Research vision

Applicants should:

  • have their own research plans/ideas which do not significantly overlap with those of their current group leaders or proposed sponsors
  • describe how their research plans fit into an international context
  • be able to explain plans to establish their intellectual niche and their own research team that will enable them to become an independent research leader
  • have a network of research contacts, independent of their current group leader, including appropriate collaborations nationally, internationally and across disciplines.

Research experience and potential

Applicants should:

  • have a track record of challenging, original and productive research in their area which shows productivity across past appointments (typically at least one post-doctoral appointment), as well as an upward trajectory (for example as demonstrated by the quality of science within first author papers or a critical contribution to multi-author publications; please take care to explain your role in multi-author publications in your application)
  • demonstrate potential to lead independent research, for example by having collaborated with teams in other departments, research organisations or other disciplines, or by having won small amounts of independent funding
  • start to show evidence of recognition and leadership in the community on an international scale, for example through citations to their publications, invitations to seminars or conferences.

Personal development

Applicants should:

  • have identified, and where appropriate, pursued opportunities for development, such as time in a second research centre within the UK or overseas, or time spent within industry, or learning new skills
  • have identified opportunities to access career development support, such as mentoring and professional training development, and relevant training courses that will underpin their future career ambitions.

Leadership

Applicants should show an ability to identify and maximise potential in others. For example, through the day-to-day support of masters and PhD students or early career scientists.

Communication and engagement skills

Applicants should:

  • have excellent communication and interpersonal skills across different audiences, including academic and public (for example through presentation at scientific conferences and public science fairs)
  • show how research outcomes will be communicated and disseminated within and outside the research community.

Profile and influence

Applicants should show an understanding of how to influence their research field and awareness of ways to influence the wider research agenda. For example, through experience of participation in peer review, invitations to give lectures or seminars, or participation in internal committees.

Career stage: transition to leadership

Relevant schemes

These include:

Key criteria

Applicants should:

  • have a track record of nationally competitive research and managing their own independent research group
  • have clear plans to develop into an internationally recognised leader in the field.

Research vision

Applicants should:

  • develop an ambitious research and career development programme with a credible pathway to developing as an international leader
  • demonstrate an effective track record of nationally competitive independent research
  • demonstrate appropriate national/international collaborations, within/between/across disciplines as required
  • describe how their research plans fit into an international context.

Research experience and potential

Applicants should:

  • have a strong track record of original and productive independent research with impact in the field (for example evidenced by senior author publication(s))
  • have success at securing research funding, such as previous intermediate fellowships to establish independence
  • have standing/influence within the field and the community
    be able to demonstrate a track record of effective management of your own laboratory staff.

Personal development

Applicants should:

  • identify and pursue research training opportunities that broaden development, such as time in a second research centre or in industry
  • be able to outline how they will use the fellowship to seek opportunities to develop their career, such as through mentoring and management and leadership training or other professional training development.

Leadership

Applicants should have a track record of identifying and maximising potential in others. For example, through managing and mentoring their own staff and early career researchers, and as primary supervisor of PhD students.

Communication and engagement skills

Applicants should:

  • have excellent communication and interpersonal skills across different audiences, for example academic, public and media
  • show how research outcomes will be communicated and disseminated within and outside the research community.

Profile and influence

Applicants should show evidence of advising and influencing the research agenda. For example through development of research standards or guidelines, committee membership, research strategy at the level of their research organisation as well as the national or international level.

Get advice on your suitability for a funding scheme

Email: fellows@mrc.ukri.org

We can advise if you’re suitable for a particular MRC funding scheme. Send us:
your CV (using the MRC fellowship CV template)

  • a list of relevant publications (no more then one-side of A4)
  • a description of how you meet the skills and experience required for the relevant scheme
  • a one page project outline.

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