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 six months of the date of submission of the proposal.
STFC advises that providing a few, good quality letters of support is more beneficial to the Applicant 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 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 Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system validation then the proposal may be returned, or the panel or 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.
Last updated: 17 August 2021