Applying for a fellowship

Costing your application

Salaries

Unless stated otherwise, only the salary of the fellow should be included on the application, no other salaries can be applied for.

Any additional staff time that an applicant would like to request (e.g. statistician/data manager/trial manager) should be costed as a consultancy under expenses and will be assessed by the awarding panel. If awarded, these costs will be paid as an expense and not as a salary. Please note that sponsors time cannot be costed onto a fellowship application.

General points regarding salary 

  • The percentage of inflation used must be included in the application and be in line with the most recent pay award agreed by the institution and no more than 2% (as at May 2015 and this will be periodically reviewed).
  • London weighting applies to any applicant applying from an institution in London.

Expenses

  • Reasonable research expenses directly related to your proposal can be applied for such as consumables and small pieces of equipment.
  • Any equipment costed into the grant should not exceed £30,000 in total value.
  • Costs for the purchase and maintenance of laboratory animals can be applied for. Studies involving animals must provide adequate details on the number, species, strain and associated costs of animals to be used in the study. Justification for the use of animals and why a suitable alternative cannot be used must also be provided. We are a signatory to the Concordat on Openness on Animal Research and support the principle of the 3Rs.
  • Costs to cover travel and accommodation (if required) to a collaborating institution can be requested.
  • Training courses for the professional development of the fellow can be applied for. These should be relevant to the aims of the fellowship and justified within the application.
  • Any requests for computers must be fully justified and integral to the success of the research proposal.
  • Requests for items of equipment included in applications with a cost greater than £5,000 must be supported by an estimate.
  • Access charges for use of specialist equipment may be applied for within expenses.

Costs associated with PPI/engagement

You can apply for costs related to PPI or engagement activities within your fellowship. The INVOLVE website has an involvement cost calculator which is a helpful tool to help you cost these activities appropriately.

Costs associated with pilot clinical trials

Reasonable costs associated with carrying out a pilot clinical or feasibility study can be applied for. Please see the information in the salary section above on how to cost any additional salaries required. These costs will be considered by the awarding panel.

Ineligible costs

  • Costs for conference attendance should not be included in the application form. A travel support fund for presenting outputs arising from the fellowship at national and international conferences will be allocated to the grant if successful.
  • Costs associated with submission of manuscripts to journals.
  • Costs for open access publishing of manuscripts should not be included in the application form. The charity is a partner of the Charity Open Access Fund which will provide these costs to grant holders through their institution. For further information please see our Open Access policy.
  • Costs relating to staff recruitment where applicable.
  • Home office license fees (personal and project).
  • Good clinical practice (GCP) training.
  • Funding to provide maintenance of equipment.
  • Office stationery costs unless required for the project and justified accordingly.
  • Indemnity insurance.

If you have any queries about costing your fellowship please contact the research office on awards@versusarthritis.org.

Our flexible working policy

We understand that flexibility is very important to our fellows and we're pleased to offer flexible working within our fellowship schemes.

If you have a question which is not covered by this guidance please get in touch with the research office on awards@versusarthritis.org for further advice.

Part-time working

We allow fellowships to be carried out part-time. If you wish to carry out your fellowship part-time please contact the research office on awards@versusarthritis.org before applying to discuss these options.

  • Time allocation for the fellowship should be at least 0.6 FTE (three days per week)
  • Part-time working can be taken from the start of the fellowship or requested partway through
  • Grant end dates can be extended to accommodate time lost through part-time working.

Periods of absence

Fellowship holders are entitled to take periods of absence from their grant for maternity, paternity and adoption leave as well as periods of long term sickness. Versus Arthritis will not pay the cost of these absences – it is the responsibility of the Host Institution to ensure all employer statutory and contractual payments for such leave are honoured. Fellowship holders may suspend their fellowship to cover the period of absence.

  • We have no formal restrictions on the length of time that can be taken, but the dates should be agreed with the appropriate programme manager responsible for the award.
  • Whilst the grant is suspended, no invoices can be claimed on the grant.
  • The end date of the award will be extended for the same length of time as the period of suspension, so no fellowship time will be lost.
  • Please read the further information on applying for a grant suspension.
  • All suspension requests need to be submitted through GrantTracker.

Career breaks

If you have had a period off work of a year or more and have concerns about how this may impact your suitability for a fellowship, please contact a member of the fellowships team on awards@versusarthritis.org prior to applying. Any career breaks will be taken into consideration by our awarding panels.

Clinical trials within fellowships

We do not support the funding of a major or substantial clinical trial as part of a fellowship award. Instead, clinical trials should be funded through the appropriate Versus Arthritis grant scheme which has the right expertise to assess clinical trial application content.

We do not consider that running a trial from within a fellowship in a trial manager role represents good training. Therefore, trials are supported within fellowships in a junior principal investigator (PI) role only, to support learning of methodology and recruitment and assist protocol development. We require there to be sufficient fellowship content that is non-trial.

We do permit fellowship applications to include methodological development work or supplementary analysis as bolt on activity to an established or proposed trial, as well as a feasibility/pilot clinical studies. Such studies are expected to be recruiting in small numbers. We are supportive of fellowship applications being bolted on to a clinical trial that has been supported by Versus Arthritis, or elsewhere, where the fellowship component is contributing to scientific training.

Standardly we do not support fellowships within clinical study grants. If data collection or review can only be done by clinically qualified personnel and such activities are core to the study proposal, then support for such activity as a fellowship post may be considered within a trial.

Interview guidance

For the majority of Versus Arthritis fellowships, being invited for interview is the final step in the assessment process and it’s therefore crucial to be as prepared as possible. Below we provide some guidance on the most commonly asked interview questions.

Describe your hypothesis/what is the main research question you are trying to answer?

While this may sound like an obvious question, it can be surprisingly difficult to answer this question concisely and accurately in an interview setting and we would recommend preparing your response and practising ahead of the interview.

Feasibility: Can you carry out this work - in the time available, with the facilities/reagents/techniques available at the host institution, within the proposed budget?

The panel will be assessing the feasibility of the study you have proposed and that you as the applicant are able to bring the project to fruition by demonstrating that you have considered all of the aspects above.

CV/career intentions

As the aim of our fellowships is to attract and retain talented researchers to develop independent research careers and progress towards higher level appointments, it is important for you to have considered how this fellowship will contribute to your future plans and ambitions.

One of the reviewers notes

It is important to have read your peer reviewer feedback thoroughly and have considered how to address these ahead of the interview.

Statistics: How did you derive your power calculation?

Be prepared to answer questions on any statistics you may have included in the applications and justify how these finals numbers were derived.

We would always recommend arranging to have a mock interview at your institution prior to the fellowship interview, in order to practice answering questions on your project and career plans in an interview setting. 

Fellowships Q&A

Who should my sponsor be?

A sponsor is directly responsible for providing support for yourself and the project. They are likely to be involved in the project on a day to day basis and should hold an established post at the host institution. They are also responsible for guaranteeing facilities and resources for the tenure of an award. You do not need to include the head of your department as a sponsor (unless they have a significant involvement/role in day to day support of the fellowship). You can have multiple sponsors and they can be based in different institutions however you should have a main sponsor situated at your host institution. You cannot cost sponsors time into your fellowship. 

Do I need mentors?

It is not obligatory for a fellowship applicant to include mentors in their application, however we do encourage our fellows to have mentors as we believe they are very beneficial for career development. Information on some available mentorship schemes for researchers in the musculoskeletal field can be found here (link to mentorship page).

Where can I add mentors in the application form?

Information on your proposed mentors should be uploaded as an attachment to your application in the attachments section of the online form. 

What’s the difference between a sponsor, collaborator and mentor?

A sponsor will have day to day involvement in the project and also guarantees facilities and resources for the tenure of an award.

A collaborator is an individual who will supply research materials, specific expertise or access to patients, but won't be involved in the day-to-day execution of the project.

A mentor is an individual that is typically external to the project and may also be external to the institution. They provide a source of advice and inspiration on aspects related to career development.

I applied to the fellowship last year but was unsuccessful – can I reapply to the same scheme this year?

Yes, we will allow one resubmission to the same fellowship scheme with the same project. Applicants should have taken on board the feedback provided to them in the previous round and should include a covering letter with their resubmission detailing how they have improved the application in response to this feedback. The funding panel will have access to the previous application, reviews and feedback as background information.

I have a tenured position – will I be eligible to apply for a fellowship?

The aim of our fellowships is to support researchers to ultimately attain a permanent or tenured position and for that reason if you already hold a tenured position you will be ineligible to apply to our fellowship schemes. 

What are the success rates for the Fellowship schemes?

The average application success rates for all the Versus Arthritis fellowship schemes from the years 2017-2021:

  • For the senior research fellowship, on average five applications were received, with 44% of applicants interviewed and 19% awarded.
  • For the career development fellowship, on average 17 applications were received, with 33% of applicants interviewed and 18% awarded.
  • For the foundation fellowship, on average 10 applications were received, with 40% interviewed and 21% awarded.
  • For the clinical research fellowship, on average 17 applications were received, with 31% interviewed and 13% awarded.
  • For the PhD scholarship scheme, on average 38 applications were received and 14% awarded. Applicants are not interviewed for the PhD scholarship awards.

Global Talent visa

Fellowship award holders requiring a visa to work in the UK are eligible to apply for a Global Talent visa under the fast-track process of endorsement. Other visa categories are available.

In line with the highly prestigious nature of your award, the Global Talent visa is designed for people who are recognised as leaders and potential leaders in their field. Should you wish to apply for this visa, you should select the ‘Fast Track consideration’ option on the Home Office endorsement application form and use your award letter as evidence of your Fellowship. It is recommended that you arrange your visa in plenty of time before the start date of your award.

Further details can be found at GOV.UK and The Royal Society.