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.

PhD Scholarships

Stipends are fixed and tax-free with London weighting included where relevant. The PhD stipend rates can be found in our information on applying for a grant.

Clinical Research Fellowships

Salaries should be costed on the appropriate clinical scale. We will not pay a consultant level salary on these fellowships. For nurses and allied health professionals the maximum starting salary is NHS grade 7.

Foundation Fellowship

Salaries should be costed on the appropriate academic scale. The starting salary should not be higher than spine point 37. 

Career Development Fellowship

Salaries should be costed on the appropriate academic scale. The starting salary should not be higher than spine point 43.

Senior Research Fellowship

Salaries should be costed on the appropriate academic or clinical scale. The salary of one additional staff member can be included for this fellowship. This should be either a technician or a junior post-doctoral position.

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.

Tuition fees

  • For PhD Scholarships tuition fees will be paid.
  • For Clinical Research Fellowships tuition fees will not be paid.

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.

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 research@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 research@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 research@versusarthritis.org prior to applying. Any career breaks will be taken into consideration by our awarding panels.

Carrying out clinical work on a non-clinical fellowship

For nurses and allied health professionals we will allow up to two days per week clinical work to be undertaken on our non-clinical fellowships (foundation fellowship and career development fellowship). This should be funded through the relevant clinical body and not costed into the fellowship. We will consider applications where time allocations fall outside of this criteria, however candidates should contact the office on research@versusarthritis.org prior to submitting their application to discuss their plans. Such requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis through discussion with the Chair of the relevant funding panel.

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. 

PhD scholarship Q&A

Can I as a student apply to the PhD Scholarship Scheme?

No, PhD Scholarships can only be applied for by the PhD supervisor(s) as applicants with you as a named student on the application.

Is it a requirement that one of the applicants has a tenured position?

Yes, it is a requirement that one of the applicants for the PhD Scholarship scheme have a tenured or permanent position with the host institution.

How can I find a PhD?

We recommend using websites such as findaphd.com or contacting a senior researcher directly whose research is of interest to you to enquire whether they have PhD positions available, or perhaps sharing ideas you may have for a project with them.

Do you fund PhD students from overseas?

Yes, as long as this fits with the host institution’s policies. However, we will only provide funds for standard home student (UK) tuition fees, the University or student themselves will have to fund the difference in tuition fees.

Do you require a breakdown of expenses and justification of costs?

No, expenses are set at £10,000 per year for the first 3 years of a PhD in the ‘3+1’ model of funding and for the final 3 years in the ‘1+3’ model of funding, a breakdown of how this will be spent is not required.

Do you provide travel expenses to facilitate travel for collaborations?

No, we expect these costs to be covered from the set expenses per year provided with the award.

When can the award be taken up?

If there is already a named student associated with award, then as soon as the letter of award is received following agreement with the host institution.

Should I apply the host institution’s inflation rate to tuition fee costs or the Versus Arthritis inflation rate?

You should apply the host institutions inflation rate when calculating tuition fees for the duration of the PhD Scholarship award.

Do I need to list all my research publications, reviews and chapters as an applicant on the form?

No, you can list the past five years of publications along with any publications that are relevant to the PhD project proposal that may pre-date the past five years.

Do you provide part-funding for a PhD? i.e. stipend or expenses only?

We do not provide part-funding for PhDs, you can only apply for the full PhD Scholarship.

Is there an option for potential candidates to undertake the PhD on a part-time basis?

In principle it could be acceptable for the applicants to take up the PhD part time, however we would have to assess this on a case by case basis. It would depend on the %FTE, we would require further information on the planned timeframes, and a justification for the part time working (there is currently no facility for entering part time working into the application form, therefore it is advisable for an additional document to be uploaded explaining how the PhD would be carried out part time, including part-time costings where appropriate).

I have already been enrolled in a funded PhD programme but would prefer my funding to come from you.  Although I am currently enrolled, would I still be eligible to apply for the PhD scholarship?

We do not have any policy that would prevent you from applying for the PhD Scholarship, however if you did decide to put in an application, we would recommend that you provide detailed information on your current PhD support as well as a strong justification as to why you wish to change your source of funding. The suitability of the PhD Scholarship applications for funding by Versus Arthritis is one of the criteria by which our panels are asked to assess the applications and it is possible that our awarding panel would not necessarily view this situation favourably, as you have already been given the opportunity, and funding, to carry out a PhD Any application would need to be submitted by the proposed PhD supervisor, with you as the named student.

Do I need to add the PhD stipends to the application form?

Yes. On the finance page of the application form you will be asked to indicate whether the host institution is inside or outside London and the form will then automatically fill in the correct stipend.

Fellowships Q&A

I’m not planning on moving institutions – will I still be eligible to apply for a Foundation Fellowship?

You can still apply to a Foundation Fellowship if you are planning on remaining in the same institution, however we would expect you to ideally move department.  The Foundation Fellowship provides the opportunity for fellows to develop independent research ideas at an early stage in their career and it can be viewed as more difficult to demonstrate this independence from your PhD if you remain in the same department or institution. However, if you provide justification as to why your current department or institution is the best place for you to carry out your fellowship project, our fellowship panel will take this into consideration when assessing your application.

What do you classify as the end date of a PhD?

We classify the end date of a PhD as being the date of submission of the final corrected version of your thesis, post-viva.

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. Sponsors are not required on Senior Research Fellowship applications.

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. Tenured researchers can apply to our PhD Scholarship scheme as the lead PI/supervisor or to our other strategic calls. 

I have less/more than the recommended number of years post-doctoral experience – will I still be eligible to apply?

Yes, we provide the expected number of years post-doctoral experience for our fellowships as a guide only. We understand that there are many factors that may alter the timeframe at which researchers reach different career levels. You are welcome to apply outside of our suggested guidelines providing you are at the appropriate career stage for the fellowship you are applying to.

Can I carry out clinical work on a non-clinical fellowship?

For nurses and allied health professionals we will allow up to two days per week clinical work to be undertaken on our non-clinical fellowships (Foundation Fellowship and Career Development Fellowship). This should be funded through the relevant clinical body and not costed into the fellowship. We will consider applications where time allocations fall outside of this criteria, however candidates should contact the office on research@versusarthritis.org prior to submitting their application to discuss their plans. Such requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis through discussion with the chair of the relevant funding panel.

How much clinical work can I carry out on a Senior Research Fellowship?

We allow up to two programmed activities (i.e. 1 day) of clinical work to be undertaken on a Senior Research Fellowship.

What type of additional staff member can I include on a Senior Research Fellowship application?

You can request salary support for either a technician, research assistant or a junior post-doctoral fellow.