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2022/23 Call for Project Proposals and Fellowship Nominations

Projects and nominations

The IAS continues to offer enthusiastic support for major projects, but we also recognise that there is also a need to facilitate more iterative forms of research development. Therefore, as well as aiming at major project proposals for 2022-23, we are also inviting people to propose earlier stage project developments, for example small endeavours to build interdisciplinary research groups and explore new ideas, or ‘starter’ projects aiming to initiate new collaborations. It may be possible for us to fund some smaller developments next year, alongside the 2021-22 major projects, or to consider these for 2022-23. We invite colleagues to submit applications for proposed research developments accordingly.

The IAS will select projects based on their quality and interdisciplinary research potential, and the contribution they will make to the University’s strategic aims. It will assign funding in direct relation to such potential and to the scale of activities proposed. We have yet to receive confirmation of our budget for 2022-23, and can therefore only proceed provisionally, but it is hoped that the IAS will resume its normal activities at that time. As well as funding smaller-scale activities, we anticipate an annual investment of substantial funding in major projects. Where appropriate, project proponents can seek teaching buyout for project PIs, or funding to bring Distinguished Visitors to assist in earlier stage research developments. To maintain a rational relationship between investment and outputs, applicants are asked to submit budgets that reflect the scale of their proposed activities. Guidance on funding and other details are provided with the Project Proposal Pro forma.

Following the submission of outline ideas for research developments, the IAS will host a project scoping meeting. Colleagues will be invited to attend follow-up research conversations/development meetings with the IAS Directors before submitting final proposals. The timetable and deadlines are set out below, and we note that due to delays in the process this year, it will not be possible to extend the call for projects.

With a view to developing some thematic research clusters over time, the IAS will also host a research scoping meeting on the topic of Pollution. Arising from enthusiastic responses to our earlier consultation about this topic, some preliminary ideas about how it might be considered have been collected. Colleagues may also want to consider developing and requesting support in developing other topic-based project clusters. In addition, the IAS will seek to develop synergies between individual projects.

To assist colleagues embarking upon interdisciplinary research developments, the IAS now has a web page collating resources from its reflexive work on interdisciplinarity. This includes guidelines and other publications that we hope people will find helpful.

All colleagues proposing research developments are warmly encouraged to nominate leading international scholars for IAS Fellowships or as IAS Distinguished Visitors. There is additional potential, within the programme, to invite more junior researchers to participate in projects as IAS Visiting Scholars. Proponents seeking major project funding should ensure that their nominations (and external references for nominees) are submitted with their project applications, using the Fellowship Nomination Pro forma. The success of the IAS depends upon being able to bring to Durham the best international scholars – people who will bring transformative creativity into joint research. We therefore encourage Durham host PIs to be proactive in engaging with potential Fellows and developing collaborative endeavours.

While the IAS has achieved a good gender balance in appointing international Fellows, and is working steadily to improve cultural and ethnic diversity in its Fellowship cohorts, we note that research leadership within the University, particularly of major projects, remains somewhat uneven. We would therefore particularly like to encourage women and BAME colleagues to take a leading role in IAS project submissions.

Projects should be composed as follows:

  1. Each should articulate a shared research question, but it must be demonstrably novel and represent a major potential intellectual breakthrough.
  2. Each must involve people from at least two Departments, ideally from different Faculties within the University, and be genuinely and creatively interdisciplinary.
  3. Each project must have a clearly defined outcome indicated in the proposal. This could be aimed at establishing a new research group, possibly via a workshop or conference; a traditional outcome such as a book, an edited volume, or articles in peer-review journals; developing a small or large grant proposal; or embarking upon the development of a major project seeking very substantial research funding.
  4. All proponents are warmly encouraged to nominate leading international scholars for IAS Fellowships, with a view to bringing them into the proposed research developments as collaborators. There is no limit to the number of Fellowship nominations that colleagues can make, and it is desirable, if they are proposing a major project, to nominate several. However, while external Fellows are expected to contribute substantially to proposed projects and activities, these should not be dependent upon them.
  5. We encourage project proponents to seek ways to bring key nominees into the nascent stages of research developments, so that they are directly involved in the co-composition of the research from the start.
  6. Nominations must fully meet the criteria for the IAS Distinguished Fellowship scheme, as defined in the IAS’s Terms of Reference: i.e. the proposed Fellows should be international, world-leading researchers (or practitioners, such as writers, artists, policy makers etc.). They must have a well-established or strongly emerging international reputation; they must have made major contributions to their field and a substantial publication record (or equivalent achievements); and they must be able to provide substantial evidence of research leadership and/or public impact. They are expected to have played a significant role in shaping their discipline or field through their outputs, achievements and indicators of esteem. In addition, the IAS Fellowship criteria now articulate more explicitly the value of Fellows having direct experience in interdisciplinarity activities.
  7. Project proponents should ascertain, prior to submitting their activity proposals, whether their nominees are willing and able to accept a Fellowship invitation. A written expression of interest will be required from each nominee.
  8. Proponents can also seek to invite Distinguished Visitors and/or Visiting Scholars to participate in their activities. The former category is intended for people who fully meet the IAS Fellowship criteria – i.e. who are distinguished international leaders in their fields – who would normally be nominated for Fellowships, but who cannot commit three months of their time to being in Durham. The latter category is intended to support the inclusion of early career scholars with particular expertise to contribute to the proposed research activity, although it is still expected that they will have substantial (career stage related) experience and a strong track record to offer. In both cases funding for travel and accommodation can be sought to support such visiting scholars for a limited period of time.
  9. Unless there are exceptional circumstances, all visiting Fellows should be from outside the UK.
  10. The Fellows will be hosted at the Colleges, as at present, and provided with offices by the IAS.
  11. The IAS will be the physical base for all of the projects, and their related meetings and seminars.
  12. The academic staff members who propose the project will be wholly and jointly responsible for running the project and building collaborative engagement with any Fellows they have nominated.
  13. Each visiting Fellow will be required to give a public lecture associated with the College that is hosting them, and to present a ‘work in progress’ seminar.
  14. All IAS projects and activities are encouraged to interact and exchange ideas with all Fellows and with each other.

Fellowship scheme

The IAS hopes to reinstitute an open Fellowship scheme in 2022-23. Applicants will be required to seek a Durham sponsor/collaborator, and to articulate joint plans for collaboration. This person should provide a statement of support using the fellowship pro forma below. Resources permitting, the Fellowship offer will include the provision of teaching buyout where needed: for example to assist practitioners who do not have a University salary, or academics without access to paid research leave. This is particularly intended to support greater diversity in our Fellowship cohorts, enabling the inclusion of Fellows from less advantaged parts of the world. Further details about IAS Fellowships can be found here.

Key deadlines



Call for project proposals and Fellowship nominations 

from 11 February 2021 

Deadline for outline of project ideas to IAS Directorate 

4 March 2021 

Project scoping meeting 

between 8 and 11 March 2021 

Research development meetings with IAS Directorate 

between 11 and 26 March 2021 

Deadline for submission of final project proposals and Fellowship nominations 

midday 30 April 2021 

Review of applications 

3 - 10 May 2021 

Project applicants notified of outcome 

11 May 2021 

Call for Fellowship applications and further Fellowship nominations 

12 May 2021 

Deadline by which applicants should have agreement from a DU academic to peer review research proposal 

4 June 2021 

Deadline for Fellowship applications (full applications including references; research proforma and 2 external references) 

25 June 2021