Research beyond borders

Humanities in Europe Event – feedback and tips

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Last month some of the UK national contact points (NCP) hosted an event specifically aimed at a humanities audience to give an overview of opportunities in Europe.  From legal aspects to societal challenges it was a bit of a whistle-stop tour of all things European, but gave a flavour of what the possibilities are and what has changed with Horizon 2020. The presentations of the event are available here.

The event emphasised that arts and humanities research is a key part of many EC funding structures including Marie Skłodiwska-Curie  actions, European Research Council and Research infrastructures. Challenge 6: Europe in a Changing World was highlighted as a good starting point for arts and humanities researchers interested in thematic funding. It also covered Science with and for society, widening participation and legal advice. The AHRC were part of the event to highlight how EC funding complements national funding, International Co-investigator and HERA were highlighted as key opportunities.

The event revealed a new direction for European Commission Research Infrastructure funding. The 2016 call for ‘starting communities’ in the integrated activities call will be fully open (ie no pre-defined topics) and it is likely that there will be a two stage application process (ie outline then full proposal ).  Whilst you need to commit some time and effort into having a network in place before applying, this is a great opportunity for Arts and Humanities Researchers. Dr Tobias Blanke spoke about achieving Research Infrastructure funding for a network of European Holocaust Archives and the benefits this project delivered.

As quite often what is said is the most useful aspect we have pulled out some top tips from presenters.

  • Answer the funding call advertised. Do not try and fit in your research area to an inappropriate call. The evaluators will notice this!
  • Quote key phrases of the call document in your proposal as this will remind the evaluators your proposal matches the call
  • Start preparing your proposal in plenty of time. Read the call documents and any FAQs at least twice. The deadlines are strict and are advertised up to 2 years in advance, so lack of preparation time will not be a valid excuse
  • There is no negotiation in H2020, you need to put the effort into a fully formulated proposal at submission as things can’t get resolved later.
  • Work closely with your partners, discuss the roles, budgets and IPR issues at the applications stage
  • Make sure your consortia is exciting and you aren’t just collaborating with established partners. Partners should be appropriate to the project,  but a good geographical spread of consortia partners should be sought where possible, as well as considering  a mix of researchers and users
  • Always justify rationale in the body of your proposal, never assume evaluators understand why you are taking a particular approach
  • Think outside box, the European Commission is looking for ambitious projects that will have an IMPACT
  • If you apply for an individual fellowship MSCA or an ECR grant, don’t be too modest, the EU is funding the best!
  • There are a lot of proposals being submitted and many of them are ranking highly on excellence. Don’t lose out of vital marks by neglecting impact and management these are scored separately
  • And finally use the NCP’s – they are a vital tool in explaining work programmes aims, legal aspects, helping find partners and giving advice. If you aren’t sure about anything contact them – they are there to help you.

If you liked the tips, there is also this post about research proposals you might find helpful.

Thanks to the UK national contact points Ben, Alexa, Malgorzata, Katie, Stephen and Manija for organising the event.

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