Research beyond borders

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Some European Events – including information on funding

UK information days for ‘Europe in a Changing World’ funding

Under Horizon 2020, the European Commissions societal challenge ‘Europe in a Changing World’ (aka Challenge six) is the main area for Social Science and Humanities research.  The detail of this will be published soon but there are some nice opportunities for humanities researchers in the proposed topics.

As part of the UK support for UK researchers, a network of National Contact points (NCP) have been set up to help offer advice and help you with applying for this funding.  The NCP for this challenge has several upcoming events where you can learn more about these funding opportunities:

  • The British Academy, London: 2ndNovember
  • University of Nottingham: 4thNovember
  • University of Glasgow: 9thNovember
  • University of Swansea: 16thNovember
  • Queen’s University Belfast: 18thNovember

If interested, please reserve the date. Registration will open on 16th September, on a first come first serve basis, and will be available through the ESRC website.   For more information about the events, please contact

Information will also be sent via the mailing list for Horizon 2020’s Challenge Six, if you would like to be included on this list, please email

European Event: ‘Trust: European Research Co-creating resilient Societies

trust in europeThe two-days conference “Trust: European Research Co-Creating Resilient Societies” offers a unique forum to discuss the different perceptions of trust and how research can contribute to fostering trust in societies. The conference is this year’s key event on SC 6 “Europe in a Changing World – Inclusive, Innovative and Reflective Societies” in the EU Research and Innovation Framework Programme Horizon 2020. The conference will not only highlight research within the social sciences and humanities but also connect researchers with policy-makers and stakeholders willing to co-create resilient European societies. HERA and Science Europe are co-sponsoring this event and will be running a roundtable discussion.

Its free to attend, and takes place on 29-30 October in Brussels

More information is available on the conference website

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Humanities in Europe Event – feedback and tips

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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Humanities in Europe – Information day

An information day about European Funding is taking place on 18th February 2015 in Swindon. Its free to attend and most importantly its aimed specifically at humanities researchers.

The National Contact Points for several European Commission areas of funding will be presenting an overview of their areas including highlighting humanities opportunities where relevant and you can also book 1-2-1 appointments. Areas covered will include, Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions, European Research Council, Research Infrastructures, and Societal Challenges.The AHRC will also be there to present an overview of their funding opportunities for international research.

More information and registration is available on the ESRC website

Note: National Contact Points are funded by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills to support access to European Commission Funding. Although based at specific institutions they help everyone with application and scheme queries.

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Horizon 2020 has landed – the new world of European Commission Funding

Horizon 2020 'logo' Horizon 2020 was launched late last year and covers the next 7 years of European Commission Funding (2014-2020).   We will be covering some of the opportunities for Arts and Humanities Researchers over the next couple of weeks and the support available.

The first funding opportunities were published in December. As a starting point, for thematic funding there are some interesting opportunities in Societal Challenge 6 ‘Europe in a Changing World – Inclusive, Innovative and Reflective Societies’. Topics we have identified with substantial humanities research potential are:

Emmergence and transmission of European Cultural heritage and Europeanisation

The cultural heritage of war in contemporary Europe

Cultural opposition in the former socialist countries

European cohesion, regional and urban policies and the perceptions of Europe

Advanced 3D modeeling for accessing and understanding European cultural assets

If you want to know more about any of the topics above you can contact the UK National Contact Point Laura Mora Diaz. Laura is based at ESRC but covers the whole remit of Challenge 6. She is setting up an email list for anyone who wants to receive updates about Challenge 6 and other social science and humanities opportunities so please email her directly if you would like to be added.  There are also several events covering challenge 6 and other aspects of Horizon 2020. The next one is 7th February in Cardiff.

Please note that topics, dates and budgets related to 2015 deadlines are provided on an indicative basis only at this stage. The Commission aim is to publish the updated 2015 Work Programme in July 2014.

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National Contact Points… We exist, but what exactly do we do and how can we help you?

Today we have a guest post from your friendly UK National Contact point who helps researchers and research offices with understanding European Funding.

My name is Sam McGregor and I’ve been the UK National Contact Point for the FP7 Socio-economic  Sciences and Humanities (SSH) since September 2009. The SSH theme aims to generate through policy-relevant research and  in-depth understanding of a broad range of complex and interrelated challenges facing Europe, from economic growth and competitiveness, to social cohesion/inclusion and cultural heritage; from sustainability and environmental challenges to issues of migration and demographic change. The role of National Contact Points (or NCPs) is to guide researchers in the intrepid quest for securing EU funding.

As an NCP my role is varied; I can be updating my website (see link below) with useful/interesting articles and events in the morning and reading and commenting on official European Commission documents in the afternoon. But my main responsibility (and, I must say, the one I enjoy the most) is speaking to potential applicants about how they can get involved with FP7. Whether it’s responding to an email, over the phone or in person at an event, I’m happy to discuss potential project ideas, partner searching tips, the process or anything else that can help you to succeed in gaining EU funding. I suppose you could think of me as an agony aunt, on hand with tissues and a bar of Galaxy during your SSH journey!

Although the Social Sciences appear to do better out of the FP7 SSH ‘deal’, there are many opportunities for Humanities researchers. In fact, the SSH 2013 Work Programme specifically highlights 19 ‘opportune avenues’ which might be of particular interest, for example SSH.2013.5.2-1: The multilingual challenge for Europe and SSH.2013.5.2-2: Transmitting and benefitting from cultural heritage in Europe (see European Commission Work Programmes are go! blog post from July 2012 for more information on calls).  The Commission is quick to point out that FP7 SSH projects are interdisciplinary, and that the Humanities have a role to play in all calls. There are some that are more strongly humanities but it’s unlikely that a Humanities-led project on ‘Better integrating financial markets into policy focussed macro models’ will be successful so you need to match expertise to projects! 

Humanities researcher participation in FP7 SSH is an on-going success story, with almost every project involving the Humanities in some vein. And the reasons they’re participating are numerous from engaging in cutting edge research, strengthening their international networks and making new contacts, to working at the interface between disciplines, to being at the heart of the European research arena.

So, I hear you ask, what are my top tips for Arts and Humanities researchers? Simple, BEPRIMED:

  • Balance of sectors and disciplines – make sure you’re recruiting the right person    for the job.
  • Managing Expectations is crucial – FP7 is competitive and not everyone will be funded.
  • Project management – who will coordinate the project and how?
  • Address the Research dimensions!
  • What will the Impact of your research be?
  • Define your Methodology – including both qualitative and quantitative analyses can lead to broader interdisciplinary reach.
  •  Pay attention to the Evaluation criteria – they’re equally weighted and points mean prizes!
  • Don’t be put off – the opportunities exist but you’ve got to be in it to win it!

If you’re interested in FP7 SSH and would like more information, or if you have a project idea you’d like to discuss, you can contact me via a number of channels:

Telephone: +44 (0) 1793 413141



If you’re on Twitter you can follow me @sammibmcg

There are NCPs for all the European Commission funding areas including Marie Curie and the European Research Council – find the details here.”