Tiina Petänen

Tiina Petänen: What’s new in the autumn 2021 call?

9 Jun 2021

In the previous three September application rounds, we introduced fairly major changes to the call process. There will be no major reforms this autumn – mainly minor polishes.

Each year, after the September call has closed, we ask our applicants for feedback on the call. We also collect feedback from the international reviewers and our decision-makers. The feedback we receive helps us improve the call texts, our guidelines and instructions, and our online services (SARA). In the previous three September calls, we introduced a number of fairly major changes, such as publishing the call texts as webpages and compiling the instructions into an alphabetical list. There will be no major reforms this autumn – mainly minor polishes.

Calls open in August, staggered deadlines in late September

The application period has been extended. Most of the calls will open on 11 August 2021 – the only exception is the call for sport science research projects, funded by the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture, which will open on 25 August. The deadline for funding schemes targeted at individual researchers (Postdoctoral Researcher, Academy Research Fellow, Clinical Researcher and international mobility) is 22 September. The call for Academy Projects and sport science research projects closes one week later, on 29 September.

The staggered deadlines were introduced to ease the pressure on our online services (SARA) during the last days of the call.

Research plan completed on online form

The research plan is filled in on a separate tab in the online services. We are currently putting the finishing touches to a new, WYSIWYG-based research plan editor. We hope to have the new editor up and running in the upcoming autumn call.

There are no separate text boxes to fill in – you can write the text on a single page that shows the research plan headings. This means that you can easily keep track of page breaks and page numbers. You will not need to upload a separate plan in PDF format. You can also use our Word template to help you write the plan.

From interim report to progress report

After the last September call, we received feedback from applicants that the interim report was too heavy to write alongside the actual application. This is why we’re now introducing a lighter progress report. SARA will automatically show the applicant’s projects that need to be reported on. The short progress report (up to 1,500 characters/project) should include a description of the project’s progress and possible links to the new funding applied for. This does not apply to applicants acting as the responsible person in funding schemes where the funding recipient is an organisation

Information on most relevant publications and other outputs supports responsible researcher assessment

In addition to the project’s most important publications, the applicant may now also report other research outputs. The choices must be justified, in order to support the review. In the case of consortium applications, the consortium PI enters the project’s publication and output details on behalf of the whole consortium.

Letter of collaboration = invitation letter + letter of commitment

Over the past year, a lot has changed in the way researchers collaborate. Research collaboration can take many forms: research visits, use of digital materials, other research cooperation, etc. The new letter of collaboration is a free-form document where the applicant shall describe the project’s collaborators, the objectives of the cooperation and how the cooperation will be implemented.

Mobility requirement remains – Covid-19 taken into account

The Board of the Academy of Finland has decided that applicants for funding for a research post as Postdoctoral Researcher or Academy Research Fellow will still be required to change research environments after their dissertation. Mobility is essential for the researcher’s career development. If you have any questions about the mobility requirement, please email us at mobility(at)aka.fi.

You can also read more about mobility here: Researcher mobility in 2021 (blog post), the call texts and the mobility instructions.

Streamlined application process thanks to feedback from applicants

Checking submitted applications and sending requests for supplementations used to take more than eight weeks. Last September, we tried to streamline our internal processes. Based on the results, the checking stage is now quicker and fewer applications have to be opened for supplementation. However, the work continues. In order to speed up the eligibility check, the information on degrees completed will become mandatory and the CV will be filled in on its own tab.

For Academy Project applicants, we have compiled a short checklist covering key issues related to the call and the changes introduced during the last three years. We hope that the checklist will be of help when Academy Project applicants prepare their applications.

Changes to review of applications

As before, applications submitted to the Academy in the autumn call will be reviewed mainly in international scientific panels. From now on, the panels will focus more on the best applications identified on the basis of draft reviews. In addition, the panels may discuss, for example, applications whose draft reviews differ clearly or which are brought up for some other reason. This will give the review panels more time to discuss and produce reviews on the most competitive applications.

We have also revised the structure of the summary section of the review forms and the verbal descriptions of the rating scale. All applications receive a scientific review report, but applicants with a final rating of less than 5 receive a statement containing a list of the strengths and weaknesses of the application plus a verbal justification.

Participate in our Ask & Apply webinars

As many of you know, we will organise information sessions on the autumn call in June, August and September. Organised in the form of webinars, the sessions include plenty of time for questions. The sessions are in English, and pre-registration is not required. You’re welcome to join us! See the whole seminar programme on our website at Ask & Apply.


  • Tiina Petänen, Counsellor of Science (questions about the call), tel. +358 295 335 091
  • Kata-Riina Valosaari, Counsellor of Science (questions about the review), tel. +358 295 335 128

Our email addresses are in the format firstname.lastname(at)aka.fi.

Do you have questions or feedback for us?