Tiina Petänen (kuvassa vasemmalla) ja Kata-Riina Valosaari

Winter call is coming – what’s new?

30 Aug 2023

Each year, the Research Council of Finland gathers feedback from funding applicants, reviewers and decision-makers. The feedback we receive helps us improve the call texts, our application guidelines and the instructions, and also the online services.

Our upcoming main call will bring changes to our call schedules and the review of applications. Most importantly, the next application round for Academy Project Funding, Academy Research Fellowships and Clinical Researcher Funding will open in November 2023, not in September. The new winter call will also include a call within the Academy Programme for Sport Science and Physical Activity.

The call closes in January 2024, and the funding decisions will be made in spring that same year. Starting with the winter call, applicants can choose the most relevant review panel for their application.

Read below for more details about these changes.

New schedule

We’re moving our main call from autumn to winter. Among other things, this will reduce application processing times.

The winter call opens on 15 November 2023 and closes on 17 January 2024. Applications are invited for Academy Project Funding, Academy Research Fellowships, Clinical Researcher Funding and funding from the Academy Programme for Sport Science and Physical Activity (the latter funding was previously granted by the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture for sport science research projects).

The call texts will be published on 26 October 2023.

You choose the review panel

Starting with the winter call of 2024, the review of applications will be based on a procedure where the applicant will choose the most relevant review panel for their application. The selection is made among panels announced in advance.

We opened a stakeholder consultation on the draft panel structure in late spring, and we also collected comments on the draft from our scientific councils. Based on the feedback, we have clarified the names and descriptions of the panels.

The final set of 42 panels will be published in September, even before the call texts are published, to give you as much time as possible to choose the most suitable panel.

Read more: Research Council of Finland publishes panels for winter 2024 call, changes review process

Write the research plan with our template

In the previous main application round in autumn 2022, applicants submitted their research plan as a PDF appendix. We had Word and Latex templates to help in writing the plan. In the upcoming winter call, you must use the template provided.

Thanks to feedback from applicants, we have made the templates easier to use. For example, the templates now include instructions on how to write the plan. It’s important to note that the actual structure of the research plan has not been changed.

There’s also a template for the CV and a template for the ‘Merits and increased competencies’ section in Academy Research Fellowship applications.

Important for Academy Research Fellowship applicants to describe merits and competencies

In autumn 2022, we introduced a revised Academy Research Fellowship funding scheme. As part of responsible researcher assessment, applicants must describe in their application how they intend to increase their competence during the funding period and how they will contribute to scientific renewal after their doctoral research.

After the first round of applications after the reform, we received feedback on the ‘Merits and competencies’ section not only from applicants, but also from the review panels and the scientific councils. We have now improved the instructions in this section in view of the review and decision-making.

Clear-cut eligibility criteria

The application must meet the eligibility criteria in order to be processed. If the application does not meet the criteria, a decision to dismiss the application will be taken as soon as possible after the call has closed. We will ask the applicant concerned to clarify and supplement the application if the eligibility is unclear.

If you do not supplement the application by the given deadline, or if the application is substantially incomplete even after a request for supplementary information, we may decide to dismiss it (i.e. it will not be processed).

Changes to review process and researcher assessment

The Research Council of Finland is also introducing changes to the review process. For applicants, the essential changes concern how the review panel is selected, how the application will go forward to the panel review and what feedback they will receive.

Key points about the review process in the winter 2024 call:

  • As before, at least two individual reviewers will be asked to comment on the applications before the panel review stage. In the two-stage review process, some applications will be rejected at this stage and will not proceed to the panel review.
  • The applications will be shortlisted based on the overall ratings given by the individual experts. Applications that have received an overall rating of at least 5 (excellent) or 6 (outstanding) in one of the reviews will proceed to the panel review stage.
  • In the panel review, experts will meet to discuss the applications and the scientific merits of the applicants. For each application, the panel will prepare a summary review report on the strengths and weaknesses of the application. Additionally, the panels will rank the applications that have received the best ratings.

Under the new procedure, the feedback to applicants will include all individual expert reviews and ratings. Applicants who have proceeded to the panel review stage will also receive the panel summary review and the final rating. The review reports include the names of the reviewers.

The review criteria and rating scale remain unchanged. The review guidelines will be published at the same time as the call texts, in late October. The scientific councils will make the funding decisions by mid-June on the same day for each funding scheme. The decision dates will be announced later on the Research Council’s website. As before, each decision will be accompanied by a justification for the scientific council’s decision.

The web pages about the Research Council of Finland’s review process will be updated during autumn 2023 before the call texts are published.

Email us or get in touch via our helpdesk

For advice on how to apply, we have email addresses specific to each scientific council available at the end of the call texts. They will make it easier for you to reach us even at the turn of the year and get a quick response. Please note that the helpdesk (see www.aka.fi/feedback) remains the primary means of contact, especially for technical issues related to the online services.

Call guidance in the autumn

In addition to the traditional Ask & Apply webinars (see www.aka.fi/en/askapply), we will also produce short guidance videos and publish a special newsletter about the winter call. Stay tuned! Subscribe to our newsletter – and follow us on social media.

The reforms will improve the transparency of the review

In spring 2023, the Research Council of Finland collected comments from stakeholders on a draft set of panels and panel descriptions for the winter call. The comments and the panel structure were also discussed with the Research Council’s scientific councils. The comments were used to finalise the set of panels that has now been published.

The possibility to choose the panel means that applicants will have more influence on the review process, and it will also increase the transparency of the review. Another aspect that will improve the transparency is the more detailed feedback that will be provided to applicants.

Inquiries and more information

  • aka.fi/wintercall
  • winter call: Tiina Petänen, Counsellor of Science, tel. +358 295 335 091
  • Ask & Apply webinars: Sonja Kuosmanen, Science Adviser, tel. +358 295 335 025
  • review of applications: Kata-Riina Valosaari, Counsellor of Science, 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?