Research Council of Finland introducing simpler research plan structure for applications

6 May 2024

In autumn 2024, the Research Council of Finland will adopt a new structure for the research plans in funding applications. Applicants have found the current structure cumbersome.

We will abandon subheadings, and the call-specific instructions will only be shown in the template. The new structure has three main headings: 1) Background and significance, 2) Impact and 3) Implementation. There is also the heading ‘List of references’ at the end of the plan. The basic research plan structure and instructions are easy to adapt to the objectives of each call.

We will also move the short data management plan, previously included in the research plan, to the application form. As before, funded projects are required to submit a full data management plan before the accept the funding.

Starting in autumn 2024, all Research Council of Finland research plan templates will be available at The templates are available in English only, as applications submitted to the Research Council are reviewed in panels composed of international experts.

The revised research plan structure also better reflects the needs of researchers applying for ERC funding.

What, why and how

In the section ‘Background and significance’, applicants are asked to reflect on the research-based starting points of their research and examine their own research against current knowledge in the field.

Impact has been given a more prominent role in the research plan. In the ‘Impact’ section, applicants should describe the expected results, effects and impact of the research, both within the scientific community and beyond. The wider impact of the research can be described in relation to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the UN.

In the third section, applicants shall describe in concrete terms how the research will be carried out: how, by whom and where. They also need to consider how to incorporate responsible science into their research and its implementation. Responsible science includes principles such as open access data and open access publishing, research ethics, equality and nondiscrimination.

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