Changes have been made to the Research Council of Finland’s call schedules and review of applications. The next application round for Academy Project Funding, Academy Research Fellowships and Clinical Researcher Funding opens in November 2023, not in September. The new winter 2024 call also includes the new Academy Programme for Sport Science and Physical Activity. The funding allocated under the new Academy Programme was previously granted by the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture.
The deadline for applications in the winter 2024 call is in January 2024, and the funding decisions will be made in June 2024. Starting with the winter call, applicants choose the most relevant panel for their application.
The changed call schedules will not affect the timing of the funding periods. We aim to expedite the decision-making process so that funding decisions for 2024 will be made in June, and the new funding periods can start on 1 September 2024. From now on, applications for Academy Project Funding, Academy Research Fellowships and Clinical Researcher Funding will be invited in winter.
The changed call schedule will be taken into account in determining the eligibility of Academy Research Fellowship applicants. To be eligible in the winter 2024 call, Academy Research Fellowship applicants must have received their first doctoral degree certificate between 30 September 2016 and 31 January 2022.
Changes in the review process
Starting with the winter call 2024, the review of applications will be based on a procedure in which the applicant chooses the most relevant panel for their application. The selection is made among panels announced in advance.
The possibility to choose the panel means that applicants have more influence on the review process, and it also increases the transparency of the review. The panel structure, with panel titles, descriptions and keywords was published in mid-September.
The draft panel structure was published in May 2023. Stakeholders were invited to have their say on the structure. We received 526 responses by the deadline.
The changes to the application and review process are part of the Research Council of Finland’s reform programme, which aims to speed up the processing of applications, increase the transparency of the review and decision-making and at the same time adapt our operations to the available resources. As part of the reform programme, the online services (SARA) will also be revamped.
The reform programme will be carried out in 2023–2024, and the new online service is due to be introduced in 2025.
As part of the preparation, applicants and other stakeholders will get an opportunity to participate in a consultation in May 2023.
- Panel structure published on 13 September 2023
- Consultation for applicants and other stakeholders in May 2023 as part of the panel preparations.
- The call text, including the application guidelines and the details on the review criteria and the review procedure, published on 26 October 2023.
- The winter call opens on 15 November 2023.
- The deadline for applications is 17 January 2024.
- The funding decisions will be made by June 2024.
Where can I find the research plan templates?
The link to the templates is in the call text; see ‘Application parts and guidelines’. Or, go directly to our A–Z index of application guidelines: Research plan.
When will the funding decisions be made, and when can I start using the funding?
The decisions on the winter call 2024 will be made in June 2024. The funding period starts on 1 September 2024. Our decision schedule are available on our website: Decision dates.
Is the structure of the research plan the same as last year?
The structure has not changed, but you must draft the research plan on our Word or LaTex template. The link to the template is available in the call text. Append the research plan to the application in PDF format.
How was the panel structure decided?
We analysed previous years’ applications and how they were distributed across scientific disciplines and themes. We also examined the panel structures adopted by other countries and international research funding organisations and compared their compatibility and differences with our own funding activities.
In spring 2023, the draft panel structure was opened for public consultation, and we received 526 responses. The draft structure was finalised based on those responses.
Why is my field missing from the panel structure?
The panel structure, the panel descriptions and the keywords are not an exhaustive list of the topics that will be covered in the panels. They are intended to help applicants choose the most appropriate panel. The application may therefore address a topic that is not necessarily specifically mentioned in the panel description.
The panels are also typically multidisciplinary, and thus do not necessarily contain a detailed description of a particular field. On the other hand, a particular field can also fit several different panels, which is why it is perhaps not mentioned.
If my application fits several panels, how do I make the choice?
Choose a panel whose description matches the research questions in your application and the specific research you intend to carry out during the funding period.
The reviewers value scientific novelty, so think about what is most important and most innovative in your application. Is the novelty in a revolutionary method or in a new application area?
You can also think about which panel topics best match your own and your research team’s expertise, so that you can convince the experts of the feasibility of your application.
How do I know whether an organisation is eligible to apply and whether it can act as the site of research?
We will not take a position on whether a certain type of organisation is eligible if the application is not yet pending. In other words, we do not give binding, prior opinions on eligibility. We will decide on the eligibility once the application is pending in our system.
How do we submit the cost coefficients to the Research Council?
The organisation’s information is updated centrally by a representative of the site of research (your organisation) who has administrator access to the online services.
Can the project’s funding be used to pay the PI’s salary?
Yes, with certain restrictions. Read more in section 9.3 of our funding terms and conditions. The funding terms are also available in the online services with the decision in question.
How should the PI’s salary be entered on the tab ‘Funding for the project’?
If you are applying for an Academy Research Fellowship:
- Enter the salary in the category ‘Principal investigator’ in the drop-down menu of the budget table.
If you are applying for Academy Project Funding:
- Enter the salary in the drop-down menu of the budget table in the categories ‘Principal investigator of Academy Project: salary for project management’, ‘Principal investigator of Academy Project: salary for thesis supervision’, and/or ‘Principal investigator of Academy Project: salary for research’.
- Justify the salary on the tab ‘Salary of Principal Investigator’. Please note that the salary for project management and the salary for thesis supervision are justified in the same field.
Academy Research Fellowship
Can I apply for an Academy Research Fellowship if I currently have an Academy Research Fellowship?
If you have a five-year post as Academy Research Fellow, you cannot apply. If you have a four-year post (the new-form Academy Research Fellow funding), you can apply for a new Academy Research Fellowship as long as your funding periods do not overlap and you meet the other eligibility criteria.
How much does parental leave extend the eligibility when applying for an Academy Research Fellowship?
Family leave extends the eligibility to apply for an Academy Research Fellowship. The easiest way to calculate your eligibility is to add the number of days of parental leave to the date of your degree. The resulting date should fall between 30 September 2016 and 31 January 2022.
Please note that only leaves taken after the doctoral degree count towards the extension.
How does changed call schedule affect the eligibility of Academy Research Fellowship applicants?
We will take into account the changed schedule. In future, the eligibility will be 2–7 since first doctoral degree determined based on the call date. In future, the eligibility will be 2–7 since first doctoral degree determined based on the call date.
Can tenure-track professors or lecturers (tenured teachers) apply for Academy Research Fellowship funding?
You can apply for an Academy Research Fellowship if you are not yet a full-time, senior researcher and if you meet all other eligibility criteria. Senior-level positions are, for instance, professor, assistant/associate professor, research director and comparable posts.
If you have a fixed-term position in a university’s tenure-track system, for example, you can apply for an Academy Research Fellowship.
Can the salary applied for for the Academy Research Fellow and the research team (46 + 48 months) be split between more than two researchers?
The salary can be split between more than one person, as long as the number of months is not exceeded. If the Academy Research Fellow applicant does not apply for funding for their own salary, a total of 96 months of salaries for other persons may be included in the cost estimate.
The restriction on salary months is a means to prevent excessive budgets in a situation where we do not set a ceiling in euros.
Can I apply for an Academy Research Fellowship to more than one site of research?
The funding is granted to a single site, but you may have an employment relationship to more than one organisation. The site of research, i.e. the recipient of the funding, must ensure that the combined proportions of the different organisations constitute a full-time employment and salary.
Can the Academy Research Fellow work abroad for part of the term?
The Research Council of Finland’s funding is awarded to a Finnish research organisation, which will manage the funding throughout the funding period. The Academy Research Fellow must have a close connection to Finland throughout the funding period. The researcher shall primarily work in Finland. However, during the funding period, they can work for periods of varying lengths at a foreign university, for instance. The Academy Research Fellow will lead and supervise research according to the research plan also while work is being performed abroad.
What’s the difference between an Academy Project and an Academy Research Fellowship?
In principle, the funding for an Academy Research Fellowship is intended to support the researcher’s personal career development. Applications for Academy Research Fellowships are reviewed with a focus on the applicant’s merits and increasing qualifications during the funding period. The primary objective of the Academy Project funding scheme is to fund high-quality scientific research and enable scientific breakthroughs, so the review focuses on scientific quality and innovation.
Academy Project Funding
Can I apply for Academy Project Funding if I already have ongoing funding from the Research Council of Finland?
- If you are the PI of an ongoing Academy Project, we will not consider (process) a new application for Academy Project Funding that you submit. This also applies to applications by consortium subprojects.
- Exception: if the funding period has been extended on statutory grounds
- Exception: the funding period of the Academy Project ends by 31 December 2024.
- The PI of a consortium subproject of an ongoing Academy Project may have a new Academy Project application considered (processed) and may be awarded new Academy Project Funding for justified reasons. This exception does not apply to the consortium PI of an Academy Project.
- If you are an Academy Professor and have ongoing funding for research costs, you may apply for Academy Project Funding during the last year of the professorship provided that there are no overlaps in the funding periods.
- If you are an Academy Research Fellow (five-year term) and have funding for research costs, you may apply for Academy Project Funding only for the last two years of the fellowship.
- Exception: if the funding period has been extended on statutory grounds
- If you have four-year Academy Research Fellowship funding, you may apply for Academy Project Funding only for the last two years of the fellowship.
- Exception: if the funding period has been extended on statutory grounds
- If you are a director, vice director or research team leader of a Centre of Excellence, you may apply for Academy Project Funding only for the CoE’s fourth year of operation.
What does it mean that Academy Projects support doctoral training?
The Research Council of Finland encourages Academy Projects to hire researchers who are working on their doctoral theses. The principal investigator of the four-year project can budget two months of their own salary for this purpose. Our scientific councils have specific policies on the project size, which is good to keep in mind when drafting the funding plan. Read our press release (17 Nov 2023).
The call text for Academy Project Funding says that the project size may be larger, if it is justified in view of the doctoral training. What does this mean, and how much larger can the project size be in the application than what the scientific council recommends?
We are earmarking 30 million euros of our 2024 funding budget to support doctoral training. You may apply for a larger project than what the scientific council outlines, if it is justified in view of the doctoral training, in practice through salary costs: the salary costs of doctoral researchers working on the project may be included in the total project costs to an extent that is justified in terms of the research plan. In addition, you can include the PI’s salary costs (up to 2 months per four-year project) for supervising the doctoral dissertation work of those hired for the project.
No euro amount or percentage has been specified for how much larger the project size can be. However, the budget must be realistic and any overshoot must be moderate.
The tasks and roles of the doctoral researchers and the promotion of their research careers must be clearly set out in the research plan (item 3.1).
Do I need to have the title of docent to apply for Academy Project Funding?
No, you do not need to have the title of docent, although applicants usually have qualifications at the professor or docent level. Applicants must have substantial merits of scientific work after obtaining the doctoral degree, such as a good publication record and experience in leading a research team.
Can a company apply for funding?
The Research Council of Finland does not grant funding to support economic activity. If a research organisation is also engaged in economic activities, separate accounts must be kept of the activities, and the funding must be in line with the de minimis regulation (Commission Regulation 1407/2013). The application will be reviewed based on scientific criteria, and the applicant must have a substantial record of scientific work.
- Research Council of Finland publishes panels for winter 2024 call, changes review process (press release 13 Sep 2023)
- Academy of Finland decides dates for winter 2024 call (news 25 May 2023)
- Panel structure for Academy of Finland’s winter 2024 call now open for comments (2 May 2023)
- Academy of Finland introduces new call timelines, moves autumn call to January 2024 – changes also in review process (9 Mar 2023)
- Academy of Finland launches reform programme to develop its research funding activities (10 October 2022)
- Please direct all questions to us via the helpdesk at aka.fi/feedback.