Research Incentive Grants

Research Incentive Grants enable Early Career Researchers to develop their independent research career

The Research Incentive Grants (RIG) scheme allows an Early Career Researcher to undertake, as the Principal Investigator, their own project or line of research, either of a stand-alone nature or in the form of an initial study that could be expected to lead to a more extensive project.

The principal criteria for the award of a RIG are that the planned research is original and addresses a new idea/research question/hypothesis, extends existing knowledge, or aims to develop new methodologies.

Proposals should include a clearly defined, discrete piece of research, which will have an identifiable outcome on completion of the Carnegie funded component of the research. The proposed project should be of benefit to the Principal Investigator’s personal development and enable them to acquire new skills or extend existing ones, build their network, collaborate with other researchers, practitioners or industry partner as well as disseminate their research through publications, conferences, workshops, knowledge exchange or public engagement activities.

The RIG scheme is open to applications in any field of research and there is no restriction as to the type of research methodology applied. Proposed projects will vary considerably in their approach to conceptualisation, methodology and/or outputs, depending on the discipline. Where relevant, creative and professional practice may play a significant role in shaping the methods and/or outcomes of research. In all proposals, a clear intellectual, scientific or scholarly rationale is required for the choice of research methods, processes and outputs.

Key Facts

Career stage:Early Career Researchers
Eligible organisations:The 15 Scottish universities, Glasgow School of Art and Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
Grant value:min £1,500 to max £15,000
Project duration:From 2 to 12 months
Next deadline:6th December 2023, for projects starting after 30th April 2024

To be eligible, the applicant must:

  • meet the Trust’s definition of an Early Career Researcher at the time of applying (e.g. the closing date for applications), and must be either:
    • Within 7 years of successfully completing their PhD (measured from the date of submission), OR 
    • Within 7 years of starting their independent research career (e.g. from gaining their first lectureship, personal research fellowship or any other academic post that includes time for research etc.

Note: When determining eligibility, allowances are made for part-time staff, breaks such as parental leave, extended sick leave, secondments out with academia or periods of unemployment. If you are unsure of your eligibility, do contact the Trust to check.

Applicants must also:

  • be employed by one of the following organisations:
    • Scottish universities: Aberdeen, Abertay, Dundee, Edinburgh, Edinburgh Napier, Glasgow, Glasgow Caledonian, Heriot-Watt, Highlands & Islands, Queen Margaret, Robert Gordon, St Andrews, Stirling, Strathclyde or West of Scotland;
    • Glasgow School of Art;
    • Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.
  • be on an employment contract which includes time and access to resources to conduct independent research as part of their employment, and
  • hold an employment contract which covers the entire duration of the proposed research project plus two months.
  • Individuals employed full-time on another Principal Investigator’s grant must demonstrate they have time, as part of their employment, to undertake additional research activities. To this end, they must seek permission from the  PI and the grant giving body that is funding their salary before applying for a Research Incentive Grant to fund their own research and email confirmation to the Trust prior to the closing date for applications.
  • Collaborators from anywhere in the world and any organisation can be included in the application.

Who can’t apply

You are not eligible to apply as Principal Investigator if, for example:

  • You are not employed as a researcher or academic by one of the eligible institutions listed above at the time of application and throughout the project duration, if your application is successful.
  • You hold an honorary or visiting fellowship at one of the eligible institutions but are not employed there.
  • You are on secondment to one of the eligible institutions  from another organisation.
  • Your employment contract does not include research as part of your duties and responsibilities.

Note: If you are unsure about your eligibility, please contact the Trust or phone: +44 (0)1383 724 990.

Projects we look to fund

  • The scheme is open to research in any academic field and there is no restriction as to the type of research methodology applied.
  • Research projects may be either of a stand-alone nature or an initial study that could be expected to lead to a more extensive research proposal to a different funding body.
  • The Trust is, generally, not looking to support a proposal relating to a continuing research project. A clear case would be required to justify why an exception should be made for for such additional support to be provided.
  • The proposal should enable the principal investigator to develop a new project or line of research as well as develop their skills and experience.
  • The applicant must demonstrate that, without the support of the Trust, the planned research would not take place or would be significantly delayed.

Unsuitable activities

The following types of activities are not suitable for this scheme:

  • running and enabling networks or similar discussion/research groupings;
  • the digitising, cataloguing or archiving of existing data;
  • organising conferences, workshops, seminars, summer schools or similar symposia;
  • knowledge exchange or public engagement activities; and
  • projects that are directed at the confirmation and dissemination of previously acquired research results.

RIGs are awarded to help with the costs directly incurred by, or on behalf of, the principal investigator and collaborators while pursuing the planned research project.

Eligible costs include, but are not limited to:

  • travel, accommodation, and subsistence;
  • research support staff;
  • other technical/administrative staff;
  • surveys;
  • laboratory consumables;
  • equipment;
  • costs associated with disseminating results arising from the project – through publication or presentation at a single specialist conference/seminar, up to a maximum of 10% of the requested budget;
  • childcare costs while conducting research away from home and it is not possible to make alternative arrangements. The costs of normal regular childcare whilst at home are not eligible for support.
  • other research costs, as deemed appropriate by the Trust.

Note on inflation: applicants may include contingency in their budget to allow for cost variations due to inflation between the writing of the proposal and the actual start date of the research project, as long as the total costs remain within the £15,000 limit. No top-up funding will be available to mitigate the impact of inflation once an award has been made.

The following costs are not eligible:

  • the applicant’s (and co-investigator’s, if applicable) own salary costs or that of dependents, or buy-out of their time;
  • stipends or scholarships for collaborators or students involved in the project;
  • indirect overhead costs and bench/desk fees;
  • insurance cover.
  • There will be only one application deadline in academic year 2023-24: 6th December 2023.
  • Projects submitted by the December 2023 deadline may start at any time from 1 May 2024.
  • Awards must be taken up and projects initiated within 12 months of the date of award.
  • Projects must be between 2 and 12 months in length.
  • Funds awarded by the Trust may only be applied to fund activities undertaken described in the proposal after the Grant has been formally notified to the applicant and accepted by both the applicant and their university. Retrospective applications are not considered.
  • Any dissemination activities supported by the grant must take place during the duration of the funding period. A grant cannot be extended to enable grantees to spend dissemination costs.
  • The Trust will consider only one application from the same applicant at any one time.
  • A researcher who holds an existing active grant from the Trust cannot make a new application until all end of grant requirements for the active grant have been met.
  • The Trust will not accept a new application if the end report from a previous grant has not been returned by a grantholder.
  • If an application is rejected, it is possible to resubmit a revised proposal to a subsequent round of the Research Incentive Grants as long as the applicant still meets the eligibility criteria.

Applications must be completed and submitted online through the Trust’s online grant portal.

To access the portal, go through the Eligibility checker on the right. If you are eligible, the link to the online application portal will appear.

The portal opens approximately 8 weeks before each deadline.

Applications must be electronically endorsed by the Research Office at the Principal Investigator’s university. This approval process must be completed by the deadline for submission of applications. It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that sufficient time is available for the approval process to be completed prior to the closing date.

For the round closing 6th December 2023, the Trust hopes to fund 40-50 projects. Final decisions will be communicated to applicants in April 2024 at the latest.

Following the initiative taken by the British Academy and other funding organisations, the Trust will be introducing a new method for selecting projects for funding, applying a random allocation process preceded by a peer review assessment. This new process will be tested on a trial basis for 4 years.

All RIG applications are peer reviewed by specialist assessors selected by the Trust, who are consulted on the merits of the application and help determine whether is of a fundable quality. Each application is reviewed by one peer reviewer.  Their assessments are based on the following criteria:

  1. the originality and significance of the proposed research;
  2. Suitability of the research methodology/plan of action to meet the aims of the project
  3. feasibility, in terms of the resources requested, timescale of the project
  4. the suitability of the applicant to undertake the project and the expected benefit to their personal development and skills;
  5. the anticipated outcomes
  6. appropriateness of the costs requested

Peer reviewer guidance explains these criteria in more detail.

Following the initial peer review, applications deemed good enough for funding will be allocated funding randomly until the available budget has been allocated. Applicants who are entered into the random allocation process but not selected for award will be informed that their applications were fundable and the only reason for being unsuccessful was that there were not enough funds to support everyone entered into the random allocation. All applicants will be sent the assessment of their application.

All grants awarded will be on the basis of the Trust’s published terms and conditions of award.

Accepting and Starting a Research Incentive Grant

All grant offers must be accepted by the Applicant AND by a representative of the Research Administration and Management Services in the university in which the Grant Holder is employed.

Grant Holder

Once an application is approved, an email is sent to the successful applicant with the Award letter and Terms & Conditions of Award attached to the email.

The email contains a link to Part 1 of the online Acceptance form, which enables the Grant Holder to confirm they are accepting the grant and provide the start and end date of the project.

Note: Projects must start within 12 months of the date of award and the maximum project length is 12 months from the start date.

Research Administration and Management Services

Following completion of Part 1 of the Acceptance form, an email is sent to the Research Administration and Management Services using the email address provided by the Grant Holder.

The email contains a link to Part 2 of the online Acceptance form. The Award letter and Terms & Conditions of Award are also attached to this email.

On the online form the Research Grant Administrator or Manager accepting the grant:

  • Provides the unique grant reference used by the university to identify the grant internally;
  • Confirms the name and email address of the individual accepting the grant on behalf of the academic;
  • Agrees to the Terms & Conditions of Award

Both the Grant Holder and the University Administrator will receive a confirmation email once the form has been completed and submitted to the Trust.

Payment of a Research Incentive Grant

The Grant Holder’s university may invoice the Trust for the actual expenditure incurred during the life time of the grant up to the agreed award value and minus any underspend, following the submission to the Trust of a satisfactory scientific report AND statement of expenditure due within two months of the project end date.

Grants are paid to the Grant Holder’s university by electronic transfer (BACS) upon receipt of an invoice. The timing of payment is at the Trust’s discretion but every effort will be made to ensure funds are transferred in good time.

The level of grant awarded cannot be increased during the life time of the grant and is limited to the amount stated in the award letter.

Extensions, project and budgetary changes

Principal Investigators and HEIs administering an award should notify the Trust of any changes to the PI’s employment status.

Variations to the original project scope, project dates and budget as detailed in the proposal and confirmed in the Award letter should be discussed with the Trust informally prior to making any changes.

Further details on managing a Carnegie Research Incentive Grant can be found in the Scheme Regulations and Terms & Conditions, available under the Downloadable Document tab.

Within two months of the end of the grant period, the following documents must be returned to the Trust:

Award Timeline

Applications open11 October 2023
Next deadline6 December 2023, 5PM
Decisions notified by30 April 2024
Projects awarded funding start fromMay 2024

Eligibility Checker

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