Coronavirus information and guidance

Research fellows

The School of Biology is committed to attracting independent research fellows (IRFs) and developing them into scientific leaders in their fields.

Support for fellows

The School guarantees the following support for IRFs:

  • adequate research facilities
  • adequate office space
  • opportunities to supervise (or co-supervise) PhD or Masters students
  • academic staff status
  • a mentor
  • career development and training
  • annual review and feedback
  • bridging salary underwritten for up to 20% of the duration of their fellowship while renewed funding is sought
  • feedback on grant and fellowship applications
  • interview preparation
  • opportunities to apply for small grants
  • a clear pathway to a permanent appointment
  • a supportive, family-friendly, inclusive culture (see equality and diversity pages for more information). 

Transition to a permanent academic position

The School has a strong track record of retaining many of its IRFs as permanent academic staff. To be considered for transition to an academic position, the School expects the following:

  • The IRF has a strong REF return in terms of research outputs. Contributions to impact and environment are a plus, but the prime REF criterion is outputs.
  • The IRF has engaged with the School and provided service (teaching and administration) appropriate for an IRF, and shows a commitment to doing so in the future.
  • The IRF has shown evidence of building a successful research group with the potential to go forward in the longer term. Such activities include successfully supervising or co-supervising graduate students and applying for research funding (with a strong likelihood of future success).
  • The IRF has appropriate career esteem measures for their career stage (such as invited seminars, invitations to editorial boards, service for academic societies).

While not a necessary condition for transition, being promoted to Reader is a useful indication that the IRF is on a suitable trajectory.

If an IRF wishes to propose themselves for retention, firstly a panel involving the Head of School, Director of Research and appropriate centre director will evaluate the case. Then, the management group will make a School-level decision. If approved by the management group, the proposal will be presented to the Principal’s Office. A formal interview will be required to ensure that the candidate meets the criteria.

Senior independent research fellows

In the School of Biology, senior independent research fellows are those holding one of the following:

  • Royal Society University Research fellowships
  • BBSRC David Phillips fellowships
  • NERC five-year fellowships
  • ERC starter or consolidator fellowship grants.

The School typically expects senior IRFs to stay for five years or more and act as a principal investigator. 

There are a number of shorter independent fellowship schemes which could act cumulatively. However, people employed as research fellows (post-doctorates) but not as principal investigators are not normally considered suitable as a senior IRF.