Supporting Flexible Research Careers

Posted by Dr Laura Watkin on 03 April 2019

Whether you want to continue with existing university or external activities, have caring responsibilities or are returning from a career break, EPSRC is committed to provide support both as part of your initial application and should your situation change over the course of your grant. With this in mind, we welcome applications from academics who job share, have a part-time contract, or need flexible working arrangements.

What does this mean when applying for a grant?

At EPSRC we offer a range of flexible funding opportunities which allow researchers to design a grant package that fits their research goals, career and personal circumstances. Our ethos is that applicants should be able to request the suite of resources they need to deliver their proposed research and this should include tailoring those requests to adapt to their personal circumstances.

For some personal circumstances, we provide specific guidance on what support we offer, for example, for those with caring responsibilities there is clear information on what can be requested as part of your grant application or when participating in an EPSRC activity. For other situations you might not find explicit statements, for example, other than the EPSRC Fellowships scheme there is no mention of part time working. This is because in all our other schemes you select the hours per week you will work and are able to tailor the package requested to your working pattern. Other support may be more bespoke in nature, related to individual circumstances and it would be impossible to list all the potential options, if you or your research office can't see a solution from the information we provide, please ask us! Our Peer Review Policy team (EPSRCPeerReviewPolicy@epsrc.ukri.org) are able to help answer your questions and identify options that allow you to work within our funding policy.

What can I do during an active grant?

EPSRC fund individuals and their teams over a range of grant lengths and durations, we know that things can change, and a number of grants are amended post award over their lifetime. It is not unusual for adjustment to be made to an active grant – parental leave, long term sickness, even adjusting for compulsory military service are all examples of how we have been able to help researchers adapt their grants post-award. There is some flexibility within our grant conditions to make minor adjustments to your grant, other requests will need EPSRC approval. These requests can cover anything from a change in PI, to a no cost extension or a move to a different institution and can be made through the Je-S system.

Where can I find information?

We have just published a new set of webpages which outline our work on Equality, Diversity and inclusion, this includes a new page, which includes a section on how we seek to maintain a fair and flexible environment including information on alternative participation options, support for those with caring responsibilities, extensions and flexible circumstances. It also provides information on when and how to share information with EPSRC to help us accommodate specific needs and personal circumstances.

EPSRC wish to ensure the support we offer is flexible in practice as well as in principle, and are interested to hear your views, throughout April we will have a survey open where you can share your experiences of where our support has and has not worked for you and help us improve our guidance and policy. A separate survey is available for students.

Author

In the following table, contact information relevant to the page. The first column is for visual reference only. Data is in the right column.

Photo of Laura Watkin
Name: Dr Laura Watkin
Job title: Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion
Organisation: EPSRC