Q: It may not be possible for me to travel due to COVID restrictions but my proposal could be carried out partially remote. With regard to the budget, should I assume I won't be able to travel and budget for a remote fellowship, or should I propose two different budgets, one with travel and one remote?
A: You should make your application on the assumption that normal travel will be possible, then your proposal and budget can be adapted later, if and when necessary.
Q: Can I include COVID quarantine costs in my budget?
A: Yes. Living costs are covered and quarantine costs would be incurred directly because of the Fellowship.
Q: My research area is to improve the efficiency of photovoltaic cells. Am I eligible to apply for a fellowship?
A: To apply for a Fellowship, your research must be in Antarctic or Southern Ocean science.
Q: How many published research papers are needed to be applicable for these fellowships?
A: You do not need to have papers published already in order to apply.
Q: Can I use the fellowship as part of my PhD?
Q: Can I apply for a fellowship to visit a PhD co-supervisor, in order to learn from them, and to work with them on a part of my PhD project?
A: Yes, but this should have a specific focus that is beyond the scope of normal PhD supervision.
Q: Can funding be used to support my participation in an existing project, or would that contradict the "self-contained" aspect?
A: Participating in an existing project is fine as long as there is a clear benefit to the applicant, above simply contributing to that project. So identifying the personal impact from the participation would be very important.
Q: I currently live in Canada and will graduate with my PhD this summer. From October, I plan to work in Chile for a period, including carrying out some Antarctic research. How would I explain the home and host institutes on the application?
A: Your home institute will be where you are working and living at the time of your application. Even though your current home is Canada, if you are working in Chile, your home institute will be in Chile. Therefore, you would not be able to visit another institute in Chile, nor use the SCAR Fellowship to help fund your ongoing work in Chile. You could, however, apply for a SCAR Fellowship to fund a short-term research trip to an institute in another country (the host institute) but that must be different from both your country of origin (Canada) and current residence (Chile).
Q: If I were to apply this year and not get funded, would that in any way affect my chances of applying the following year (with either an improved or a different project)?
A: There is no restriction on making a new application the following year if your application in the current year fails.
Q: I will be staying the whole year at Maitri station, Antarctica. Will this affect my eligibility to apply for a fellowship?
A: No - your home country will be considered "India". You would need to visit another country, or another country's facilities in Antarctica, to apply for the Fellowship. Remember that, in the event you are awarded a Fellowship, you would need to start work within nine months of the award.
Q: Would you encourage students just finishing a PhD to apply directly for fellowships (whether SCAR or not), or do you think researchers benefit from a bit more experience in general through a conventional post-doc?
A: As a general matter, we would encourage you to apply for fellowships and other opportunities at all stages of your career.
Q: I am currently not in a PhD programme, but I'm collaborating in some research with programmes that I’m not officially engaged in. Am I eligible?
A: The relationship with the home institute needs to be clear. The evaluation of the element of capacity building within the application will depend to some extent on this relationship.
Funding and Budgets
Q: Can the funding be retrospective? The project I'm participating in starts this month (before the deadline), but continues until August.
A: No, funding cannot be retrospective, it must be for a visit starting after the award is granted.
Q: Which costs can be included in the budget?
A: Subsistence and international travel from your home country will make up the bulk of your budget. You can also include research costs and consumables (slides, for example) specific to the project, provided they are not part of bench fees.
Q: What is covered by subsistence costs?
A: Subsistence costs are any expenditure you would have in order to live - accommodation, food, local transport to and from the host institute.
Q: Are there guidelines that should be followed for the subsistence amount in the host country?
A: There are no cost-of-living guidelines as this varies from country to country, and between locations within a country. You will need to get cost-of-living advice from your host (or hosts, if you are visiting more than one institute).
Q: Could I use part of the award for the research itself, for example to do DNA sequencing?
A: Yes, you can include research costs, such as DNA sequencing, in your budget. The host institute should not charge you bench fees, but any other costs connected with your research can be included in your budget.
Q: For my research project, I need to perform oxygen isotope analysis (18O) of sea water samples and ice cores and it is possible to do this at the laboratory of Helsinki University. It costs around 10 euro per sample if I do the analysis myself, and 15 euro per sample if I give my samples to laboratory staff. I will have approx. 60-70 samples.
A: Bench fees are a slightly complicated issue and depend on your particular circumstances. Here are the various scenarios according to the information you have provided:
- If Helsinki University is not your host Institute, you can get the samples analysed either by other staff or yourself, and you can claim for the cost.
- If Helsinki University is your host Institute, you cannot pay Helsinki University for analysing samples yourself and this cost cannot be included in the Fellowship budget.
- If Helsinki University is your host Institute, you can get the samples analysed by someone else and this cost can be included in the Fellowship budget.
Q: What costs from the host institute can be included in the budget?
A: For host institutes, any costs for consumables that they incur as a direct result of the fellowship, such as testing kits or materials needed for experiments, can be included in the budget. However, host institutes must not charge fellows any blanket "overhead" costs or contributions to the running of a lab.
Q: Would it increase the chance of receiving a SCAR fellowship if the candidate is able to access additional funding?
A: It may be helpful but the overall quality of the application will be far more important.
Q: For budgeting, can you provide a general example of how funds are used? E.g. 50% subsistence, 20% materials...
A: There is no set breakdown expected as there will be large differences between applications but it is important to include clear justification for the costs specified in the budget.
Q: Is the funding given through reimbursement of expenses like travel costs, project expenses, etc., or is it paid as a monthly allowance, or is it a single payment made at the start?
A: Generally, 95% of the award is paid in advance, soon after the fellowship is awarded, with the final 5% being paid when we receive the report at the end. However, at present with COVID restrictions, we will wait until any travel element of the award is possible before making the initial transfer.
Q: Can you use the fellowship in part for collaborative work - for example, to hold a meeting or workshop at the host institute?
A: The Fellowship funds are specifically targeted at the applicants so, if funds were to be spent on a meeting or workshop, it would not be regarded as relevant to the programme.
Q: Is it possible to include two home institutes in my application? I undertake research at a scientific centre and at a university.
A:Yes, it is possible to have two home institutes in your application, both of which can support you. You can choose one of your supervisors to be the primary contact who completes your home cover note and provides a reference letter, or your supervisor at each of your institutes can jointly complete the cover note and each provide a reference letter for you. Both institutes must agree how your home country costs (domestic travel, visa costs, etc.) will be covered - whether by one or the other of them, or jointly.
Q: What costs will be incurred by the home institutes?
A: For home institutes, the costs should only be the fee for a visa, if required, and transport on home soil to and from the airport.
Q: Can a host institute be visited several times?
A: Yes, a host institute can be visited several times but the amount of the award is limited to USD $15,000. Multiple visits would increase the travel costs and therefore impact on the budget. In the Proposal, you would need to justify the reasons for making more than one visit to the host.
Q: Is it possible to include two or more overseas host institutes in my application?
A: You need to have one primary host who will sign your host agreement. You can then visit other places (including institutes in other countries), and have working partnerships with other organisations as your time, budget and project allows. You should include details about the other institute in your proposal and include any associated costs in your budget.
Q: I would like to visit a second institution during my stay with my Host Institute. Does this second institution need to also fill out a Host Institute form?
A: The second institute would only need to fill out the form if it will host you for an extended period, significant in the context of the overall Fellowship stay, and that their participation is critical to the successsful completion of hte Fellowship. If the purpose of visiting the second institution is for example to add value through gathering extra data, samples etc. then it would not require a second Host Institue form to be completed.
Q: I would like to know what you think is essential to do in the host institute (lab analysis, etc)?
A: There is no list of requirements, the important issue is that it complements your research. This can be an additional approach not used previously.
Q: My idea for a project is based around model development. I am concerned that a lot of the collaboration with the host institute may look as if it could be done by email. Work is greatly accelerated by face-to-face contact. Is this justifiable?
A: The benefits will be assessed based on the details of the application and all of the assessors are well aware of the benefits of face-to-face communication.
Q: Are there any issues with having worked with the host institution/academic before?
A: No, as long as you are doing something new that will add value.
Q: Does the host institution need to be an 'Antarctic institution' or can it be an institute with expertise in methods that you will then apply to Antarctic research?
A: There is no restriction on the institute being Antarctic specific - for example, it can be an Antarctic research group within a University, etc.
Q: What costs will be incurred by the host institutes?
A: For host institutes, any costs for consumables that they will incur as a direct result of the fellowship, such as testing kits or materials needed for experiments, can be charged and included in the budget. However, host institutes must not charge fellows any blanket "overhead" costs or contributions to the running of a lab.
Q: The application is clear that the headers must be included in the Proposal. Do the questions that follow the headers need to be included also? For example, where a section is headed "Success Factors: What will show if the project has succeeded?", can I delete "What will show if the project has succeeded?" so that it does not appear in the word count?
A: Yes, it's fine to delete the questions that follow the section headings. They are there just to offer guidance on what you need to include in your proposal.
Q: Please could you explain the difference between Deliverables (what do you expect to achieve?) and Success Factors (what will show if the project has succeeded?)?
A: Deliverables are the results that everyone can see - conference presentations, posters, papers published in journals, etc., or possibly data added to a database such as the Antarctic Metadata Directory.
Success Factors might be less tangible and more technical, such as a skill learnt and demonstrated, data processed but not published, etc., which contribute to the skills and career development of the fellow, without being a final deliverable.
Q: Can the area of research include the sub-Antarctic islands?
A: Yes, but it must be relevant to Antarctic science.
Q: Does the project have to contain a fieldwork component?
Q: Can you apply for a fellowship to learn something completely new? In other words, is it enough to have some broad knowledge on what you want to learn and then use the fellowship to learn perhaps (for example) a new method?
A: As long as it is well-supported and explained in the application, it is perfectly possible.
Q: How do you assess if an application from the social sciences field is at the 'cutting edge of science'? Are there any specific topics of research that would be considered for eligibility, or not?
A: Applications from the social sciences will be assessed by experts within that field so there should not be any restriction on topics from those fields with regard to eligibility.
Q: What is the time frame of using the Fellowship funding? For instance, is the travel to a host institute to be completed within a certain time after the Fellowship approval, e.g. within a year?
A: Yes, the period of the Fellowship is one year, beginning in August, to be completed by July/August of the following year, and the visit must happen within this time. Only in exceptional circumstances are extensions allowed.
Q: Due to current commitments, I would not be able to start my Fellowship until January next year. Can I apply for a Fellowship for the full year, or would I be limited to completing it by July?
A: The Fellowship is awarded to cover the costs of a short-term visit (a few weeks or a couple of months) to a research group in another country. The visit may be undertaken at any time during the year of the Fellowship, to suit both parties. Fellowships are not intended to fund someone for the whole year. If the visit would be carried out in the first half of next year (up to the end of July), then you should apply for the current round. If your proposed visit would be in the second half of next year, then you should wait until next year’s scheme to apply.
Q: When will the decision about awards be made and candidates notified? How soon after that will the selected researchers be able to get funds and visit their host country? My proposed host needs these details in order to make a final decision.
A: After the closing date, the scientific review panel will assess all applications and make recommendations to the SCAR Executive Committee, to be confirmed around the end of July. Applicants will be notified of the result of their applications shortly after, in early to mid August. Funds can be available to successful fellows immediately and they can begin their visit to the host institute as soon as they like after that. The fellowship period is for one year so the research project, including the visit, should be completed by the end of July the following year.
Q: Is there a list of what countries would be considered "smaller or less well-developed Antarctic research programmes"? Obviously the USA and UK, etc. would not be on that list, any others?
A: The differentiation is intended to highlight the role SCAR would like to play in helping build capacity in countries where the Antarctic research programme is limited to a few groups, and there are limited national Antarctic capacity-building opportunities. These could include member countries listed as Initial Stage Programmes or Associate Members.
Q: I saw that some previous awards were given as joint SCAR/COMNAP fellowships. Is this a decision made by the selection committee, or should this be specified in the application?
A: The decision to award joint fellowships is made by the selection committee - you cannot select a joint fellowship yourself.
Q: Will a fellowship be helpful for getting any postdoc position at a related institute in the future?
A: Any fellowship (including a SCAR Fellowship) is good for your CV, though being awarded a Fellowship does not guarantee you a job at the Host Institute you have applied to, nor at any other institute.