COVID Rebuilding Research Momentum Fund (CRRMF)

Applications are invited from academic and research staff from all divisions for funding to support the development of their research career following significant disruption (by at least 50%) caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and their personal circumstances. Eligible disruptions include:

  • a significant increase in childcare responsibilities including home-schooling
  • a significant increase in caring responsibilities for an adult dependant
  • prolonged illness or shielding (including issues affecting mental and physical health)
  • impact of disability and lack of disability adaptions while working from home
  • temporary return to full-time clinical duties
  • dislocation and travel restrictions which led to stranding outside the UK at the start of the pandemic
  • furlough (please note that this does not include those who are externally-funded where the funder has already agreed a mitigation)

Individuals should submit their application through IRAMS by noon on Friday 6 November 2020.

This scheme is funded by the John Fell Fund (JFF).

Scope and purpose of the awards

The purpose of the scheme is to support staff whose research momentum and career progression have been significantly disrupted by COVID-19 and the associated restrictions.

It is intended that there will be one call for applications running in Michaelmas term 2020. It is anticipated that all funds available at this time will be expended in this call.

Significant disruption is defined as a reduction of 50% or more in research productivity over a period of 3 months or more (from March 2020). Applicants are asked to quantify the extent of disruption and identify the main issues that meant they were not able to undertake a substantial fraction of any type of research, and to make the case for how the funding would make a material difference to rebuilding their research momentum in 2021.

Prioritisation of funding bids is expected and will be based on the following criteria:

  • extent of disruption experienced
  • support for the further development of an independent research career
  • likelihood of the funded activity leading to further external research funding, including grants and fellowships, and/or completion of significant research outputs

Funding can be requested for any legitimate purpose identified by the applicant that addresses a clearly identified barrier to rebuilding research momentum and demonstrates a link to career development in research. Support is available for activities commencing 1 January 2021 onwards.

Support could include, but is not limited to: 

  • short-term research or administrative assistance
  • training or professional development
  • short-term secondments to ‘get up to speed’ with recent research developments
  • conference attendance (including online) to enable applicants to re-establish their research profile
  • small scale lab critical equipment purchases
  • visits to Oxford by the applicant’s research collaborators
  • teaching buy-out (where agreed by the host department and/or college)

Childcare-related expenses over and above the applicant’s usual childcare costs are eligible if requested as part of an application for ‘work-related training’ (which includes conference attendance and research visits). The financial limit for awards will apply. Please note that the payment of childcare expenses for reasons other than ‘work-related training’ are considered by HMRC to be a taxable benefit, and are therefore not eligible under this scheme.

Funding cannot be used to support the salary of the applicant.

Funding

Awards will be up to a maximum of £5,000 ('the financial limit'). 

Applicants may request funding for more than one activity within the financial limit, provided that it can be demonstrated that the activities are linked and together rebuild research momentum.

Retrospective payments are not permitted. The earliest that awards may commence is 1 January 2021.

Awards may be held for up to 18 months. Applicants may apply for an extension (via IRAMS) if the activity is unavoidably delayed, but if such a request is not made prior to the end date of the award then unspent funds will be reclaimed automatically at the end of the award period and returned to the John Fell Fund. 

Awards are made for the purposes outlined in the application only. Any changes to the proposed use of the funds must be approved in advance, via a request to the Research Services John Fell Fund team (johnfellfund@admin.ox.ac.uk). If the costs of the proposed activities are lower than outlined in the application, any unspent funds will be reclaimed at the end of the award and returned to the fund. 

This scheme will not fund costs which can be met from existing external research grant funds, or other internal funding sources to which the applicant has access.

Eligibility

The scheme is open to members of academic and research staff employed by the University who:

  • can evidence significant disruption to their research career (defined as a reduction of 50% or more in their research productivity over a period of at least 3 months)
  • are in the process of establishing an independent research career – this includes associate professors in initial period in office, holders of early career fellowships and postdoctoral researchers

More senior academic staff, for example professors and associate professors who have passed initial period of office, are not eligible for support through this scheme. Such staff should seek support from their department to support return to work after significant disruption. The scheme is not open to college-only staff.

Applicants on a fixed-term contract should hold a contract of employment for a sufficient period beyond the date of their application to permit the grant to be spent and to have an impact that increases the likelihood of them securing a new contract. Applicants on fixed-term contracts will be required to confirm their contract end date as part of the case for support. The application should give evidence of being on a research or academic career trajectory and clearly outline future career plans. 

Awards cannot be transferred outside the University and will be terminated if the applicant leaves the University.

Applications must be approved through IRAMS by the staff member’s department or faculty to confirm that a) the department/faculty supports the application, and b) the applicant is eligible for funding, in particular with reference to paragraphs 16, 17, 18 and 21 as per the criteria for the fund.
 
Applications for funding of college buy-outs (for those on joint appointments) must be discussed and agreed with the college before the application is submitted. This information (for example an email from the college confirming in principle support) must be provided to the department/faculty in advance of approval. Applicants who do not have this in place prior to the deadline will be deemed ineligible.

Please note that staff members who have experienced complete disruption (career break) of at least six months for caring responsibilities can consider applying to the Returning Carers’ Fund. This is an alternative support scheme.

Administration 

Applications should be submitted through IRAMS by the deadline of noon on 6 November. The application form consists of the IRAMS form and a case for support document (template available for download through IRAMS), which includes space for a brief one-page CV. 

Applicants are advised to check with their departmental or faculty administrator regarding any internal deadlines and ensure they allow time for the departmental approval process to take place. The applicant’s department or faculty will be asked to approve the application which will then be submitted through to the relevant division for review and prioritisation, before consideration by the John Fell Fund Committee. 

Final funding decisions will be made by the John Fell Fund Committee. Should the number of applications received be greater than the amount of funding available in the fund, the priority list from each division and the strength of individual applications for funding will be taken into account. Awards may be made at a lower value than requested if deemed appropriate.

Applicants will be notified of the decision on their application by mid-December.

Award holders will be required to produce a brief 500-word report on the use of funds and impact/outcomes at the end of the award period, via IRAMS. 

Further Information

Further information or queries about the scheme should be addressed to the John Fell Fund team in Research Services (johnfellfund@admin.ox.ac.uk). Please ensure queries are clearly marked 'CRRMF' in the email subject line.