Early Career Researcher Development Fund FAQs

Read frequently asked questions and answers related to the Early Career Researcher Development Fund. We will continue to add questions and answers as they come up so please check back for updates.

Download these FAQs as a PDF (236KB).


Can I be a PI if I don’t yet have a PhD?

Yes, provided a) you are employed by a UK research organisation, and will remain employed at least until the end date of the proposed project, and b) it is not more than eight years (excluding career breaks) since your last academic qualification (e.g. Masters). Please note however, this Fund is not designed to support PhD study.

Can I be a PI if my PhD was more than 10 years ago?

We are using the UKRI’s definition of an Early Career Researcher (ECR). Hence, if your viva was more than eight years ago, not including any career breaks due to e.g. family or health care, then you would not meet this eligibility criteria. However, you may participate as a Co-Applicant alongside a PI who does meet the ECR definition.

Can I be a PI if my PhD was more than 8 years ago, but I have not been working as an academic for all that time?

If you have been working in academia for less than 8 years since your viva, e.g. if not employed by a higher education institution/university or as a researcher in a government, NGO or private sector organisation, then we would consider that the time outside of academia/research could reasonably be described as a career break for the purpose of our definition of ECR, therefore you would be eligible to apply in this instance.

When does the 8-year eligibility window to qualify as an ECR start and end?

For this funding call, you qualify as an ECR if it has been no more than eight years (excluding career breaks e.g. for family or health care) since your viva or completion of your last academic qualification at the time of the application deadline (15 January 2024).

Can two ECRs share the role of PI?

No, one ECR must be the named PI and take lead responsibility for the bid. Only one ECR/PI’s time may be costed. However if another ECR is collaborating on a successful bid they can also benefit from the support offered to ECRs as part of the programme.

I’ve applied for a different ESRC scheme within the last 12 months but was unsuccessful. Would I be eligible?

Yes you can develop upon an idea and partners from an earlier bid but please ensure you tailor your application to this funding call, as a resubmitted bid that does not address the specific criteria of this call is not likely to be successful.

I applied to the ECR Development Fund last year but was unsuccessful. Can I apply again?

Yes you are welcome to apply again, but applicants should take into account any particular steers or changed criteria for this Call and any particular feedback received in relation to their unsuccessful application in the last call if the project is substantially similar. An improved resubmission that addresses last year’s panel feedback does not guarantee success and it won’t be given any preference.

Can more than one person be on a bid?

We encourage collaborative multi-disciplinary teams (of academics and practitioners). Anyone named as a PI must meet the eligibility criteria as an Early Career Researcher. However, as noted previously, only one PI can cost their time per project.

I’m on a fixed term contract, can I apply?

As long as you’ll be employed for the duration of the research project and your employer agrees, yes you can apply.

My employment contract expires before the end of the planned project period, but my organisation has said they will extend my contract if the proposal is successful. Can I apply?

Yes, if your employer can confirm in writing that they are committed to this as part of their letter of support, then this fulfils the criteria of having an employment contract that runs at least to the end of the proposed project period.

I had funding for my PhD, does that exclude me?


Does it matter what discipline I’m from?

No. The ESRC Vulnerability & Policing Futures Research Centre team is multi-disciplinary and brings a range of perspectives and we encourage input and collaboration from across the spectrum of academic disciplines.

Institutional support

Do I need approval from my Head of Department/Head of School?

Yes. The letter needs to include confirmation of support for your project from your Head of Faculty/School/Department, that includes the following statement:

I have read through the eligibility criteria in the Guidance for Applicants for this call and can confirm:

Ensure the letter is signed (electronically is fine) with printed name and title.

If I change institutions during the project can I take the funding with me?

In principle this is possible, but would depend on negotiations with the institution to which the grant was awarded.

I’m not currently employed by a university, can I apply?

Because of the nature of our funding we can only make awards to UK-based research organisations. These are usually universities, but further guidance on organisations eligible to apply for funding can be found on the ESRC website.

Do I need to provide academic references?

No, we are not asking for academic references as part of the application process, but you do need to be employed by a UK research organisation, and have the endorsement of your institution for your proposed project, in the form of a letter from your head of Department/School.

Do I need ethical approval before applying?

No, but you will need to get approval from your institution before starting the research and should build the time to secure ethical approval into your timetable.

Can I provide CVs for myself and Co-Is in support of my application?

We do not require you to attach CVs. There are sections for you to summarise your relevant expertise and that of your team in the application form. However, if you would also like to submit a CV you are welcome to do so, provided each CV is no more than one page long. These will be attached to your application for review by the panel.

International collaboration/working

What sort of payments to international partners might be eligible?

As with UK partners, no salary payments to academic colleagues employed at overseas partner institutions would be eligible. However if you are working with a non-academic partner overseas and want to apply for funding to contribute towards their time, or if there are other direct costs associated with fieldwork overseas that an international partner would carry out, this would be eligible.

How can an international university get involved?

An international university can be a partner to a project but it would need to enter into a collaboration with a PI who is an ECR at a UK Research Organisation.

Can I apply for funds to conduct research or focus on a case study outside of the UK?

We are open to receiving applications for projects which examine cases outside of the UK, but as the funding for this is coming from UK Research and Innovation via the ESRC, we would want applications to be clear about the potential benefits to UK knowledge, policy and practice from any work conducted overseas. Additionally, please give due consideration to what is feasible in terms of fieldwork for example, within the budget constraints of these awards.

Can I apply if I’m based outside the UK?

The funding for the Centre is a UK investment (ESRC/UKRI) therefore we require lead applicants to be based at a UK research organisation. Further guidance on organisations eligible to apply for funding can be found on the ESRC website.

Payment for staffing

Can I apply for buyout of my time, or for others involved?

We have stipulated that any buyout be limited to the ECR PI only, and is limited to a proportion of their time up to a maximum value of 50% of the funding applied for (i.e. £12,500 maximum). We are taking this approach to strike a balance between making the funding accessible and appealing to ECRs and their institutions, whilst also maximising the availability of funds to spend directly on research activities.

Can I employ a research assistant?

Yes this is an eligible cost. You can apply for 100% of their salary cost for time spent on the project, but not indirect or overhead costs.

What staff funding can I apply for?

The Fund is not covering the salary costs of existing academic staff (DA staff) within institutions (except for contribution to PI salary). But you can use it to recruit e.g. research assistants (DI staff).

DA staff costs (salary costs of existing academic staff) may not be applied for, except for a contribution to the PI salary, provided this is no more than 50% of the total value of the funding application. DI staff costs (for additional staff required to work on the project) may be applied for.

The total cost of my proposal means that £12,500 (planned contribution to my salary) is more than 50%. What should I do?

The call guidance states that you can apply for PI salary costs for up to 50% of the total value of the award. If your funding requirements aside from your salary come to less than £12,500 (half of the maximum award value), then you need to reduce the total funding you are applying for accordingly, and ensure that the PI salary element does not exceed 50% of this.

Research themes

Are there particular types of methodological frameworks you are interested in seeing?

No, we are open to a broad range of methodological approaches. While we are keen to see methodological innovation we are also keen to ensure projects are feasible within the time and resource available.

Can my proposal be aligned with more than one theme?

Yes, but please indicate which themes your proposal is addressing in your application form.

My application doesn’t fit into any of the suggested themes listed in the guidance. Can I still apply?

Yes, but please make sure you clearly articulate the area of vulnerability that you are researching. While we are keen to see innovation and ambition, please also bear in mind that projects must be feasible within the time and funds available.


Do I need to have a police partner?

No. We are asking that you co-produce your research with one or more non-academic partners. While this could include a police partner, it could equally include other types of non-academic partners, e.g. charity/NGO, policy making body, activist organisation, other public service partner (health, education, local government etc) or private sector partner.

What should be included in a letter of support from a partner organisation?

Please ensure you provide a letter of support from each organisation listed as a partner on your application. We encourage as much detail as possible in the letter of support, indicating the organisation’s commitment to and investment in working on the project. This should include detail of any matched funding, either in cash or in kind (including time commitments), that the partner is able to offer to the project and which should be costed where practical.

What if my partner organisations have limited funds and are unable to offer match funding?

Whilst we encourage whatever match funding is possible, to leverage and maximise the potential impact of our funding, we recognise that the capacity of partner organisations may be limited, particularly in, but not limited to, voluntary and third sector organisations. For this reason, we will not give preference to applications purely on the basis of match funding; we endeavour not to disadvantage applications where limited resources prevent significant financial commitments being made.


Are you expecting research outputs?

Yes, there is a requirement for an accessible four-page summary (to a pre-specified format) of findings that will be peer-reviewed and published via the Centre website. In addition, applicants may wish to share/publish via the Centre a fuller report, and we encourage subsequent academic and practitioner articles, however they are not a requirement during the funding period. It is also expected where relevant that award holders will present their findings at appropriate workshops or conferences organised by the Centre. We expect applicants to acknowledge the Centre’s funding and support in any published outputs and public dissemination.

Other questions

I’ve got a question not addressed here, who can I ask?

Please contact us via email: vulnerabilitypolicing@york.ac.uk.