Arcadian Functor

occasional meanderings in physics' brave new world

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Location: New Zealand

Marni D. Sheppeard

Thursday, August 20, 2009


The English Research Council has three year postdoctoral fellowships for early career scientists and engineers. Their precise criteria for assessment are:
Quality, originality and potential impact of the research proposed
Qualities of the individual as an independent researcher
Intellectual ability of the candidate
Awareness of the broader context surrounding the proposed research
Timeliness of the Fellowship and how it will aid the Fellow’s career development
The candidate’s ability to plan and manage resources
Ability to communicate to a generalist audience

Some time ago I sent off an initial abstract to the research office and I have been told, on more than one occasion since, that they really liked the abstract. So I went to the meetings where they explained the application proceedure. I drafted the required documents and discussed them in detail with a departmental research officer. A second departmental research officer also looked over them and suggested helpful modifications. I completed the drafts and uploaded the documents to the online system, all according to the detailed specifications.

Only one thing was missing: the host department letter of support. Previously Bob had told me not to apply, because the EPSRC fellowships were prestigious. That is, not for people like me. Bob is the only person in the department with any hope of understanding my proposal (modulo the particle physics). The internal deadline is now past and I doubt I will find another university (anyone?) to host me before the final deadline next week.

After all this, I get the distinct impression that the government is, on good advice, desperately trying to diversify activities in scientific research. But the system is doomed to fail. For instance, I would like to know how the independent researcher criterion can possibly be met. It turns out that the crucial support letter cannot be obtained without a PI endorsement.

Anyway, I wish all the applicants here the best of luck. I'll be thinking of you while I lie by the pool drinking pina coladas this southern summer. Go Goose.


Blogger Kea said...

Proposal outline now available at here. See sidebar link.

August 26, 2009 9:49 PM  

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