The Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions of the Horizon 2020 programme offer researchers opportunities to work around the world in different universities. On 20–21 May, the University of Turku organised a workshop for international applicants which focused on applying for the Individual Fellowship funding.
With the Individual Fellowship (IF), the researchers can work outside their home country or sector and the host organisations get a top expert with EU funding. The funding covers the researcher’s salary, travel, training and research expenses.
Altogether 36 international researchers applied for the two-day workshop organised by the Research Funding unit, and ten applicants were invited to Turku.
– The funding call entails a mobility requirement which states that the applicant must not have worked in the host country for over 12 months in the last three years. Therefore, most of the applicants are from abroad, says Research Funding Specialist Anu Raunio.
The workshop was organised for the third time and on the first day the applicants were given general information on the funding and other practical matters. In addition, successful applicants and application reviewers came to the workshop to discuss their experiences on the call, and the current applicants had a chance to meet with their supervisors.
– The idea of the workshop is that the applicant participates in it together with their future supervisor. The funding requires that the supervisor from the host organisation participates actively in every step of the project. It’s important that the applicant and supervisor make contact as early as possible, says Raunio.
Intensive Application Sparring
On the second day of the workshop, the applicants and supervisors had a chance to review model applications which they analysed together. In addition, the research funding experts gave tips to drafting the different parts of the application.
– In the end, the applicant and supervisor write the application together. The purpose of the workshop is to prepare the participants for drafting the application so that it will be accepted in this highly competitive arena, Raunio explains.
In the workshop, the research funding experts also discussed the different application criteria for funding. Writing applications requires a great deal of work and all the criteria in the MSCA IF action have to be laid out clearly and in an interesting manner. The impact and implementation plans of the research make up 20% of the points for the entire application, so they have to be first rate. Furthermore, the application has to define the risks related to the research and funding period.
The applicant also has to justify why the host organisation is the top destination for them.
– If the position you are applying for is not the best possible one for career development, you have to be able to justify why you are applying to that specific organisation, instructed Research Funding Specialist Maria Maunula at the end of the workshop.
In addition to justifying the host organisation’s suitability for their own research, the applicant has to detail what kind of expertise and networks they bring to the table. The researchers who receive the funding will be an important part of their supervisor’s research activities.
Distinctive Application Can Make a Difference
During the closing discussion, one of the applicants, Wilhelm E.J. Klein from Germany, asked an atypical question on including humour in the application. The research funding experts ensured that a distinctive and personal style can often be useful as there are many applications and this way the research can stand out from the crowd.
Klein is specialised in the ethics of technology and completed his doctorate at the City University of Hong Kong in 2017. In his dissertation, Klein developed the novel concept of Vector Utilitarianism intended in particular for the analysis and assessment of ethically significant situations involving technology, and grounded on the framework in scientific Naturalism and the perspective of reality as described by science.
– In practice, I study the impact of algorithms on people’s lives. On the other hand, I also study the meta-ethics of technology, which is something new here in Turku, said Klein after the workshop.
Klein’s supervisor is University Research Fellow, Docent Kai Kimppa who leads the Future Ethics research group at Turku School of Economics.
– The Future Ethics group is a really attractive place to conduct research. There are maybe two groups in Europe that study similar topics as Kai’s group, none in the Nordic countries. Also, the high quality of life in Finland is tempting me to apply for a position here, said Klein.
The Marie Skłodowska-Curie IF funding is part of the Horizon 2020 programme of the European Commission. The Individual Fellowship funding call ends on 11 September 2019.
Participants and organisers of the Marie S. Curie workshop on 21 May 2019. Wilhelm E.J. Klein in the back row on the right.