British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowships

The 2006 competition is open. The BA PDFs are three-year research fellowships in the humanities and social sciences, “designed as early career opportunities for recently postdoctoral scholars to develop experience of research and teaching in the university environment”.

You must either have recently completed your PhD (viva on or after 1 July 2004) or do so by 30 June 2006, and have ‘a prior connection with the UK academic community’ (primarily through British citizenship and/or a PhD from a UK university), but must not have held ‘an established teaching post’ in a higher education institution. And of course, you need to have a well-thought-out research project proposal. Remember: it’s all about grantsmanship.

The competition is stiff, but if this is what you really want to do with your life, it’s worth a try.

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7 Responses to British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowships

  1. sepoy says:

    I was excited until the prior connection bit. sigh.

  2. Claire says:

    I wish I’d taken a course in what a well researched proposal looks like. Or is that how long is a piece of string?

  3. Sharon says:

    Yes and no… There’s a lot about it that’s intangible – how do you think up something that’s substantial *and* doable, ‘original’ *and* relates to existing work. That’s pretty hard (and there’s luck involved; what one committee likes others may not). But at the same time, there’s a lot you can do to turn good ideas into something that will stand out as being worth investing money in (and that’s essentially what we’re talking about here). So, researching a proposal involves finding out what others have done so that you can show how your work will build on and improve it, how it’ll fit into a bigger picture; and also (very importantly) that in practical terms you know how you’re going to go about it – what your primary sources and methodologies will be (as well as why you’ve chosen them). Lots of people have great research ideas, but that’s not enough: the people who get money to fund their research are the ones who can persuade committees that they can stay the course and get solid *results* from their ideas.

  4. Claire says:

    So do you think good research proposals are usually about things that that the scholar already has a fair bit of experience of?

  5. I wish someone had told me about postdocs when I was still eligible. I always thought they were for people in the sciences.

  6. Sharon says:

    Claire, at this stage of a career and for this kind of funding, I think that’s usually right. Most likely a postdoc proposal will branch out from PhD research (mine did) in some way, but it will substantially stick with things you know; eg, you might change location but use the same kind of source material, or stick to the same place and widen the source material. That kind of thing. And if it’s not PhD-based, then chances are it’s something you were interested in earlier on as a student. OTOH, I say all that largely because it’s easier that way. If someone coming out of their PhD (which is the key thing that shows that you can plan and complete a substantial piece of research in a limited timespan, and should be able to transfer those skills to quite different topics) is really prepared to put in the homework on something new to them, it might well be possible but very hard work – they’d have to do some intensive reading of the literature (and probably try to see at least a sample of primary source material).

    Well, ADM, most postdocs are for people in the sciences. (But arguably most of those are just another form of cheap labour rather than a serious way of developing an academic career. Unless any of my friends in the sciences would disagree?)

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