This article explores the advantages in getting a short-term research fellowship, the benefits it will have for your career and how to research and succeed in winning a fellowship.
Why a short-term fellowship?
Short term research fellowships are usually hosted by universities, companies or libraries/archives and offer a fixed sum amount of money to cover travel, accommodation and subsistence for a scholar to spend a specific period of time working at that venue.
Because of personal commitments not everyone can take up a research fellowship for many months or several years. However, some institutions offer research fellowships for as short a period as one month. Short term fellowships are ideal because they can be fitted in round other commitments. For full time academics, they can be slotted in during the summer months (although permission to be absent will still be needed from your head of department).
Research fellowships benefit scholars still doing their PhD, those immediately post-doctoral or those in early career as well as more established academics. They can be used to research information that will contribute towards a major research project such as your PhD or book project. Or they can be used to start a new project. In either case, fellowships are crucial towards developing a good CV and career profile.
How do I find out about these opportunities?
Sometimes short term fellowships are advertised alongside jobs and longer research opportunities on websites such as jobs.ac.uk. You may also find them being promoted via your department, so check notice boards or electronic announcements from your university. List-servs relevant to your discipline are another useful outlet.
You can also locate these opportunities for yourself. Some small institutions might not have a big marketing budget and so only promote their fellowships on their own website, so you must go to find them. It is also important to begin this process at the correct time of year. Usually the deadline for fellowships is immediately before or after Christmas and it’s vital that you start planning your application several months ahead.
How do I apply?
You need to propose a plan of research that can only be undertaken at that particular venue. This plan must be coherent and must fill the length of time for which you are applying. It also helps if there is an obvious outcome resulting from the research: for example, it contributes towards a piece of publishable research or will be part of your PhD.
Research in detail what the venue offers and then tailor your proposal exactly to this offering. For example, for a library fellowship, refer directly to particular collections and even individual items that you hope to use.
You will be asked to provide references to accompany your application, so it’s a good idea to ask your chosen referees to give you feedback on your application as you draft it.
Keys to success:
- Allow plenty of time to prepare your application
- Make sure it arrives by the deadline date (this requires planning if sending by post rather than email)
- Tailor your application specifically to the holdings of the institution
- Ensure that your proposed research fills the length of time for which you are applying