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This scheme provides short-term salary bridging awards to researchers based in MSD Departments

PILOT scheme

This is a pilot scheme which will run for 12 months (four rounds) in the first instance over the course of 2024. The principles of the internal bridging salary scheme have received support from the senior leaders of the Medical Sciences Division and the Heads of Department.

This Scheme Guidance is being revised on a regular basis following queries or lessons arising from each round of the pilot. A full Log of Changes to the Scheme Guidance is available in SharePoint. Applicants are recommended to review the Log of Changes prior to submitting/resubmitting an application in case the guidance has changed since it was last accessed. 

If the scheme as launched is found at any point to be unworkable or not to be capable of fulfilling its purpose, the Medical Sciences Division may withdraw the scheme (before or after the end of the pilot) and reconsider the best way of supporting its researchers. 

Remit of the Scheme

The scheme aims to support early career researchers working in the Medical Sciences Division who are on externally-funded contracts by providing short-term bridging salary support.

budget & sources of funding

The budget for Year 1 is £500,000 which has been contributed from MSD internal sources and the EPA Cephalosporin Fund. 

Budget is expected to be allocated evenly across 4 rounds per year and make 4 or 5 awards per round.

APPLICANT ELIGIBILITY

Researchers must apply for their own bridging salary. It is expected this will give some early career researchers the opportunity to hold their first award in their own name.

Eligible applicants must:

  1. Hold a Chancellors, Masters and Scholars (CMS) contract of employment with the University of Oxford, with an affiliation with a Department within the Medical Sciences Division, where the majority of their time is spent on research, and
  2. Hold a fixed term, or open-ended, externally-funded contract where funding is due to end within 9 months of the call deadline, and
  3. Be no higher than Grade 08S Stage 10 (or the equivalent academic/clinical academic grade based on Total Employer Cost), and
  4. Have submitted, and either be awaiting or have received the outcome of, an external funding application that will fund their salary for at least two years after the end of the bridging period.

Additional notes on eligibility

  • Current DPhil students looking for bridging salary to their first post-doctoral position are not eligible to apply. The fund is only open to current employees of the University.
  • It is a PI’s responsibility to manage their grants and ensure that funding is in place to support their team. The Bridging Salary Scheme is intended to bridge short gaps in funding, particularly those arising due to unforeseen circumstances. It is not a replacement for good financial management of a PI’s grants portfolio.
  • Depending on the demands on the scheme’s budget, MSD may refuse to fund multiple applications received from staff under the same Unit or Group Leader

Eligible costs

In initial round(s) of the MSD Bridging Scheme, MSD will fund 100% of the salary for up to 6 months. After this time applicants will be able to apply for 75% of the Total Employer Cost of their salary for up to 6 months, with the remaining 25% to be provided by the Department as match funding. 

The requirement for match funding from departments is waived for at least the first two rounds (deadlines 13 March and 12 June 2024) due to the current exceptional circumstances of restrictions on Departments making new unbudgeted commitments. Departmental contributions will be required in the future (but will continue to be waived in exceptional circumstances) subject to ongoing review of Divisional finances.

Where the bridging period is less than 6 months, or where the applicant works less than 1 FTE, the MSD Bridging Salary Scheme will fund the amount required to cover the bridging period based on the end and start dates of the applicant’s confirmed funding and the FTE in the applicant’s current contract.

If some or all of a bridging award is not required the unspent budget will be reclaimed to the fund and recycled for another award. Budget cannot be repurposed by the applicant. Non-staff costs are not eligible.

applying in irams

Please submit your application online via the Internal Research Award Management System (IRAMS).

Guidance on using IRAMS for applicants, departmental approvers, and administrators can be found on the Research Support pages.

The below supporting documents must be submitted with your application:

  • X5 Admin Output equalling the ‘Total Project Cost’ entered in IRAMS
  • Short CV (maximum two pages)
  • Letter of support from supervisor/line manager (see below)

Please complete the application form which can be downloaded from IRAMS (under Case For Support) and upload this combined with the other documents requested above to IRAMS as a single PDF.

Letter of support and Departmental approval

Applications must include a letter of support from the applicant's supervisor/line manager or equivalent which includes:

  • Brief description of why bridging the member of staff is important to the department
  • Commitment to provide 25% of the salary for the bridged period (if applicable) which has been agreed with the Head of Department/Head of Admin & Finance, or other member of senior management who has authority to provide this commitment
  • Description of the longer-term funding plans for the individual, including confirmation that the applicant or their group leader has applied for salary funding for after the end of the bridging period.
  • Confirmation that the applicant qualifies for consideration for priority funding (if applicable) because they have recently returned from a period of leave for caring responsibilities (see Selection Process for more information) 

Applications must also have received Departmental Approval through IRAMS before the advertised deadline. Only applications which are supported by the host department will be considered for funding. 

Departments may set an internal deadline for review of these applications which is earlier than the advertised call deadline. Please check with your local grants team and prepare your application well in advance of the advertised deadline. 

Resubmissions

Unsuccessful applicants may resubmit applications to later rounds of the fund provided that they are still eligible. The chance of a resubmitted application being funded is no greater than that of a first-time applicant.

Successful applicants may not reapply to the fund for a further period of bridging salary support until at least 2 years has elapsed since the end of their previous bridging period.

Initial review and Prioritisation

In the first instance applications will be reviewed by the MSD Fund Manager for eligibility of the applicant, eligibility of costs, firmness and feasibility of future funding plans, and if any applicants should be considered for priority funding.

Applicants may be prioritised for funding if they have taken a period of any type of leave for caring responsibilities where they have been away from work for at least 6 calendar months and have returned to work within 12 months of the bridging application deadline.

In cases of shared parental leave there may be gaps in the period of caring leave where the applicant was back at work, provided that the applicant has taken a cumulative period of at least 6 months’ of caring leave, ending within 12 months of the bridging application deadline.

For more information and rationale about the prioritisation of applicants who have taken a period of leave for caring responsibilities, see the FAQs.

The Fund Manager will refer to colleagues (e.g. Head of Research Strategy & Funding, Athena SWAN Facilitator, Research Culture Facilitator, Associate Head of Division for Research) as needed in identifying priority applicants.

Additional priority groups may be added in future if a specific need for support is identified.

randomised Selection process

Depending on the value of the applications received, it is expected that 4 or 5 applications per round will be funded. Once any priority applications have been selected, the remaining slots within the round will be allocated through a randomised selection process. External funders (for example Wellcome IFRC and British Academy Small Research Grants) are also trialling various randomisation processes for allocating research funding. 

The random selection will be done using Microsoft Excel which uses the Mersenne Twister algorithm (MT19937) to generate random numbers. Each application will be assigned an integer number and then the formula =INT(RAND()*(b-a)+a) will return a random integer number between a and b, where a is 1 and b is the number of applications +1.

This randomised selection process will be completed and witnessed by members of the MSD Research Strategy and Funding Team, and the process and results for each round will be documented.

There will be four application rounds per calendar year with deadlines in March, June, September and December. Budget will be allocated evenly between the four rounds. The first two deadlines were on 13 March 2024 and 12 June 2024.

MSD will undertake a mid-term review of the pilot Bridging Scheme over the summer of 2024. The following call deadlines are expected to be:

  • 12 noon on 11 September 2024 
  • 12 noon on 04 December 2024

To check for the next deadline and to apply to the Scheme, please scroll down to the MSD Bridging Salary Scheme in the Internal Research Award Management System (IRAMS)Future rounds will be advertised through the Division's usual communications channels and will be visible in IRAMS.

DO I HAVE TO APPLY FOR MY OWN SALARY? CAN SOMEONE ELSE APPLY FOR ME?

Applicants to the Bridging Salary Scheme should apply for their own salary. It is hoped that this will give some early career applicants the opportunity to hold their first grant in their own name. If it is not possible for the staff member to apply for their own salary, e.g. because they are on caring leave at the time of a round's deadline, a colleague can submit the application on their behalf by clicking 'Apply for PI' in IRAMS and entering the SSO of the person to be bridged.

CAN SEVERAL PEOPLE’S SALARIES BE INCLUDED ON ONE APPLICATION? CAN A PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR SUBMIT A SINGLE APPLICATION FOR SEVERAL MEMBERS OF THEIR GROUP WHO ALL NEED SALARY BRIDGING?

No, each application submitted in IRAMS must be for a single member of staff. The Lead Applicant on each application must be the person whose salary is to be bridged. 

MY CONTRACT IS WITH A DEPARTMENT WITHIN THE HUMANITIES, SOCIAL SCIENCES OR MPLS DIVISIONS, OR WITH A COLLEGE, OR WITH GLAM – AM I ELIGIBLE TO APPLY?

The scheme is being funding and administered by the Medical Sciences Division and is only open to employees of departments within MSD. Also the funding sources for this scheme are restricted to supporting medical research. If you conduct research that would be considered medical research but your contract is with a department, college or institution outside of the Medical Science Division, you are not eligible to apply. 

WHY ARE ONLY RESEARCHERS WORKING IN THE MEDICAL SCIENCES DIVISION ELIGIBLE FOR BRIDGING SALARY SUPPORT?

The source of funding for bridging awards are the Medical Research Fund which funds medical research, and the EPA Cephalosporin Fund which funds biomedical research. Each funding source has its own eligibility criteria for funding and therefore only researchers who fulfil those criteria can be funded through the bridging scheme. Researchers working outside the Medical Sciences Division are not eligible.

I AM A POST-DOCTORAL RESEARCHER - AM I ELIGIBLE TO APPLY?

Yes post-doctoral researchers who are on fixed term or open-ended externally funded contracts are eligible to apply if they are employed at a grade below 8.10.

I AM GRADE 9 OR ABOVE (OR EQUIVALENT) - AM I ELIGIBLE TO APPLY?

No you are not eligible to apply. Applications will be considered from applicants who are up to Grade 8.10 or equivalent. Members of staff with a contract for Grade 9.1 or above are not eligible for an award from this scheme.

I AM A CLINICAL ACADEMIC – AM I ELIGIBLE TO APPLY?

Yes clinical academics holding contracts for both research and clinical time are eligible to apply for bridging salary support if the Total Employer Cost of their salary is less than or equal to Grade 8.10. Clinical academics can only apply for the cost of their University-contracted time for research.

I AM A Dphil student receiving a stipend – AM I ELIGIBLE TO APPLY?

Current DPhil students looking for bridging salary to their first post-doctoral position are not eligible to apply. The fund is only open to current employees of the University holding a Chancellors, Masters and Scholars (CMS) contract of employment with the University of Oxford, with an affiliation with a Department within the Medical Sciences Division, where the majority of their time is spent on research.

I am a member of research staff but i don't have a Phd/DPhil – AM I ELIGIBLE TO APPLY?

Research staff (e.g. Research Assistants) who do not have a PhD/DPhil but who have a CMS contract of employment with the University where the majority of their time is spent on research are eligible to apply.

I AM A DPHIL STUDENT AND ALSO A SALARIED EMPLOYEE – AM I ELIGIBLE TO APPLY?

DPhil students who are also employees of the University holding a Chancellors, Masters and Scholars (CMS) contract of employment may be eligible to apply. Please contact the Fund Coordinators to discuss your case.

HOW MUCH FUNDING CAN I APPLY FOR?

In the first round of the scheme you can apply for up to 100% of your salary for up to six months. The exact amount you can apply for will depend on your Grade, Spine Point and the dates of the bridging period to allow for annual increments. You must ask your Departmental Grants or Finance team for an X5 costing to confirm how much you should apply for.

I WORK PART-TIME – CAN I APPLY FOR A LONGER PERIOD OF BRIDGING SALARY UP TO THE EQUIVALENT COST OF 1.0 FTE?

No, you can only apply for your regular part-time salary for up to six months.

CAN I APPLY FOR MORE OR LESS THAN SIX MONTHS’ OF SALARY SUPPORT?

The maximum length of time that can be bridged through this scheme is six months. If you need less than six months of salary support you should apply for the length of time that you need up to a maximum of six months.

CAN I APPLY FOR COSTS OTHER THAN MY OWN SALARY?

No, this scheme will only provide salary. For other research costs you could consider applying to the John Fell Fund or the Medical Sciences Internal Fund: Pump Priming scheme.

I AM AN EMPLOYEE BASED OVERSEAS - CAN I APPLY FOR MY OVERSEAS ALLOWANCE AS WELL AS MY SALARY?

If you are based at one of the University's overseas units you can apply to the Scheme for your salary plus your overseas allowance for the bridging period.

DO I NEED TO SUBMIT AN X5 COSTING?

Your department’s Grants or Finance team must calculate the application amount using X5. Please submit a PDF of the X5 Admin Output with your application. The 'Total Requested From This Fund' in IRAMS should reflect the 'Oxford Total' amount in the Price or Total Grant column on the X5 output, and must exclude any Directly Allocated, Estates, Infrastructure or Indirect Costs.

does THE APPLICANT need to be externally funded at the end of their current contract?

The source of the applicant's salary at the end of their current contract is expected to be an externally funded research grant (or contract with industry) that qualifies as research income. Staff contracts funded from philanthropic donations or departmental Trust Funds are unlikely to be eligible.

Externally funded Department/Centre/Institute core awards that are ending and not being renewed by the funder are eligible as an external source of funding.

Internally funded awards (e.g. from the John Fell Fund or Medical and Life Sciences Translational Fund (MLSTF)) are eligible sources of funding to be bridged from, but are not eligible as a future funding source for the other end of the bridge.

DO I NEED TO HAVE FUTURE FUNDING IN PLACE BEFORE APPLYING?

To be eligible for a round of the Bridging Scheme, by the round’s deadline an application must have been submitted to an external funder that will fund the applicant’s salary for at least two years after the end of the bridging period. The application must include details of the scheme, application status, application deadline and expected start date of the award(s) that you have applied for that will cover the salary after the bridging period.

MUST THE FUTURE FUNDING BE EXTERNAL?

Typically the future funding source will be external, e.g. an externally funded fellowship, or an externally funded project grant, or a research contract with industry, on to which the applicant’s salary has been fully costed. If the other end of the bridge could be considered an internal funding source, contact the Fund Coordinators before submitting your application to discuss your eligibility. 

Internally funded awards (e.g. from the John Fell Fund or Medical and Life Sciences Translational Fund (MLSTF)) are not eligible as a future funding source for the other end of the bridge.

I have already secured part of my salary for after the end of my current contract. can I apply for the remainder of my salary?

Yes, if you have secured a percentage of your future salary for after your current contract has ended, you can apply to the bridging scheme for the remaining percentage of your salary (up to your currently contracted FTE) while you await the outcomes of external applications to cover the remainder.

HOW LONG MUST THE FUTURE FUNDING COVER MY SALARY FOR?

The other end of the bridge should provide your salary for at least two years after the end of the bridging period.

HOW WILL APPLICATIONS BE SELECTED FOR FUNDING?

After any candidates for priority funding have been identified, all remaining applicants will be entered into a randomised selection process. This random allocation will be done using the random number generator in Microsoft Excel which uses the Mersenne Twister algorithm (MT19937). Each application will be assigned an integer number and then the formula =INT(RAND()*(b-a)+a) will return a random integer number between a and b, where a is 1 and b is the number of applications +1.

This random allocation will be conducted and witnessed by at least two members of the MSD Research Strategy and Funding Team, and the process and results for each round will be documented.

WHY ARE THE SUCCESSFUL APPLICANTS BEING SELECTED AT RANDOM?

MSD have decided to select the applications for funding at random as the demand for the scheme is expected to be greater than the available budget. MSD considered asking a panel to conduct a detailed review of applications and select candidates, but it was agreed that it would not be fair or reasonable for a panel to select one candidate over another based on, e.g. the strategic importance or impact of their research, the quality of their written application, or strength of the letter of support from their line manager.

The randomisation process and its outputs will be monitored regularly throughout the pilot phase.

WHEN WILL I HEAR IF MY APPLICATION IS SUCCESSFUL?

The Bridging Scheme administrators aim to notify applicants of the outcome of their application within 4 – 6 weeks of each call deadline.

WHEN CAN MY BRIDGING AWARD START?

Bridging awards can start from six weeks after the application deadline. If your current source of external funding will end within six weeks of the application deadline, please contact the Fund Coordinators for advice on the feasibility of starting the bridging award sooner (if your application is successful).

WILL I BE ABLE TO APPLY FOR A COSTED OR NO-COST EXTENSION TO MY BRIDGING AWARD?

Requests for costed extensions to awards beyond 6 months’ duration will not be granted. Requests to extend an award that was initially shorter than 6 months up to 6 months' duration will be considered if budget is available.

No-cost extensions to awards and/or deferment of the start of the award may be possible if your circumstances change. Contact the Fund Coordinators to enquire in the first instance.

DO I NEED MY LINE MANAGER’S/DEPARTMENT’S SUPPORT TO APPLY?

Yes you will need a letter of support from your line manager and your department must provide you with an X5 costing and Departmental Approval for your application in IRAMS.

HOW MANY AWARDS WILL BE MADE?

Depending on the application amounts, the budget for Year 1 of the Bridging Salary Scheme (2024) is expected to fund approximately 16 – 20 awards in total (4-5 awards per round).

IF I RECEIVE A BRIDGING AWARD BUT ULTIMATELY DON’T NEED TO USE THE MONEY TO BRIDGE MY SALARY, CAN I REPURPOSE THE AWARD?

You cannot repurpose the award for non-salary research costs or for another member of staff’s salary costs. Any unused budget will be reclaimed to the central budget for reallocation to another researcher in MSD.

WHAT ARE THE FUNDING SOURCES FOR THIS BRIDGING SALARY SCHEME?

The sources of funding for bridging awards made from this scheme are the Medical Research Fund and the EPA Cephalosporin Fund.

WHO WILL BE PRIORITISED FOR BRIDGING SALARY SUPPORT?

Applicants may be prioritised for funding if they have taken a period of any type of leave for caring responsibilities where they have been away from work for at least 6 calendar months and have returned to work within 12 months of the bridging scheme round deadline, or are still on caring leave at the deadline. The MSD Fund Managers will confirm the applicant's eligibility for prioritisation due to caring leave with Divisional HR or the applicant's departmental administration team.

In cases of shared parental leave there may be gaps in the period of caring leave where the applicant was back at work, provided that the applicant has taken a cumulative period of at least 6 months’ of caring leave and has returned to work within 12 months of the bridging scheme round deadline, or is still on caring leave at the deadline.

It is the Scheme’s intention to fund as a priority people who have been away from work, i.e. have not been working at all, for a period of at least 6 months. Researchers who work part-time or have been working intermittently due to caring responsibilities are not eligible to be considered for priority funding (except researchers who have taken shared parental leave as described above).

WHY ARE RETURNING CARERS BEING PRIORITISED FOR BRIDGING OVER OTHER RESEARCHERS?

There is evidence from peer reviewed research and from the University’s own experience of administering the Returning Carers Fund that there are specific impacts on research careers of taking leave for caring responsibilities. Specifically external funders may either not extend grants, or will award only a no-cost extension leading to a shortfall in salary, and/or researchers find themselves needing to apply for continuation funding having lost productive time relative to their peers who have not been away from work for caring responsibilities. These researchers are significantly disadvantaged when seeking further external funding after returning from a period of caring leave.

HOW MUCH MATCH FUNDING DO DEPARTMENTS NEED TO PROVIDE?

In the first two rounds of the scheme (deadlines 13 March 2024 and 11 June 2024) Departments do not need to provide match funding. After this round Departments may be asked to provide 25% of the applicant’s salary for the bridging period (which may be waived in exceptional circumstances) with the Bridging Salary Scheme funding 75%.

WHY IS THE REQUIREMENT FOR DEPARTMENTAL MATCH FUNDING BEING WAIVED FOR THE FIRST ROUND(S)?

The requirement for match funding is being waived across the whole Division for the first round(s) of the scheme due to the current Division-wide restrictions on making new unbudgeted commitments. Departmental contributions will be required in the future (but will continue to be waived in exceptional circumstances) subject to ongoing review of Divisional finances.

WHY DO DEPARTMENTS NEED TO PROVIDE MATCH FUNDING OF 25%?

Departments are asked to provide 25% of the match funding (except in exceptional circumstances) to demonstrate a strong commitment to the staff member and in order that the scheme can provide bridging salary to more researchers. Provision of 25% match funding on each award will allow the scheme to make 5-6 additional bridging awards to researchers per year (depending on value).

WHAT CONSTITUTES EXCEPTIONAL CIRCUMSTANCES THAT WILL BE GRANTED A WAIVER FOR THE DEPARTMENTAL MATCH FUNDING?

Exceptional circumstances will be judged by the Fund Coordinators and members of the senior leadership team in the Medical Sciences Division on a case by case basis. If the Department believes that they have exceptional circumstances meaning that they should be granted a waiver for the 25% match funding, a member of the Department’s grants/finance/admin team must contact the Fund Coordinators well before the deadline. They must describe the exceptional circumstances which mean that they cannot provide the 25% departmental contribution.

WHAT ARE THE LONGER TERM PLANS FOR THE BRIDGING SALARY SCHEME?

This is a pilot scheme which will run for 12 months (four rounds) in the first instance between January 2024 and December 2024. The processes and outputs of the scheme will be monitored regularly throughout the pilot. If the scheme as launched is found at any point to be unworkable or not to be capable of fulfilling its purpose, the Medical Sciences Division may revise or withdraw the scheme (before or after the end of the pilot) and reconsider the best way of supporting its researchers.

If the pilot scheme is agreed to be a success, further deadlines will be announced in 2025 subject to the Medical Sciences Division securing additional funding.

WILL applicants HAVE TO COMPLETE ANY REPORTING?

All applicants to the MSD Bridging Salary Scheme may be asked to provide brief anonymous feedback about the scheme, how they found the application process or their feelings about randomised selection.

Successful applicants will be required to submit a brief final report at the end of their award. For example they may be asked to describe their activity during the bridging period and their current position and source of funding following the bridging award.

Please send questions about the MSD Bridging Salary Scheme to the Fund Coordinators in the Medical Sciences Division Research Strategy & Funding Team.