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The Research Culture Enhancement Fund aims to provide seed funding to activity that will improve research culture in the University of Oxford.

The Research Culture Enhancement Fund will provide funding to any activity which aims to improve research culture in the University. Proposals may be for new initiatives or may aim to accelerate or complement existing research culture or Equality, Division and Inclusion (EDI) activity across the University.

Improving research culture covers a wide range of areas but has the ultimate goal of ensuring that researchers across the University have an equally positive experience of working in their role at the University, regardless of subject area, department, background or characteristic. This includes equality of access to career development opportunities and progression, training and support within an inclusive, supportive and respectful environment.

Proposals must present activity that will be able to start quite rapidly and that will end by 31 March 2023, due to restrictions on the source of the funding. All spending must be complete by 31 March 2023. No extensions beyond this date will be possible.

Budget from the Fund is drawn from the Wellcome Institutional Strategic Support Fund (ISSF). As such, projects must look to address one or more of the 12 Key Themes of improving research culture outlined in the Wellcome Research Culture Townhalls Report dated December 2020. These are summarised on the application form as:

  1. Career progression and contracts
  2. Bullying and harassment
  3. Pressure and competition
  4. Management practice
  5. Mental health and wellbeing
  6. Working hours and conditions
  7. Equality, diversity and inclusion
  8. Research integrity and handling of complaints
  9. Early career challenges
  10. Reward and recognition
  11. Balancing work and home life
  12. Other

There is no minimum application amount and applications are generally expected to be for less than £25,000, although larger amounts will be considered for exceptionally strong cases. Applications for more than £20,000 must have the written support of a relevant central service (Research Staff Hub, POD, Careers Service, EDU, etc.) to avoid duplication and ensure synergy with central initiatives. Applicants can contact the Fund Managers before Wednesday 06 October for guidance on which central service may be able to support their application.

Alternatively to applying for funding to complete their own project, applicants from departments/units within the Medical Sciences Division may apply for some capacity from the new Research Culture Facilitator post-holder, who will shortly be recruited to MSDO. Applications requesting support from the Research Culture Facilitator must describe and justify the duration of support and FTE requested from the post-holder.

Applications will be reviewed by the Wellcome ISSF Committee with additional input from experts/stakeholders in enhancing research culture. Applications will be prioritised for funding based on:

  • Fit to the remit of the scheme for enhancing research culture
  • Potential impact of the project in either breadth or depth (not simply the number of researchers impacted)
  • Availability of other potential sources of funding for the project
  • Fit to the budget available to the Fund

Eligible applicants may be from any division, department or central service of the University and must:

  1. Hold a contract of employment with the University of Oxford for a research or research-support role that will continue at least until the end of the proposed activity.
  2. Have confirmed with their line manager prior to submitting an application that they have their manager’s support to conduct this research culture activity in addition to their existing duties.
  3. Have received confirmation from the lead department/unit’s finance or grants team prior to submitting an application that the team will support them in administering this award.

Eligible costs may include any direct cost of conducting the activity in the proposal, buyout of staff time, provision of services by an external provider, etc. The fund will not support overheads. Queries about what costs may be considered eligible for the fund can be sent to the Fund Managers before the deadline.

Applicants must submit an application in IRAMS. If you start drafting an application and want to continue it later, click Save within your application. It will then appear in the My Applications tab in IRAMS.

In addition to entering the information requested in the tabs in IRAMS, you must download and complete the Case For Support Template. This is available in IRAMS on the Case For Support tab as a Word document.

The Case For Support Template must be converted to PDF and uploaded to IRAMS as a single PDF. If you are applying for £20,000 or more, you must include in the PDF a letter of support from the most relevant central body to the application (Research Staff Hub, POD, Careers Service, EDU, etc.) confirming that the proposal does not duplicate current/planned future activity and is complementary to central initiatives. 

Proposals must present activity that will be able to start quite rapidly and that will end by 31 March 2023, due to restrictions on the source of the funding. In some exceptional cases the end date in IRAMS may be later than 31 March 2023 (e.g. if a series of events from an external provider will continue beyond March 2023 and is paid for in advance), however all spending on the award must be complete by 31 March 2023. No extensions beyond this date will be possible.

If you are applying for support from the MSDO Research Culture Facilitator rather than just funding, in the Financial Details tab:

  • In the table Budget Requested From This Fund, enter as row 1:
  1. Purpose = ‘Staff: Research Staff’
  2. Description = ‘MSDO Research Culture Facilitator’
  3. Year 1 amount = ‘£0.00’.
  • Enter any additional costs requested from the Fund as subsequent rows in the table
  • Under Contributions From Other Sources enter any other sources of funding that will contribute to the project
  • The Total Project Cost is automatically calculated by IRAMS and will equal the values entered above.
  • The Total Requested from This Fund is automatically calculated by IRAMS if an amount is entered in the Budget Requested table. The Total Requested must equal the total entered in the Budget Requested From This Fund table. If only time from the Research Culture Facilitator is requested, this will equal £0 and must be entered manually (IRAMS may not enter a £0 value automatically).

This scheme is open to applications with a deadline of 12pm on Wednesday 20 October 2021. This is the deadline both for applicants to apply and for lead departments to give Departmental Approval. Applicants should ask their lead department if there is an earlier internal deadline for submission for departmental review.

This scheme is expected to have only one round of applications.

Awards made from this fund will have a spending deadline of 31 March 2023 due to restrictions on the source of the funding. All spending on an award must be complete by 31 March 2023. No extensions beyond this date will be possible.

For questions about the Fund please contact the Fund Managers at enquiries@issf.ox.ac.uk.