POST's Parliamentary Academic Fellowship Scheme: Open Call

The deadline for submitting an Expression of Interest for the 2020 scheme has now passed.

Following the success of POST's Parliamentary Academic Fellowship Scheme pilot, POST's Knowledge Exchange Unit (KEU) has reopened the scheme.  The Directed Call ran in late 2019 and is now a rolling call.

The Open Call enables academics to suggest ideas for projects to conduct at UK Parliament. These projects might include contributing to the core work of an office, filling gaps in expertise, helping to grow Parliament’s academic networks, informing parliamentary scrutiny, analysing and evaluating parliamentary practices, or building staff capacity and skills.  

Key dates

  • Expression of Interest applications opened on Monday 8th June and closed at 11.59pm on Friday 26th June 2020
  • September 2020 – Outcomes of Expression of Interest applications communicated, and Detailed Applications invited from applicants successful at this stage
  • October – November 2020 – Applicants notified of outcomes of Detailed Applications, and applicants successful at this stage invited to interview 
  • November 2020 – Interview outcomes communicated and fellowships offered to successful applicants 
  • From January 2021 – Fellowships commence

To apply, applicants must:

  • Identify an idea for a potential project to conduct in a participating Host Office in UK Parliament. A list of parliamentary offices participating in the scheme can be found in the Guidance Note, on page 10.
  • Before completing the Expression of Interest Application Form, read the Parliamentary Academic Fellowship Scheme Open Call 2020 - Guidance Note for Applicants. We strongly recommend applicants also read the Appendix to this document. It contains information about the offices in Parliament participating in the scheme, the kinds of projects you could propose to do with them and any topics they are particularly interested in receiving proposals on.
  • Complete an Expression of Interest Application Form and send a copy of the completed form, along with a two-page CV, to postfellowships@parliament.uk. You should mark the subject of the email as: “PAFS Open Call: [name of proposed parliamentary Host Office]. We would also appreciate if you would complete and send us the diversity monitoring questionnaire, although this is voluntary.

Please note, unfortunately, due to limitations on parliamentary staff capacity and the volume of Expression of Interest applications the call is expected to receive, neither the Host Office to which applicants apply, nor the Knowledge Exchange Unit, are able to discuss ideas for projects at Expression of Interest stage. Applicants are asked not to contact participating parliamentary offices for support in shaping their project or with questions about the scheme. However, to support applicants at this stage of the process, more information on how to identify and shape a project proposal is found both further down this page –  in the section ‘What approach should I take to shaping my application?’, and in the Guidance Note and Appendix. Applicants to the scheme are strongly encouraged to read these as they offer information to support applicants in writing their applications.

Once the application window for Expression of Interest applications has closed, shortlisting will take place during July and August. If successful at this stage, and if Host Offices would potentially have the capacity to host the fellowship, applicants will be invited to submit a Detailed Application during September. (More information on this part of the process is available in the Guidance Note).

If applicants are successful at Detailed Application stage, they will be invited to attend an interview during October/ November. Offers of fellowships will be made to successful applicants during November.

Fellowships may commence once security clearance has been obtained and the Fellowship Agreement has been signed, and an offer of a fellowship will only be final once these processes have been completed. Timescales for obtaining security clearance can vary. It is expected that, dependent on this and the timeframe of the proposed project, some fellowships will commence from January 2021 (the earliest possible start date), with others starting later in the year.

The application process can all take place virtually and applicants will be notified if they have or haven’t been successful at each stage of the application process. 

It is expected that the process will follow the timescales above, but if any changes are made to these, we will update this webpage with details as soon as possible.

More information about the scheme can be found below. 

Why participate in the scheme?

Fellowships have a positive impact on both Parliament and the fellow. They are a key way that research and researchers can impact Parliament. Previous outcomes for Parliament from the scheme include fellows filling gaps in expertise, building staff capacity and skills, informing parliamentary scrutiny, giving Parliament new perspectives on its practices, growing its academic networks and improving its knowledge exchange, and enabling Parliamentarians and staff to conduct new activities (see our report here for further information). 

Outcomes for previous fellows have included: research impact, increased knowledge of Parliament, developed networks, impact on career, impact on own research agenda, publications and impacts on teaching. Details of the impacts of previous fellowship projects can also be found in the KEU’s report on the pilot scheme, as can a number of case studies and perspectives from parliamentary hosts.  

Who can participate in the scheme?  

Applications are open to all UK-based university researchers who already have a PhD and are employed on an academic contract (and, exceptionally, they are also open to those who don’t have a PhD but who are employed in a university on an academic contract and have equivalent experience of a PhD), or university staff working in impact or knowledge exchange (including university libraries). The scheme is open for applications from individuals, rather than teams. Applicants must have permission to work in the UK and be eligible for a parliamentary pass (obtained upon receiving security clearance once an offer for a fellowship has been made). Those offered a fellowship must obtain security clearance to CTC level. More information on security vetting in Parliament can be found here (PDF PDF 3.15 MB). If you aren't sure whether you are eligible to apply, please do get in touch with the KEU to ask.

Where and when will fellowships take place? 

Projects will vary in proposed duration and fellows may propose projects lasting up to a year. Projects must commence at some point in 2021. If there is the desire from the parliamentary office and fellow, projects may be extended to last up to 2 years once the project has commenced.

Fellowships can be part time or full time. Fellows will likely spend part of their time in Westminster (dependent on impacts of COVID-19 on working practices) however, for many projects, it is likely to be possible for fellows to be based away from Westminster and to work on projects remotely for the majority of the time. Working patterns may be discussed at interview.  

How is the scheme funded?  

Fellowships (time, teaching cover, travel, subsistence, accommodation and any other associated expenses) will be funded by funding streams from research institutions or research funders. Funding should be sought by the applicant. Confirmation that the applicant has started to consider the source of their funding needs to be given in the Expression of Interest application. Confirmation of approval from the budget holder must be given in the Detailed Application. It is expected that funding will mainly come from impact funding sources such as Research Council Impact Acceleration Awards or specific university impact budgets. Applicants may also seek funding from other research organisations or funders, for example research networks, charitable funding, learned society funding, or professional association funding. Fellowships may not be funded with private funding or funding from industry. We encourage those interested in a fellowship to begin conversations about possible funding with prospective funders as soon as possible. 

How is the scheme administered?

POST’s KEU is overseeing the administration of the scheme, working with offices within Parliament throughout the process. The Host Office to which applicants apply will have primary responsibility for fellows throughout the duration of the fellowship.

What approach should I take to shaping my application?

For support in shaping their project, we strongly recommend that applicants read:

a) The Guidance Note for Applicants which states the assessment criteria the application will be reviewed against, and

b) The Appendix in the Guidance Note for Applicants which outlines information about the wider offices within Parliament participating in the scheme, to support applicants to apply for fellowships with specific Host Offices within Parliament. It also contains details of areas that Host Offices are particularly keen to receive project proposals in.

When shaping their applications, we also encourage applicants to contact the policy/ impact team at their university who may be able to support applicants, or offer advice in shaping applications.

The KEU has also put together this short guide to producing research to support the work of UK Parliament which applicants are likely to find helpful as a resource in shaping their applications.

Where applications are successful at the Expression of Interest stage, the applicant will receive some feedback from their prospective Host Office to support them in making their Detailed Application. They will also be offered a phone call with someone from the Host Office to discuss their proposed project, allowing them to work with the office to shape their proposal further.

Parliamentary offices participating in the scheme

The Appendix of the Guidance Note for Applicants contains a list of Host Offices in Parliament participating in the scheme. Applicants must specify which Host Office they are applying for a fellowship in (for example, not just ‘Commons Committee Office’, but ‘Business Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, Commons Committee Office’). Applicants should apply to one Host Office only, and should ensure that the office they apply to is listed in the Appendix. Applicants should be aware that Host Offices will only be able to take on fellowships where capacity allows, and will consider this when reviewing Expression of Interest applications, on a case by case basis.

Applicants will be asked to give consideration to the relevance and timeliness of their project to the Host Office as part of the application.

Applicants are advised that priorities within Parliament can change, resulting in offices adapting their workstreams to address changing priorities. Therefore, whilst parliamentary Host Offices will always attempt to accommodate proposed fellowship projects within their work, there will likely be an element of co-design and development at Detailed Application stage, and in the early stages of the fellowship. Further, there is always a chance that, once they have started, some fellowships may need to adjust their focus to respond to changing wider priorities. Applicants to select committees are advised that, as these offices can be especially reactive in their work, whilst every effort will be made to ensure fellowships continue with their original focus, applicants applying to work with these Host Offices may need to demonstrate a greater degree of flexibility to adapt their fellowship projects. Applicants may discuss any concerns they have around this with the potential Host Office at both Detailed Application stage and interview.

Contact

Please direct all queries to Dr Laura Webb, Knowledge Exchange Manager, Knowledge Exchange Unit, Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology: webblj@parliament.uk     

 

What do former fellows have to say about the scheme?

“Aside from REF-style impact, I gained both enormously valuable insights into how Parliament and Government work in practice, and a range of wonderful contacts I’ve drawn on since for my continuing work in this area. I also got multiple opportunities to speak as a result of my role at prestigious events in and outside Parliament.” Prof Gavin Phillipson

 “I have gained a real depth of insight into the people and processes which frame Parliament’s use of research. Being able to see the impact I’m having – at my university and in Westminster – has been incredibly motivating and I would highly recommend a fellowship.” Dr Danielle Beswick

“My parliamentary fellowship gave me a new perspective on my research. It will always remain at the back of my mind, helping me to increase the impact of my work in the future.” Dr Michael Stock

 “The fellowships are a fantastic opportunity for academics to engage on a more long-term basis with Parliament, its staff and Members of Parliament. My own fellowship has allowed me to develop deep relationships, introduce the committee to new insights (including those based on my research) and has significantly improved my understanding of British politics, feeding into my own on-going research in this area.” Dr Gabriel Siles-Brügge

 “If you would like to learn more about the work of parliamentary researchers, and to have a chance to apply your research and expertise in the context of supporting policymaking, then a fellowship would be the perfect opportunity for you.” Dr Riza Batista-Navarro