Skills & careers

Skills needed to win support

The skills and experience (relevant to career stage) applicants should demonstrate at the time of applying for an MRC fellowship or New Investigator Research Grant are below. Career breaks, part-time working and changes in discipline will be taken into account when assessing research experience to date and track record.

Career stage Training (PhD students) Early career Transition to independence Transition to leadership
Relevant scheme(s)

Clinical Research Training Fellowships
PhD studentships1

Skills Development Fellowships

Career Development Award
Clinician Scientist Fellowships
New Investigator Research Grant

Senior Non-Clinical Fellowship
Senior Clinical Fellowship 

Key criteria
  • Planning to pursue a research career
  • Clear understanding of how the research project will progress knowledge within the field
  • Plans for a coherent and integrated training programme
  • Delivered previous research projects and have evidence of outputs 
  • Productivity across past appointments and an upward trajectory
  • Clear plans to establish own research ‘niche’
  • Track record of nationally competitive research and managing own independent research group
  • Clear plans to develop into an internationally recognised leader in the field
     
1. Research vision

Individuals should: 

  • Have a clear understanding of how their research project will progress knowledge within the field and an understanding of the project’s relevance to human health.

Individuals should:

  • Have a clear understanding of the contribution of their research to their field. 
  • Be able to demonstrate independent research ideas, show an awareness of research in other fields, and an appreciation of the importance of working across disciplinary boundaries. 
  • Have planned a coherent and integrated training programme that will enable them to build on and expand their existing skill base, and to develop new research skills and expertise, which is realistically achievable within the timeframe, and necessary for the successful completion of their project.

Individuals should:

  • Have their own research plans / ideas which do not significantly overlap with their current group leaders’ or proposed sponsors’.
  • Describe how their research plans fit into an international context.
  • Be able to explain plans to establish their intellectual niche and their own research team that will enable them to become an independent research leader.
  • Have a network of research contacts, independent of their current group leader, including appropriate collaborations nationally, internationally and across disciplines. 

Individuals should:

  • Develop an ambitious research and career development programme with a credible pathway to developing as an international leader. Demonstrate an effective track record of nationally competitive independent research.
  • Demonstrate appropriate national/international collaborations, within/between/across disciplines as required.
  • Describe how their research plans fit into an international context.
Research experience and potential
  • Have plans to pursue a research career, demonstrated, for example, through undergraduate research project experience, informal placement, or academic training positions for clinicians.
  • Have delivered previous research project(s) and show evidence of outputs, for example, publications, conference presentations 
  • Be starting to establish a network(s) of research contacts independent of their current group leader/supervisor.
  • Have a track record of challenging, original and productive research in their area which shows productivity across past appointments (typically at least one post-doctoral appointment), as well as an upward trajectory. For example as demonstrated by the quality of science within first author papers or equivalent outputs1.
  • Demonstrate potential to lead independent research, for example by having collaborated with teams in other departments, Research Organisations and / or other disciplines, or by having won small amounts of independent funding.  
  • Be starting to show evidence of recognition and leadership in the community on an international scale, e.g. through citations to their publications, invitations to seminar / conferences.
  • Have a strong track record of original and productive independent research with impact in the field (evidenced by e.g. senior author publication(s)).
  • Have success at securing research funding, e.g. previous intermediate fellowships to establish independence.
  • Have standing/influence within the field and the community.
  • Have a demonstrable track record of effective management of your own laboratory staff.
3. Personal development
  • Have worked with their supervisors and host institution to develop a clear research question and project, as well as training plans to develop the skills to underpin a future research career.
  • Be aware of and seek access to career development support, e.g. mentoring.
  • Have a clear proposal of how their research, and specific, high quality training, will enable them to gain the additional skills needed to deliver their research plans.
  • Be able to outline how they will seek opportunities to access career development support, e.g. mentoring, spending time in other research groups or settings
  • Have identified, and where appropriate, pursued opportunities for development, such as time in a second research centre within the UK or overseas, or time spent within industry, or learning new skills.
  • Have identified opportunities to access career development support, e.g. mentoring and professional training development, and relevant training courses that will underpin their future career ambitions.
  • Identify and pursue research training opportunities that broaden development, such as time in a second research centre or in industry.
  • Be able to outline how they will use the fellowship to seek opportunities to develop their career, e.g. through mentoring and professional training development such as management and leadership training.
4. Leadership

Not strongly applicable at this career stage.

 

  • Show a potential to lead and inspire, for example through organisation of peer activities, workshops, journal clubs or supporting individuals at earlier career stage.

 

  • Show an ability to identify and maximise potential in others. For example, through the day to day support of Masters and PhD students, or early career scientists.

 

  • Have a track record of identifying and maximising potential in others. For example, through managing and mentoring own staff and early career researchers, and as primary supervisor of PhD students.

 

5. Communication and engagement skills
  • Show awareness of the context of their research in reference to societal and ethical issues. 
  • Understand the importance of public engagement activities and have an interest in developing relevant skills and experience.
  • Have excellent communication and interpersonal skills and aim to develop these across different audiences.
  • Show how their research outcomes will be communicated and disseminated within and outside the research community.

 

  • Have excellent communication and interpersonal skills across different audiences, including academic and public, for example through presentation at scientific conferences and public science fairs.
  • Show how research outcomes will be communicated and disseminated within and outside the research community. 

 

  • Have excellent communication and interpersonal skills across different audiences, for example academic, public and media.
  • Show how research outcomes will be communicated and disseminated within and outside the research community.
6. Profile and influence Not strongly applicable at this career stage.
  • Have a strong, practical sense of how they will develop their careers to become leading researchers.
  • Show an understanding of how to influence their research field and awareness of ways to influence the wider research agenda. For example, through experience of participation in peer review, invitations to give lectures / seminars, participation in internal committees. 
  • Show evidence of advising and influencing the research agenda. For example through development of research standards or guidelines, committee membership, research strategy at research organisational / national / international level.  

Funding for studentships is provided to research organisations. MRC does not fund students directly, so prospective students should contact the institution at which they wish to study.
2 Recognising that in some fields there is equivalence, such as a critical contribution to multi-author publications.

Please read the skills and experience required carefully.  In conjunction with your host institution, you should evaluate your track record and assess whether you meet the skills and experience required for a given scheme prior to applying. If further guidance is still required, applicants may contact the relevant Programme Manager via fellows@headoffice.mrc.ac.uk to confirm their suitability for any MRC fellowship scheme. To enable us to advise, include your CV (using the correct template (DOCX, 28KB) (DOCX, 30KB)), a list of publications, a description of how you meet the skills and experience required for the relevant scheme and a 1 page project outline with the enquiry.