Project bid guidance for potential supervisors

2020-21 MRC DTP Project Bid Form Guidance

(Information below in PDF format: 2020-21 MRC DTP Project Bid Form Guidance)

The LSHTM/SGUL MRC London Intercollegiate Doctoral Training Partnership (MRC LID) will be advertising in November 2019 for the next round of studentships (students to start in September 2020). We have funding to support 11 new studentship awards. This is the final year of the award and thus this round differs slightly from previous rounds. We need to fulfil our commitment to MRC for balanced recruitment across the three themes of the DTP, which means that we will recruit more students to the themes ‘Quantitative Skills for Large Data sets’ and ‘Evaluating Complex Interventions’ than to ‘Global Infectious Diseases’.

The majority of awards will be for 3.5 years with the expectation that students will gain new skills to allow them to undertake multidisciplinary or interdisciplinary research and they will be required to undertake a 3-month professional internship outside the partnership. Rarely, 1+3 year awards may be made to exceptional candidates to allow them to undertake a full MSc course prior to starting their PhD research. Each studentship will provide a stipend, payment of fees at UK/EU rates, a research allowance and annual travel/conference allowance (amount as per MRC standard studentship rates). Some flexible funding may also be available for additional training needs; this cannot be used for basic project costs and approval from the MRC LID board is required. Please note that although clinically qualified candidates are eligible to apply for these awards, they are designed for non-clinical research and the stipend payable will be fixed at the current non-clinical MRC rate. Projects that require the applicant to be clinically qualified are not suitable. Only UK/EU fee status candidates who meet the MRC residency requirements will be entitled to a full award. EU candidates may apply for a fees-only award.  Students will join a rolling cohort of MRC-funded research degree students and will be expected to engage fully in various cohort-related training activities.

Prospective students will apply to carry out their PhD research on a particular project, which they will select from a list of projects put forward by potential supervisors. Projects should address at least one of the three overarching themes of the DTP (Global Infectious Diseases; Quantitative Skills for Large Data sets; Evaluating Complex Interventions) and provide training in at least one of the three core skills areas (quantitative skills; interdisciplinary skills; whole organism physiology). Projects that facilitate research collaboration between LSHTM and SGUL will be viewed particularly favourably.  As the number of potential projects will exceed the number of studentships available, the final decision will be based on selecting the most able students.

The MRC are keen for more Industrial CASE awards to be awarded through the DTP, some by converting standard awards to CASE awards (either from the start or within 6 months of a student’s start). CASE awards require the non-academic partner to agree to host a student for 3 months FTE of their project (over the course of the PhD), and to support them financially by contributing research costs of £1,400.00 pa and £2,500.00 pa supplementary stipend (no financial contributions required for SME partners). The experience gained, and additional stipend, is likely to make these projects very attractive to potential students.

Staff who would like to be considered as a supervisor for an MRC DTP student to start in September 2020 are invited to complete this project submission form and to submit it to mrclid@lshtm.ac.uk by midnight on 6 October 2019. Staff may submit one project as Supervisor 1, and be named on one additional project as Supervisor 2 or 3, for potential inclusion in the final project list. Staff can only be listed as a supervisor on two project bids. Staff with little or no supervisory experience are strongly encouraged to submit projects, but they should identify an experienced member of staff who would be willing to be their mentor in their role as PhD supervisor. (Mentoring will not count towards the project supervisor limit for the purpose of this studentship.) It is a requirement of this scholarship scheme that each student has both a first supervisor and second supervisor. Please provide details of both on this form. Each project submitted must meet the necessary institution policy for the composition of research degree supervisory teams – for any queries regarding this please speak to your RDM (for LSHTM) or the Graduate Office (for SGUL).

Those who are primary supervisor for an MRC LID student starting in 2019-20 may not put forward a project for the 2020-21 academic year.

The details you provide on this form will be used to check the suitability of your proposed project, your supervisory experience and your capacity to effectively supervise a student over the next 4 years. After your bid has been submitted it will be passed to the Head of the Graduate School (where the Primary Supervisor is based at SGUL), or the Research Degree Manager and a Faculty Research Degree Director from your Faculty (where the Primary Supervisor is based at LSHTM) for institutional support and approval before the MRC LID team will view it. (LSHTM staff on visiting and honorary academic contracts should discuss a potential bid with their Faculty RDM before applying.)

TIMETABLE

Supervisor project form sent out = Late August/early September 2019
Supervisor project bids submitted (to mrclid@lshtm.ac.uk) = Midnight on 6 October 2019
Discussion of projects & final project selection = Week commencing 14 October 2019
Studentship advert goes live = Week commencing 28 October 2019 at the latest
Closing date for studentship applications from prospective students = Midnight on 1 January 2020
MRC LID admin to pass prospective students’ applications on to supervisors = By 10 January 2020 at the latest
Supervisors to return decisions for their project/s = 20 January 2020
Shortlisting review (applications allocated across shortlisting panel for initial review) = Week commencing 20 January 2020
Shortlisting meeting (Management team) = Fortnight commencing 27 January 2020
Students invited to interview = Before 14 February 2020
Interviews = Week commencing 24 February 2020
Formal offer letters sent out = Following interview decisions being confirmed by email

In January applications from prospective students will be sent out electronically to supervisors for consideration. If project supervisors are not going to be available, or do not have internet access to review and assess applications, they should nominate a colleague to cover this, and should advise the LSHTM/SGUL Scholarships team – via mrclid@lshtm.ac.uk  – of this, particularly as the turnaround times are tight.

Industrial CASE Awards

The MRC would like every DTP to covert some standard awards to CASE awards. In order to facilitate this, the MRC LID board will consider reserving some 2020-21 studentship for CASE projects (providing the project is suitable and meets MRC requirements, and the potential student’s application is competitive).

CASE projects will be shown in both the standard project lists and a separate CASE project list on the website, to ensure that they are highlighted to potential applicants.

CASE projects require the non-academic partner to provide the following support as part of the collaboration:
– In-kind support
Contributions could include: relevant research resources (equipment use, research accommodation and office space, expertise and skills, access to data sets and research participants), training provision, end user contacts and facilitation of research dissemination
– Financial support
As a measure of its interest and commitment, the non-academic/company partner (if >250 employees) must make a financial contribution to the MRC DTP of a minimum sum of £3,900.00 per annum for the full length of the studentship once the project has been converted to iCASE. This contribution will support the training of the student and support the MRC DTP Programme. As per MRC Guidance £1,400.00 pa will be awarded to the student’s consumables budget (in addition to the standard studentship RTSG and travel/conference allowance) and £2,500.00 pa will be awarded to the student’s stipend (in addition to the standard RCUK studentship stipend rate paid by MRC LID) in recognition of the extra responsibilities associated with collaborative studentships. SMEs (<250 employees) are not expected to make this financial contribution, these costs will be covered by the MRC.

The MRC mandates a cumulative period of no less than three months spent working in the facilities of the industrial collaborator. This 3-month period can be at any point during the studentship and may consist of a number of shorter visits if appropriate – all associated costs to be covered by the partner).

If a project bid indicates potential conversion to CASE the MRC LID board would expect the supervisors to provide a confirmation of commitment from the partner organisation(s) through a signed letter of support by the end of January 2020. The signed letter of support must agree to the funding implications and provide appropriate details of the ways in which the partner organisation(s) anticipate realising mutual benefit as partners in the collaboration.

Please note that if this bid is successful, and an award is made to a student on this project, intellectual property rights (IPR) will need to be negotiated between the institution and partner organisation(s). It might, therefore, be appropriate to agree in principle about IPR at an early stage. Please contact the MRC LID team if you require further information about the standpoint of the MRC/MRC LID management board.

SUPERVISOR RESPONSIBILITIES
Supervisors are required to meet their institution’s regulations and policies regarding student supervision. These responsibilities are taken very seriously by the institutions and failure to meet them could result in supervisors being ineligible for any further studentship funding from this or any other DTP within their institution.

Supervisors must be able to support all costs of the PhD project over and above the MRC standard annual RTSG allowance.

Any changes to project or supervisor must be approved by the MRC DTP management board, via contact with MRC LID admin in the first instance.

In addition, supervisors of MRC LID students must support their students in engaging with MRC as an important element of the transferable and scientific skills training. This will include
(a) maintaining contact with, and sharing outcomes, success stories, and news items with MRC LID management board via the MRC LID admin team;
(b) providing updates on project and status whenever necessary;
(c) attending additional training, as set out in the MRC LID Studentship Handbook and events set up by MRC LID;
(d) updating Je-S whenever prompted (and reviewing it at least once a year);
(e) providing outcomes information via researchfish and annual reports;
(f) providing information for any ad hoc requests from the DTP admin team and/or MRC (previous examples include MRC survey).

MRC LID students are expected to make the most of the opportunities and activities the additional funding provides, and their supervisors are required to support these elements of the award (for example, by encouraging students to attend MRC training days and retreats; supporting the student’s annual training plan review, together with their MRC LID board mentor; supporting additional skills training, with the MRC core skills and the student’s future career prospects in mind).    

By submitting a project bid, all supervisors are agreeing to these conditions.

Questions the DTP Management Board will consider when assessing this project bid:
– Do the supervisor and associate/co-supervisor meet the eligibility requirements to supervise PhD students? (LSHTM Policy; SGUL supervisors can check the SGUL policy with the Postgraduate Office)
– Do both supervisors currently supervise fewer students than the expected maximum?
– Is there sufficient funding in place (external to the Studentship allowances) to support a student’s research project?
– Does the project fall within the scientific remit of the DTP (Global Infectious Disease and/or Quantitative Skills and/or Evaluating Complex Interventions)?
– Does the project offer training in the relevant key skills (Quantitative Skills, Interdisciplinary Skills, Whole Organism Physiology)?
– Does the project look feasible and productive within the time constraints of a PhD (using the scientific description provided)?
– Does the project offer the potential for high quality PhD training?

Additional consideration for CASE awards includes the quality of the proposed collaboration with a non-industrial partner. For example: What is the added value of the research collaboration? What is the nature of the commitment from the partner organisation? What additional training or developmental opportunities will arise through the collaboration for the student? Will the partner institution offer distinctive forms of experience in areas which would be unobtainable without the partner? How will training opportunities be structured? Is there an opportunity for the student to complete a placement as part of their PhD with the partner organisation?

The decision of the DTP Management Board is final and non-negotiable.

 

 

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