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The Research Culture Seed Fund has been launched as part of the University’s Research Culture Action Plan (RCAP) - a key focus for the research & innovation strand of Strategy 2030, which commits to fostering a “creative, inclusive and collaborative” research culture.

The Fund will pump-prime innovative approaches to enhancing the environment in which research takes place at the University, and act as a ‘test bed’ for new ideas which could serve as best practice models to be rolled out in other parts of the University.

The eligibility criteria for the Fund are broad, encompassing a vast array of possible initiatives, and open to academics, non-academic staff and students alike, as long as they can demonstrate added value for the research culture (as defined by RCAP) in a particular area – whether that’s a research group or lab, a wider department, more broadly at faculty or institutional level, or other groupings.

  • What is the purpose of the Fund?

    In recent years a number of concerns have emerged with the broader culture of research in the UK, as detailed in several highly publicised reports by Wellcome Trust, The Royal Society and the UK Government.  These reports highlighted significant issues including: inflexible and uncertain career pathways, barriers to diversity and inclusivity, a lack of collegiality and unhealthy competition culture, and workloads over-inflated with unnecessary bureaucratic processes. Combined, these issues present significant risks to the sector, not least in attracting and retaining talent, protecting individual wellbeing, and delivering the highest quality research and innovation outputs.

    In response to this, and following a significant programme of engagement with the research community at Queen’s, the University published RCAP in January 2021 to begin tackling some of these issues. The Plan identifies specific issues and challenges to be addressed through tangible actions and interventions over the period 2021 – 2024, aligned with five strategic priority areas:

    1. Inclusive and compassionate culture
    2. Collegiality and collaboration in the research community
    3. A diverse range of career pathways
    4. A culture of creativity and innovation
    5. Recognising and rewarding all contributors or contributions

    While we hope that the institutional actions set out in RCAP will go some way to achieving this, it is recognised that discrete examples of best practice or innovative new ideas exist across the University. It is these exciting initiatives that the Seed Fund aims to nurture and stimulate, with the hope that they will inspire others at Queen’s.

  • What are the eligibility criteria?

    The eligibility criteria for the Fund have deliberately been kept as general and unrestricted as possible to ensure that we attract a diversity of applications from across the institution.

    Who can apply?

    Anyone within the broader ‘research community’ at the University can apply – this includes academic staff, postdoctoral researchers, non-academic support staff, and research students. Applications are welcomed either from individuals or groups.

    What type of activities will be supported?

    Applications should define a specific initiative or programme of activities that has the potential to enhance the research culture at Queen’s, applications that are clearly about advancing a research agenda should approach other funds. We will favour applications that propose a new and/ or innovative activity or approach that is not already taking place at the University; and applications that lend themselves well to acting as ‘best practice’ exemplars that could be replicated in other areas.

    Examples of the type of activity that were previously supported by the Fund can be found here. Based on these projects previously supported through the fund, and the emerging priorities of our Research Culture Action Plan, we would particularly welcome applications that propose activities in the following areas:

    • Open Science and responsible research, particularly projects that support our commitments to DORA
    • Evidencing the full range of contributions to research, including enabling and support staff
    • Equality, diversity and inclusion in the research and innovation community
    • Career development, including activities aligned with the principles of the 'narrative CV' format being piloted by UKRI 
    • 'Trusted Research' activities that aim to secure the integrity of the system of international research collaboration

    Alternative Funds:

    Before submitting your application we would ask that you consider whether you application is best suited to the Research Culture Seed Fund or one of these alternatives:

    • Engaged Research Seed Fund: The Fund is intended to support projects with clear potential to provide opportunities for research engagement with external stakeholders or to further consolidate research relationships
    • Engaged Research Seed Fund – SDGs: funding stream to assist colleagues and partners working on addressing and delivering on the UN Sustainable Development Goals
    • Research and Innovation Conference Fund: support for members of staff to enable their attendance at conferences where they will be showcasing their research outputs and/or expertise
    • Queen’s Green Fund: Empowers staff and students to create and deliver projects within their area that benefit the environment, Queen’s and our local community
    • Impact Acceleration Accounts (IAAs): Funding from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to enable researchers at Queen’s to develop flexible, creative and tailored approaches to increase the impact of their research by building new, or developing existing partnerships locally and across the world
    • Agility Fund: The Agility Fund is an internal funding allocation which can be strategically deployed to assist the University to maximise research and innovation opportunities as they arise, as well as to provide a steady source of internal support for more routine but nonetheless strategically important activities.  
  • How to apply?


    All applications must be submitted via the online form; however, a downloadable version is available here to facilitate preparation of applications.

    Applicants are required to clearly outline the proposed activities to be undertaken and a defined timeframe for delivery. All activities must be completed and all costs incurred by 1 December 2022. Applicants should articulate the expected benefits for the research culture within their area, including specific beneficiaries, and the broader research culture in the University.

    Applications must clearly outline the exact costs for the project or initiative, including a breakdown of expenditures for each discrete activity. The assessment panel reserves the right to request further justification for proposed costs and to alter those requested in the application.

    For further guidance, prospective applicants are encouraged to contact the Research Policy Office ( to discuss their application prior to submission.

  • How will applications be assessed?

    Following the deadline, an assessment panel representing the wider research community will be convened within one week and successful applicants will be notified within 14 days. The panel will take the following into consideration in making their decisions:

    • The extent to which the application aligns with the strategic and emerging priorities of RCAP
    • The extent to which the activities are likely to enhance the research culture
    • The potential for the activities to be rolled out in other areas of the University
    • The likelihood that the activities can be delivered within budget and timeframe
    • The total volume of applications received by the Fund in the context of budget available
  • What is expected of successful applications?

    Successful applications will be provided with the agreed budget to be spent and activities completed between 1 July and 1 December 2022. If successful, applicants should normally arrange all payments through their school, and then recharge overall costs to the Research Policy Office. Please retain all receipts.

    Successful applicants will also be able to draw upon the guidance of the Research Policy Office and, within reason, hands-on support from the team in delivering the project.

    While the Fund will provide support for individual projects, its broader purpose is to pump-prime examples of best practice that could be rolled out in other departments across the University. Therefore, successful applicants will be expected to share their experiences through various mediums (e.g. blog post, video, presentation at an event) outlining details of how the project transpired and plans for any follow-on activities.

    The follow-up output(s) will be prepared in collaboration with the Research Policy Office, who will contact awardees towards the end of their project to begin this process. It will be published on our Research Culture website and shared on social media.