Instructions on funding applications for grand projects in 2023

26/10/2022

‘Grand projects’ are undertaken by a group comprising at least four researchers with a joint, coherent research task. A grand project must be characterised by excellence in the various parts of the application, and as a whole. The research task must be well thought-out, from the overarching problem to practical execution. A grand project addresses a challenging task, and the group must be carefully composed for the purpose.

One requirement for obtaining funding for grand projects is an advanced research environment or advanced research network, with a sound base in the international research community, to be in place. Grand projects serve to create collaborations across subject and institutional boundaries and national borders, and to enable researchers to form a group that is active in the long term. Grand projects are characterised by a strong international element in the research group.

Eligible to apply: a group of at least four researchers, who may also seek funding for postdoctoral researchers and doctoral students within the framework of the grand project.

Project period: four to five years.

Amount of grant: a maximum of SEK 5 million a year.

Grant administrator: Södertörn University.

Note that the Foundation will temporarily suspend its funding calls for grand projects in 2024.


Key dates

  • The call for applications opens on Monday 9 January 2023 at 9:00 am.
  • The closing date of application is Wednesday 1 February 2023 at 3:00 pm.
  • Notification of whether applications have been approved to proceed to assessment by external experts and subsequent interview will be sent on Tuesday 18 April 2023.
  • Decisions on whether to approve applications or not will be taken by the Foundation’s Board on Wednesday 11 October 2023.

Applications are submitted in the Foundation’s application system.


Instructions and conditions

A. General

1. Please note that the whole application must be written in English. Incomplete applications and/or applications written partly in Swedish will not be considered. Neither will applications that clearly fail to meet the Foundation’s basic requirement of relevance to the Baltic Sea Region and Eastern Europe.

2. On this occasion, the application relates to funding from 1 January 2024.

3. The project description, references and CVs must be uploaded as separate PDF files. No other appendices may be attached, apart from the PDF files that are requested in the application system.

4. The application must have the grant administrator’s approval. This is obtained by means of a form that is downloaded from the application system and signed by the project manager and the grant administrator’s authorised representative (usually the head of department, prefekt). The undersigned form must be uploaded to the application system not later than the end of the application period on 1 February 2023 at 3:00 pm. Applications that have not been signed by the project manager and grant administrator’s authorised representative will not be processed. See more about signing and what it involves under the heading ‘F. Application instructions’, subheading ‘Signature’.

5. The project manager is responsible for the ongoing project work. The project manager is also the contact person for the project vis-à-vis the Foundation and the grant administrator when the application is created, during the assessment period and after a funding decision has been made.

6. If funds for the same or a similar project are also applied for from another funder, this must be stated in the application. If funds for the grand project are received from another funder, the Foundation’s secretariat must always be notified of this fact. The project manager may then choose which of the grants to utilise.

7. The Foundation does not normally approve co-funding of research projects with another research funder.

8. Grand projects funded by the Foundation must be based at Södertörn University, which must accordingly be the grant administrator.

9. If a grand project is approved, a data management plan is required for data that is generated in the research that the Foundation has undertaken to fund. This plan must describe how data collected and/or created will be managed in the course of the research, and how the data will be dealt with subsequently. The plan need not be submitted to the Foundation, but the signing of the form by the project manager and the authorised representative of the grant administrator means that the latter also certifies that a data management plan will exist by the time the project commences and, moreover, will be maintained. See the Swedish Research Council’s website for examples of how to configure central parts of a data management plan.

10. The project manager is responsible for ensuring that ethical review is carried out, and that approval is granted before the research commences. An account of ethical considerations regarding the proposed project must be given in a special space on the application. The applicant should comment on, and explain the reasons, why the project entails no ethical problems if this is the case or, if it requires certain ethical issues to be considered, whether it is to be assessed by the Swedish Ethical Review Authority or has already obtained ethical approval.

11. If any part of the research is to be conducted outside Sweden, the project manager needs to find out whether the country concerned imposes requirements over and above those in relevant Swedish law. Any permits or approvals must be in place before the research begins.

The Foundation does not support research carried out abroad that would clearly not get a permit to be conducted in Sweden.

12. Researchers with grants from the Foundation must publish their research findings online with open access. This applies to peer-reviewed journal articles and conference publications.

13. When an application is submitted to the Foundation, information is collected and processed to enable the application to be dealt with. For applications with two or more participants, the project manager is responsible for ensuring that all the participants are informed that the Foundation collects the personal data required for processing the application. See the Foundation’s Data Privacy Policy. Confirmation in the application system that the project manager has read the Foundation’s Data Policy is obligatory before the application is submitted.

14. On its website, the Foundation publishes details of grants awarded. This information is taken from the application and may include the registration number, project manager’s name, project title, department, amount of grant awarded, project period and project summary. The scientific part of the final report on the project is also uploaded to the Foundation’s website.

15. Information on grants awarded by the Foundation is submitted for publication in SweCRIS, a national database of grant-funded research. The Swedish Research Council is a data controller for the purpose of processing data in SweCRIS.

B. Applicants: project manager and participants

1. Grand projects may include researchers with doctorates, postdoctoral researchers and doctoral students.

2. Grand projects must comprise at least four participants (including the project manager, excluding postdoctoral researchers and doctoral students).

3. Grand projects are characterised by a strong international element in the research group.

4. All participating researchers who are applying for salary funding must have obtained a doctorate by the date of application.

5. All participating researchers must be named in the application and their CVs attached. Exceptions are doctoral students and postdoctoral researchers, who must be recruited at the start of the project after an appointment procedure.

6. If doctoral students are included in the grand project, they must be well supervised and given particularly good conditions for becoming integrated in the research environment.

7. In a given year, taking part in only one application for funding of research project from the Foundation is allowed, irrespective of whether the researcher applies as the project manager or a project participant. Accordingly, a person cannot take part in, for example, both a project application and an application for a grand project in the same year. For exceptions, see overview Which grants can be applied for.

8. A project manager for an ongoing project (that is, one on which no final report has been issued) funded by the Foundation may not apply for funding of a new project as project manager until after the final report on the ongoing project has been submitted. This includes projects involving doctoral students where the student’s part has not yet been completed. Thus, it is not possible to manage two research projects supported by the Foundation at the same time. For exceptions, see overview Which grants can be applied for.

9. A project manager for an ongoing project on which no final report has yet been submitted by the application date may apply as a project participant in one new grand project at the most; however, see below for maximum working time.

10. A project participant in an ongoing project may apply as a project participant or project manager in one grand project at the most; however, see below for maximum working time.

11. A postdoctoral researcher who is recruited may not have a doctorate obtained more than three years previously (allowing the usual deduction of time on parental leave, sick leave, service in the Armed Forces and trade union or political office).

12. Researchers who are, at the time of application, included in the Professors Programme funded by the Foundation may apply for funding, but not for their own personal salaries during any part of the project period.

13. There is no age limit for anyone applying for funding from the Foundation. For eligibility to receive salary in the grand project, the researcher may not be in full-time retirement during the project period. The project manager must hold an appointment throughout the project period.

14. Neither the project manager nor the participants need to be employed by the grant administrator at the time of application. During the project period, the project manager must be employed at Södertörn University, while the other participants must normally spend some time there.

15. The Foundation is complying with the Government’s request to ensure that contacts and collaborations with Russian and Belarusian state institutions cease immediately and no new ones are initiated. The Foundation will not fund research collaborations linked to the state in Russia or Belarus.

C. Amount of grant and costs

1. The budget of a grand project may not exceed SEK 5 million a year. The budget may be distributed differently from year to year but may not exceed SEK 25 million altogether for the entire project period for a grand project.

2. Funds may be applied for to cover costs related to the grand project, such as salaries, payroll overhead in the form of social security contributions (lönekostnadspålägg, LKP), indirect costs, costs of premises and operating costs (such as costs of investigations, travel, workshops and attendance at conferences directly related to the project).

3. Funding to hold conferences may be applied for separately in form of support: conference grants.

4. Assistants and technical staff may be included in the budget for ‘other costs’.

5. The Foundation funds the costs of disseminating results from the project with a standard grant of SEK 200,000, which is automatically added by the application system. Costs of printing, language editing, translation, publication with open access etc. may therefore not be included in the application. Once a final report on the project has been submitted, publication funds may be applied for separately, in form of support: publication grants.

6. The project manager’s working time in the project must comprise at least 20 per cent of a full-time annual position. This working time may be distributed differently from year to year. 

7. Funding for researchers in a grand project is available to cover up to 75% of a full-time annual position per person in the project. Working time may be distributed differently from year to year, but may not exceed 375 per cent altogether for one person in a five-year grand project. A researcher included in a current project as its manager or a participant may also apply as participant in a maximum of one grand project. However, total working time for the ongoing project and the grand project applied for may not exceed 75 per cent of a full-time annual position. Funding for one or more postdoctoral researchers may be applied for to cover 80–100 per cent of a full-time annual position per person for two years. Teaching or other assignments, if any (totalling 20 per cent at most) within the framework of a postdoctoral position are not funded by the Foundation.

8. If a doctoral student participates in the project, the project funding may not be used as salary for teaching or other departmental functions performed by the student. Up to four years’ salary funding for a doctoral student, covering 100 per cent of a full-time annual position, may be applied for.

9. Funding for costs associated with a doctoral student’s public defence of a PhD thesis and supervision can be applied for. However, no funding is available for any costs for a doctoral student after the project period ends: these costs are the grant administrator’s responsibility.

10. It is the project manager’s responsibility to find out the grant administrator’s attitude to funding of research that is to be partly conducted in countries other than Sweden. It is the grant administrator for the funding concerned who, where necessary, decides to appoint foreign staff or pay for activities and services carried out in other countries, and is responsible for such appointments and payment.

D. Project period, grant availability period and monitoring

1. At least four years’ and up to five years’ funding for grand projects may be applied for.

2. The Foundation adds an extra year of grant availability to the duration of an approved grand project, counting from the approved start of the project.

3. Roughly halfway through the project period, the project manager must submit a mid-term report on the grand project. The Foundation’s secretariat will contact the project manager when the time comes. In the event of substantial deviations from the operational plan and time schedule, the Foundation can decide to terminate its funding of the grand project. Other forms of monitoring of the project may also occur.

4. When the grant availability period has ended, a final report comprising a financial part and a scientific part must be sent to the Foundation within four months. The research report is published in unedited form on the Foundation’s website.

E. Assessment

Applications for grand projects are reviewed by a specially appointed assessment panel comprising researchers with a broad composition in terms of subject specialisation. See the composition of the panel.

Multi-stage application assessment

Every panel member reviews the applications on the basis of the set criteria for assessment. At a panel meeting, a number of applications are selected for assessment by international experts (at least three per application), who submit written statements of opinion. The experts, appointed by the assessment panel, are academically qualified people with knowledge relevant to the application. The Foundation does not accept nominations of external experts from the applicants.

Based on the applications and experts’ written opinions, the assessment panel interviews a selection of the research groups who have applied for grand projects. After ranking the applications in order of priority, the panel then proposes to the Foundation’s Board which applications should be rejected and approved respectively.

After the Board has made its decision, the applicants are notified by email, and also receive the external experts’ statements. No reasons for the decisions are given. For every application that is approved, a contract for the project is signed by the project manager, the grant administrator’s authorised representative and the Foundation.

Assessment criteria

The criteria for assessing applications are:

  • scientific excellence
  • relevance of the research to the Baltic Sea Region and Eastern Europe
  • innovativeness and originality
  • the international standard of the research
  • the research group’s composition and skills
  • the feasibility of the grand project.

The criterion of relevance of the research to the Baltic Sea Region and Eastern Europe is specified in more detail below.

Relevance of the research to the Baltic Sea Region and Eastern Europe

According to the Statutes, the Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies funds research related to ‘the Baltic Sea Region and Eastern Europe’. The ‘Baltic Sea Region’ is the Baltic Sea itself and the surrounding areas. ‘Eastern Europe’ refers to post-communist Central, Southern and Eastern Europe (see further information on the Baltic Sea Region and Eastern Europe). The Foundation does not fund research relating exclusively to Sweden or Swedish conditions. However, support may be provided for research that concerns Sweden, or countries entirely outside the Baltic Sea Region and Eastern Europe, in comparative studies where this is scientifically justified.

For the research to be deemed highly relevant to the Baltic Sea Region and Eastern Europe, it must make a practical contribution to our knowledge of this area. Research within the region that involves collaboration with researchers, research institutions and other stakeholders in the Baltic Sea Region and Eastern Europe is particularly relevant. Research with a more theoretical main question, in which the importance of the Baltic Sea Region or Eastern Europe is not justified in terms of the main question, or the link to the region is indirect, is regarded as less relevant.

F. Application instructions

1. Applications are submitted in the Foundation’s application system

2. The whole application must be written in English.

3. The project manager must be the person who creates the application in the system. The email address used to log in to the application system must be that of the project manager.

4. In the application system, it is important to choose the application form for the correct category of support. Otherwise, there is a risk of the application being rejected without consideration.

5. All the information filled in is saved automatically in the application system. A project manager who stops working in the system for 60 minutes is automatically logged out (with the information saved automatically).

6. Once the application has been sent in, the project manager personally cannot change it. If changes in the application are necessary, please contact the Foundation’s secretariat.

7. The application system does not send confirmation that an application has been submitted. To verify its submission, log in to the application system and check that the space under ‘Status’ in the application shows ‘Submitted’. There, the application sent in can also be downloaded as a PDF file

8. For a person with no Swedish Personal ID number, write ‘-XXXX’ after the date of birth, as follows: YYYYMMDD-XXXX.

Summary

The summary may be up to 1,500 characters, including spaces, in length. It must describe and justify the research task, and report on its theoretical, methodological and empirical basis. The summary must be written in a way that people with other research specialisations, too, can understand. If the application is approved, the summary of the project is published in unedited form on the Foundation’s website.

Project description

The project description for a grand project must comprise a maximum of 15 pages of text (Times New Roman 12 points, line spacing 1.5).

The project description must give a clear account of:

  • purpose and research question
  • contribution(s) to new knowledge and the international research frontline
  • contribution(s) to innovativeness and originality
  • theory and method
  • materials
  • time schedule and implementation
  • assessment of potential risks, limitations and challenges, and strategies for managing them
  • research relevance to the Baltic Sea Region and Eastern Europe, and usefulness of the project for overall knowledge building in the area
  • project organisation and the researchers’ functions and responsibilities in the project
  • how doctoral students, if any, are to be supervised and given particularly good prospects of becoming integrated in the research environment
  • collaboration with guest researchers, if any, and any other research contacts in the Baltic Sea Region and Eastern Europe, and also both in Sweden and internationally
  • how the research environment of the grand project is intended to continue after the end of the project period
  • a plan for how both information about the project and the research results are to be communicated, both within the discipline and in society at large.

References 

References are listed in a separate file, and complete references must be given for the sources referred to in the project description. The references may not exceed five pages in length. They must relate to the academic literature that is cited in the project description, and not to letters of recommendation or other testimonials, for example.

CVs 

CVs may not exceed two pages in length per participant. Every CV must contain the following information: date of doctorate; employment position; the participant’s five most important academic publications, preferably with reference to the proposed project; previous external research grants; project management and supervision experience; and international research stays.

CVs may not exceed two pages in length per participant. Every CV must contain the following information: date of doctorate, employment, the applicant’s five most important academic publications, previous external research grants, experience of project management and supervision, and international research stays.

Project costs 

Here, a budget must be specified in SEK for the whole project period, with the form filled in according to the instructions in the application system.

a. Project costs are classified as direct and indirect. Direct costs comprise (full-time, monthly) salaries, including payroll overhead in the form of social security contributions (lönekostnadspålägg, LKP), for project participants; costs of premises; costs of investigations, travel and conferences; and other costs. LKP is a general mark-up on total salary costs, calculated automatically in the application system.

b. For project participants whose salaries will not be funded by grants from the Foundation, SEK 0 and the participants’ employment level should be specified.

c. For project participants who are not employed at Södertörn University at the application date, the salary payable by agreement with the head of department (prefekt) should be specified. For these participants, LKP is the same as for those who have positions at Södertörn University.

d. Non-research staff, such as assistants and technical staff, can be included in the budget for ‘other costs’. Salary and LKP should then be included for these employees in the amount specified. However, non-research staff need not be named at the time of application: instead, these positions fall within the authority of the heads of department concerned. In the budget commentary, the duties of the non-research staff must be specified, as must the scope of their functions.

e. Indirect costs (overheads) for the project are specified at the percentage for indirect costs calculated for the department that will host the project. This addition is calculated on total payroll costs including LKP. According to the filled-in percentage, the total of indirect costs is automatically calculated in the application system. Indirect costs are the same for project participants who lack positions at Södertörn University as for position holders there.

f. Costs of ethical review may be included in the budget for ’other costs’.

Budget commentary

Please note that all direct costs, including resource requirements for non-research staff and costs of travel and material collection, must be specified and justified in detail in the space for ‘Budget commentary’. This means, first, that you must provide a realistic calculation of individual costs, and define them precisely at a level of detail that permits assessment of their suitability in relation to the purpose of the grand project. Second, it means that the costs must be justified and arguments for them presented, based on the purpose and implementation of the individual grand project. Unspecified or unjustified costs are not approved.

Note that the commentary, too, must be written in English and that it is obligatory. The budget commentary may be up to 4,000 characters, including spaces, in length.

Signatures

The application must be signed by the project manager and the grant administrator’s authorised representative, who is usually the head of the department (prefekt) where the grand project is intended to be based. The Foundation processes signed applications only.

A special form for these signatures is downloaded from the application system. The signature form can either by signed by both parties manually, on paper, and then scanned, or signed electronically by both parties. In both cases, the form is uploaded to the application system.

The Foundation approves digital signing of signature forms with the following digital signature services: EduSign, DocuSign, Scrive and TeamEngine. Signing by means of Bank ID is recommended. The same digital signature service must be used by everyone who digitally signs one and the same document. Signing digitally by means of different digital signature services is not approved by the Foundation.

If digital signing is used, the signatures are not visible in the final PDF version of the application that the project manager can download from the application system. The digitally signed form remains, however, in its original form in the application system, and this is the file that is checked by the Foundation’s secretariat.

The project manager’s signature represents confirmation that:

  • the information in the application is correct and in line with the Foundation’s instructions
  • necessary permits and approvals, for example regarding ethical review, are in place by the start of the grand project
  • a data management plan will be in place when the grand project starts, and this plan will be maintained (see also A.9)
  • the project manager will comply with all the conditions applying to the grant.

The grant administrator’s signature represents confirmation that:

  • the research, appointment and equipment described, including employment positions, remuneration and assignments for researchers who are not, at the application date, employed by the grant administrator can be accommodated at the department during the period and on the scale specified in the application
  • the applicant will be employed by the grant administrator for the period to which the application relates
  • the grant administrator approves the cost calculation in the application
  • the research carried out in the grand project will be conducted in accordance with Swedish legislation
  • a data management plan will be in place by the project start and the plan will be maintained (see also A.9)
  • the grant administrator will comply with all the conditions applying to the grant.

The parties must have discussed all the above points before the project manager and the grant administrator’s representative approve and sign the application.

Contact

Britta Lövgren, britta.lovgren@ostersjostiftelsen.se