Instructions on funding applications for two-year postdoctoral projects in 2023

26/10/2022

A postdoctoral project grant provides funding for an individual researcher with a recently obtained doctorate. This support is intended for use in conducting a well-defined research task within a limited period. The researcher personally formulates the research problem, method and implementation.

Eligible to apply: 

  • an individual researcher with a doctorate, who may apply up to three years after obtaining it.
  • a PhD student due to obtain the doctorate before the start of the grant period (not later than 31 December 2023).

Project period: two years.

Amount of grant: salary funding may cover 80–100% of a full-time annual position.

Grant administrator: Södertörn University.


Key dates

  • The call for applications opens on Monday 9 January 2023 at 9:00 am.
  • Stage 1 applications must be submitted not later than on Wednesday 1 February 2023 at 3:00 pm.
  • Notification of approval for applications to proceed to Stage 2 will be sent in March 2023.
  • Stage 2 applications must be submitted not later than on Wednesday 26 April 2023 at 3:00 pm.
  • Decisions on whether to approve applications will be taken by the Board of the Foundation on Thursday 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 a CV are uploaded as separate PDF files. No appendices may be attached, other than the PDF files requested in the application system.

4. In Stage 1, the project manager must already secure approval, from the grant administrator (usually head of department, prefekt, in charge), for a funding application to the Foundation.

5. In Stage 2, 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 signed form must be uploaded to the application system by the end of the application period on 26 April 2023 at 3:00 pm. Applications that have not been signed by the project manager and the grant administrator’s authorised representative will not be processed. See more about signing and what it involves under the heading ‘Stage 2 of the application’, subheading ‘Signatures’.

6. The project manager is responsible for 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 generated, during the assessment period and after a funding decision has been made.

7. If funds for the same or a similar project are also applied for from another funder, this must be stated in the application. If funding is received for the project 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.

8. Applying for funds for the same or a similar postdoctoral project from the Foundation and the Centre for Baltic and East European Studies (CBEES) at the same time is not permitted.

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

10. Projects funded by the Foundation must be based at Södertörn University, which must accordingly be the grant administrator.

11. If a project is approved, a data management plan is required for data generated in the research for which the Foundation has approved funding. 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 should not be submitted to the Foundation, but the signing of the form by the project manager and authorised representative of the grant administrator mean that the latter also certifies that a data management plan will be in place by the time the project commences, and that it will be maintained. See the Swedish Research Council’s website for examples of how to configure central parts of a data management plan.

12. 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.

13. 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.

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

15. When an application is submitted to the Foundation, particulars are collected and processed to enable management of the application. See also 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.

16. 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 summary of the project. The scientific part of the final report on the project will also be published on the Foundation’s website.

17. The Foundation sends information on grants it has awarded for publication in SweCRIS, a national database of grant-funded research. The Swedish Research Council is a data controller for the purpose of data management in SweCRIS.

B. Applicant: project manager

1. The project manager either must have obtained a doctorate by the application date or will have obtained a doctorate before the start of the grant period (31 December 2023 at the latest).

2. If the project manager has not obtained a doctorate by the application date, the planned date for doing so must be stated. If the postdoctoral project is approved, the Foundation will request certification that the project manager has obtained a doctorate before the start of the grant period (31 December 2023 at the latest). If the project manager has still not obtained a doctorate by the start of the grant period, the grant may not be used.  

3. Funding of postdoctoral projects may be applied for up to three years after the doctorate is obtained (allowing the usual deduction of time on parental leave, sick leave, service in the Armed Forces and trade union or political office).

4. In a given year, participation in only one grant application for funding of a research project by the Foundation is permitted, irrespective of whether the researcher applies as project manager or participant. Thus, taking part in both a postdoctoral project application and a project application, for example, is not allowed. If the applicant is included as a researcher in an ongoing project, the aggregate working time for the projects cannot exceed 100% of a full-time annual position. For exceptions, see overview Which grants can be applied for.

5. The project manager need not be employed by the grant administrator at the time of the application. However, during the project period the project manager must be employed at Södertörn University.

6. 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. Salary funding for postdoctoral projects may be applied for to cover 80–100% of a full-time annual position for two years.

2. Funds may be applied for to cover costs related to the 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 conferences directly related to the project).

3. Funds for holding conferences may be applied for separately in form of support: conference grants.

4. The Foundation funds costs of disseminating results from the project with a standard grant of SEK 50,000, 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.

5. Teaching, if any, or other assignments (up to a maximum of 20% of a full- time annual position) within the framework of a postdoctoral position are not funded by the Foundation.

6. It is the project manager’s responsibility to ascertain the grant administrator’s attitude towards funding of research that is to be conducted partly in countries other than Sweden. It is the administrator for the grant concerned who decides on and is responsible for, where necessary, paying for activities and services carried out in other countries.

D. Project period, grant availability period and follow-up

1. Two years’ funding for postdoctoral projects may be applied for.

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

3. Halfway through the project period, as a rule, the Foundation reviews the project. See more information on the mid-term review.

4. Within four months after expiry of the grant availability period, a final report comprising two parts, financial and scientific, must be sent to the Foundation. The final research report is published in unedited form on the Foundation’s website. Other forms of project follow-up may also occur.

E. Assessment

Applications to the Foundation for funding of new research projects are assessed by the Foundation’s research committee. This committee comprises a group of researchers with a broad composition in terms of subject specialisation. See the composition of the research committee.

Multi-stage application assessment

The research committee reviews the applications on the basis of the set criteria for assessment. A number of applications are selected for further review and approved to proceed to Stage 2, while the others are rejected. The project manager is notified by email. No reasons for rejections are given.

For an application selected for further review in Stage 2, the project manager submits an in-depth application for assessment by external experts (at least two per application), who provide written statements of opinion. The experts are appointed by the research committee. Appointees are academically qualified people with knowledge relevant to the application. The committee does not accept applicants’ nominations for experts.

The committee assesses the in-depth applications and uses the external experts’ statements as supplementary documentation. The experts’ statements are also assessed by the committee. After ranking the applications in order of priority, the committee then proposes to the Foundation’s Board which applications should be rejected and approved respectively.

When 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. For postdoctoral projects where the project manager has not obtained a doctorate by the application date, the contract is not signed until after the project manager has obtained a doctorate.

Assessment criteria

The criteria for assessing applications are:

  • scientific quality
  • relevance of the research to the Baltic Sea Region and Eastern Europe.

These criteria are specified in more detail below.

Scientific quality

Research funded by the Foundation must be of consistent highest scientific quality.  The research must make an overall contribution to theoretical and methodological development, and display originality and depth.

Relevance of research to the Baltic Sea Region and Eastern Europe

According to the Statutes, the Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies must fund 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 in the region, involving 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.

Overall assessment

In light of the criteria specified above, the Foundation’s research committee reaches an overall assessment of which applications can be approved. It does so by assessing every individual application on its own merits and every individual project in relation to the other applications. Also assessed is how the application relates to the current international state of research and the feasibility of the project. Where applications are assessed as being of equivalent scientific quality, the committee considers gender composition and the distribution of disciplinary research domains in selecting the projects it recommends supporting.

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. A project manager who stops working in the system for 60 minutes is automatically logged out (the information is 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.

Stage 1 of the application

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

In Stage 1, the project description for a postdoctoral project must comprise a maximum of four 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
  • theory and method
  • materials
  • time schedule and design
  • research relevance to the Baltic Sea Region and Eastern Europe, and usefulness of the project for overall knowledge building in the area
  • collaboration with guest researchers, if any, and any other research contacts in the Baltic Sea Region and Eastern Europe, in Sweden and internationally.
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.

CV

The CV may not exceed two pages in length. It must contain the following information: date of doctorate (YYYYMMDD); employment position; the applicant’s five most important academic publications, preferably with reference to the proposed project; previous external research grants; experience of project management and supervision; and international research stays. Within this form of support, an allowance may be made for time spent on parental leave, sick leave, service in the Armed Forces, trade union positions or political office. If such an allowance is relevant, the period and reasons for the allowance must be specified.

Project costs 

Here,a budget in SEK for the whole project period must be provided, 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 the project manager; 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 a project manager who is not employed at Södertörn University at the application date, the salary payable by agreement with the head of department (prefekt) should be specified.

c. In exceptional cases it is possible to include linguistic and other assistance in a postdoctoral project. In the budget commentary, costs and work duties for such assistance must be specified in detail and justified, as must the scale of the assignment. The project description must show how the applicant is responsible for and takes part in the assistant’s part of the project implementation. Non-research staff, such as assistants and technical staff, should be included in the budget for ‘other costs’. Salary and LKP should then be included for these employees in the amount specified under ‘other costs’. 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.

d. 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.

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

Budget commentary

Please note that all direct costs, and also the 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 a realistic calculation of individual costs must be provided, and they must be stated precisely at a level of detail that enables assessment of how reasonable they are in relation to the purpose of the project. Second, it means that the costs must be justified, and arguments for them presented, in terms of the purpose and implementation of the individual 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 3,000 characters, including spaces, in length.

Stage 2 of the application

Project description

The project description must contain the same information as in Stage 1 but in more detail, and also include a plan for how to communicate both information about the project and the research results, not only within the discipline but also to society at large.

In Stage 2, the project description may not exceed six pages (Times New Roman 12 points, line spacing 1.5) in length.

Between Stages 1 and 2 of the applications, the project description must be developed. Only minor changes may be made in the other parts of the application. The complete application in Stage 2 may not diverge substantially, in terms of study design and amount of funding applied for, from the outline application in Stage 1.

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 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 project
  • a data management plan will be in place when the project starts, and this plan will be maintained (see also A.11)
  • the project manager will comply with all the conditions applying to the grant.

The grant administrator’s signature represents confirmation that:

  • the research, employment 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 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.11)
  • 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

Zofia Makowska, zofia.makowska@ostersjostiftelsen.se