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postcardsoasserbyBy having stepped down to directly confront the invitation:InvitationStreet

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: Yellow Research workshop for the Horizon 2020: Marie Sklodowska Curie Individual Fellowships Call 2014 (European Research Council) led by Lotte Jaspers.

Superb meeting. Knowledge presented here may be proprietary. Any questions on content or concerns, please contact the editor and changes will be made to respect the intellectual property of presentations.

What are the main questions?

The Horizon 2020 is a new program. What are the new instructions, criteria for quality of applicants, and evaluation procedure? What are the added values that move a proposal beyond the threshold?

planeLet us begin: The key issue, one of the basic developments is the question: What is the appropriate next step in a career to go to the next level?

What is the current CV, but what is missing in order to get to the next position, and how does the Marie Curie help develop the skills, knowledge, expertise to go the next step.

How does the grant benefit the PI, what is the potential to grow?

Lotte nicely positions the issue within the change in the title of the grant itself, with the addition of “Sklodowska”, suggesting the emphasis is on how it was that Marie Sklodowska Curie, a Polish scientist, moved from Poland to develop more specifically and accurately her skill set.
What is the scientific project, and what is novel? And why – is what you intend to do important for the fellow — important for the actual PI career?

What kind of training? What kind of courses are offered? How is the group run? Who are the PHD students (co-supervision), and how can the applicant use the structure of the group to mature? “Individual researcher applies jointly with host institution”.

Experienced researcher and Maturity. Who is the applicant. No age limits, but there are difficulties with expressing your growth pattern.

windowsWhat kind of knowledge is required to boost a career? Looking broader for where training can be carried out, looking at other universities and setups for support. What is the new criteria? It is the introduction of secondments. What is the current CV and what are the good places to go and you have been thinking about where to get the best knowledge for a top notch career?

coatsWith an excellent track record, how does one look to the future. How does one expand knowledge? Perhaps it is your focus on aesthetics, and that you require looking at structured interests, especially in Russia, where the political structural position is still quite important in relation to cultures of expertise (or, in order to get tenure, you need to get a PI)?

Two years. A project that fits the goals of where you want to go. A vehicle for movement in a specific direction.

The twelve person group in the room today is mainly composed of research advisors at various universities in Europe, including Norway, Sweden, Turkey, Denmark, Italy, and Spain.
Looking at the project and the career candidate to benefit from the grant. (Don’t over boost, but state clearly “I’m here and need to get over there”).

The reviewer has a tough job.

handleCoffee Break: What a great morning Session.

Lotte was just wonderful. She provided us with a splendid beginning for a subsequent set of networking discussions over coffee that were quite illuminating.

Lies Siemons, e.g., from Tilburg University snapped up the three main issues that we all understood from the morning as fundamentally important: (1) make sure the proposal captures attention; (2) make sure there are organic components with the host organization, such as advising graduate students; (3) make sure the host organization is integrated into the project.
looking canalwindow

What is the fellow’s ambition? The majority are PIs in a research-intensive institution. And thus, what is it that you need?

Is it methodologies, techniques, knowledges? Skills, leadership — four categories: Knowledge and intellectual abilities; Personal effectiveness; Research governance and organization; Engagement, influence, and impact. Specify with the fellow, what you need, and let it provide a structure for the what areas are where you need to improve: Lay out your vision for what you want to achieve based on established tools, underpin your vision for going abroad. Wording and Analysis of vision (Pp. 3-4 third section).
analyzing CV E.g, co-supervision, leadership, and management skills — Organize some of the science/thematic meetings. Lotte is looking for what is missing now, given the six categories of the CV analysis. Hard skills and soft skills formal training on the job, “And that’s why I need the supervisor, and how can I explain that the training will boost the career” (Yellow research “philosophy”). What is the publication strategy to be regarded as outstanding.

Up Now is Aya van den Kroonenberg. Aya is Wonderful! – having worked with her previously on numerous occasions.ayavAya and Lotte
Wow. So interesting and impactful. A three percent success rate and an environment where the newly established feature of secondments become crucial.

Make sure it is “Training Through Research” — it is a training grant, and training should be addressed, not simply a research grant.

Quality, Innovation, and Credibility – likely terms that might be piled together on any other occasion, but here parsed out so precisely it is simply dizzying. Remember that objectives are tasks….addressing Reducing complexity in a simplified form that serves as the basis for registering quality, innovation, and credibility. For example, we are looking at a small table that addresses how the proposal compares to the current state of the art and how it will be advanced, all by a small simple table, that presents itself as a hieroglyph of expertise.

LUNCH: (“the north[ern Europe] is starving the south[ern Europe] is saying ‘already?'”)

Back from lunch: Coherence between training and research – a perfect match of programs, e.g., help with organization of conference.

Under the new Horizon 2020, the host requires input on the production of the proposal much more so than at anytime previously. A lot of discussion about the role of the supervisor — for example, a Personal Career Development Plan (PCDP), each fellow establishes a PCDP. When, Who approves? and who updates?

Wow. Just more of everything in more detail. Attempting to get over the fact that last year, out of 5000 application submissions, there were 134 grants awarded.

window outside back

So, we all just had a major break out session, with participants developing comments for discussion with applicants of the Horizon 2020 MC individual fellowships Call. Here is the final product of our discussion:

• Integrate the larger picture of your career and host goals within the specific elements of a two year project as displayed in the Gantt chart – what happens after.
• Identify where you are on the continuum of early career or maturity
• Identify the crucial argument(s) for each section
• How to get your supervisor involved in the proposal
• Develop a strategy for having the host institution continually feed you with necessary knowledge for proposal integration with supervisor and specific services support
• Identify long-term and short term career goals and create coherent alignment with proposal
• Identify training targeted for post PhD independence – specific elements.
• Identify what is the Scientific excellence

Additional notes after getting together: What are the programs offered during the fellowship? First year define precisely and in the second year broadly. The need to make the evaluators excited about the project: What is the relevance of the topic? What is the scope of the project? Is it relevant?
Create coherence in the actual proposal
Final push: Impact, innovation and research component. Excellence in Science.

Non-commercial exploitation – How to communicate to peers and public your science (how do you get into contact? With whom? Ways to communicate – conferences, open science days, and story telling evenings). What is Effective? Who benefits (could there be potential for commercial exploitation and if not, that’s okay, as long as there is germane realism (communication over outreach with clear activities)?

One work package specifically for “training”.

What an Amazing Day!

We all met for wine afterward, and chatted about anecdotal comments relating to the business at hand. Aya and Lotte were so professional, and in fact, defatiguable, given the scope of the discussions they presented. Congratulations! Yellow Research! Another successful panel.tablestreet scenemealamsterdamboat

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10/23: European Research Council (ERC) proposal workshop, Consolidator Grant:


Binder ERC StG chapter 5 and 6 incl 2012.

Here I am, sitting in Auditorium 2, Georg Sverdrups Building, University of Oslo, attending a workshop to prepare a European Research Council (ERC) proposal.

Workshop begins:

Mette Skraastad. A great workshop convenor.

The workshop begins with C. H. commenting on his successful proposal on emergence and decline of constructive memory:

Proposal needs to be enthusiastic, stand out from the crowd. Imagine a friendly reviewer and write a proposal. Success rate is 10 percent. Do not make it complicated. Follow the guide application closely. High gain but low risk. Point to possible challenges but point to solutions. Identify novelty. Why is it ground breaking? Demonstrate how it can happen. Discuss the proposal with previous panel reviewers. A substantial proportion of “luck or unluck”.

Find a paradox in the field in order to create novelty.
How can we unite different aspects of a field?

Per: Have the proposal ready before Christmas.

Mette Skraastad: Look for great research questions. All about being original. That is why you need time. What will the panel find that is interesting?

Wow! This person is tough.

An entire university is behind these projects. Plenty of time to edit and review. Write the project, discuss it with ERC members, previous reviewers, etc. Put the effort into each project proposal and get it on paper as soon as possible. Must be consistent — all throughout. Everything throughout the proposal should be consistent.

The entire point of the ERC is to select European Scientific leaders.

There were 4800 project proposals on the last call. For this reason they split the Starting proposal from the Consolidating proposal. FP7 Activities and Themes. A lot of proposals will be submitted for the Consolidator.

High risk research is best. But demonstrate that it is low risk by providing preliminary results — there must be high risk research elements. They assume that you have a team, because it is a consolidating. Explain how this will contribute to your career. Independent: you need to have several publications without your advisor.

It is 10:15AM and my brain hurts. A need to create new knowledge.

If I have a team, I need to justify all activities of members. What is their specific value added activity. Clarify what kind of people I need and why (for what kinds of specific tasks). Look at my strengths and weaknesses. How do I deal with my weaknesses, clarify how I plan to deal with it.

There are two steps. If I get lucky and get past the first step, then there is an actual interview process in Brussels for the second part.

Template is available Nov. 7.

Now, Mette is mentioning the importance of “Keywords” — what keywords you choose will determine how referees will be selected. Keywords based on research field.

Select potential external referees. Go to their website and identify key words about their research. Identify potential external referees for the ERC, help them out.

Mette is going through the process of review. Nothing new here. I know this process. Basically a fight over who is getting what.

This is the EGG of the proposal. Where is the novelty. In the approach?

If it is incremental, it is not ground breaking.

There needs to be an analysis of why it is high risk, and an analysis of why it is high gain.
There needs to be a description of methods. High quality methods, high quality results.

“To my knowledge, this is novel, and for these reasons”. Then, I need to identify where others are around the world when talking about this research.

Need objectives. Each part of the project is mandatory to achieve the overall mission of the project. Explain how I will achieve objectives. Objectives + Hypothesis must lead to Insight. Wow. Page 21, make note of the “focused project” over “open project”, the latter disregarded.

There must be a clear indication of what I can create as objectives. And there must be time to obtain data.

Do I have access to data? Where will it be coming from? What is the larger integration of activities and approaches that make it reasonable to go after the ERC, and that it is the human mind that is selecting the empirical evidence.


I just had an insightful lunch conversation with the workshop convener, Mette.

She says that I need to use the North American case study as an example of why my project is Feasible in Europe, and to show the exciting findings of the previous project etc. And then, use that work to show that I am the ONLY person who can do this work in Europe. That is something I have not yet done, lead off with my previous research, how I did it, the findings, and then describe what the differences are in Europe, the different languages, culture, etc. And how I plan to go about it.

It was quite funny. When I told her “I’m the only person who can do this”, I actually raised on tippy toes with my nose in the air, to which she immediately responded, “And that is how you have to present it to the ERC!”

Okay, we are now dealing with Methodology in Detail, with Key Intermediary Goals (to measure whether we are progressing toward the objectives at intermediary stages).

In overall activities, explain generally and give the feeling as well as provide back up plans, when you are not achieving the specific goal (p. 23).

Everything novel has high gain, what is the risk, is it feasible, yes or no.

Break the project down into WPs/ Strands/ streams/ subprojects with activities/tasks, milestones and a Gantt chart (what is a Gantt chart?). Good grief, how could I get so far in my funded research without ever using a Gantt chart?

Show that I have experience in handling data., etc, to explain to the panel members that I know what I am doing. Also, present thoroughly that I have access to specific data. Provide actual names, and justify why I am selecting certain houses. Is the institute the right environment to carry out the research.

They do not like to see collaborators. They want to see experts who can help out [This is really important]. Clear about the well defined objectives — AND come up with a hypothesis. what am I expecting?

On team members: “Mr. Smith with one paper is out. Mr. Jones with a lot of publications is in”. Make sure you include people who are worthy in your project. You have to select specialists.

There is one panel member that is going through all the references. As soon as there is one that is not there – they know that the project cannot be trusted.

Make sure that I am using an appropriate template, what is more convincing, a table, or what- Page 25. What is up and running at my institute that demonstrates that I am carrying out top quality research.

Well that just tops all. Mette is amazing. She has been talking for over 4 hours, and everyone in the room is exhausted, but she continues, and will continue for another 3 hours.
Must have citations to my own work.

I have to select the panel for whom this work will make the biggest impact.
How much data am I generation, and am I creating results.
Create a table, on B2b – Example of Challenge Analysis (page 27). Create a table for the grant. What are the milestones/outcomes, what are the risks, where are they located, what is the backup plan(s)?

Last year would be used to write a monograph. Year 5. Make sure they can assess what is novel, what is interesting, where the cutting edge is. What do I have that I bring into the project and what am I asking for from the ERC. Mostly salaries.

Explain why I want a workshop and who I plan to invite. I need to explain why I need a certain amount of money.

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