Research and knowledge exchange

RDF frequently asked questions

I am a member of faculty on a fixed-term contract, can I apply?

There isn’t a definite yes or no answer to whether people on fixed term contracts can apply to the RDF as it depends on the person’s individual situation. Generally, we would expect a person to be employed during the RDF funded project period and also during the proposed externally funded project(s) which would occur after the RDF pump-priming activity. 

Staff on fixed term contracts could be a Co-I on bid with a member of permanent faculty acting as PI.

If you are unsure of whether you are eligible to apply please contact Debbie Foy, ext 3812

I am employed on a teaching only contract, can I apply?   

No, staff on teaching only contracts are not eligible to apply to the RDF.                  





Can another University be involved in the RDF project?

Yes, but costs requested cannot be for the external organization.

If another University is involved in the RDF project because they would be involved in the subsequent external grant application, then their role should be explained. The panel would expect Sussex to be the PI on the external grant application, however, if this is not the case, an explanation should be provided in the RDF bid. If another organization is benefitting from the RDF project (e.g Co-I on the external bid), the panel would expect to see them also contributing to the costs of the RDF activity or an explanation as to why funding is only being requested from Sussex.

How much funding can I apply for?

In the 9th round, applicants can request between £5,000-£30,000.

The panel has made awards at both the top and bottom end of the above scale.  

The average award value across the first 8 rounds is £14,486



How do I cost research / technical / clerical assistance for my proposal?

For any staff costs please contact Taryn Collins. In order to determine the costs, you will need to provide us with the following information:

  1. A start and end date for your project
  2. The grade you would like the person costed at, or if you are unsure of the grade, a comparable person already employed at Sussex.
  3. How long you intend to employ the person for and at what percentage of their time.
When can I pay someone an hourly rate?                          

If the type of work is such that it could be done by 'replaceable' RA's – e.g. one person could pick up where another left off, then hourly rate payment is acceptable. However, if you need one person employed to do a set piece of work for longer than three months and at a consistent level e.g. 20% time for 6 months, then an appointment is needed. 

Anything over 3 months would need an appointment. 

Can I employ a PhD student as a research assistant?  

Yes. However, Sussex does not recommend employing full-time doctoral students for more than 6 hours a week or 180 hours a year.  If your RDF application involves research by PhD students you will need to provides details on their role in the project and how it fits with their thesis.  

You will also need to detail what intellectual property considerations (e.g. assigning rights) have been discussed regarding their contribution to the RDF funded work.  Involvement in an RDF project should not delay completion of their thesis.   

 Can I name the PhD student or Postdoc who I would like to fund?                        

Human Resources has advised that all posts should be advertised unless an especially compelling case can be made.  If you name a person in your RDF bid it is not an automatic guarantee that they will be able to take up the post.  If you receive RDF funds you would need to discuss the RA role with your HR Advisor

Do I need to include overheads in the budget?

No, the RDF only funds direct additional costs. 

Can I include my own time in the budget?  

No, permanent staff time is not an eligible cost.

Do I have to include a School contribution in my bid?

No.  We received 177 bids to the first 6 rounds of the RDF of which 45% did not have a School contribution.


What type of School contributions have been included in previous bids?

School contributions have covered the following: cost-sharing RA or technician salaries, travel and subsistence, consumables, workshop hosting and equipment.  Applicants are asked NOT to list PI time as a school contribution.

What is the earliest / latest start date for my project?

The earliest start date for Round 10 funded projects will be 1 January 2019. The latest start date is 1 April 2019 (if recruiting staff).

If you are planning to recruit a member of staff to work on your project, please take into how long the recruitment process can take. Details of the recruitment process can be found here.  

What is the maximum project length?

RDF funding is designed to help PIs undertake preliminary research that will help them apply for a large external grant. For this reason the normal project length for is 6 months with up to 12 months in exceptional circumstances. 


What should the scale of the follow-on external grant application be?

There is no set amount and it will vary depending on your subject and career stage but it should be considered substantial for your area. 

What distinguishes the RDF from external funding?

This is internal pump-priming, so it should not, for instance, be listed anywhere as research income for the individual or school. It is designed to help secure and enhance research income, not be a substitute for it.