Of Schemes and Memes Blog

Supporting early career researchers through travel grants

As part of our commitment to championing the cause of promising early career researchers, the Communications journals (Biology, Chemistry and Physics) introduce a new series of travel grants.

This guest blog comes from Joe Bennett, Publisher, Communications journals.

Today the Communications journals have introduced travel grants for early career researchers. Our hope is that by introducing these grants we can reach promising but underfunded researchers who need support the most. This is the first round of what we expect will become a recurring process, and is part of a longstanding commitment by the journals to champion the cause of early career researchers.

The grants

Three grants, each of €2500, will be made available. We have chosen this amount as it will allow support for a researcher, without access to other funding, to attend an international scientific meeting and present their work. We understand that early career researchers are best placed to choose where they would benefit the most from presenting their work, and so applicants are invited to tell us which meeting they require funding to attend. As the grants are designed to support researchers who are working within limited means, recipients will receive the grant funds in full immediately after the panel has made their choice.

We have chosen to introduce this first round of travel grants as we believe that our journals should do more than just publish great science, they should also play an active role within the  communities they serve. We also know that travel to scientific conferences can allow researchers to present their work, hear about the latest research and meet other scientists from around the world to discuss ideas and possible collaborations.

The grants are available across the breadth of the subject areas of biology, chemistry and physics. Although the grants match the subject areas covered by the journals Communications Biology, Communications Chemistry and Communications Physics there is no requirement for applicants to have published in, or to have reviewed for the journals previously. Likewise there is no obligation for the grant recipients to publish their work in the journals.

Supporting early career researchers is vital

We have written before about the challenges facing early career researchers, including the fierce competition for funding.They make a positive contribution to our journals as authors, reviewers and Editorial Board Members. Many of our own in-house editorial staff were also early career researchers before joining Nature Research. Early career researchers are a part of the fabric of our journals and we believe that their work should be supported and their achievements highlighted. This is why we are proud to introduce the first round of grants to strengthen our commitment to champion their work.

A fair assessment

We considered carefully how to make the assessment process as fair as possible and to be mindful of how our unconscious bias can influence decision making. We have designed our process to account for this and will consider each application on its own terms whilst guided by a shared set of principles. We have tried to ensure that our selection panels include members with a broad and diverse range of experiences and have considered factors including gender, geography and whether they were the first member of their family to join academia when deciding the composition of our panels. Active scientists drawn from the Editorial Board of each journal will join our in-house editors on the judging panels.

To be considered for a grant, applicants must first demonstrate that they have a need for funding support. We will then consider the promise of the research within the application when we choose the recipients. All applicants will be judged against the same criteria:

  • Has the applicant demonstrated that without the grant they would not have the necessary funding available to enable travel to the event?
  • Does the applicant plan to present research that the assessment panel feel has outstanding potential and should be seen by the wider community?
  • How does the applicant stand to benefit from travelling to and attending the meeting?
  • Has the applicant been working within a scientifically emerging country or in difficult circumstances?

We admire researchers who conduct research with limited resources, who have overcome systemic barriers or any number of other challenges in pursuit of their ambition to pursue great science. When assessing applicants we will not be selecting the grant recipients based on an exceptional track record, but rather looking for applicants with outstanding promise who have been working within difficult circumstances. Not only will the grants benefit the researchers in question, but empowering and including traditionally marginalised researchers benefits the wider community as we get to meet them, hear their ideas, and learn from their experiences.


The grants are now open for applications until 5th November 2018. To read more and apply please visit our website: www.nature.com/early-career-travel-grants


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