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Supporting collaborations

The National Centre for Atmospheric Science promotes collaboration across the scientific community. We believe that working with visiting scientists will advance atmospheric research and promote collective responses to big environmental challenges, including climate change, weather and air quality. 

Our Visiting Scientist Programme can support you to:

  • make a visit to another organisation
  • host a visitor at NCAS
  • share knowledge
  • advance existing research
  • stimulate new research areas
  • collectively respond to scientific initiatives
  • raise your profile
  • build new relationships

The programme is intended to support the development and maintenance of long term collaborations and to support the exploration of new opportunities that align with NCAS, our science themes, and our atmospheric observation and modelling.

In total, we look to support applications of around £20,000 per year. We expect the majority of individual applications to be for around £2,000 – with further justification required for higher amounts.

How to apply

The NCAS applicant (where they are making a visit or receiving a visitor) should provide the following:

  • Completed application form.
  • NCAS students or staff need a letter of support from their NCAS line manager confirming that this is an appropriate visit.
  • Letter of support from host institution agreeing access to any necessary facilities (where the visit is to NCAS this can be combined with item 2.)
  • CV of NCAS staff member.
  • CV of visitor or host.
  • Applicants should note that:

  • Funding priority will be given to doctoral students and early career scientists to travel internationally (to and from NCAS).
  • Applications can be submitted by any member of NCAS staff. Where the staff member has a fixed NCAS commitment the visit must be scheduled to take place within the period of their NCAS commitment.
  • Funding is not available under this scheme for NCAS student or staff travel for core purposes of NCAS programmes, which should be funded from travel funds in the normal way, it is intended to allow the exploration of new opportunities that align with our science themes.
  • The NCAS member of staff or student should submit the application (not the external traveller if visiting NCAS).
  • Where funding is required for travel – in response to an unexpected event that needs immediate NCAS response – this should be accessed through local or project budgets.
  • Successful applicants will be expected to submit a short written report to NCAS following the visit, within two months, to provide details of what was achieved and the impacts of the activities.
  • Example activities

    Examples of funded activities:

  • Example 1 – A member of NCAS staff travels to the Stockholm University, they have recently spent time on a fieldwork project in Kenya with members of a research group and identified areas where they wish to collaborate. They will make 4 visits each for a week over a twelve month period, and in this time they intend to work with the research group to perform and analyse simulations. They will also be involved in delivering some training to PhD students.
  • Example 2 – NCAS is receiving a visitor from Trento University who is beginning work on ground-based measurements. They will spend 4 weeks in the UK, partly in Leeds and partly in Weybourne. During their visit they will receive training on using the new radar, attend some NCAS fieldwork training modules and develop collaborative relationships with key personnel in AMOF.
  • Example 3 – Professor X is a world leader in her field and has the opportunity to take a 6-month sabbatical in Europe. NCAS is able to contribute to her travel and accommodation expenses so that she chooses to come to spend her sabbatical with us. While visiting, she interacts on papers and new proposals, and presents 3 “masterclass” doctoral training seminars.
  • Assessment process

    From application submission to funding decision:

  • Applications may be submitted at any time and they will be reviewed biannually with application deadlines on March 31 and August 31. In general the assessment panel will convene, and a decision will be made within one month of the deadline.
  • Assessment is the process undertaken on submitted applications to determine whether an application is fundable, and which applications should be funded. The assessment process used for the NCAS Visiting Scientist Programme involves an initial checking stage. At this point the application is checked to ensure that all documents have been provided and that the application is in the correct format to be submitted to the assessment panel.
  • At a panel meeting the assessment of an application is carried out collectively. The applications are assessed against the published criteria and graded accordingly. If an application meets the criteria then it will be deemed as fundable. Applications will only be ranked against each other in the event that there is a limit to the value of total funding available in an application period.
  • Where an application is unsuccessful feedback will be provided if requested. All applicants will be made aware that unsuccessful applications will not be reconsidered in future rounds and a new application will be required.
  • After funding decisions are made, we inform applicants on the outcomes of the funding decision. We publish information on the funding decisions made by panels so that applicants can understand the relative position of their proposals compared with others assessed at the same panel meeting. We believe this will help applicants improve the quality of their applications.
  • We are committed to driving a culture of equality, diversity and inclusion providing the best opportunities for individuals and teams of people from all backgrounds to thrive. Our evolving processes are designed to reduce biases against gender, ethnicity or other protected characteristics, demonstrating our commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion. We will take steps to improve the assessment process by utilising the talent and resources offered by assessors from underrepresented groups such as women, early career researchers, and members of all ethnicities.
  • Assessment criteria

    The assessment of each proposal is based on the following criteria:

  • How important are the research questions, or gaps in knowledge, that would be addressed?
  • How valuable is the new or developing collaboration expected to be to NCAS?
  • Is the level of innovation likely to lead to significant new understanding?
  • What are the prospects for good scientific progress?
  • How convincing and coherent is the strategy proposed?
  • Has the applicant clearly set out and justified why the international travel is necessary to achieve the outcomes, with particular reference to the environmental impacts, the amount of time allocated to achieve the outcomes, and the link(s) to the NCAS Strategy.
  • How suitable is the applicant and the collaborators they wish to work with and can they deliver the proposed research or benefits? We will consider the track record of individuals in their fields as appropriate and have realistic expectations.
  • How suitable is the environment where the proposed research will take place? We need to know the level of commitment of the host research organisation to supporting the proposed research and whether appropriate facilities will be available to the researchers.
  • Are any disruptive and unequal impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic considered?
  • What is the potential impact of the proposed visit?
  • What are the expected deliverables?
  • Are the funds requested essential for the work and justified by the importance and scientific potential of the research?
  • Is the applicant’s stated time commitment to the work appropriate and sufficient?
  • Does the proposal demonstrate value for money in terms of the resources requested?
  • About our assessment panel:

    The assessment panel is chaired by the NCAS Science Director who is supported by representatives from each of our Science Themes and the Scientific Services, Facilities & Training Directorate. These representatives can be Theme Leads or their nominees. The programme administration will be supported by the NCAS Executive Support and Governance Office, funding will be provided to local institutions via a contract amendment via the NCAS Finance team.

    Grading of applications

    Applications will be graded according the the NERC assessment scale:

  • 10 – The proposed work is outstanding and represents world-leading standards in terms of quality, significance and scientific impact. Highest priority for funding.
  • 9 – The proposed work is excellent and represents world-class standards in terms of quality, significance and scientific impact. Very high priority for funding.
  • 8 – The proposed work is very good, contains aspects of excellence, and represents high standards in terms of quality, significance and scientific impact. High priority for funding.
  • 7 – The proposed work is of a good quality, internationally competitive, at the forefront of UK work and has a high level of scientific impact. Should be funded if possible.
  • 6 – The proposed work is of a good quality, on the borderline between nationally and internationally competitive, and has a good level of scientific impact. Potentially fundable.
  • 5 – The proposed work is of a good quality, has some scientific merit and addresses useful questions, but is not at the leading edge. It is suitable for funding in principle but in a competitive context is not a priority.
  • 4 – The proposed work is of a good quality, has some scientific merit, but has a number of weaknesses. Not recommended for funding.
  • 3 – The proposed work is of a satisfactory quality. It would provide some new knowledge but fails to provide reasonable evidence and justification for the proposal. Not recommended for funding.
  • 2 – The proposed work is weak in terms of quality, significance and scientific impact, and has only a few strengths. Not suitable for funding.
  • 1 – The proposed work is of an unsatisfactory quality and is unlikely to advance the field. Not suitable for funding.
  • 0 – For special cases, e.g. flawed in scientific approach, subject to serious technical difficulties, does not address operational risks, sufficiently unclearly written that it cannot be properly assessed, success depends on the project student or is duplicative of other research.