Early Career Fellowships

The purpose of NHMRC Early Career Fellowships (ECFs) is to provide opportunities for Australian researchers to undertake research that is both of major importance in its field and of benefit to Australian health.

A major objective of the scheme is to foster career development at the postdoctoral level by encouraging the beneficial experience of a different research environment.

ECFs provide for advanced training in health and medical research either in Australia or overseas (where appropriate), to enable Fellows to work on research projects with nominated advisers. Awards are offered to a limited number of persons of outstanding ability who wish to make research a significant component of their career.

Apply for funding

The NHMRC’s Research Grants Management System (RGMS) must be used to access/enter your CV and Profile, and submit your Early Career Fellowship application. Applicants that are not yet registered in RGMS should contact the Research Help Centre at help@nhmrc.gov.au for more information.

A complete ECF application consists of:

  1. Parts A and B of the application form including all required PDF uploads; and
  2. The relevant information in your RGMS Profile and CV.

Prior to submission, applicants are to ensure they:

  1. Read all relevant reference material;
  2. Liaise with their Administering Institution to identify any specific requirements that the institution may have; and
  3. Ensure their application is complete and correct. Once submitted to NHMRC, your application will be considered final and no changes can be accepted.

Applicants are advised to contact the Research Administration Office (RAO) at their Administering Institution early in the application process and are asked to direct any questions they may have to their RAO.

Key Dates

The key dates for the ECF 2016 application round are as follows:

  • Applications open: 13 January 2016
  • Applications close: 24 February 2016 at 17:00 hrs (5:00pm) AEDT

Changes to the Early Career Fellowships for 2017

Several changes have been made to the Early Career Fellowships Scheme-Specific Funding Rules for funding commencing in 2017, as summarised below:

  • Wording has been added to clarify that applicants who are not changing either their PhD Research Team or Department during years one and two of their proposed fellowship must provide a statement to explain why this career path is more beneficial for their advanced health and medical research training.

  • Wording has been added to specify the evidence that will be accepted for career disruptions.

  • Wording has been added to clarify that a four-year eligibility ruling applies to applicants who hold a MBBS and are required to undertake further clinical training;

  • Those applying for a Health Professional Research Fellowship (part-time) must be no more than four years post-PhD as at 30 June in the year of application.

  • All applicants may only apply for one ECF, regardless of the category in which they are applying.

  • Overseas allowances are now provided through a tiered structure, and applicants can see upfront how much allowance they would receive depending on which tier their overseas location is in.  This allowance is intended to contribute to the cost of airfares and associated travel taxes for which applicants previously sought reimbursement.  No reimbursements will be provided by NHMRC. 

  • Funding is available to applicants of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander descent for international collaboration purposes.

For a full list of changes to the Early Career Fellowships scheme, please refer to Section 2 of the Early Career Fellowships Funding Rules.

Documentation to Apply for an Early Career Fellowship

These must be read in conjunction with the NHMRC Funding Rules 2016, NHMRC Advice and Instructions to Applicants 2016 and Guide to NHMRC Peer Review 2016, which have also been revised.

A Guide for researchers applying for Early Career Fellowships

Applications for Early Career Fellowships are considered by peer review panels, whose task is to discuss and score the applicants (see the Assessment Criteria and Scoring Matrix in the Early Career Fellowships Scheme-Specific Funding Rules). In doing so, they take into account all the material submitted by applicants.

To help researchers contemplating applying for an ECF, NHMRC is providing information on a “typical” successful applicant, to guide researchers who are deciding whether to apply. This was derived from information provided on the successful application forms received by NHMRC in 2011. These “typical characteristics” must not be regarded as a “bar” above which applications will be successful as the range of output between individuals is evidently large. Peer review panels take into account all the assessment criteria as a whole prior to any decision making and there are marked differences between even the top ranked individuals each year.

Recent Outcomes

Further information

If you require more information, direct your inquiry to your Research Administration Office in the first instance.

If you require assistance and are unable to satisfy your concern by seeking assistance through your administering institution contact the Research Help Centre on 1800 500 983, or email help@nhmrc.gov.au.