A revamped OPUS call and PRELUDIUM BIS, a new funding scheme for PhD students. New call announcements

Monday, 16 September 2019

The NCN announces three well-known calls for basic research proposals, i.e. OPUS, SONATA and PRELUDIUM, and a new scheme, PRELUDIUM BIS, for projects conducted by PhD students, organized in cooperation with the National Agency for Academic Exchange (the “NAWA”). The calls have a total budget of PLN 690,000,000.

PRELUDIUM BIS is the first joint call of the NCN and the NAWA, targeted at institutions operating doctoral schools. The objective of the call is to support PhD student education by funding scholarships and research projects conducted by young researchers as part of their doctoral dissertation, as well as financing foreign fellowships of 3 to 6 months to support researcher mobility.

"PRELUDIUM BIS is an elite track for doctoral schools that will allow funding for research projects, foreign fellowships and scholarships for as many as 300 young researchers", says Professor Zbigniew Błocki, NCN Director, "We hope that offering the best students a guarantee of stable funding throughout the four-year period of PhD study will be an attractive offer for anyone who considers enrolling in a doctoral school abroad or working in business."

Successful projects will be conducted by PhD students under the supervision of their PhD supervisors, who will act as the principal investigators. The research team may only consist of the principal investigator and the PhD student, and the project may be planned for either 36 or 48 months, depending on the length of PhD student education at a doctoral school. Under the scheme, NCN resources can be used to fund scholarships, project costs and indirect costs. The total research costs cannot exceed PLN 180,000, only PLN 40,000 of which can go to the principal investigator. In addition, the NAWA will finance the costs of foreign fellowships. Project resources cannot be used to purchase or construct research equipment. The total budget of PRELUDIUM BIS equals PLN 160,000,000; the results of the call will be announced at the beginning of 2020 and funding will start in October 2020.

Beginning from this edition, indirect costs in all NCN-funded calls will be set at 20%. In contrast to previous regulations, however, they will also be calculated for the cost of research equipment, devices and software. An important change has also been introduced in the conditions of the OPUS call, where the maximum project duration was extended to 4 years. Another major change is the expansion of the call to include an international track. Irrespective of their research experience, researchers will now be able to plan their projects jointly with a partner or partners from foreign research institutions, contacted independently or as part of international programmes and initiatives announced within the framework of bilateral or multilateral cooperation. They may also design projects conducted with the use of large international research equipment.

"The expanded scope of the OPUS call will now make it possible to fund projects previously funded under the HARMONIA scheme", explains Professor Małgorzata Kossowska, Chairwoman of the NCN Council, "The advantage of OPUS is that it allows the purchase of research equipment with the value of up to PLN 500,000 per unit, which was not possible under the HARMONIA call. OPUS also gives researchers greater leeway to build their research teams."

Within the framework of OPUS 18, principal investigators can fund research team salaries, scholarships for students and PhD students, and purchase or construction of research equipment. The call is targeted at candidates with at least one research paper published or accepted for publication or at least one artistic achievement or achievement in research in art. In this edition, researchers will compete for a total budget of PLN 400,000,000.

PRELUDIUM 18 is targeted at young researchers who do not hold a PhD degree. Funding will depend on the length of the project, with PLN 70,000 for projects to be carried out over the period of 12 months, PLN 140,000 for projects to be carried out over the period of 24 and PLN 210,000 for projects to be carried out over the period of 36 months. The research team may comprise up to three members, including the principal investigator and the mentor. The call has a budget of PLN 30,000,000.

Last, but not least, SONATA 15 is addressed to individuals who have been awarded a PhD degree within 2 to 7 years before submitting the proposal. The scheme is aimed at creating a unique methodology and conducting innovative research projects using modern research facilities and original methodology. PLN 100,000,000 is up for grabs.

Proposals in the calls announced by the National Science Centre should be submitted electronically via the ZSUN/OSF (https://osf.opi.org.pl) system. The deadline is 16 December 2019 and the results will be announced no later than in June 2020. Proposals will be subject to a two-stage evaluation procedure carried out by NCN Expert Teams made up of outstanding researchers specialized in the discipline and supported by external experts, some invited from foreign institutions.