Updates (signed NEW+date or Update+date) will be published on this page during the application process. Send your questions to the e-mail address CoE@abo.fi. The earlier in the application process an ambiguity is pointed out, the greater the chance that we can make a clarification to the instructions.
Latest update inserted: 24 Feb. 2023
- There are many ways to allocate targeted funds to research, why did you choose to proceed with appointing Centres of Excellence?
The report in 2022 made by the ÅAU Foundation interviewed 26 researcher and took into account 40 survey responses from the research community at ÅAU, the university management and the research administration. Based on the responses continuing with guaranteed, long-term funding based on an idea-driven application round received broad support.
- How many Centres of Excellence are appointed?
The Vice-rector for research decides on the number of CoEs. In the previous rounds, four units have been appointed.
- Do the CoEs get even shares of the available funding?
The Vice-Rector for research decides on the distribution. The decision considers what will be the best solution for ÅAU, guaranteeing that each appointed CoE have the possibility to implement its suggested research plan. Changes in funding can also take place during the funding period, but this will require exceptional circumstances.
- Is a fixed-term employee allowed to act as the responsible leader?[Update 17 Feb. 2023]
The responsible leader shall have at least a 50% employment at ÅAU by means other than those of the CoE program. The responsible leader can be a fixed-term employee but with a long-term employment contract. If the responsible leader does not have funding for the entire CoE period, it must be described how to guarantee the project management for all five years. The Dean can with a statement show that the planned PI is involved in a process leading to a faculty position or long-term contract during the application process.
- Does the Vice Director need to be affiliated to ÅA? Or can it be an external professor from another University? If he/she can be an external researcher, does this need some kind of special consideration in the budget? [NEW 11 Jan. 2023]
The Vice Director does not need to be affiliated with ÅAU but cannot receive CoE-funding for acting as a Vice Director.
- Does “Activities carried out at ÅAU” mean that the funds can only be used for researchers employed at ÅAU?
It is our decision that all employments done with the CoE funding must be registered at ÅAU. Purchased services, analyses, animal testing and the like can be ordered by external service providers.
- Is it the intention of the CoE programme to promote primarily multidisciplinary research teams?
There is no requirement for a multi- or interdisciplinary approach. It is the objectives of the research plan that should determine what expertise is required. We are looking for research teams that can achieve the best results possible.
- Is it the intention of the CoE programme to promote international collaboration?
The assessment criteria only highlight collaboration with other research teams or other stakeholders. The application needs to highlight who you are collaborating with and why. The CoE is expected to interact outside ÅAU even if there is a strong focus on activities done by one or a couple of subjects at ÅAU. Still, international collaboration must be seen as an advantage and asset to the application, but it is not a requirement.
- What are the difference between partners, collaborators and steering group members. Should the collaborator be a steering group member? [NEW 11 Jan. 2023]
We recognize the difficulty in defining the different persons and teams who can have intertwining and resembling roles in the CoE. To give some assistance we give the following definitions.
The steering group is the core, consisting of researchers and partners involved in the management and decision-making of the CoE. Typically it is persons who have opinions on employments, other funding decisions and final decisions on adjustments to the research plan and other practical conundrums.
An advisory board consists of experts from the represented scientific fields. They give advisory opinions on the overall direction of the CoE but aren’t otherwise involved in the actual research. Their input will usually be once or twice a year. Every CoE do not have an advisory board.
Collaborators can be individuals or research teams who assist or interact in the research during the CoE period but whose importance for the CoE can differ during the CoE period.
- Are there things to consider concerning the steering group of the CoE? [Update 11 Jan. 2023]
The research plan should reflect on the composition of the steering group. It is worth mentioning that the evaluators will look at risk factors and sensitivity to especially ÅAU staff changes in the CoE. Who needs to be included to effectively manage the research team; coordination and decision-making? In the second application round, the members of the steering group may submit individual three-page CVs. Of course, this does not mean that the steering group should be made artificially large. That would only make the evaluators question the organizational ability of the CoE.
- Can the steering group composition change between the evaluation rounds?
Due to the dynamic manner of the research community, some leeway is given. For example, a new external partner can be included but there must of course be well-justified reasons for such a change. Researchers employed or strongly connected to ÅAU cannot be added. For this reason, we allow ÅAU-researchers to participate in several applications.
- The application process was discussed in the ÅAU Strategic Council for Research in September, does that mean council members are not allowed to participate?
Members may participate in the application round. The Council was briefed on the current state of the planning process. As agreed with the members, the assessment criteria were left out of the information to ensure that the members did not get unjust advantage compared to other researchers. After the council meeting, the planning team has made significant changes to the application process making it quite different from what was presented in the council. Everyone at ÅAU received much the same information as the council received via the intra-news that went out on 13 October.
- The application form does not include a spot for submitting an advisory board. Where should we include the members of such a board? [NEW 17 Feb. 2023]
There should have been a spot for submitting an advisory board and the application form has been updated so this information can be included. If the applying unit do not have an advisory board the bullet can be deleted from the form.
- Must the application be submitted to AboCRIS? [NEW 2 Feb. 2023]
No, the application is only sent to email@example.com
- Why is it not possible to apply in Swedish?
The model we chose with more evaluators in the first evaluation round, made the task of finding available evaluators with research evaluation experience and no conflicts of interest more challenging. We also considered it better for ÅAU to have a broader scope on the evaluation panels than only national or Nordic representatives.
- Can the abstract contain an image?
It may contain an image, such as a logo or other image that makes the application recognizable. If the Vice-rector believes that the image gives too much advantage over applications with only text abstracts, it is removed.
- Our application fits into several of the four evaluation groups, how should we go forward?
The applying research team should only select one group. You must consider which evaluation group is likely to give you the best evaluation. If it is particularly difficult to choose, you can communicate it to CoE@abo.fi.
- Will the evaluators be published before the deadline of the first application round?
Traditionally, the names of the evaluators have not been released before the deadline of the application round. The planning team is discussing the possibility of publishing them earlier.
- Can we add our own headings to the research plan?
You can add subheadings but you must stick to the two main headings in the first round. This similarity between applications is to ease the evaluators’ work. We chose to have only two main headings in the first round because space for text and images is already scarce.
- Should overhead costs be included or excluded from the budget? [NEW 2 Feb. 2023]
The ÅAU overhead costs have already been deducted from the available funds.
- Should the budget include a yearly expense for the PI of 0,5-1,5 moths/year to confirm the PI:s dedication for the project? [NEW 17 Feb. 2023]
You should only put in real cost expenses in the budget. A specific expense to show dedication to the project is not needed. We expect all applicants to have a real dedication to drive the CoE towards its goals.
- What should we do if we have expenses in the research plan that do not fit the given items in the Budget Tool?
Get in touch with CoE@abo.fi.
- Can there be text other than the publications in the publication list? [Update 24 Feb. 2023]
One short paragraph can be added to each publication to explain the justification of the publication on how it would fit the proposed CoE plan The publication list should contain only names and their source references.. Further comments describing the relevance of the publications should be done in the research plan. Note that the evaluators are not necessarily experts in your field of research.
- Should it be the steering group members who are presented in the merit compilation in the first round?
It does not have to be just the members of the steering group, but do note who is allowed to submit CVs in the second round.
EVALUATION AND ASSESSMENT CRITERIA
- What are the reasons behind this division into evaluation groups for the first round?
To some extent, we have looked at divisions in other corresponding evaluations of research applications. We have also looked at the distribution of applications in previous CoE application rounds and taken the ÅAU organization structure (subjects) into account. However, it is difficult to predict the distribution of applications since earlier CoE rounds shows some variation. This is a compromise as we felt that we do not have the time or capacity to, at application deadline, search for and send each application to a branch expert.
- In the application instructions, it says that the excellence and impact of the research plan will be given priority in the assessment to the other two criteria. Is there a set weighting system introduced?
We have not introduced a weighting system that would provide the first criterion with more points than the two other criteria. The evaluators will be instructed that if the score is even between two applications, the excellence of the research plan should be rewarded.
- The number of applications may vary between the four evaluation groups, is there a certain number of advances to the second round from each group?
With a new concept, there are new advantages and disadvantages. If it is possible for a group, for example, to receive only one application, the deputy vice-chancellor must decide how the application is processed. The likely is a redistribution of some kind. There is no thought that a given number should move on from each group, but an assessment is made. Of course, the best in each group is always good for a continuation.
- What can determine if an application is moved from the group in which the research group has chosen to be evaluated?
The goal is not to move an application to another group. A move may be relevant if necessary to ensure a comparison between applications. Also to ensure a more even distribution between evaluators, a redistribution can be considered. The evaluation of multidisciplinary applications must also be discussed.