Office of Post-Doctoral Training

Office of POST-DOCTORAL TRAINING

OFFICE OF

Post-Doctoral Training

School of Graduate Studies

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Tips for Applying for the Banting Post-Doctoral Fellowship (and other fellowships)

Are you ready to apply? - Characteristics of a successful application

The Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship is a competitive program. Before you consider applying, make sure to carefully review the application guide, as well as the review guidelines for the selection committee.
Your application will be evaluated on:

  1. Research excellence and leadership in the research domain
  2. Quality of applicant's proposed research program
  3. Institutional commitment and demonstrated synergy between applicant and institutional strategic priorities

What are the Characteristics of a successful application?

Applicant

  • Has demonstrated leadership and impact on the field (considering career stage)
  • Has a significant number of publications
  • Brings new knowledge to the institution

Proposed Research

  • Should significantly advance the knowledge base
  • Includes aspect of novelty: “game-changing”
  • Is part of a larger research context (applicant, supervisor, institution)
  • Demonstrates synergy with research environment
  • Weighs risk vs. feasibility
  • Considers wider impact: application of research, social impact

Supervisor Statement

  • Speaks to research excellence of applicant
  • Speaks to excellence of proposed research
  • Speaks to aspects of synergy (with supervisor’s research, research environment, institution)
  • Explains added value of post-doc in research environment
  • Demonstrates institutional commitment (professional development, funding…)
  • Propels research leadership of applicant (supervisor biography, where are alumni now)

Referee

  • Should be familiar with the applicant’s research
  • Should have interacted with applicant (research or leadership activities)
  • One referee should be your PhD supervisor (if not, you need to explain to the committee why this is the case). You should also choose at least one referee who is independent (ie, not personally invested in your research program)

When you choose a  referee, consider the balance between public profile in the field and a referee who knows your research well.

Begin planning early
  • Begin to prepare your application as soon as the competition is announced and forms are available. The 2017  Banting competition was launched on April 19 and some institutions have internal deadlines as early as June. Queen’s internal deadline is July 4.
  • There is no set cap on number of applications to be endorsed, but institutions are expected to be highly selective and should endorse only the highest-calibre postdoctoral researchers
  • Get in touch with the faculty member you wish to collaborate with as early as possible and with concrete idea for the research proposal. The Banting Fellowship application requires significant input from your faculty supervisor, as well as from the host institution and this will take time to prepare. Host institutions must provide applicants with 2 documents to support their application:
    • An institutional letter of endorsement
    • Supervisor's statement (prepared by supervisor)
  • Give people who need to provide material in support of your application ample time to do so. Also, the more they know about you and the work you propose to do, the better they will be able to address your strengths in their letter of support. Offer to provide a CV, a research proposal draft or try to meet with them in person to discuss your plans. Also make sure they are familiar with the Banting fellowship program, and the requirements for their reference letter.
  • Discuss your proposed collaboration with your faculty supervisor. An important element for the Banting selection committee is the synergy between the applicant, the supervisor and the university. Be prepared to make a strong case explaining why you have chosen to work at this institution and with this particular supervisor.
  • Consider the academic environment at the host institution – study the supervisor’s research and the strategic research plan of institution. (see: Queen's Strategic Research Plan)
  • Convey what you would like to accomplish with your fellowship. Think long-term, ideally in a 5-year career plan.
  • To be considered for the Banting Fellowship, you need to demonstrate academic productivity. The number of publications matters as well as the quality of the scholarly journals in which you publish. Keep this in mind when you prepare your application as you may need to address journal quality.
  • Create a timeline: Sketch out a workplan and stick to it. Putting together a fellowship application always takes longer than you think it will. Don’t wait until the last minute – you won’t have time. Hastiness will be reflected in the quality of your submission.
  • Consider contacting a successful Banting applicant, ideally from your discipline, to ask for advice and to see if they would share their successful application with you. The list of fellowship holders can be found on the Banting website.
Tips for your research proposal
  • Vagueness will not be rewarded: demonstrate concrete examples of research excellence and leadership.
  • Communicate your research goal/plan with clarity, why it is important, what is its relevance and why it is feasible. Engage your reader; make your proposal “a pleasure to read”. The reviewers need to be convinced of its value so they can advocate for you at the review committee meetings.
  • Tell a story: Write clearly, concisely with a beginning, middle and end; keep your reader in mind at all times; Use examples, metaphor, analogy to make difficult concepts accessible; use an active voice. Remember that it is most likely that reviewers will not be experts in your field.
  • Anticipate questions that may arise and address these explicitly in your narrative. Do not assume that reviewers know what you mean –  you need to provide adequate background. Address the limitations of your work and how you will deal with them.
  • Remember, it’s a competition: distinguish your application from the rest; be persuasive, not just descriptive, you need to make an argument/build a case for funding. Keep in mind that the synergy between institution/supervisor and applicant is an important factor.
  • To demonstrate this synergy, think about your research program in the environment of the host institution. Where are opportunities for collaboration? Where can you benefit from expertise the institution can offer (e.g. Canada Research Chairs in the field)? What is the unique expertise that you are bringing to this institution?
  • Make time for writing and preparing other application documents on most days, but don’t forget to take a break! You will be able to see your application with a fresh view if you take your mind off it for a little while.
Getting ready to submit your application
  • Ask somebody in your field, like your supervisor or another mentor to review your application. They may notice inaccuracies or omissions and will be able to help you strengthen your arguments.
  • Also ask a friend or relative who is not familiar with your research to review your application. They will be able to evaluate your application and comment on the strength of your narrative. After reading your proposal, ask them if they understood everything – are they able to describe your proposed work?
  • Then, revise, revise, and revise again to ensure you’ve addressed all concerns raised in the reviews.
  • Make sure your application is complete. Make a check list for yourself and use it. The Banting application guide is structured in tasks - you can use this as template for your check list.
  • Only provide what is asked for. Respect page limits and word counts; additional pages will be removed.
  • Make sure everything you submit is grammatically correct and free of typographical errors. Include several rounds of proofreading to avoid such mistakes.

For more information, please see the Banting website. Please make sure to read the application guide carefully.

 

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