What are they?
Junior Research Fellowships (JRFs) are offered by the colleges of Oxford and Cambridge University. These highly competitive, prestigious fellowships are aimed at early career researchers who are in the final year of their PhD or in the first few years after their PhD. They are awarded on the basis of research excellence.
There are two types: stipendiary and non-stipendiary. For the stipendiary fellowships there is a salary but the non-stipendiary fellowships are unpaid. For both types you will get membership of the college and associated benefits (such as dining rights).The fellowships typically last for approx. 3 years, although this can vary. There is no expectation that they will lead to a permanent position. Sometimes they are advertised for specific disciplines only, at other times for any discipline. Some colleges will expect you to do some teaching, but others will not.
Where are they advertised?
JRFs are sometimes advertised on www.jobs.ac.uk. You will also find them advertised in the Cambridge Reporter or the Oxford Gazette and on the college websites. Application deadlines are spread over the year for different colleges.
How do the application processes work?
Each college runs its own application process so there are some variations. In general you will be asked to submit a CV, a research statement and a sample of your written work. You will also be asked to supply the names of referees. These will be contacted by the college and asked to nominate readers for your work, who will be specialists in your field and will review your application for the college.
If you progress to the next selection stage you may be called for interview, although not all colleges interview. Bear in mind that the interview panel will not be specialists in your field. You should familiarise yourself with who the fellows of the college are and be able to talk about your work in a way that an intelligent non-specialist would understand.
- For your sample of your written work it could be a journal article or it could be a chapter from your thesis. If it is a chapter from your thesis you will need to provide a short piece of writing at the start setting it in context so the reader can understand it.
- Your research statement will typically include information on the research from your PhD (30%) and also describe your current/ future research (70%). You should be careful not to just state that you will use the fellowship to prepare your PhD for publication as a book. You will need to propose a new piece of research. This must follow on from your PhD but be interesting in its own right.
- Have a good title for your research proposal.
- You should make sure you make a strong case for why your research is worth doing.
- Your research proposal should be understandable to non-specialists.
- Before the interview research the college. They may ask you how you will contribute to college life.