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elisa freschi

These are two different cases.
Case a) I advertise a position in my project on deontic logic. I really need someone who already works on the topic and who can contribute to my project doing what the project needs. Only apply if you are willing to do that.
Case b) You want to join Institute X with a Marie Curie or a similar grant (in Austria: Lise Meitner). In this case, you are going to write your own project and just need the institute to welcome you. This will be easier if your work is generally interesting for the institute and a preliminary email to the people who could be interested is fine. (I have several posts about these grants on my current blog and on the previous one if you are interested in more details.)


As a prof in Europe (in several countries) I can confirm that it’s totally okay to contact people you have not met before saying „There is overlap in our work, would you consider a joint application or being a host?“. But the proof of the pudding then is in the actual content of the project, and it can of course happen that a prof says „Sorry I’m too busy with other projects right now“, or „Sorry but that topic isn’t what I’m most interested right now.“ In fact, there can be situations in which profs accept such proposals just because it is good for the university (or for their prestige), without genuine interest in the applicant’s work. That can mean that a postdoc is then pretty much on their own once they are there - but at least they’ve got funding and can make connections to other people at the university etc.


"How does one go about connecting with a desired host institution or faculty member at such a host institution? Is it all a matter of one’s antecedent connections?"
No, not at all. If you bring your own project/funding I bet that most departments would be welcoming you with open arms.

"Is it ever acceptable to write a such a faculty member, in effect, saying “I’m interested in this project you’re working on, and it relates to my work like so. Would you be willing to sponsor my application to X?”"
Absolutely. Again, my sense is that most faculty would be thrilled to receive such an email and be prepared to sponsor your application (as long as it meets some basic quality standards). How much they'd be prepared to invest themselves in polishing the application is another matter, of course. It's news to me that the MCurie applications need to be so tightly connected with the sponsor's own research. I can't imagine this holds across the board. Just as important may be how well the proposed projects fits into the wider research environment at the department/institution, e.g. how many people work in area X in addition to the sponsor?


A few months ago, Marcus posted a link that provided a series of slides with specific advice for early-career scholars applying for fellowships and grants in Europe. I cannot find it anymore, however...

Marcus Arvan

Tatewaki: Interesting. I honestly don't remember that ever occurring. But I do have a terrible episodic memory! Does anyone else remember that post who can help us track it down?

Illusion of Terra

Took such a workshop offered by someone who works in the Marie Curie expert board, and currently working on applications for both the Marie Curie and Humboldt one. The success rate varies depending on the grant. Marie Curie is about five percent if I recall correctly, and the usual early career Humboldt can be up to forty percent, but this depends on what type of grant exactly you are applying for.

In my experience institutes and professors welcome people with their own applications, mostly because they don't have to do it themselves then. Often the postdoc positions you see posted are the result of a professor or research group having applied for and granted such a grant. If they don't have to do that and only sign something that says that they will host you etc., it is a lot less work for them. Thus, contacting someone with that purpose is acceptable and I have done so.

Generally, it is a great thing to have your own grant since you can work on what you want and are not bound to what the professor or research group wants you to do. That being said, some grants are co-written with the professors and thus they influence it. Also, it obviously has to make sense why that host should be fitting for your project, so applying for a grant for an aesthetics project in a group that specializes only in formal philosophy of math might be a bit 'unexpected'.

Grant applications can be reused if the format is similar but sometimes you cannot apply with the same grant at multiple grant institutions. Another 'advantage' of some sort is that you can often skip any meaningless interviews, but this really depends on the professor.
So yeah, I'd say if you have a great idea and a bit of time on your hands, go for it.

Illusion of Terra

@Tatewaki, it might be this what you are thinking of?


Since the OP specifically mentions several schemes, and since they say they're from the US, I thought I might respond about the Leverhulme Early Career scheme. Comprehensive and clear information is available on the Leverhulme site, but here are a few points to consider:

-To apply for a Leverhulme ECF, you have to have substantial existing academic affiliation in the UK, typically this will mean either having done your PhD in the UK, or having had a post-doc in the UK already.
-You can only apply in the first 3 years after your PhD
-Your application has to be sponsored by a UK university, but the research you propose isn't derivative on someone else's---so you'll need a mentor, but the idea is that they provide an institutional point of contact, not that you're working on their project
-Many UK universities run internal competitions for this kind of fellowship, so you will often see calls for them. If you want to apply with a place that hasn't issued a call, just email whoever works in the area closest to you, or the department head and say 'hey, I have a proposal, do you know who I might pitch it to and how your internal selection works?'
-If you don't have a UK affiliation, consider the Newton International Fellowship scheme instead, which is aimed at bringing people from overseas, like the Marie-Curie


Here is the link to the presentation that details the job opportunities you have in Europe as a Postdoc (on the website Illusion of Terra is pointing to): https://c9e77918-d626-4ea7-856a-bccdc4009ff3.filesusr.com/ugd/a22be8_67672d42c63d4baf926c37f9dafaf855.pdf

There are sections on applying of grants and a list of most European funding bodies. You can also contact the Early European Career Philosophers for advice. We have members who work all over Europe in different positions and fields.


Yet another thing about applying for postdoc positions in projects. My experience is that you should apply if your research fits the job description. You never know what kind of candidate the principal investigator searches for. Some want to promote their former students, others search for someone from the outside. Some want someone who knows their work, others want an expert about their philosophical foe. The only way to find out, is to apply. Whether you get a job often depends on who else applies...

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