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Juliette Ferry-Danini

I've applied to similar fellowships unsuccessfully and successfully with a project that was quite distinct from my phd dissertation. It was definitely a gamble. It was first rejected because it was too far from my dissertation project. Friends had opposite issues with their projects that were deemed "too close" to their dissertation project. It's not easy to find the right balance.

Former IRC post-doc

I agree with Juliette that finding the right balance is not easy, but that some sort of balance is desirable.

For what it is worth, I got a two-year Irish Research Council post-doc (which is pretty sweet, as it is two years of full research - no teaching requirements) with a project that addressed issues raised at the end of my PhD. Thus, it was not quite a continuation of it, but certainly developed a couple of important concepts & issues that were relevant to my PhD, but which I wasn't able to really address.

At least for the IRC, my guess is that they want to be able to see a clear connection with the PhD, but it should also be clear that the post-doc is addressing a different question or issue. To give an example: One's PhD may have been examining sexual consent, and one's post-doc could be on the ethics of online sexual activities and interactions. Thus, there is a question of consenting to online / virtual activities and how online consent should work, but a whole host of other issues, such as computer-generated pornography and abuse of avatars (This may not be a very good example).

I would probably advise risking veering too close to the PhD rather than too far from it. A key issue for funders is that the project is "deliverable" and part of that means the person is able to deliver it. If you promise to research something you're not very familiar with, then it may not look deliverable enough. Although this may apply more to more senior grants, I think they want an expert to be running the project, so cleaving fairly close to your area of expertise helps to show that you are an expert.

Having said all of that, I'm rather far from being a paragon of funding success...


I got a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship a few years back with a research proposal that was quite close to my dissertation project. I interpreted the line above as saying "you shouldn't simply be looking to rework your dissertation into a book" and doing so apparently didn't hurt me.

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