How to write a successful Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship ( (Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellowship) proposal

Success rate of MSC-IF is rather low which shows how competitive is the process. That means you can be astonishingly good but not receive the grants because someone else got a better score. The score of your application are calculated by weighted summation of the scores that you receive for the three individual criteria (for each you receive a number between 1 to 5 (poor to excellent)).

The three criteria are Excellence, Impact and Quality and efficiency of the implementation whereas their weights are 50%, 30% and 20%, respectively.

1) Excellence:  It is determined by the quality and credibility of the researcher and innovation project, training of the researcher at the host institute and quality of the supervisor. You probably cannot change your level of quality at the time of application but you can certainly improve the level of innovation of the proposal that you are writing (we will elaborate on that in the following sections). The other essential factor in this criterion is the training plan and possibility at the host institute that some applicants underestimate. You should allocate at least a page to the training that you will be given at the host university (practical training, teaching experience, courses or supervision experience foreseen in the project). Nobel winning projects without having a well-defined training plan can not be granted a MSC-IF! In addition, the quality of the supervisor (host professor) matters a lot. It should be clearly explained in the proposal why you choose to have this particular professor as your project supervisor.

Indeed, you should at least have a clear answer to the following questions wherever in the proposal you justify the credibility and quality of the supervisor. What would you learn from that person if you could join his/her group? What are the major competences that the host professors and his/her team have which could leverage your capability to become more wise in the proposed research subject? How does the host and the group can help you to become ready to be ultimately a faculty in future (any particular training program, if so describe)? Note that the 50% weight of “Excellence” criterion make it very vital in success of your application. Never underestimate any single sub-section of that criterion otherwise no chance to succeed.

2) Impact: In this part of the proposal you should justify how this project enhance the potential of your career. This is the section that you should be very explicit and explain how this particular proposal can help you to boost your career perspective in favor of becoming a faculty or senior researcher. In addition to that, you are expected to be clear on how you want to disseminate the results of your project. Note that you are being (well) paid by the european tax-payer. So, you are expected to communicate your results with public in different forms. Public outreach is essential for enhancing the awareness of the society about the research activities. Therefore, make a clear plan (half a page) to elaborate which measures you have foreseen to communicate your results with public (e.g. seminars or experiments in schools, making videos of your research results (Youtube channel), making animation of your activities and etc.). In this section, you should also clearly write your plan to disseminate your results (article, patents, conference abstracts etc.). But do not mix them with communication (public outreach).

3) Quality and efficiency of the implementation: To get a very high score in this criterion, you should have a very comprehensive work plan. It should be planned effectively in a way that the output in the framework of the project can be reachable. You should consider that the tasks allocated for the project match with the available resources (infrastructure, administration and supervision) in the host institute. For example, if you need to conduct research in nanotechnology, the host institution should have the proper cleanroom facilities and you could get access to that facilities in a feasible period of time to carry out the project. Although the project should be risky, it should sound feasible regarding the risk. So, in other words, you should communicate the possible risk exist in the proposal and at the same time you should make it clear which measure you have foreseen to overcome the possible risks. Plan B is the minimum requirements for that to show that if your initial idea does not work you have another plan to reach the goals.

In future posts, we will elaborate on what are the good styles of writing for MSC-IF and some hints how to make it more appealing.

You can also find more details about the study programs in various european countries such as admission requirements, the cost of student life, tuition fees and how to apply for a PhD programs.

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