Once you have defined the frame of your MSCA-PF proposal you can start writing your proposal. The MSCA-PF application has 3 sections: Part A, B1 and B2.

Part A. This part is mainly administrative. It includes documentation that has to be filled online. 

Part B1. Maximum of 10 pages

This is the part that is evaluated by reviewers. It contains the actual proposal and consists of three main sections: Excellence, Impact, and Implementation. Excellence focuses on the actual scientific proposal, the research objectives, and the background of the researcher and host(s) supervisor(s). Impact deals with the scientific, societal, and economic impact of the proposal, the impact that the fellowship will have in the applicant’s career, and the foreseen dissemination of the project’s results to peers and society. Finally, the Implementation section reflects the operational capacity and infrastructure of the host team and institution and the arrangements to integrate the researcher. In further posts, we explain the most relevant aspects to be covered in each section and provide useful tips to maximise your chances of positive evaluation.

Part B2:

This part complements B1 and is a support for the evaluation process. It contains the applicant’s CV (5 pages approx. including publications, conferences, research expeditions, patents, prizes, funding, supervising activities, and others), the capacity of the participating organisation(s) (profile of the supervisor, infrastructure, facilities and equipment, involvement in EU-funded research), and commitment of the associated partner(s), if applicable.

4. Excellence (50% of the final score)

Key aspects to address:

 Describe ambitious research objectives that go beyond the state-of-the-art of your research area but are also feasible and measurable. Tip: Do not be overambitious with the proposed objectives and propose research that can be realistically done within the timeframe of the fellowship.

 Describe an appropriate methodology to deliver the proposed objectives in the timeframe of the proposal. Showing an interdisciplinary approach to approach the research objectives of the project is a plus.

 Describe the gender dimension aspects, if applicable to your research. 

 Describe how you plan to ensure open science practices throughout the fellowship.

 Describe how the qualifications and experience of the supervisor(s) ensure an adequate supervision of the project (i.e., experience on the proposed research topic, track record, main collaborations, and experience training researchers at an advanced level). 

 Describe how the applicant’s research experience will help develop the proposed research objectives.

 Describe specific training activities for the researcher in both scientific and technical competences, as well as in transferrable and management skills.

 Describe how the transfer of knowledge between the researcher and the host(s) organisations will be ensured with specific actions.

5. Impact (30% of the final score)

Key aspects to address:

 Describe the expected development of new competences of the applicant and the expected fellowship’s impact on the applicant’s career perspective inside and/or outside academia.

 Describe specific actions to communicate and disseminate your project’s results, maximising their impact. Design a strategy to disseminate the project’s research to the scientific community and engage people in your field, increasing the network of connections of the researcher. In addition, plan a public engagement strategy and activities to reach out to society. These activities do not have to be restricted to disseminate your project’s results but can also disseminate any scientific topic of interest to the society.

 Design and describe a plan for the management and protection of intellectual property (if this is applicable to the proposed project).

 Describe the expected scientific, technological, economic, and societal impact of the project beyond the immediate scope of the project. Try to be realistic, you are not expected to save the world in two years.

6. Implementation (20% of the final score)

 Briefly describe an organisational structure of the work plan and define deliverables and milestones. Present the timeline of the work plan in a Gantt chart that is feasible, realistic, and logical. Include the assessment of risks of the project, the corresponding contingency plans to mitigate these risks, and the monitoring mechanisms to ensure the correct development of the project (i. e. periodic meetings with the supervisor(s) to assess the state of the project and to take strategic decisions).

 Describe the hosting arrangements, the integration in the team/institution and support services, and the capacity of the participating organisations. 

Important information

Common mistakes to avoid: Do not only prioritise writing an attractive and ambitious research project disregarding the other sections. Besides the quality and feasibility of the research project, the evaluators will assess the impact of the fellowship in the host institute, research group, applicant’s career, and science and society in the long term. Also, the evaluators will look for indicators of the feasibility of the proposed implementation of the project within the timeframe of the fellowship. Make sure you build a well-rounded proposal for the B1 section: it is crucial for you to be awarded with a MSCA-PF.

Misconception: You do not necessarily need an outstanding publication record to be awarded a MSCA-PF (the evaluators consider the applicant’s career stage). Instead, it is much more important that the proposal reflects that your research project fits well your research profile and your supervisor’s. Also include how the fellowship will help you develop key skills and expertise that will boost your future career. 

We strongly advise you to cover and answer all the points we defined in the Part B1 with concrete actions that give credibility and feasibility to your proposal. These are the basic guidelines for your upcoming proposal. We hope they help you have positive feedback in the evaluations, which are expected to be out by the end of February of 2023. Best of luck!

ThePaperMill team.