Where to apply for grants?
Funding opportunities of foundations can be found from the Heimo-sites of UEF. Current funding opportunities are informed on UEF´s Viva Engage site of research funding, so join also this group when joining the yammer groups linked to your own research field at the beginning of your doctoral studies. The Association of Finnish Foundations offers a lot of information about foundation funding opportunities, but also about other things connected to the position of a grant researcher, such as taxation. Extensive foundation funding opportunities can be found from Research.fi database, where one can search for foundations by research field. Research professional -database offers international funding possibilities for researchers who have proceeded further in their research career. Primarily ask your supervisor about the funding opportunities suitable for your research.
The research plan is the basis of grant application
Writing a good research plan is extremely important especially in the beginning of doctoral studies. With a research plan one applies for the right to doctoral studies, doctoral researchers salary-paying positions, as well as research grants. Research plan should be updated every now and then as the research work proceeds. The first research plan is usually written with the help of one´s supervisor.
Philosophical Faculty and the Faculty of Social Sciences and Business Studies organize a course “How to write a successful research plan” twice a year. Also the Faculty of Science and Forestry and the Faculty of Health Sciences organize “Writing a grant application” -course annually. Learn more about the courses on Other courses and training- page.
Tips for grant applicants
- Read the call for applications and instructions carefully. Don´t apply funding from all the foundations, but instead concentrate on the ones usually funding your field of research and from calls that best fit your research interests. Prepare the application carefully in order to fit the call as well as possible and if needed, adjust the research plan to meet the criteria and goals of the foundation.
- Adhere to the instructions and deadlines given. These are often unnegotiable. Make sure you have all the necessary attachments well in advance.
- If a letter of recommendation can be attached, ask for one from your supervisor in good time. Supervisors often have lots of letters of recommendation to write!
- The reviewers often do not represent your specific research field. Therefore when writing your research and funding plan, be precise, concise and popular.
- Update your CV, portfolio and list of publications. The CV model of the Finnish National Board on Research Integrity (TENK) is generally used.
- Be honest, realistic and optimistic. Do not underestimate your abilities, but do not make promises you cannot keep either. Many foundations appreciate brave thinking and doing on a large scale.
When working as a grant-funded researcher in the University of Eastern Finland, there are two types of agreements available depending on the time of the grant period. If you have received an external funding of at least 12 months, you'll have an opportunity to conclude a part-time (10%) contract of employment with the university. More information about 10% contract of employment in Kamu.
A grant-funded researcher agreement
The grant-funded researcher with a funding shorter than 12 months can conclude the grant-funded researcher´s agreement with university. The agreement is prepared in Mepco by a HR-person of the department. In the agreement, the researcher’s activities at the university, and the resources made available to him or her (e.g. the university’s equipment, facilities and other resources) are concluded. Also, potential compensation for the office and other resources recorded in the grant decision will be recorded in the agreement.
By signing the agreement, the grant-funded researcher agrees to
- ensure insurance coverage or a corresponding procedure against the damages or accidents, which may occur, while operating at the university
- take care of his or her own pension coverage
- get to know the University’s safety instructions, regulations and other decisions relating his or her activities
- give a permission to save in the university’s register the data given by him or her, or obtained from the access control system
- execute a separate agreement on the transfer of rights, if needed
- notify of intellectual property rights created in other contexts than collaborative research projects and of other commercially valuable observations made using the university’s research materials or samples
- publishing the research results, which have been created using the university’s research materials samples or other resources.
Information required to conclude the agreement:
- name, social security number of date of birth, address of the grant-based researcher
- name of the supervisor
The agreement gives you
- the access rights assigned to the UEF user account. These include rights to O365-environment, e-mail address, rights to campus and Moodle logins.
- a possibility to participate in staff training if there are vacancies. Trainings are, however, primarily targeted for members of staff.
- a right to have lunch at staff prices at the campus restaurants by presenting a researchers’ lunch card signed by the department head (you can obtain the card from your department)
- a right to use the university’s sports services by showing your grant researcher’s fitness card, which has a sticker to show that the payment has been made.
A grant researcher is the manager of their own research
Many grant-funded researchers find academic freedom to be the best part of this form of work. The work or working time is not managed or monitored, but you are responsible for the proceeding of your work with the help of your supervisors. Anyhow, some foundations require reports about the proceeding of funded research periodically.
As a grant recipient, you are not in an employment relationship with the University of Eastern Finland, which means that you lack the obligations related to employment relationship. For example, the grant-funded researchers are not expected to participate in the administrative tasks of one´s department nor teaching. The university may not require immediate benefits from research conducted with a grant or a scholarship, nor the rights to the results of such research.
On the other hand, grant-funded researchers often find it difficult to find their place in their work community. Having experience of teaching and good networks are important when pursuing an academic career. It is therefore recommended to proactively participate in departments activities.
Also rights related to employment contract, such as occupational health services, are not available for those who work via a grant.
The everyday life of a grant researcher is free, but it´s important to take care of working routines and wellbeing. Some tips for that:
Occupational health services are not available for those who work via a grant. Further, the Finnish Student Health Service (FSHS) does not offer its services to doctoral students.
As a grant researcher you are entitled to use public health care, if you have a municipality of residence (kotikunta) in Finland, if you have European Health Insurance Card, if you come from Australia or Quebeck, or if you are covered by statutory insurance. Through public health services you can access e.g. dental services, family health services, mental health services, vaccinations, and laboratory services.
If you work involves exposure to physical, chemical or biological agents, you must be included in the statutory health examination scheme. More information on exposure work and health examination scheme, and laboratory safety in Heimo (requires UEF login).
The grants awarded by private foundations are taxable only for the amount that exceeds the Finnish state artist grant, which varies almost annually. Information about maximum tax-exempt amounts of grants can be found on Taxation of grants, scholarships, awards for merit and other awards- webpage. If this limit is exceeded, you need to pay taxes. The Association of Finnish Foundations updates the annual threshold amount on their webpage and offers widely information about the taxation of grant researchers, also giving tips for the most general problems about their taxation.
The Finnish tax administration receives information about paid grants directly from the foundations. Please note that when calculating taxes the first possible day to cash the grant is considered to be the starting date of your grant period. Therefore, when awarded several grants a year, please contact your local tax office. From Vero.fi webpage you can find more information and forms for report your grants, but also links to webinars meant for grant researchers. Also note that the rent of your working space and many materials, such as books, are tax-deductible.
Grant-based researchers are responsible to take care of their pension and workplace accident insurances themselves. These are handled by the Farmer´s social insurance institution (Mela). Researcher with a working grant longer than 4 months is obliged to take out their statutory pension and workplace accident insurances. Also, researchers with a shorter funding period are allowed to seek for insurance from Mela. The insurance should be taken also when working abroad or you come from abroad to work in Finland.
Please note that the statutory insurance for grant researchers does not include insurance for leisure-time. Anyhow it´s possible to take MATA-insurance for leisure-time from Mela. Membership of some unions, like FOORT, include leisure time insurance. Also some foundations offer their own extra-insurances.
If you as a grant-based researcher cause the breakage of the university’s research equipment, if certain conditions are met, the university is compensated for the damage under the university’s property insurance. The university’s property insurance covers property, so it does not matter who causes the breakage. If the damage has been caused intentionally or negligently, your liability for damages is investigated separately, in which case compensation may also be sought under your liability insurance policy, if you have one. Grant-based researchers are not covered by the university’s liability insurance.
Unemployment and social security
A working grant usually blocks the unemployment benefits, but when it comes to travelling grants and small nonrecurring grants consideration may be used.
You may be entitled to Finnish social security coverage (e.g. child benefit, basic unemployment security, and sickness and parental allowances), if your residence in Finland is considered permanent and if your income is sufficiently high. You may also be entitled to apply for the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which guarantees necessary medical treatment when you travel or stay temporarily in another EU or EEA country or in Switzerland. Read more about Kela benefits for incomers, social security coverage for researchers, and EHIC on Kela's webpages.
All grants are considered to be income when determining housing allowance and income support. A grant awarded for a dissertation will not be considered as income when determining the sum of day-care fees.
The amounts of maternity, paternity and parental allowances are determined on the basis of the most recent work income confirmed in taxation. If you have received a grant and been MyEL insured, maternity, paternity and parental allowances are determined according to the work income that formed its basis. If, however, the work income earned in the six months preceding the allowance has increased from the in-come confirmed in taxation, the allowance will be paid according to this more recent income. If you have had no work income, the minimum allowance will be paid. Read more about Kela benefits for families with children on Kela's webpage.
As a grant researcher you are entitled to an unemployment benefit if you have been MyEL insured altogether for 24 months during the previous 48 months. In addition, you are entitled to earnings-related allowance, if you are a member of an unemployment fund and have been a salaried employee at least for 26 weeks over the review period of 28 months before the start of the unemployment. The unemployment benefit can be granted if the grant term is demonstrably over and you are seeking fulltime employment. When you become unemployed after a grant term you can, however, maintain your competence (e.g. familiarise yourself with new tools and methods, apply for grants, network in conferences) without this affecting your entitlement to unemployment benefits.
Grants are not taken into account when determining the amount of earnings-related unemployment benefit. Grant terms are not accepted for the employment condition of earnings-related allowance, but they extend the review period of the employment condition, which is why it is not recommend to withdraw from the fund during grant-funded work.
When working abroad with a grant awarded by a Finnish organisation you may, if certain conditions are met, be covered by the Finnish social security system and it is not worthwhile for you to terminate trade union or unemployment fund membership when leaving Finland.
A doctoral student receiving a grant may be entitled to financial aid for students (study grants, housing supplements and state-guaranteed student loans). More information about eligibility to financial aid on Kela’s webpage.