1. General Questions

1.1. I will have my PhD degree soon after the call deadline. Am I eligible for IF@ULB?

If you do not hold your PhD Degree before the call deadline, you are still eligible for the call as long as you have minimum 4 years and maximum 11 years of documented full-time research experience before the call deadline.

1.2. What is the duration of the fellowship?

Each fellowship will be granted for 2 years.

1.3. If I am selected for the IF@ULB fellowship, when can I possibly start my research project at ULB?

Your research project, if selected of the IF@ULB fellowship, will start between June 2020 and October 2020 (second call), or April 1st 2021 - September 1st 2021  (third call).

1.4. Is there any similarities between the MSCA IF and the IF@ULB?

The Marie Skłodowska Curie - Individual Fellowship (MSCA IF) programme is similar to IF@ULB as both actions are part of Marie Skłodowska Curie actions (H2020) and are open to Experienced Researchers in mobility. For both of actions, the applicants should apply with their own research project (bottom-up approach). The application files are similar. But, the eligibility criteria and the financial conditions are slightly different.

For your information, ULB has developed a Guide to help applicants in the preparation of their MSCA IF proposals. 

If you need further information on the MSCA IF, do not hesitate to contact us.  

1.5. How many applications do you expect?

Based on the experience of the first call, we expect to receive around 150-200 applications for IF@ULB second call.

1.6. Will the living allowance include social security, and other benefits?

Yes, living allowance includes social security. The fellowship contract is fully subjected and party to the Provisions of the Belgian Social Security System. The Social Security regime covers: Health Insurance, Maternity leave, sick pay in case of hospitalisation, Disability Insurance, national pension system, national unemployment system, Insurance against Workplace Accidents, Family Benefits, and Provisions towards Occupational Diseases. The fellowships are ruled by several executive decisions, including Art.3bis (§1 §2) of “Arrêté Royal” dated Nov. 28th 1969, as modified by “Arrêté Royal” dated March 23rd 2003 extended the coverage provided by the law dated June 27th 1969 revising “Arrêté-Loi” dated December 28th 1944 on the Social Security Coverage of Workers so as to include Fellowship Recipients.

1.7. Is there any possibilities of secondment in IF@ULB?

Secondments are research or training visits to another academic or non-academic organisation offering expertise that is not existing in the host group. A secondment must be meaningful, justified and helpful to achieve the objectives of the project. The maximum duration of secondment(s) must not exceed 6 months. The organisation of secondment must be described in detail. There is no geographical restrictions.


2. Applications

2.1. I would like to enclose a reference letter to my application file. Does IF@ULB require reference letters?

No reference letter are required for the application file. However, you must include a letter of acceptance from a supervisor at ULB who should be identified before you apply to IF@ULB.

2.2. Can we submit multiple applications to IF@ULB? 

No, each candidate can apply with only one research project.

2.3. Which language do I have to use in my application file and, if successful, during my fellowship?

IF@ULB is a European programme dedicated to international researchers. That's why the general communication is in English. Your application file must be submitted in English, as it will be evaluated by international experts. For the communication with the IF@ULB management team, privileged language will be English.

ULB is a French-speaking university, but due to its international dimension, most of the research centres are used to communicate in English. Ask your supervisor which language could facilitate your integration in the research team. 

Furthermore, as IF@ULB fellows, you will benefit from the career development programme which includes languages courses adapted to your needs. 

2.4. Do I have to translate my diplomas in French? Do you require certified translations? 

You can submit your official documents (PhD Degree, certificates, etc.) in any languages of the European Union. There is no need to translate them. For non-EU languages, please provide a certified translation.

2.5. Can we re-apply to the following calls if we have already applied to 2018 call?

Yes, if you apply to the 2018 calls, you can still apply to the two next calls in 2019 and in 2020 as long as you still meet all the eligibility criteria.

3. Evaluation

3.1. How are the external experts chosen?

External experts are chosen by using existing databases of experts (FNRS, ULB previous calls, etc.). The selection of the experts is based on the following criteria:

  • The external expert has an active publication track-record in the specific field with several peer reviewed publications and citations per publication (excluding self-citations) during the last ten years.
  • The external experts have to confirm that they (i) never co-published with the candidate (ii) did not co-publish neither with the candidate’s PhD advisor nor with the local host at ULB in the five years prior to the evaluation process.

3.2. How will the panel members be selected? Will they evaluate the proposals?

Each of the 3 panels will be composed of four members of the ULB Research Council with expertise in different disciplines to cover as largely as possible the related fields. The four members will include: (i) two external experts already in place as members of the existing selection committees of the ULB Research Council and with whom ULB has collaborated in various selection procedures until now and (ii) two internal expert that will be identified ad-hoc judging from the scientific spectrum of the proposals. As a result of the fixed composition of the panel, if a conflict of interest between a panel member and an applicant is identified, the panel member will not take part in the activities of the panel concerning this applicant. The definitive composition of the panel will be proposed by the Vice-Rector for research and valorisation and will be approved by the Research Council of the university.

Their role will be to check that the evaluation process was properly done. They will not give a score to the applications. They will ensure the coherence of the evaluation of the experts.

3.3. Will the selected fellowships depend on the number of applications received in each panel?

No, there will be 7 fellowships selected in each of the 3 panels (LS, SHS, PE), no matter the number of applications received.

3.4. Will there be an interview of the candidates?

No, there will be no interview. The three stages of the evaluation are: 

  1. Eligibility check
  2. Remote experts evaluation
  3. Panel review

3.5. Is there a reserve list?

Each panel will analyze the 15 best-ranked applications. For each panel, the candidates of the 7 best-ranked applications will be offered a fellowship. The 8 remaining best-ranked applications will be on a reserve list. If a candidate decides not to accept the position, the 8th ranked applicant in the corresponding panel will be offered the fellowship and the process will continue until 7 fellowships per panel are granted.

3.6. What happens if the 7 fellowships are not attributed in one of the three panels?

Should the final list of 15 applicants not suffice to cover 7 fellowships in one panel, the open fellowship places of this panel will be transferred to the next call. For the last call (2020), any open places will be evenly distributed to the other panels on the basis of the ranking and the scores of the proposals in those panels (i.e.: cross-panel ranking).  

3.7. Will the evaluators take into account the level of experience of the applicants?

The experts will evaluate the proposal based on an evaluation sheet. Three main aspects will be considered: excellence, impact and implementation. Within the excellence criterion, evaluators are invited to consider “the track record of the candidate in relation to the level of experience” (Guide for Evaluators, p.7).

3.8. Can we choose the panel in which we apply?

No. After the eligibility check, your application will be evaluated by 3 experts selected on the basis of their expertise in your specific domain. At the final stage, your applications will be ranked in the panel that is the most related to your research proposal.

4. Supervision

4.1. Can a candidate have 2 supervisors?

Yes, you may have 2 supervisors (one main supervisor and an additional one) but there is only one letter of acceptance. Both supervisors may sign the letter. You must explain and justify why you have 2 supervisors in your application.

4.2. Can a supervisor have more than one candidate?

Yes. But the candidates must have different research projects.

4.3. What are the criteria to supervise an IF@ULB application?

To supervise an application, you must be a permanent scientific or academic at ULB.