New Network Scheme Michaelmas Term 2021

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What is the TORCH New Network Scheme? 
TORCH (The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities) seeks to stimulate and support research activity that transcends disciplinary and institutional boundaries. To this end, TORCH invites applications from researchers seeking to establish multi- or interdisciplinary research networks.

Each academic term TORCH will sponsor the creation and/or development multi- or interdisciplinary research networks by providing a venue, a web presence and publicity.

The funding for this TORCH scheme is through the John Fell Research Fund Small Award Scheme. The John Fell OUP Research Fund is an internal funding scheme that fosters creativity and a proactive approach to research opportunities in all subject areas, and particularly interdisciplinary fields.  

Deadline: 12 Noon, Wednesday 6 October 2021 (Wednesday of 0th Week every term).  

Please note that all applications require Faculty/Departmental approval before they can be submitted. Please check internal deadlines with your Faculty/Departmental administrator to make sure you allow enough time for the approval process. This is typically a minimum of at least 5 working days.

Details of future termly deadlines: 
Wednesday 12 January 2022 (12 Noon)
Wednesday 20 April 2022 (12 Noon)



  • Applications must be multi- / inter-disciplinary and should be around a Humanities related theme. TORCH will not sponsor research groups whose activities are supported by a single faculty or college.
  • Lead applicants should be a mixture of post-holders and early-career researchers (postdoctoral).
  • Doctoral students may be part of networks, but cannot be lead applicants.
  • Lead applicants should have contracts in place with Oxford University to cover the full funding period applied for. They should normally be current salaried employees of the university holding an academic post, or research fellowship awarded competitively and intended to enable the holder to establish an independent research career.  
  • Lead applicants should be from at least 3 faculties/departments (including Humanities) and different colleges.
  • Applications form cross-divisional research groups and groups engaged with non-academic partners are also welcomed.


Amount available: up to £7,500 over 2 academic years 


Activity Funded: 
Network funding can be used for purposes relating to the network only.
This includes:

  • Visiting speaker travel/accommodation (but not speaker fees), 
  • Room hire where needed, 
  • Refreshments for events (see note below), 
  • Printing for posters or publicity, 
  • Casual payroll for on the day conference support (we have strict rules on this so please ensure this is clear in your application budget with the reason why it is needed). 

In the current climate, we would advise applicants to consider how funding might best be spent to maximise engagement within restrictions. To that end, network funding can also be used to cover costs associated with filming and digital event delivery (but not for online platform licenses - TORCH can provide access to an online platform and support with technical delivery as part of its in-kind offering).

A note on conferences:

  • Conferences, workshops or symposia for which the Fell Fund is requested to provide support should normally charge a registration fee to non-university members that is sufficient to cover venue, publicity and support costs. The budget should clearly show which expenditure items you are asking support for. Fees are not applicable to closed workshops with a small number of participants which meet the funding criteria.
  • Any conference catering (excluding conference dinners and receptions) eg sandwich lunch/tea and coffee during breaks, needs to be fully justified and should not exceed £10 per person. The normal expectation is that these costs would be covered by a registration fee. Catering costs for closed event can be included, provided they do not exceed £5 per person.


What we will not fund:
Please note that funding cannot be used for:

  • Network members going to other conferences (conference fees, travel etc.) nor personal research expenses, and cannot be used to employ research assistants/coordinators etc. 
  • Membership of societies or individual conference attendance fees.
  • The costs of an evening dinner or reception as part of a conference are not usually permitted. The John Fell Fund will not fund receptions or similar costs. 
  • Conferences or other similar events held outside of Oxford, unless justified as part of the Network core aims.
  • Zoom licences or other online platforms – TORCH has a zoom licence, which can be used depending on availability.
  • External websites – as a web page is given through the TORCH website.
  • Speaker fees or honoraria for academic speakers.
  • Salaries or teaching buy-out costs for applicants or other academic posts.

For further guidance on costs when planning your budget, please refer to the Humanities Division John Fell Fund Guidance or contact Sarah Clay, TORCH Operations Manager.


How to apply: 
Application is via the John Fell Fund applications on the internal IRAMS system (single sign on required). Please click here to apply via IRAMS.
It is essential that you include TORCH NETWORK in the title of the project, so that your application can be assessed correctly. For project category please select "Networks, collaborations and partnerships".
When you have submitted your application, please also email to alert us and confirm the name of your project. You are at risk of not being considered for funding if you do not do this.

Applications will be initially assessed by TORCH's management committee. Recommended proposals will go on to be reviewed by the Humanities John Fell Fund committee (small awards) and central University John Fell Fund committee. We will aim to respond to all applications within 6-8 weeks.


Further particulars: 
TORCH does not seek to set agendas in terms of the choice of research theme or prospective range of activities, nor does it set an initial threshold for the size of a new network. Indeed, we welcome innovative applications that will enable small groups of scholars to create new networks and introduce research agendas that will develop during the course of the year(s) that they are based at the Centre. Priority will be given to cross-disciplinary projects that aim to leave a lasting research legacy in the form of generating self-sustaining networks, publications, knowledge-exchange programmes, and/or grant applications.

For further guidance, please also refer to the Humanities Division John Fell Fund Guidance and the University John Fell Fund Guidelines.


Contact name for queries: 
Colleagues are welcome to contact the TORCH Academic Champion for Networks and Partnerships, Prof María del Pilar Blanco, to discuss prospective applications. 

Maria will hold a Networks clinic online via Teams (Date TBC). If you would like to book a slot to discuss your ideas please contact her or Sarah Clay, TORCH Operations Manager.