Home | English | | | UGC | RGC

  New horizons in research funding: Developing junior academics and enhancing research support for humanities and social sciences

  Reorganization of RGC Subject Panels

  Liquid-based Photovoltaic/Thermal Cogeneration for Real Building Application

  Development and Study of Hybrid Photovoltaic Cells

  Interfaces between Fullerenes and Semiconductor Nanowires: Nanofabrication and Photoinduced Charge Separation

  Vagus Nerve Stimulation Therapy: 
A New Tool for Suppressing Visceral Pain

  On the Architecture of Synapses

  Unlocking the Causes of Stroke in Asia: The Importance of Intracranial Atherosclerosis

  Area of Excellence in Information Technology

  RGC Collaborative Research Fund – Layman Summaries of Projects Funded in 2010/11 Exercise

The Research Grants Council (RGC) plans to enhance support to junior academic scholars by launching an “Early Career Scheme” with an estimated fund of HK$150 million. The scheme is designed to nurture the development of promising research talents by supporting the research projects of junior scholars at the beginning of their academic career. It is hoped that the scheme will encourage outstanding junior academics to Hong Kong to launch their careers, start up research programs, and strengthen the bond between research and teaching.

RGC Chairman Professor Roland Chin announced the details of the “Early Career Scheme” at a media briefing on 15 February 2011. He explained that the grant each scholar receives will vary depending on the research topic and practical needs of the research, with an estimated average of HK$1 million grant funding being allocated for each project and its educational activities. The scheme will be open for applications starting this August, and the outcome will be available by summer 2012. Application proposals will be reviewed independently by international experts, who will further shortlist up to 5% of the top junior scholars to receive the honorary title of “Early Career Award”.

Junior academics, explains Professor Chin, refer to newly appointed tenure-track assistant professors at UGC-funded institutions, meaning that their eligibility is determined not by age but by their years of teaching experience. The scheme’s applicants must be full-time academic staff in the capacity of assistant professors or equivalent with a career objective of lifetime teaching in a tertiary institution. They must have not more than three years of experience, with a job portfolio that covers both teaching and research work, and be able to independently supervise Master or Doctor of Philosophy research students.

According to Professor Chin, young scholar research funding schemes in other countries have been around since the 1970s and 1980s. The most prominent award at the time was U.S. National Science Foundation’s Presidential Young Investigator Program, later known as the Faculty Early “Career” Development program. This award is dedicated to supporting the research start up of junior academics and represents a high honor bestowed on young professors. Young professors winning the award not only received funding for their research projects, but took great pride in the honor and recognition they received.

Professor Chin further points out that since most young academics have had limited working experience, the new funding scheme could help them focus their research direction and strengthen the bond between research and teaching. The scheme’s foresight is in encouraging young scholars to make research and education a lifetime career. This precisely sums up the spirit in naming our scheme the “Career” awards.





In 2012, UGC-funded institutions will implement a new four-year curriculum structure, added Professor Chin. To meet increasing needs of the new curriculum, Hong Kong will be recruiting an additional 1,000 professors – many of whom are expected to be junior academics. In view of this development, RGC has made “investing in the new generation” one of its objectives to bolster support for young scholars and attract the best talents to Hong Kong.

At the same time, the RGC has pledged to provide better research support for work in the humanities and social sciences.

As research work in the humanities and social sciences is different from that of sciences and engineering, says Professor Chin, the RGC has developed a new funding scheme to extend the scope of the teaching relief grants, which is part of the General Research Fund grants, and established a new prestigious fellowship scheme for outstanding investigators under the disciplines of the Humanities and Social Sciences Panel.

The scope of the teaching relief grants will expand from the current four disciplines – Anthropology; Humanities and Creative Arts; Literature, Language and Linguistics; and Law – to all subjects in the Humanities and Social Sciences Panel. The duration of teaching relief time will be extended from the current four months to six-to-twelve months, so that applicants can have ample time to dedicate their attention to research. In addition, under the new prestigious fellowship scheme for outstanding investigators, exceptional academics can be awarded extended time-off and supporting funds to enable them to focus on research work and writing. These schemes will be launched in August 2011.