Home > Funding Opportunities > General Research Fund > Application > The call letter dated 31 August 2018 issued by the Secretary, RGC to the Heads of UGC-funded universities inviting applications for the General Research Fund (GRF) for 2019/20 and the Early Career Scheme (ECS) for 2019/20

The call letter dated 31 August 2018 issued by the Secretary, RGC to the Heads of UGC-funded universities inviting applications for the General Research Fund (GRF) for 2019/20 and the Early Career Scheme (ECS) for 2019/20

Applications for Allocations from
(I) the General Research Fund 2019/20 and
(II) the Early Career Scheme 2019/20

The Research Grants Council (RGC) is inviting applications for allocations from the General Research Fund (GRF) 2019/20 and the Early Career Scheme (ECS) 2019/20. The details of the procedures of applying for the two schemes are provided below.

Submission and Deadline

The RGC Electronic System is available for submission of GRF and ECS applications from 31 August 2018 to 13 November 2018. All applications must be submitted through the electronic system. Applications should reach the UGC Secretariat through the electronic system by 13 November 2018. To avoid overloading the electronic system during the peak period, applicants are encouraged to submit their applications well before the submission deadline.


The RGC does not impose any quota on applications under both schemes. It is however important that universities should satisfy themselves that the applications are of sufficient quality before they are submitted to the RGC for consideration.

New appointees within the first three years of his / her full time academic job as a substantiation track / tenure track Assistant Professor or career equivalent level are encouraged to apply under the ECS. They may choose to submit their applications under the GRF or the ECS but not both in each funding cycle. Universities should check and confirm that the applicants meet the eligibility requirements. Grantees and awardees of the ECS may only receive the grant once. Those who failed in previous ECS exercises may re-submit applications, which can be a new research topic or a research topic previously applied but not supported, within the eligible period.

Financial Thresholds on Applications

Under both the GRF and ECS, the lower thresholds for applications are $150,000 for projects in the fields of Biology & Medicine, Engineering and Physical Sciences, and $100,000 for projects in the fields of Business Studies and Humanities & Social Sciences.

Applicants are invited to make reference to the average and range of funded amounts under the respective Subject Panels at Annex before they apply. Applicants should provide strong justification for proposals seeking funding significantly higher than funded amounts as indicated in the Annex. The budgets of these proposals must be well supported and will be critically examined by the respective Subject Panels. Applications with large budget for equipment and requiring collaborative efforts should be submitted under other funding schemes such as the Collaborative Research Fund or Research Impact Fund instead of the GRF / ECS.

Explanatory Notes

Applicants should read the Explanatory Notes (GRF2 and ECS2) carefully before completing the application forms. A full set of the Explanatory Notes has been uploaded to the RGC website http://www.ugc.edu.hk/eng/rgc/funding_opport/funding_schemes.html.

Matters Requiring Attention

May I draw applicants' attention to the following decisions of the RGC / Subject Panel:

(a) Revised declaration requirements
  1. Removal of declaration of terminated / withdrawn projects / unsuccessful proposals in the past five years

    To streamline the declaration requirements, declaration of terminated / withdrawn projects / unsuccessful proposals are no longer required.

  2. Revision to similar / related projects / proposals

    In the past exercises, applicants have been required to declare similar / related projects / proposals to ensure that no duplicate funding would be given to the same or substantially similar research project. We found that some applicants started data collection work well before proposal submission. They published papers soon after project commencement and reported them as project deliverables in the progress / completion report. However, a number of applicants failed to report such working papers / publications in their applications, resulting in disciplinary cases. In this regard, we have reviewed the related declaration requirements. The RGC has decided that, from 2019/20 exercises, applicants are required to declare any related research work that is being / has been conducted in relation to the proposal, including but not limited to data collection, preliminary research, working papers, publications (such as journal papers, conference papers and books, etc.), presentations, media interviews and other submitted proposals. Applicants are also required to provide details (such as the title of the projects and / or papers / publications, or a brief description of the preliminary research work, etc.) whether or not such work was part of a funded project; and provide clarifications that distinguish that related research work from the work requested to be funded through the proposal. We hope to reduce the number of disciplinary cases in this regard.

  3. Agreement of team members to participate in the research project

    To avoid any miscommunication between the applicant and his / her team members regarding their participation in a proposal, applicants are required to confirm in the application that the Co-Investigators' have explicitly agreed to serve in the project team and the applicants have provided a copy of the proposal to each of the Co-Investigators.

(b) Provision of Open Research Contributor ID identifiers (ORCID iDs)
    All local academics are required to submit a unique researcher ID, namely ORCID iD, in applications in all capacity under all research funding schemes administered by the RGC.
(c) Output dissemination plan
    Applicants are required to provide an output dissemination plan for consideration by Subject Panels.
Items (d) and (e) below apply to humanities and social sciences applications only.

(d) Relief teacher expenses

    Applicants should note that the calculation of relief teacher expenses has been changed from monthly salary basis to per-course rate basis.
(e) Removal of research field areas
    Applicants should note that the research field areas of "English Languages and Literature" and "Chinese Languages and Literature" have been removed. Language-related proposals should be submitted under "Linguistics and Languages" while literature-related proposals should be submitted under "Literature".

Update of Proposals

Applicants are requested to provide a brief update setting out any essential changes to the applications, i.e. the eligibility of the Principal Investigators, alternative funding obtained, declaration of related proposals, investigator(s)'s CV, grant records, etc. through the electronic system by 15 April 2019. Such updates should be confined to the essential parts of the original proposals, and applicants should not use the opportunity to hand in a substantially changed proposal.

Hard Copies

Universities are required to print hard copies of each proposal which has been submitted through the electronic system for contingency purposes. The Secretariat will confirm the detailed requirements in April 2019. To help reduce the cost of processing, applicants are requested to keep the length of proposals and attachments to the minimum.


If your staff of the Research Office have any enquiries about the application procedures or other aspects of this letter, please contact Ms Connie Wong, Assistant Secretary-General (Research) 1 (Tel.: 2844 9996 or email: conniewong@ugc.edu.hk) or N K Pang, Senior Research Administrator (2) (Tel.: 2844 9959 or email: nkpang@ugc.edu.hk).