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James Cook Research Fellowship Guidelines for Applicants

Table of Contents

Proposal guidelines

These guidelines are available as a PDF: 2019 James Cook Research Fellowships Proposal Guidelines 


The James Cook Research Fellowships are recognised as one of the premier awards for scientific and technological research. The primary intention of the award of fellowships is the recognition of sustained excellence in research. They are awarded to researchers who have the requisite qualifications and experience and are able to demonstrate that they have achieved national and international recognition in their area of scientific research.

Please note that successful applicants will be required to take up their fellowships within a year of appointment.  Applicants must:

  • be either New Zealand citizens or applicants who have continuously resided in New Zealand for at least three months prior to their application and hold, or are deemed to hold, a New Zealand resident visa.
  • be associated with a New Zealand-based research institution that can provide the appropriate support and facilities to enable the applicant to succeed in their fellowship for the full duration of the fellowship.

Research categories

James Cook Research Fellowships are available from time to time in each of the following categories:

  • Biological sciences (including biotechnology)
  • Engineering sciences and technologies
  • Health sciences
  • Physical sciences (including chemical sciences; geosciences, mathematical and information sciences)
  • Social sciences (including research of relevance to peoples of New Zealand and/or the South-west Pacific) 

These categories and the descriptions following each should be read to be inclusive rather than exclusive. The intention is for the five categories to cover all areas of scientific and technological research.

Please note that the fellowships called for in the 2019 round are available in the following research categories:

  • Engineering sciences and technologies
  • Health sciences
  • Physical sciences (including chemical sciences; geosciences, mathematical and information sciences)
  • Social sciences (including research of relevance to peoples of New Zealand and/or the South-west Pacific) 


James Cook Research Fellows will be selected on the basis of their academic and research records, their ability to demonstrate that they have achieved national and international recognition in their area of research expertise, the applicants' potential to make a contribution of significance in their research field and the level of excellence of the proposed research. Fellowships need not be specifically targeted at any topic area but should be of potential benefit and relevance to New Zealand.

Applications will be assessed in their particular categories by Assessment Panels, the members of which will represent a broad range of disciplines. They will receive each proposal and a chart of applicants and will be required to score each applicant in priority listing. Selected applicants will be further considered by the James Cook Research Fellowship Selection Committee, chaired by the Governor-General of New Zealand, and consisting of the President of the Royal Society Te Apārangi and the Chair of the Academy Executive Committee of the Royal Society Te Apārangi.

The five selection criteria are:

1.            Applicant's research and academic record, along with evidence of their national and international standing

                Information on the application and attached list of relevant publications can be used to assess the calibre of the applicant.

2.            Scientific and technological merit of the programme

                Assessment should consider the research topic, its objectives, methods, etc.  Attention should also be paid to the referees' comments and one's own assessment.

3.            Scope for intellectual and scientific development

                This criterion asks of the proposed research "is it challenging?" "Does the programme indicate that the applicant is advancing his or her studies or breaking new ground?"

4.            Strengthening of existing and new research within the discipline

                Does the programme contribute to the development of research and research skills in New Zealand? Does it enhance specialist knowledge?

5.            Intellectual and logistical support offered by the host organisation

                This rating assesses the scientific and intellectual support offered by the host organisation. This is an important factor in determining the overall success of the research programme.

After each proposal is scored on a scale of 1 to 10 on each criterion, weights as follows will be applied to derive a weighted total score:

35% research record, and national and international recognition;

25% scientific and technological merit of the proposed research;

20% strengthening of existing and new research within the discipline;

10% scope for intellectual and scientific development of the researcher;

10% intellectual and logistical support offered by the host organisation.

Additional rules

  • Former successful applicants may not apply for a second fellowship.
  • Unsuccessful applicants may re-apply in the next application round.
  • No feedback will be provided to unsuccessful applicants.
  • Employment outside the host organisation is not permitted.
  • Every fellowship shall be tenable at a university or other research institution or organisation approved by the Society.
  • The term of the fellowship will be for two years.
  • The tenure of every fellowship shall commence on the date on which the Fellow enters upon his/her programme of research.
  • The fellowship will be made by way of a standard contract between the Fellow, their host institution and the Royal Society Te Apārangi.
  • The nominated host institution must undertake to support the researcher and the work described in the application for the duration of the fellowship by providing the necessary intellectual and administrative support.
  • The Fellow will work full-time as a researcher on the research project (except where otherwise agreed with the Society).
  • The normal conditions of employment in the host organisation shall apply to the Fellow.
  • Co-tenure: The fellowship shall not be tenable with other fellowships or other potentially conflicting commitments, except with the written permission of the Society.
  • The James Cook Research Fellowship and the Royal Society Te Apārangi should be acknowledged in any written or published material produced as a result of research undertaken in the course of the Fellowship, by using the phrase, “Supported by the James Cook Research Fellowships from Government funding, administered by the Royal Society Te Apārangi” or similar wording.

Application closing date

The closing date for applications is Thursday 9 May 2019, at 5pm New Zealand Standard Time (NZST).

Please refer to the “Applying for a James Cook Fellowship” webpage for the 2019 Timetable.

Online portal guidelines

The 2019 proposals are to be submitted on the online portal.  Researchers need to contact their host institution’s research office to obtain their login and application number for the portal. 

Researchers should write their proposals directly into the portal using the forms and templates provided. Please note that paper copies are not required when submitting a proposal through the online portal.  The online portal may also be used to save and print the entire document for checking and for your own records.

The layout of the entire application on the online portal is automatic.  The limit on space in all sections of the downloadable templates should be adhered to and the typeface should be 12 point, Times or of similar size font, single spacing, with margins of 2 cm on the left and 2 cm on the right sides of the page.  Instructions may be removed, but not the margins.  No additional pages or attachments will be accepted other than where requested or required.

When you have received your logon to the online portal, a unique application number will automatically be generated at the top of each page of the application form, along with your name and initials.

1.    Identification

This section is for personal details.  If any of your contact details should change at any stage after the proposal is submitted, please inform the Society as soon as possible.


From 2019, there is a facility in this section of the portal for applicants to add or create an ORCID ID. An ORCID ID is preferred from all applicants, but is not mandatory.  Please click on the "Create or Connect your ORCID ID" button on the top right of the "Contact Details" section and follow instructions.


2.    Research Area

This section relates directly to the programme of research that you are proposing to undertake.


Please select the most appropriate panel to assess your application:

  • Engineering sciences and technologies
  • Health sciences
  • Physical sciences (including chemical sciences; geosciences, mathematical and information sciences)
  • Social sciences (including research of relevance to peoples of New Zealand and/or the South-west Pacific) 

Fields of research (FOR) classification and socio-economic objectives (SEO) codes:

The FOR classification allows research and development (R&D) activity to be categorised according to the field of research.  In this respect, it is the methodology used in the R&D that is being considered.  Please enter up to three codes from the list of research codes supplied in “Fields of Research Classification Codes” from the following website:


The Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification (ANZSRC) SEO classification allows R&D activity in Australia and New Zealand to be categorised according to the intended purpose or outcome of the research rather than the processes or techniques used in order to achieve this objective.  The purpose categories include processes, products, health, education and other social and environmental aspects in Australia and New Zealand that R&D activity aims to improve.  Please enter up to three codes from the list of socio-economic objectives codes supplied in “Socio-Economic Objective Classification Codes” from the following website:


Please use codes that are as specific as possible.  Also indicate project key words or phrases not exceeding 255 characters in total (separated by commas or semi-colons; please do not use the return key).

3.    Curriculum Vitæ

To assist the panel in assessing your calibre as a researcher, please upload an up to date curriculum vitæ.  Please use the NZ RS&T-CV template available on the online portal.  Only sections PART 1 through to PART 2a are required to be completed.

4.    Programme title and general abstract


Provide a title that describes the nature of your proposed programme of research.  The title of your proposal should be in plain English (not specialist scientific jargon) and no more than 30 words in length. The Royal Society Te Apārangi reserves the right to request the title be amended if it does not adequately describe the nature of the research being undertaken.

General abstract:

In plain English please provide, in approximately 400 words, a summary of the whole programme in a form that can be understood by non-specialists.  This should include the essence of the programme (ie. encompassing the objectives, method(s) and knowledge transfer). It may be used for reporting and public information.

5.    Programme of research

The total page limit for this section is seven pages, with no set limit for each section within this. Please read the definitions of these sections clearly and avoid repetition.

5A.         Background

Use this section to give a context for the proposal by summarising in plain English the state of knowledge in the field.

5B.          Aim(s) of the research

Use this section to state the general goals and specific objectives of the research proposal. Emphasise how the research will advance knowledge and increase understanding.  If applicable, consider how you plan to transfer the knowledge gained from your research.

5C.          Proposed research

This section should cover where appropriate the hypotheses being tested, the methodology to be used, sampling design, and methods of data analysis. Please ensure that your description covers the period of funding sought (two years), and that it includes contributions by collaborators and postgraduate students (if any).

5D.         Timetable

Describe in general terms the advances you hope to make in each year. It is acknowledged that this timetable may be revised as the research progresses.

5E.          References

It is important to support this section by means of references.  Please ensure that these are not restricted to your own work.  Please also ensure that the references have been published, to ensure that they are readily accessible when the proposal is being assessed.  Authors must verify all references.

A guide for the reference list:

  • The list can be in 10-point type.
  • Start each reference on a new line (numbering is optional).
  • For three or more authors, list the first three names followed by "et al."
  • Ensure you include the journal name (abbreviated if desired), year of publication, volume number and page numbers.
  • Please bold your own references.

Please note the following examples created by R Siegel along with the format and punctuation (ordered in Journal, Book, Chapter in a book and Web site):

  1. Jemal A, Siegel R, Ward E, et al. Cancer Statistics, 2008. CA: Cancer J Clin 2008; 58:71-96; DOI: 10.3322/CA.2007.0010.
  2. Eifel PJ, Levenback C. American Cancer Society Atlas of Clinical Oncology: Cancer of the Female Lower Genital Tract. Hamilton, Ontario: BC Decker; (2001).
  3. Park BH, Vogelstein B. Tumor-Suppressor Genes. In: Kufe DW, Pollock RE, Weichselbaum RR, et al, eds. Cancer Medicine. 6th ed. Hamilton, Ontario: BC Decker; 2003:87-106.
  4. Health on the Net Foundation. Health on the Net Foundation code of conduct (HONcode) for medical and health Web sites. Available at: http://www.hon.ch/HONcode/Conduct.html. Accessed August 26, 2003.

6.    Vision Mātauranga

Vision Mātauranga is a Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment policy that recognises the distinct contribution that Māori knowledge, resources and people can make to research, science and technology. There are four themes: Indigenous Innovation, which involves contributing to economic growth through distinctive research and development; Taiao, which is concerned with achieving environmental sustainability through iwi and hapū relationships with land and sea; Hauora/Oranga, which centres around improving health and social wellbeing; and Mātauranga, which involves exploring indigenous knowledge.

Where research projects are of particular relevance to Māori or involve Māori, the Society expects that applicants are in consultation with Māori to ensure that the research is well planned, that appropriate etiquette is observed when access to Māori sites, culturally sensitive material and knowledge is sought from their owners, and that Māori intellectual and cultural property rights are respected. Cultural understanding is required to ensure good quality research. As a first step, researchers should seek advice from their institution, many of which have established processes for consultation with Māori.

Consultation with Māori is not expected, and may not be appropriate, for proposed projects where no specific interest for Māori can be identified. In this case, the relevant section in the form should be left blank. For more information, please refer to the following website:


7.    Other Funding

Where other funding for research relevant to the proposal is being provided or sought, it must be detailed in the Other Funding worksheet.  It is appreciated that the applicant will be involved in applications to other funding sources, or have funding for related work.  This is to be encouraged.  However, to assist in the assessment of the James Cook Research Fellowships the selection panels need to be aware of other funding applied for or received.

Indicate whether non-James Cook Research Fellowship funding (e.g., Marsden Fund, HRC, CoRE, TEC, Commercial, Other) has been: (i) received; or, (ii) applied for, for this or for research relevant to this proposal.  Include information on the FTEs applied for or received from non-James Cook Research Fellowship government funding sources.


8.    Referees

You are required to obtain two referee reports to support your application, at least one of which should be from an overseas referee. 

Referees should be capable of judging the quality of the proposed programme of research and must be able to answer all the questions asked:

•             What is your opinion of the scientific or technological capability of the applicant?

•             What is your opinion of the applicant's potential to conduct independent research?

•             What is your opinion of the scientific or technological merit, quality and feasibility of the applicant's proposed research programme?

•             What is your opinion (if any) of the level of intellectual and logistical support available to the applicant at the host institution?

You should approach your referees prior to the closing date to ensure they are available and willing to assist with your application through writing a referee report. It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that referees submit their reports directly to the Society by 5pm, Thursday 13 June 2019 (New Zealand Standard Time), the closing date for referee reports.

There are some useful example templates for approaching referees posted on the online portal.  These are found in the Referees section and the greyed-out templates will become available after you start entering your choice of referees.

  • The “Referee Letter” button generates a template with information about the James Cook Research Fellowship scheme and a few details of your proposal – this may help with your initial approach to your referees.  You may use this template if you wish.
  • Note that the “Send Email” button is only active after the closing date for applications. It is used to email the relevant information to referees that have been added to the portal after the application closing date (see below).

All referees listed by the applicant on their application will be emailed by the Society immediately after the application closing date.  This is the only time we will email referees on behalf of the applicant. The referee email invite contains a URL link to a separate online portal to be used for referees to upload their reports.

Please note:

  • It is your responsibility to ensure your referees have submitted their reports to the Society by the closing date. To be eligible for a Fellowship, a complete set of referee reports must be received by the Society by 5pm, Thursday 13 June 2019 (New Zealand Standard Time).
  • If you need to add additional referees to your application after the application closing time, this can be done through logging into the portal and adding a referee to the table in the Referee section.  It is important to click the “Send Email” button after adding a referee to ensure your referee is sent the application, the referee guidelines and a URL link to complete their report.
  • After the email request has been sent from the online portal by either the Society or yourself, it is prudent for you to check that the referees have received the invitation to review your application.  Occasionally, email is inadvertently identified as spam and is sent to a referees ‘junk’ folder in their email client.
  • Each referee report will be treated as confidential by the Society.  The Selection Panel may independently obtain reports from other people it considers competent to referee your application.
  • Referees should not be involved in the proposed programme of research or be in your chain of line management.  Neither should they be close colleagues, former research supervisors, co-authors, collaborators or relatives.
  • The online portal can be checked by applicants for notification of when the Society has received each of the referee reports.
  • If the Society receives more than two referee reports, only the first two referee reports received will be used for appraisal.
  • At the deadline for referee reports, applicants are given a 24-hour period to solicit any missing or new referee reports needed to obtain 2 referee reports and comply with the eligibility requirement.

9.    Declaration

The Royal Society Te Apārangi is an independent organisation incorporated under its own Act of Parliament. Decisions on an application are the responsibility of the Council of the Royal Society Te Apārangi.

Please ensure that all information contained in the application is true and accurate.

A duly authorised agent of the host organisation and the applicant are to sign the declaration, agreeing to the listed terms and conditions.

Please note that confirmation by the host organisation of their acceptance of the programme is a precondition for your application to be assessed.

Statistical information

The Society encourages applications from all eligible members of the New Zealand research community.  To monitor the profile of different groups of applicants and identify funding trends and gaps, the Society would appreciate applicants providing the information requested in this section of the online portal.  The statistical data will be used by the Society for statistical purposes only.

These data will NOT be part of the transfer of information to the main Society database.  The information you provide will not be sent out to panellists for review.


If you require further information about the James Cook Research Fellowships, please email us at james.cook@royalsociety.org.nz or phone (04) 470 5764.

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2019 timetable

The following is the timeline for the James Cook Research Fellowships round for 2019.

2019 Timetable



Tuesday, 21 March

Online portal opens

Thursday, 9 May

Online portal closes, 5pm

Thursday, 13 June

Deadline for referee reports to be submitted, 5pm NZST

Tuesday, 25 June

Proposals & referee reports sent to panellists

Friday, 26 July

Deadline for panellist’s scores to be submitted, 5pm

Early to mid August

Teleconference for panels, if scores are variable

September/October (TBC)

Fellows announced

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Assessment panels

Applications for James Cook Research Fellowships will be assessed in their particular categories by Assessment Panels, the members of which will represent a broad range of disciplines. They will receive each proposal and a chart of applicants and will be required to score each applicant in priority listing. The 2017 panel tables will be updated as panellists are being appointed.

2019 Panels

Engineering Sciences and Technologies

Professor Stephen Henry

Auckland University of Technology

Professor Bryony James

University of Auckland

Professor Susan Krumdieck

University of Canterbury

Professor Moira Steyn-Ross

University of Waikato

Professor Philippa Martin

University of Canterbury

Health Sciences

Professor Christine Winterbourn University of Otago

Distinguished Professor Jane Harding

The University of Auckland

Professor Stephen Robertson

University of Otago

Professor Susan Schenk

Victoria University of Wellington

Professor Merryn Tawhai

The University of Auckland 

Physical Sciences

Professor Blair Blakie

University of Otago

Professor David Bryant

University of Otago

Professor Alison Downard

University of Canterbury

Dr Laura Wallace

GNS Science 

Professor Menjie Zhang

Victoria University of Wellington 

Social Sciences

Professor John Creedy

Victoria University of Wellington

Professor Janet Hoek

University of Otago

Professor Lynda Johnston

University of Waikato

Professor Angus Macfarlane

University of Canterbury

Professor Katie Pickles

University of Canterbury



If you require further information about the James Cook Research Fellowships, please email us at james.cook@royalsociety.org.nz or phone (04) 470 5764.

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