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2020 Full Proposal guidelines for Fast-Start and Standard applicants

Detailed information on the full funding round for Standard and Fast-Start proposals

Also available as a PDF:Updated 2020 Full Guidelines

See also, information on the application portal, and Full Proposals

On this page:

These guidelines pertain to Marsden Fund Fast-Start and Standard full proposals ONLY.

Changes for the Full Proposal round, 2020  (Updated 13 May 2020)

  • COVID-19: At the time of finalising these guidelines, Aotearoa New Zealand is at alert level 3 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the assessment process for the EOI round has been altered – details are on our website at the link below. At this stage the guidelines and timetable have been written as if the round will proceed as normal, however assessment processes in the Full Proposal round may need to change at short notice in order to respond quickly to a rapidly evolving situation. Research offices and applicants will be notified if there are any changes to the Full Proposal round. Any changes will also be posted on our website:


  • 13 May 2020: The submission date is now one week later than originally planned: Wednesday 24 June, due to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • The submission deadline will be 12 noon (as for the EOI round), rather than 5 pm.
  • Extra section of “other funding” section– now to include details of any other Marsden full proposals that the applicants are on from the same funding round.

Timetable (Updated 13 May 2020)

*Please note new full round deadline

7 May

Invitations for Full Proposals sent to applicants

*24 June

Closing date for Full Proposals (12 noon)

12 August

Referees’ reports available from web portal (for comment)

(note that inevitably, some reports will come in after the deadline)

26 August

Deadline for responses to referee reports*

14 - 25 September

Assessment Panel meetings

8 October

Marsden Fund Council meeting

TBA – approx. late October

Results announced

*Note that reports received later than 12 August will have later deadlines for responses.

UPDATED: All Full Proposals must be submitted no later than noon (NZST), Wednesday 24 June, via the application portal.

For more details on Marsden Fund objectives, eligibility criteria, number of proposals per person, PI exclusion rule and assessment criteria, please refer to the 2020 EOI Guidelines_FS & STD.

Proposal Submission

As for the EOI round, submission of Full Proposals is web-based. You will be able to use your URL from the EOI round to access the application portal. Your proposal number, panel, title, and name and contact details of the contact Principal Investigator, as well as all other Principal and Associate Investigators and mentor (if applicable) will automatically be carried forward from your EOI.


As for the EOI round, please follow these rules when filling in the Full Proposal templates:

  • Typeface size: 12-point
  • Font: Times or similar size
  • Spacing: Single-spacing, 12-point
  • Margins: 2 cm on the left side of the page and 2 cm on the right (2 cm top, 1.5 cm bottom)
  • Adhere to the given space limitations, especially in Sections 2a-2e
  • Instructions on templates should be removed
  • No attachments except where requested

The guidelines on formatting must be followed. Failure to do so may result in the application not being considered.

Hard copies of Full Proposals are not required.

Declaration and status pages

Section 9 (all proposals): All contact Principal Investigators are required to tick a box online to indicate their acceptance of the conditions.

Section 10 (Fast-Start proposals only): We require one electronic status page for Section 10 for each Fast-Start proposal. Section 10 should be filled in and signed by a duly authorised agent and uploaded to the application portal.

The deadline for Full Proposals, declarations, Fast-Start status pages and collective declarations is 12 noon (NZST), Wednesday 24 June 2020. Late proposals will not be accepted.


Different parts of the proposal should be addressed to the appropriate audiences.

Public: The Title and Summary sections should be in plain language, without compromising accuracy. These will be made publicly available if the proposal is funded.

Assessment Panel: The Background and Overall Aim sections should address an audience with a general understanding of the areas considered by a particular panel.  

Expert Referees: The Proposed Research section should address specialists in the field. Here the intended audience are expert referees (and any experts on the panel).  It is anticipated that expert commentary on this section will provide confidence to the panel that the proposals are rigorous, and have a basis in prior research using a sound research methodology.

It is important to support the Background, Overall Aims and Proposed Research sections by the use of references. Please ensure that these are not only to the applicants’ own work.

Contacts and Contracting Organisation

The host organisation of the contact person will be responsible for signing off all Full Proposals (and also Section 10 for Fast-Start proposals).  Administration contact on the research proposal is through the institution’s research office. Private applicants may sign off as their own host.

The host organisation of the Principal Investigator will be responsible for fulfilment of the contract, and is required to guarantee that resources and research time are available.

Any funding awarded is GST inclusive. Successful private applicants will have to register for GST.

Contracts will be based on the information contained in the Full Proposal. If the applicant is offered the full amount requested, the proposal will be the basis for the contract. If the funding awarded is less than that requested, then the contract will be negotiated to reflect this.

Although a contract is with a host organisation for administrative purposes, if there is significant change in personnel on a project, the Marsden Fund can either transfer the contract to a new institution to which a key person has shifted, or terminate the project. Other changes to the contract need to be notified to the Marsden Fund and a variation approved. A successful private applicant can also act as the contractor.

The submission of progress reports to the Marsden Fund is a contractual requirement.  A written report describing in a prescribed format the progress of the year’s research is required at the end of years one and two (if any preliminary work has been described in the proposed research, you will be asked to describe what has happened to this work in the first progress report). A full report, following a prescribed format, must be provided at the completion of the funding period.

Vision Mātauranga (Updated for 2020)

These are the updated guidelines which were included in the 2020 EOI Guidelines. They are also available at https://www.royalsociety.org.nz/what-we-do/funds-and-opportunities/marsden/marsden-fund-application-process/submitting-a-proposal/vision-matauranga/

I.                   Background

Vision Mātauranga is a policy about innovation, opportunity and the creation of knowledge that highlights the potential contribution of Māori knowledge, resources and people.



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.

II.                 Vision Mātauranga and the Marsden Fund

Please note that Vision Mātauranga is now included as an assessment criterion:

Proposals should consider the relation of the research to the themes of Vision Mātauranga and, where relevant, how the project will engage with Māori.

At the Full Proposal round, up to one additional page will be available for statements on Vision Mātauranga immediately following the description of research in Sections 2a-2c. This is to enable Vision Mātauranga to be more easily integrated into the conceptual framework and/or research design. Where Vision Mātauranga is appropriate to a proposal, it can contribute to the assessment of its overall excellence.

How do I decide whether to include a Vision Mātauranga statement in my proposal?

A Vision Mātauranga statement must be included for all research that has relevance for Māori. The research category descriptions outlined in the next section may help you decide if this applies to your project. Please note, however, that those categories are fluid, there may well be overlap between them, and not every point in each category need apply.

III.              Categories of Research

The five categories identified below have been adapted from those on the National Science Challenge, Biological Heritage website https://bioheritage.nz/about-us/vision-matauranga/  hosted by Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research. Please note that there may well be overlap between categories as in categories 2 and 3 in terms of the nature and degree of relevance to Māori.

The original categories were set out by MBIE in information for the Endeavour Fund c. 2015.

1.     Research with no specific Māori component

  • No mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge) is used.
  • Māori are not associated with the research process (e.g. not on any research management / advisory / governance panels, it is not inclusive of Māori land or institutions, nor the subject of any component of the research).
  • Work is not likely to be of greater direct relevance to Māori than members of any other group.

2.     Research specifically relevant to Māori

This category includes research projects where:

  • There is specific relevance to Māori.
  • Mātauranga Māori may be used in a minor way to guide the work and its relevance to Māori.
  • It includes work that contributes to Māori aspirations and outcomes.

3.     Research involving Māori

This category includes research projects where:

  • Mātauranga Māori may be incorporated in the project, but is not central to the project.
  • Research is specifically and directly relevant to Māori and Māori are involved in the design and/or undertaking of the research.
  • The work typically contributes to Māori (e.g., iwi / hapū, organisations) aspirations and outcomes.

4.     Māori-centred research

This category includes research projects where:

  • The project is Māori led, and where Mātauranga Māori is used alongside other knowledges (e.g. through frameworks, models, methods, tools, etc.).
  • Kaupapa Māori research is a key focus of the project.
  • Research is typically collaborative or consultative, with direct input from Māori groups, commonly including Māori researchers or a collaboration with Māori researchers or researchers under the guidance/mentoring of Māori.
  • There is alignment with and contribution to Māori (e.g., iwi / hapū, organisations) aspirations.

5.     Kaupapa Māori research

This category includes research projects where:

  • Mātauranga Māori is incorporated, used and understood, as a central focus of project and its findings.
  • Research is grounded in te ao Māori and connected to Māori philosophies and principles.
  • Research typically uses kaupapa Māori research methodologies.
  • Te reo Māori may be a central feature to this kaupapa or research activity, and key researchers have medium to high cultural fluency or knowledge of tikanga and reo.
  • The research is generally led by a Māori researcher; non-Indigenous researchers may carry out research under the guidance/mentoring of a Māori researcher.
  • Māori participation (iwi/hapū/marae/individual) is high.
  • The work contributes strongly to Māori (e.g., iwi/hapū, organisations) aspirations and outcomes and is mana enhancing.

IV.              Developing a Vision Mātauranga statement

It is important to keep in mind that there is no single approach or prescription for Vision Mātauranga: one size does not fit all and there are many possible ways of addressing Vision Mātauranga. Vision Mātauranga should not, however, be seen as an add-on, nor should it be treated as separate from the research, methods or people involved in the project. A holistic approach that considers reciprocity and relationships is therefore desirable.

Vision Mātauranga does not begin and end with your Vision Mātauranga statement. You should document how you have considered Vision Mātauranga and demonstrate applicable actions and relationships throughout the research. The following questions may be useful to consider when conceptualising and writing your project:

  • Have you co-created the research topic/issue with an iwi or Māori organisation?
  • What does working in partnership with iwi mean to you as researchers?
  • To what extent have you discussed the research with Māori partners and agreed on the methodology you will use?
  • Was there full disclosure and informed consent to the proposed research with Māori partners? How has that agreement/informed consent been agreed to?
  • Has budget been disclosed and agreed to with Māori partners? Is there provision in that budget for Māori involvement, capability development and consultation?
  • Is there appropriate Māori researcher involvement in the project, both in terms of PI/AIs and capability development?
  • What provisions have you made to ensure there is advice from appropriate Māori organisations throughout the life of the research project? If there are concerns or disagreements with Māori partners, how are these to be resolved?
  • What provisions have you made to ensure there is appropriate technology transfer to Māori partners as the research proceeds and as findings become available towards the end of the project?
  • Are there benefits to Māori? What are they? And how have these been agreed with Māori partners?
  • How is the project an opportunity to build the capacity of Māori researchers or students in your discipline?
  • How will you share the research outcomes with Māori?
  • Has there been agreement about the intellectual property ownership of research findings with Māori partners? What is the nature of that agreement?
  • Is there a need for members of the research team to be proficient in te reo? How has this aspect been addressed?
  • Is there a Tiriti o Waitangi component or requirement in your research?
  • Is the research mana enhancing?

V.                Vision Mātauranga Resources

Below you will find a non-exhaustive list of published resources that describe, discuss, and talk about how researchers have engaged with Vision Mātauranga and kaupapa Māori research. These range from early conceptions of Vision Mātauranga to more recent frameworks. The resources underscore the diverse ways Vision Mātauranga may be approached across disciplines and methodologies.

Allen, W., Jamie M. Ataria, J. M., Apgar, J. M., Harmsworth, G., and Tremblay, L. A. (2009). Kia pono te mahi putaiao—doing science in the right spirit. Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand, 39:4, 239-242.

DOI: 10.1080/03014220909510588


Crawford, S. (2009). Matauranga Maori and western science: The importance of hypotheses, predictions and protocols, Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand, 39:4, 163-166. 

DOI: 10.1080/03014220909510571


Broughton, D. (Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti, Taranaki, Ngāti Porou, Ngāpuhi), and McBreen, K. (Waitaha, Kāti Māmoe, Ngāi Tahu). (2015). Mātauranga Māori, tino rangatiratanga and the future of New Zealand science. Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand, 45:2, 83-88.

DOI: 10.1080/03036758.2015.1011171

Kana, F. and Tamatea, K. (2006). Sharing, listening, learning and developing understandings of Kaupapa Māori research by engaging with two Māori communities involved in education. Waikato Journal of Education, 12, 9-20. https://researchcommons.waikato.ac.nz/bitstream/handle/10289/6198/Kana%20Sharing.pdf?sequence=3&isAllowed=y

Macfarlane, S., Macfarlane, A. and Gillon, G. (2015) Sharing the food baskets of knowledge: Creating space for a blending of streams. In A. Macfarlane, S. Macfarlane, M. Webber, (eds.), Sociocultural realities: Exploring new horizons. Christchurch: Canterbury University Press, 52-67.

Moewaka Barnes, H. (2006). Transforming Science: How our Structures Limit Innovation. Social Policy Journal of New Zealand Te Puna Whakaaro, 29, 1-16. https://www.msd.govt.nz/documents/about-msd-and-our-work/publications-resources/journals-and-magazines/social-policy-journal/spj29/29-pages-1-16.pdf

Pihama, L., Tiakiwai, S.-J., and Southey, K. (eds.). (2015). Kaupapa rangahau: A reader. A collection of readings from the Kaupapa Rangahau workshops series. (2nd ed.). Hamilton, New Zealand: Te Kotahi Research Institute. https://researchcommons.waikato.ac.nz/bitstream/handle/10289/11738/Kaupapa%20Rangahau%20-%20A%20Reader_2nd%20Edition.pdf?sequence=7&isAllowed=y

Smith, L. T., Maxwell, T. K., Puke, H., and Temara, P. (2016). Indigenous knowledge, methodology and mayhem: What is the role of methodology in producing indigenous insights? A discussion from Mātauranga Māori. Knowledge Cultures, 4(3), 131–156.

Guidelines for Completing the Proposal Sections

Most sections of the Full Proposal application have brief explanatory statements about what is required. The following notes are for assistance.

Changes in PIs, AIs and mentors are not permitted at the Full Proposal stage, except in extraordinary circumstances and only with the permission of the Marsden Fund. However, small changes in FTE values from the EOI round may be made without reference to the Fund.

All costs should be in New Zealand dollars.

Section 1a: Title, Panel and Follow-on Funding Details

Same as for the EOI. If a title change is proposed, please contact the Marsden Fund for approval.

Please note that as for the EOI, the follow-on funding tick box and text box will not be accessible to anyone involved in the assessment of proposals. 

Section 1b: Contact person and Other Investigators

Same as the EOI. All information, including the agreement of all investigators, will be carried through to the Full Proposal round.

Section 1c. Fields of Research, SEOs

Same as the EOI. This section is not displayed on the full proposal.

Section 1d: Summary, Type of Research Activity

These have been carried over from the EOI for reference. However please note that the full proposal summary (up to 200 words in length) is different from the shorter summary required in the EOI, both in terms of length and the intended audience. It should summarise the proposed research in straightforward language, but without loss of accuracy or excessive over-simplification. Note that this will be made publicly available should the proposal be successful, and may be published as part of the Marsden Fund’s publicity.

If the summary contains confidential or sensitive material, please indicate this at the summary start: “This summary contains sensitive or confidential information and will be released when the contract is completed”.

As for the EOI, the type of research activity is not accessible to anyone involved in the assessment of the proposals.

Sections 2a – 2d: Background, Overall Aim, Proposed Research and Vision Mātauranga

Section 3 (Vision Mātauranga categories) will be carried over from your EOI. If you wish to change the categories, or add them, please do this prior to completing this section, to ensure that the correct page limits are applied.

  • If no Vision Mātauranga theme is identified in Section 3, the total page limit for this section is five pages, with no set limit for each section within this.
  • If one or more Vision Mātauranga theme is identified in Section 3, the total page limit for this section is six pages, with no set limit for each section within this.

Please read the definitions of these sections clearly, and avoid repetition.

Section 2a: Background

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

Section 2b: Overall Aim of the Research

Use this section to state the general goals and specific objectives of the research proposal. Outline the potential for significant scholarly impact of your proposal (incorporating novelty, originality, insight and ambition).

Section 2c: 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 (up to three years), and that it includes contributions by collaborators and postgraduate students (if any).

If you identify one or more Vision Mātauranga themes in Section 3, please elaborate here how this fits in with your proposed research. For example, you may wish to discuss consultations and linkages, relevance, conceptual framework and/or proposal design, and outcomes (in addition to statements in Section 2d).

The Marsden Fund Council is keen to see an increased emphasis on ethical considerations of the proposed research, particularly in the social sciences disciplines.

  • If the proposed research requires ethics approval, please use this section to show that you have considered all of the ethics issues associated with your research. Your discussion should satisfy the panel that your processes are meaningful, and for social science disciplines in particular, that you have fully considered how your methods will affect the communities you are working with. It is important that you do not concentrate solely on your theoretical argument at the neglect of methodology, implementation, and community safety.
  • Compliance information (e.g. permit numbers, details of ethics approvals gained) should be detailed in Section 2h (Ethical or Regulatory Obligations).

Section 2d: Vision Mātauranga

Please refer to earlier guidelines on Vision Mātauranga.

If you identify one or more Vision Mātauranga themes in Section 3, please include discussion of this within Section 2d, for example, on consultation and linkages, relevance, conceptual framework and/or proposal design, and outcomes.

Statements on Vision Mātauranga should be contained within Section 2d, following the description of research (Sections 2a-2c). This is to enable Vision Mātauranga to be more easily integrated into the conceptual framework and/or research design. Where Vision Mātauranga is appropriate to a proposal, it can contribute to the overall excellence.

Compliance aspects, such as access to culturally sensitive material and knowledge, should be covered in Section 2h, “Ethical or Regulatory Obligations”.

Aspects of Vision Mātauranga relating to relevant experience can be included in the “Roles and Resources” section (2g) and can also be incorporated into sections 2a-2c.

Section 2e: References

References for the Background, Overall Aims, Proposed Research and Vision Mātauranga sections (Sections 2a-d) should be listed here in Section 2e, and should not exceed three pages in length.

Sections 2f – 2h: Timetable, Roles and Resources, and Ethical or Regulatory Obligations

One assessment criterion includes the ability and capacity of the researchers to carry out the research. Sections 2f, 2g and 2h are an opportunity to demonstrate that the research is feasible, and that the researchers have a clear plan. Researchers should indicate how they intend to use their time, what the roles of various personnel will be, any anticipated ethical or regulatory obligations, and any potential administrative hurdles (such as permits, access or approvals) that they will need to deal with.  

Fast-Start applicants should use these sections to demonstrate that they have the support in place to run an independent research project (including mentors and institutional support), and how the project will provide a solid basis for independent research in their future career.

The total page limit for Sections 2f to 2h is two pages, with no set limit for each section within this. Please read the definitions of these sections clearly and avoid repetition.  Where practical, utilise paragraph breaks, subheadings or bold fonts to clearly signpost your proposal.

Section 2f: 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.

Section 2g: Roles and Resources

In this section, please explain briefly:

Roles: The contribution that each named team member will make to the proposed research. This should clearly explain the FTE requests. If un-named personnel are included in the proposal (e.g. technicians, students, post-doctoral fellows, etc.) please indicate role, what skills are being sought, and what steps will need to be taken to fill these positions. This section should additionally include a description of the role of team members for which no FTEs are being sought, such as mentors. This section should illustrate that the project has the personnel to manage the expected workload of the project, to ensure its smooth management, and to deliver results.

Fast-Start applicants should use this section to demonstrate how the proposed research will support their independent research career. Discuss opportunities for your career development, and be clear on the role of any mentors or AIs (if applicable).

Resources: Clearly state the resources required for the proposed research that the team will have access to. This is an opportunity to discuss the practical requirements of your proposed research. For example: Access to libraries/collections/archives; access to required instruments/equipment/techniques/materials; ability to do fieldwork (e.g. site access, assistance, etc.); access to pools of participants.

If there are any special requirements for the proposed research, please explain how these will be met.

Please note that if applicants will require logistical support from Antarctica New Zealand, this should have been signalled at the EOI stage. Applicants are required to engage with Antarctica New Zealand prior to the completion of the Full Proposal. This engagement should be documented in this section of the Full Proposal.

Section 2h: Ethical or Regulatory Obligations

Any permissions, approvals, etc., should be listed in this section.

It is your responsibility to ensure that all ethical or regulatory obligations are met (for example, from ERMA, MPI, Animal Ethics, Human Ethics). It is also your responsibility to organise access to facilities, fieldwork sites, archives, materials etc. This section should make clear that you have anticipated or gained the necessary formal approvals for your intended research, for instance, Department of Conservation permits, ERMA permits, and so forth.

Researchers should plan the necessary approvals well in advance, to ensure no delays to the project should it be funded. Researchers should contact their institutional ethics committee and research offices for further information. Researchers will need to provide information on the current state of their ethics approval.

Note that only compliance aspects related to ethical or regulatory considerations should be covered here. Ethical considerations in the context of the research methodology should be discussed in detail in the Proposed Research section (2c), as mentioned previously.

Social Research

Researchers collecting personal information should be aware of their obligations around obtaining consents, data security, maintaining the anonymity of individuals, sensitivity around cultural issues and all other ethical considerations as appropriate. If there is any uncertainty, researchers should consult their institutional ethics committee.

There is a requirement that any researchers working with children follow the guidelines of their host institution’s child protection policy, in accord with section 19 of the Vulnerable Children’s Act 2014. Should the host institution not have a child protection policy, researchers should comply with the Society’s guidelines:


Research Using Animals

Research using animals is covered by the Animal Welfare Act 1999, which is administered by the National Animal Ethics Advisory Committee (NAEAC)

The Act encourages researchers to consider the Three Rs:

  • Replacement: Replacing animals with non-animal alternatives. Computer models can sometimes be used for teaching instead of live animals.
  • Reduction: Using as few animals as necessary.
  • Refinement: Pain or suffering must be reduced as much as possible, for example, by using painkillers.

For further information on NAEAC and your obligations as a researcher, you should contact your institutional ethics committee well in advance of your proposal. More information on research involving animals is available at http://www.mpi.govt.nz/protection-and-response/animal-welfare/overview/national-animal-ethics-advisory-committee/

Please note that animal welfare legislation requires animal ethics committees to explicitly consider whether a research proposal has assessed the “replacement” option.

Details of ethical approval for social science research or animal research, or regulatory approval (e.g. approval for use of GMOs) need to be received before any grant is paid.

Section 3: Vision Mātauranga

Same as the EOI.

However, any applicants who ticked N/A at the EOI stage can revise this at the Full Proposal stage. Please address this section before completing sections 2a-2d, to ensure that the correct page limits for 2a-2d are applied.

Section 4: FTE Table (Personnel)

The personnel information requested in Sections 4 (FTE Table) and 6 (Budget) should contain the total time (expressed as a proportion of full-time equivalent [FTE], where 0.1 means 10% of one FTE, or one day per fortnight) that each researcher will spend on the project.

All FTEs should be included in the FTE table (Section 4), regardless of whether Marsden funding is being requested for them. However, in the budget (Section 6), FTEs should be recorded as zero if Marsden funding is not requested for them. Note that this distinction means that the total FTE count per year may differ between the FTE table and the budget.

Please note that overseas investigators cannot have their time or institutional costs paid for by Marsden.

Those involved in the assessment of the proposal require this information to determine whether the total resources being requested are sufficient and realistic to achieve the goals and objectives indicated in the proposal in Section 2. Please note that the absolute minimum combined time for all Principal Investigators is now 0.1 FTE per year. This is designed to provide flexibility in special cases. However the Marsden Fund Council expects that sufficient Principal Investigator time be allocated to carry out the project successfully. The total time that is to be devoted to the project, specified in Section 4, will form part of the contractual obligations to the Royal Society Te Apārangi.

Section 5: CV and Publications

These have been carried over from the EOI. Please update if necessary, using the same template as for your EOI.

Please put the publication year in bold if it is in the last 5 years.

Section 6: Budget

The budget information is contained in Sections 6 and 7. The Marsden Fund is operated under Terms of Reference set down by the Minister of Research, Science and Innovation. The Terms of Reference state that funds awarded are to cover the full costs of a proposal. Full costing shall include direct costs, associated personnel costs and an appropriate share of overhead costs such as institutional administration and depreciation of capital assets and buildings. Please note that collaborating researchers from outside New Zealand are able to be included in proposals, but are not able to receive direct funding support for their time or institutional costs. However, costs associated with collaboration (i.e. travel and accommodation) may be covered under “direct costs”.

The Terms of Reference also state that shared funding in the form of one party paying direct costs and the other paying indirect costs will not be permitted. The Marsden Fund may, however, support pieces of work that are related to programmes already being sustained through some other funding route, including from Vote Education, providing that the application is for a discrete piece of work. Where relevant, the wider programme should be described to demonstrate that the Marsden proposal complements other work being carried out by the applicant. This procedure has been adopted to prevent cross-subsidisation, especially where Government funds are involved.

The Marsden Fund Council wishes to be assured that the funding arrangements for Marsden projects are appropriate. If insufficient information is available to provide this assurance, the Council will seek to obtain these details before funding is approved. Applicants are advised that this need for further information will not play any part in the Marsden Fund Council’s assessment of the merit of the proposed research.

In identifying the full cost of their proposal, applicants should see the sample budget on page 17, which is prepared as a guide.

Guide on Project Size (Standard Proposals)

Guidance is included here on the maximum size of Standard Proposals. The Marsden Fund Council particularly wants to provide support for individual researchers or small teams in contrast to supporting large teams assembled to undertake programmes of research that could be supported by other funding agencies. The preferred types of projects are those from individuals or small teams, to investigate bright new ideas, involving the assistance of a post-doctoral fellow, research assistants or postgraduate students where appropriate.

The Assessment Panels and the Council also prefer to be in a position to fully fund the proposals they are evaluating where possible. Each panel works within a limited budget, and very large proposals can substantially affect a panel’s ability to fund projects at the full value requested. To overcome this, the Council has introduced a maximum amount per application, which differs between panels. There is no minimum. Note that the total maximum is a strict cap. Some variation between years is permitted, as long as the total maximum amount is not exceeded. 


Maximum amount per year

Total maximum amount over 3 years































Please note that maximum amounts listed above are exclusive of GST.

Where other funding for research relevant to the proposal is being provided or sought, it must be detailed, as required, in Section 8 (Other Funding). It is appreciated that many other applicants 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 Marsden proposals, the Council and panels need to be aware of other funding applied for or received. Although the price of a proposal is of secondary consideration, after the grading of proposals on the basis of the Marsden criteria, the price of each proposal will be taken into account by the Council. Applicants should also bear in mind that approximately $77.15 million (excluding GST) is expected to be allocated to Full Proposals funded in the 2020 round. This includes Fast-Start and Standard grants (but not Marsden Fund Council Award grants).

If any applicants have sought other funding for work related to the Marsden application and they are subsequently successful, they should let the Marsden office know immediately.

Budget Template

The budget template is an Excel file with a “Budget” tab (section 6) and a “Direct Costs” tab (section 7). Any inputs into the “Direct Costs” tab will automatically be carried through to the corresponding category on the “Budget” tab and show up in grey cells.

The budget template automatically calculates all subtotals and totals, as well as total FTEs.

Note: White cells on either tab can have data entered into them, but grey cells cannot.

Please remove any hyperlinks in the budget before uploading to the application portal as these will cause errors.

Budgeted Categories

Salaries and Salary-related Costs

The figures in this category are to cover only the costs of personnel employed on the research proposal in the application. This should include the direct costs (i.e. salary) and indirect or salary related costs (e.g. superannuation, ACC and fringe benefits). Costs of general management and administration are to be excluded from this section and included as overheads. Any subcontracted personnel should not be included in this section but incorporated under the “Direct Costs” part of “Other Costs”.

Collaborating researchers from outside New Zealand are able to be included in proposals, but are not able to receive direct funding support for their time or institutional costs.

The FTEs of personnel shown in the budget page should only be those where costs and time are associated with Marsden funding. If Marsden funding is not sought for particular individuals (e.g. overseas investigators, post-doctoral researchers with stand-alone fellowships, or postgraduate students with other sources of funding) then the individual should still be named on the budget page but with zero FTEs recorded.

Postdoctoral Fellows

Postdoctoral researchers may be part-time (usually 0.3 FTE or more) or full-time on a Marsden proposal. This should be indexed to L1 to L3 salary scales, or as appropriate. Please check with your host institution for more information.

Postgraduate Students

Postgraduate students are awarded scholarships free of income tax and may be supported on Marsden proposals at the stipulated rate.  This is currently set at $27.5k scholarship per year, plus fees (New Zealand resident rates) for PhD students, or $17k scholarship plus fees (New Zealand resident rates) for Masters students. These figures assume the postgraduate students are assigned to the research on a full time basis. Fees should be included in the direct costs.

Indirect Costs:

Indicate the cost of overheads that relate to the research proposal. These should be directly proportional to the time spent on the project. Overheads include managerial time not included in the proposal, the cost of support services, the cost of financial and accounting systems, corporate activities, the cost of premises and other indirect costs. Cost of premises may be either the annual rental cost, or the depreciation cost, of premises and should be proportional to the project's use of the institution's premises for the research proposal.

Direct Costs:

Details of costs should be listed in Section 7, and should be broken down by year.


This category should include the general operating expenses associated with the research proposal such as consumables, travel (for conferences, collaboration etc.), and other miscellaneous costs associated with research. Capital purchases may be included in this category up to a total of $5,000 over the course of the grant; please note that this does not mean that equipment can be divided into separate components all less than $5,000 each.

Details of expendables should be given in Section 7(a). Please give details of major working expenses. Equipment costs should be included under Equipment Depreciation/Rental, Section 7(b).

Items with a large cost (i.e., over $5,000) should be included under “Extraordinary Expenditure” and explained in the “Roles and Resources” section (2g).

Equipment Depreciation/Rental

The Marsden Fund does not fund the purchase of equipment directly but may allow for an annual depreciation or rental cost. In the case of rental costs, the share of the total cost of the equipment should be proportional to the proposal's use of the equipment. For example, if a confocal microscope costs $40,000/annum to run, and the proposal uses the microscope for 10% of its time, the Full Cost to the project would be $4,000/annum.

Note: Many institutions make a general provision for depreciation in their overhead costs. If this is the case, depreciation costs should be incorporated in “Indirect Costs”. If not, depreciation costs should be included here. In the case of depreciation not already provided for under “Indirect Costs”, the cost of equipment should be assigned in proportion to the expected life of the equipment and the planned usage. If a request is made for equipment depreciation or rental, the details should be listed in Section 7(b).


Any costs where services are purchased from other organisations should be included in this section. Where personnel are sub-contractors they should be shown in this section, named, and their time-commitments shown in the FTE column with details in Section 7(c). If sub-contractors are also Principal or Associate Investigators, they should be listed in both places, with the FTEs and associated costs included only in the “Sub-contractor” section. Named sub-contractors for whom a CV is supplied will generally be Principal or Associate Investigators.

Where a sub-contractor is a New Zealand research organisation, please break down costs per year into salary, overheads and direct costs according to the table shown in Section 7(c). Other sub-contractors (e.g. private individuals) may provide the annual cost as a single figure in the budget, rather than breaking down the costs.

Extraordinary Expenditure

These are the costs of any extraordinary items that make the research significantly more costly than standard laboratory or office-based research efforts. An example might be time on a major facility, like a research ship or a linear accelerator and, as mentioned above under Expendables, travel costs where these are a major item. If you use this category, you need to identify the nature of the expenditure in the “Roles and Resources” section (2g).

Postgraduate Students

See page 15.


The cost of the research proposal should be GST inclusive. Note that the budget template provided will automatically calculate GST at 15% and the GST-inclusive total. The GST-exclusive amounts shown in the “subtotal (a) + (b)” row should be compared with the maximum amount per year for that panel. Please see page 10 for these maximum amounts.

Budget Example

You may be requesting one, two or three years of funding. This example shows three years, with the budget cap for the PCB panel.



Year 1

Year 2

Year 3








Salaries: (giving names)

Principal Investigator (s)

Dr Smith













Associate Investigator(s)

Professor White (see below)

Dr Jones (overseas; no salary requested)













Postdoctoral fellow(s)








Research/Technical Assistant(s)














Others (name)








Salary-related costs

ACC levies







Salary-related costs







Total Salaries & Salary-related costs (a)







Other Costs:

Indirect Costs:

Overheads (for example at 105%)










Direct Costs:

Expendables (specify)










Equipment depreciation/rental (specify)







Postgraduate Student(s)














Sub-contractors (specify)

Professor White (Univ of Southland)













Extraordinary expenditure (specify)







Total Other Costs (b)







Sub Total (a) + (b)







**GST at 15%






















** These are automatically calculated.


In this example Expendables, Equipment depreciation/rental and Sub-contractors need to be further explained on the separate page provided for Section 7, i.e.:


  1. Direct Cost Budget Details


Please specify the items for the following (excluding GST). Please break down into costs per year.

  • Expendables: Example Year 1              Year 2              Year 3

Student fees (2 students)





Chemicals & general consumables





Conference attendance





Publication costs










  • Equipment depreciation/rental: Example

Mössbauer spectrometer used 50% for this project:       $3,000 each of 3 years (to be purchased)


  • Sub-contractors: Example

University of Southland (NZ)

Year 1

Year 2

Year 3








Salaries: Professor White







Other Costs:

Indirect Costs: Overheads










Direct Costs:

Expendables* (specify)

Lab consumables












Postgraduate students















For extraordinary expenditure – please describe under “Roles and Resources” (Section 2g)

Section 8: Other Funding (Changed for 2020)

Please note that any applicants who declared “other funding” in section 6 of the EOI should provide an update in this section if necessary.

If any applicants have sought other funding for work related to the Marsden application and they are subsequently successful, they should let the Marsden office know immediately.

Part (a): Indicate whether non-Marsden funding (e.g., MBIE/HRC/CoRE/TEC/MPI/commercial/other) has been i) received or ii) applied for, for this or for research relevant to this proposal.

Part (b): Please provide details of previous or current Marsden funding held by Principal or Associate Investigators, FTEs, their role in the project (Principal or Associate Investigator) and the completion date for the research.

Part (c): NEW FOR 2020: Please indicate whether any of the Principal or Associate Investigators are listed as named investigators on any other Marsden Full Proposals from this funding round (name, role, proposal number, panel)

Part (d): Please also indicate any periods of leave to be sought during the period of proposed Marsden research. 

Section 8 should not exceed two pages in total.  

Section 9: Declaration Page

All contact Principal Investigators are required to tick a box online to indicate their acceptance of the terms and conditions of the Full Proposal, and should read the declaration page before they do so.  

Section 10: Fast-Start status page

This is required for all Fast-Start proposals. The status of the Principal Investigator is recorded and signed off by the employer or a duly authorised agent. A separate template is available from the application portal for this purpose. We require one electronic copy of the section 10 status page per Fast-Start proposal to be submitted by institutions’ Research Offices via the application portal in time for the deadline.

Institutional Declaration

Institutions should sign a collective declaration for all of their proposals, which is available for download from the “Agent Declaration” menu and should be uploaded when signed, the same as for the EOI round.


If there is any person whom you do not wish to referee your Full Proposal, please state this, providing reasons, in a communication provided to the Society on letterhead. The latest date to receive referee exclusion notifications is within one week of receiving the invitation to submit a Full Proposal – i.e. before May 14th 2020. The number of people that can be excluded as potential referees is strictly limited to three.

The Marsden Fund Council will endeavour to provide two, and preferably three, referee reports for each Full Proposal. However, due to the significant impacts from COVID-19, it is possible that applicants may receive fewer referee reports than anticipated this year. Referees are not identified to applicants, nor are grades made available to applicants.

Referee reports will be posted on the application portal. The main batch of referee reports will be posted on the portal on 12th August; from this date onwards, reports will be posted as they are received. Applicants should submit their responses through the portal; the deadline for responses to the main batch of reports will be 26th August. This deadline will be extended for late reports; we will endeavour to give applicants two weeks to respond, but for very late reports this may be constrained by panel meeting dates.

Applicant responses to the referee reports are limited to one page per referee report. For example, if a proposal has three referees, then three separate responses of one page each can be submitted. If you do not wish to reply to a particular report, please could you indicate this by ticking “No Response” on the portal so that we can be certain that we have all the responses back.

Note that the responses do not go back to the reviewers, but are assessed by the assessment panel only; applicants should bear this in mind when writing their responses.


Due to the impact of COVID-19, we may not be in a position to provide the same level of feedback compared with previous years.  It is anticipated that for unsuccessful applicants, the comments from the available referee reports can be discussed further with their panel convenor.

Marsden Fund Contact Details

Marsden Fund Contact Information:

Telephone: +64 (0)4 470 5799
Email: marsden@royalsociety.org.nz

Postal Address:

The Marsden Fund
The Royal Society Te Apārangi
PO Box 598
Wellington 6140

Courier Address:

The Marsden Fund
The Royal Society Te Apārangi
11 Turnbull Street
Wellington 6011