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RDF Frequently Asked Questions

Does the requirement that non-citizen applicants must "have continuously resided in Aotearoa New Zealand for at least three months prior to their application" mean the 3 months immediately prior to the submission date?

No, it means you must have spent at least three months continuously in New Zealand at any point.


What does "deemed to hold" a NZ residency visa mean?

Australian citizens are deemed to hold a NZ residency visa automatically without having to submit an application.


If I am currently on a work to residency visa, am I eligible to apply for the current round?

An opportunity exists to grant an eligibility exemption for applicants on a work to residency visa if the applicant has demonstrated (and the Society is convinced of) a commitment to Aotearoa New Zealand. The type of questions we would ask are: Why are you in Aotearoa? How long have you been in Aotearoa? What is your current visa status? Please send evidence of your commitment to Aotearoa to Rutherford.Discovery@royalsociety.org.nz for approval of your eligibility exemption.


How do you define "primary caregiver" when considering an eligibility extension for children?

The Parental Leave and Employment Protection Act 1987 defines a primary carer as being one of the following:

  • A female who is pregnant or has given birth to a child (i.e. the biological mother); or
  • The spouse or partner of the biological mother, if the spouse or partner becomes the person with primary responsibility for the care, development and upbringing of the child; or
  • A person who takes on the permanent primary responsibility for the care, development and upbringing of a child under the age of six years who is not their biological child (this includes formal adoption, whāngai adoptionPermanent Care for Oranga Tamariki (previously known as Home for Life carers), and grandparents caring for their grandchildren - but not foster parents or respite carers).

If you feel this applies to you, please fill out the eligibility calculator and send it to Rutherford.Discovery@royalsociety.org.nz with an explanation. 


I know I need to have at least one referee from overseas for my application, can I have all three? Or is this viewed negatively?

This is fine and isn't necessarily viewed any differently.


Can you please clarify what it means to apply as a part-time applicant? For example, I understand that I can apply at 0.5FTE. Does this mean I should be employed 0.5FTE or can I be employed at a higher FTE? 

If you are employed part time because of child-caring or other caring responsibilities, we can allow you to apply on a part-time basis. This is only allowed if you are employed part-time as well. If someone decided to take up the Fellowship part-time, there should still be 0.85 FTE committed to the Fellowship objectives. In other words, if you are a part-time applicant, then you need someone else to work the difference to make up the 0.85 FTE required, i.e. if you are 0.5 FTE then you need another person at 0.35 FTE. This other person must be a PDF or experienced RA etc. Please enter this person in your FTE budget in your application.


How do I decide if my proposal aligns with Vision Mātauranga?

Check out Section 4 in the Applicant Proposal Guidelines


What is the date from which I should calculate my years of research experience?

Count from when your PhD was conferred up until today and round it up or down. For example if it equals 5.5 round up to 6, any less you can round down to 5.


If a person is awarded a Rutherford discovery fellowship and is already an employee but is paid higher than the $70,000 per year towards the researcher's salary Rutherford Discovery offers, can the employer ‘top up’ that contribution to the persons pre-fellowship wage? 

Yes, the employer should be topping up. The $70,000 per year is that – a contribution. Your employment salary depends on the contract you have with your host institution.


Would you advise people incorporate relevant non-academic/non-research experience in the application? Eg managing people/budgets/facilities? And if so where in the application could this be covered?

Yes, this could all be relevant experience to show for research leadership and can go in the leadership description section.


Are there any restrictions on how we can spend the $60,000 research funds? For instance, would it be okay to support a research technician/early postdoc with these funds?

Certainly. You have proposed a strong piece of research, you know how the money can best be used to support the research. It is up to you if you want to bring in support or have research expenses, be used for conferences or travel.


Can I reapply the following year if I am unsuccessful?

Yes, there is nothing wrong with reapplying again. In many cases people who reapply can be successful. You will need to please email us at rutherford.discovery@royalsociety.org.nz to discuss your application when you are ready to reapply.


Does my research have to be focused on Aotearoa New Zealand?

Not necessarily, no. However it should have a contribution toward positive outcomes for Aotearoa New Zealand. This doesn't mean it has to have a focus on Aotearoa New Zealand but could mean you could somehow incorporate into your objectives something for the benefit of the people or the country. 


Is applied research supported by the Rutherford Discovery Fund or is it just fundamental research?

Applied research is supported and encouraged to apply for the Rutherford Discovery Fund.


Can I use a referee I have co-published with on my application?

We recommended to use referees you have not co-published within the last 5 years. In general, panellists will not consider a referee report if the referee can be perceived to benefit from recommending an application.

Panellists cannot judge the degree of collaborations – they can only see that you have collaborated, hence our recommendation. While we understand everyone's circumstances are different, should you choose to include this referee, you may run the risk that the panellist will ignore the report or view the report negatively.