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NZ Postdoctoral Fellowship Application Guidelines

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The Rutherford Foundation New Zealand Postdoctoral Fellowships are administered by the Royal Society of New Zealand on behalf of the Rutherford Foundation Trust. Support for this programme comes from the New Zealand Government.

The New Zealand Postdoctoral Fellowships enable recipients to undertake full-time research programmes within New Zealand in any area of science, technology, engineering or mathematics at an eligible research institution. Applications are encouraged from within New Zealand and from those who are living overseas and would use the Fellowship to return to continue their research careers.

Recipients of the Rutherford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowships are expected to be New Zealand’s top-academically-achieving graduates who also have a strong sense of the purpose and benefits of scientific research to New Zealand and a clear idea of how to use the fellowship to advance their research career.


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The Rutherford Foundation New Zealand Postdoctoral Fellowships aim to build human capability in science, technology, engineering and mathematics by providing early career support for New Zealand’s brightest and most promising researchers.

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The Rutherford Foundation is offering up to 10 New Zealand Postdoctoral Fellowships in the 2018 funding round to outstanding recent PhD graduates.

The Fellowships are offered for two years.  Each year, the Fellow will receive a stipend of NZ$75,000.  In addition, a GST-inclusive fund is paid each year of NZ$10,000 to support both direct and indirect research costs.


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Eligibility Criteria

  • Applicants from the disciplines of science, technology, engineering or mathematics are eligible to apply.
  • Applicants are required to have had their PhD conferred no more than four years before the application closing date.
    • An exemption to this clause can be sought to allow applicants to demonstrate that their PhD has been submitted before the application closing date and can be examined by the date of short-listing.  This requires prior approval from the Trustees of the Foundation. To get approval, please explain your case in an email to the Rutherford Foundation.
    • A further exemption can be sought to demonstrate a reasonable absence from a research career, for instance to take parental leave or for extended sickness leave.
  • Applicants must be either New Zealand citizens or have continuously resided in New Zealand for at least two years immediately prior to their application and hold, or are deemed to hold, a New Zealand resident visa.
  • Eligible host institutions include Crown Research Institutes, universities, research associations and businesses whose prime purpose is research and development.  Co-hosting arrangements are possible between one of the above and another host, with the permission of the Trustees.
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Selection Criteria

Selection is based on an applicant’s demonstration of academic excellence, depth of understanding of their proposed research and its ultimate purpose, the scientific quality of the research programme, and how the fellowship will contribute to the Fellow’s professional development. Additional selection criteria are the benefits to New Zealand, transfer of skills, and engagement with the wider community.

Proposals are assessed on the information provided in the application, the accompanying forms and referee reports.

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  • The award does not include cover for relocation expenses.  For successful Fellows who will use the Fellowship to return to New Zealand, it is expected that the host institution(s) will cover the cost of relocation.
  • Applicants who are offered a Fellowship but have not completed their PhD before the application closing date will be required to demonstrate PhD completion requirements by a date specified by the Trustees.
  • The Fellowship must be taken up within a reasonable time frame of being offered (e.g. half a year).
  • Applicants must be prepared to take part in promoting the Rutherford Foundation and to support other Rutherford Foundation scholars.
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Closing date

Applications and supporting information must be submitted to the Royal Society Te Apārangi on the Rutherford Foundation Proposals on-line portal by the closing date of 02 August 2018 at 5 pm (NZST).

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Application Process

Instructions for applying using the Rutherford Foundation Proposals on-line portal

  • Proposals must be submitted on the web-based system, Proposals On-Line.
  • Researchers must contact their host institution’s research office coordinator to obtain their login details for the Proposals On-Line system.
  • Researchers should write their proposals directly into Proposals On-Line using the forms and templates provided with the original formatting retained. The templates can be downloaded directly from the Proposals on-line portal or from the Rutherford Foundation website.
  • Separate instructions on using Proposals On-Line are available. 
  • Please note that paper copies (including declarations) are not required when submitting a proposal through the Proposals On-Line portal. Proposals On-Line has a document printing facility which can be used to view and print the application for checking and your own records.
  • The layout of the entire application on Proposals On-Line is automatic.  The limit on space in all sections of the templates should be adhered to and the typeface should be 11 point, Times or similar type font, single spacing (11 point), with margins of 2 cm on the left and 2 cm on the right sides of the page.  Instructions in italic may be removed, but not the margins.  No additional pages or attachments will be accepted other than where requested or required.


Application number

When you have received your proposal logon to Proposals On-Line, a unique application number will be automatically generated and inserted in the header of your application, along with your name and initials. The example below shows Dr AB Smith has applied for the New Zealand Postdoctoral Fellowship with 3 years’ worth of post-PhD research experience (R3). The “years post PhD” is automatically assigned based on the date your PhD was conferred.


Applicant’s Surname



Proposal Number




NZ Postdoctoral







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Assistance with filling out the on-line application form

The on-line application consists of information entered directly into the portal in combination with the upload of specific templates and documents. The following is an overview of all the sections of the application, an explanation for each section, and information on how to enter the information on the on-line application portal.

Table 1: Application contents



Type of entry

Section 1-2

Applicant details and eligibility


Section 3-6

Qualification, previous employment history, awards, and other notable contributions

Download the “Qualifications and career history” template. Upload completed form when finished.

Section 7-8

Research title and summary


Section 9-15

Background, aim(s) or research, proposed research, references, why do you want to do this research, timetable, and full list of publications

Download the “Research” template. Upload completed form when finished.

Section 16



Supporting information

-          Proof of citizenship or residency

-          Academic transcript(s) including undergraduate and PhD studies.

-          A declaration form signed by you, your supervisor, and a duly authorised agent at the host organisation

-          Upload copy

-          Upload copy (1 file for all transcripts)

-          Download the declaration template and upload when signed


1.     Applicant’s details

This section is for personal details.  It identifies who you are and where you can be contacted most readily.  Complete this section, providing all details.  If any of your contact details should change at any stage after the application is submitted, please inform The Society as soon as possible.

The webpage additionally contains a box termed “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 Proposals On-Line.  The statistical data will be used by the Rutherford Foundation secretariat for statistical purposes only. Note that this information will not form part of your application.

2.     Eligibility and Research codes

Fields of research (FOR) classification:

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” here. Please use codes that are as specific as possible, i.e. 6 digits.

Socio-Economic Objective (SEO) classification:

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” here

·         Date PhD conferred (dd/mm/yyyy)

Enter the date that your PhD was conferred. You also need to scan and upload a copy of your academic transcript showing when your doctoral degree was conferred (see Supporting information).  The original or certified copies of the documents will only be required if requested by the Rutherford Foundation Secretariat.

·         Number of positions as a postdoctoral researcher

Please enter the number of postdoctoral positions that you have held since finishing your PhD.

·         Citizenship

Please select from the drop down menu whether you are a New Zealand Citizen or hold/are deemed to hold a New Zealand resident visa. If you hold, or are deemed to hold, a New Zealand resident visa, you need to indicate how long you have resided in New Zealand immediately prior to this application. Proof of citizenship or residency must be scanned and uploaded to Proposal On-line (see Supporting information). Original or certified copies of the documents may be requested by the Rutherford Foundation Secretariat.

·         Proposed host institution

Please enter your chosen host institution.

·         Proposed supervisor

Please enter the name, department and email address of your proposed supervisor.

·         Eligibility exemption (if applicable)
  • Please enter the reasons for why you are asking for a PhD exemption (e.g. thesis submitted but not yet conferred, parental leave or extended sickness leave). Note that this requires prior approval from the Trustees of the Foundation.

3.     Qualifications (Degrees/Diplomas completed)

Please enter the date the qualification was granted, the type of qualification, and the institution from which it was granted. You can add additional rows if needed.

4.     Previous employment history (if applicable)

Please include up to three of the positions you’ve held immediately prior to your current role.

5.     Awards

Please enter the type of award and the year you received the award.

6.     Other notable contributions

Please enter other notable contributions that demonstrate your capabilities as a researcher (e.g. awarded research or travel grants, Conference Chairs, speaker invitations, editorial boards, conference committees etc.).

7.     Title of proposed research

Please provide a title that describes the nature of your proposed programme of research.  Keep the title brief and to the point.

8.     Project Summary

Please provide a summary of the planned project suitable for a lay audience with some limited science knowledge, and using a maximum of 500 words.

9.     Background

Using only ONE page, please give the context for the proposal by summarising in plain English the state of the knowledge in the field and any research you have undertaken in this area.

10.  Overall aim(s) of the research

Please state, in ONE page or less, the general goals and objectives of the research proposal. Emphasise how the research will create potential benefits to New Zealand and advance knowledge.

11.  Proposed research

Using a maximum of two pages, please describe the proposed research including where appropriate, the hypothesis being tested, the methodology that will be used, sampling design, methods of data analysis and major milestones.

12.  References

Using only ONE page, please list bibliographical or other references, including full titles, used in any of the above sections.

13.  Why do you want to do this research?

Please outline, in half a page or less, why you want to do this project in the context of how you intend to develop your future research career. The Trustees of the Rutherford Foundation would ‘normally’ expect applicants to pursue their research opportunities with a new research group and ‘mentor’. If required, please state clearly why continuation of your research with your current host is the most beneficial to your future research career.

14.  Timetable

In half a page or less, please describe in general terms the anticipated course of the research programme, including timelines for the milestones described in section 11.  It is acknowledged that this timetable may change as the research progresses.

15.  Full list of publications

Please list first-authored and co-authored publications in peer-reviewed journals.  Other articles such as popular features may be listed under a separate heading stating the nature of the publications.

16.  Referees

Please enter the names and contact details of three referees who have agreed to provide a reference for you.  You are expected to include a supervisor of your Doctoral programme.  If you have already undertaken Postdoctoral research, the supervisor of this research should comprise the second referee. When you have entered the referee names, and ensured that they are willing to provide the Rutherford Foundation with a reference for you before the application closing date of 02 August 2018, you need to select “SEND EMAIL”. Upon selecting “SEND EMAIL”, an automatic email will be sent to your referee with a URL access link to a web portal where the referee can upload the reference.

It is prudent for you to check that the referees have received the invitation to review your application and the URL link.  Occasionally, the email that is automatically generated when selecting “send email” is inadvertently identified as spam and in a referees ‘junk’ folder in their email client. In this case, you can ask your referee to contact us by email.

If a referee informs you that he or she for some reason can’t upload a referee report before the deadline, you can enter an additional referee on the On-line Proposals web portal. In the instance where the Rutherford Foundation receives more than three referee reports, we will use the first three reports received.

You can check if the Royal Society has received each of the applicant-solicited referee reports by logging in to the proposals on-line system and go to the Referees section.

Please remember that it is your responsibility to ensure that your referees upload their report to the portal no later than the closing date for applications, i.e. 02 August 2018 at 5 pm (NZST).

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Supporting information

In addition to the completed electronic application, applicants must upload electronic copies of the following documents (scanned jpeg or PDF preferred):

  • A declaration form signed by you, your supervisor, and a duly authorised agent at the host organisation confirming that the proposed host institution and supervisor support the application.
  • Proof of New Zealand citizenship or residency.
  • Academic transcript(s) including undergraduate and PhD studies.


Note:  The Society may request to see original or certified copies of the above documents.

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Submitting your application

Once you are happy with your application, you must mark it as COMPLETED. To do this, select Preview/Print from the left hand menu, followed by “Mark as Completed”. This flags to your institution coordinator that the proposal has been completed and can be released to the Rutherford Foundation. If you need to make changes to your application after you have marked it as completed, you must confer with your research office first.

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Selection Process

Shortlisted applicants will be invited to interview (at their own expense).  If this should prove a hardship, then applicants may request to have the interview conducted by teleconference or videoconference.

All applicants will be notified in late September as to whether they have been invited to interview. Successful applicants will be notified in November or December (TBC).

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Further enquiries should be made by contacting the Rutherford Foundation by email:


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Printable guidelines and application templates







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