Home  GRF  Application The call circular dated 30 August 2013 issued by the Secretary, RGC to the Heads of UGC-funded institutions inviting applications for the General Research Fund (GRF) for 2014/15 and the Early Career Scheme (ECS) for 2014/15
The call circular dated 30 August 2013 issued by the Secretary, RGC to the Heads of UGC-funded institutions inviting applications for the General Research Fund (GRF) for 2014/15 and the Early Career Scheme (ECS) for 2014/15

Applications for Allocations from
(I) the General Research Fund 2014/15 and
(II) the Early Career Scheme 2014/15

I am writing to invite applications for allocations from the General Research Fund (GRF) 2014/15 and the Early Career Scheme (ECS) 2014/15. The details of the procedures of the two schemes are provided below.

Electronic Submission

The GRF Electronic System and the ECS Electronic System are available for submission of GRF and ECS applications respectively in respect of all five subject panels - Biology & Medicine Panel, Business Studies Panel, Engineering Panel, Humanities & Social Sciences Panel and Physical Sciences Panel. All applications must be submitted through the electronic systems. Applicants can use the electronic systems to prepare their applications starting from today.

Deadline for Submissions

Applications should reach the UGC Secretariat through the electronic systems by 22 November 2013. With a view to avoiding overloading the electronic systems during the peak period, applicants are encouraged to submit their applications well before the submission deadline.


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

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

Financial Thresholds on Applications

Under both the GRF and ECS, the thresholds for applications are $150,000 for projects in the fields of Biology & Medicine, Engineering and Physical Sciences, and $100,000 for projects in the fields of Business Studies and Humanities & Social Sciences. The RGC believes that research in Hong Kong can be better served through greater funding support for high-quality projects. There are no upper limits, but the applicants / institutions would appreciate that given the considerable competition for the limited funds available, justification for individual research projects costing over $1 million will need to be particularly well argued and supported.

Explanatory Notes

Applicants must read the Explanatory Notes (GRF2 and ECS2) carefully before completing the application forms. A full set of the Explanatory Notes will be mounted on the RGC Homepage: (URL: http://www.ugc.edu.hk/eng/rgc/form/form.htm).

May I highlight the following new issues to be implemented with effect from the 2014/15 exercise:

  1. Budget
    The item "Outsourcing Expenses of Research Work outside Hong Kong" is separated from "General Expenses" so that request for approval to outsource part of the research work outside Hong Kong can be processed together with the funding application in one-go.

  2. CV
    The author list of the publications provided in the CV should be cited in full and in the same format as those printed in the original publications. If the author list is too long and the applicant is in the middle of the list, he/she should indicate his/her position in the author list, for instance author 13 out of 40, and list the first and last authors. Failure to comply with such a requirement may lead to direct rejection of the applications.

  3. Nomination of External Reviewers
  4. The Principal Investigator (PI) assumes full responsibility for reporting all the relationship(s) between himself/herself as well as his/her Co-Is with each of nominated external reviewers. To avoid any possible or perceived conflict of interests, nomination of external reviewer(s) having any of the following relationship(s) with either PI or Co-Is or both should be avoided -
    (i) Advisor or Advisee relationship (such as Tutor and PhD student relationship);
    (ii) Co-authorship of papers or publications less than seven years ago;
    (iii) Co-authorship of patents;
    (iv) Partnership or co-organizers of major events less than seven years ago;
    (v) Colleagues employed in the same department of an institution or organization less than seven years ago;
    (vi) Collaborator in research projects or programme (Co-I or Co-PI of proposals) less than seven years ago; and
    (vii) Long-time personal friends.

  5. New Funding Template
    Applicants may request funding support for academic research partly or wholly related to public policy development in the application. The percentage of funding to be deployed for such work should be specified in the application form.

Update of Proposals

Applicants are requested to provide a brief update setting out any essential changes to the applications, i.e. the eligibility of the Principal Investigators, budget adjustment, alternative funding obtained, declaration of similar / related proposals, investigator(s)'s CV, grant records, relationship with nominated reviewers, etc. through the electronic system by 30 April 2014. Such updates should be confined to the essential parts of the original proposals, and applicants should not use the opportunity to hand in a substantially changed proposal.

Hard copies

Institutions may be required to assist the Secretariat with the printing of hard copies of each proposal which has been submitted through the electronic system for contingency purposes. The Secretariat will confirm the detailed requirements in April 2014.

To help reduce the cost of processing and save paper, applicants are requested to keep the length of proposals and attachments to the minimum.


If your staff have any enquiries about the application procedures or other aspects of this circular, please contact Mrs Alice Sham, Assistant Secretary-General (Research) 1 (Tel.: 2844 9996 or email: asham@ugc.edu.hk) or Mr Caleb Yeung, Senior Research Administrator (2) (Tel.: 2844 9959 or email: cyeung@ugc.edu.hk).