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Q: According to the conditions of the ERC Starting Grant 2019 call (ERC-2019-STG), which date is considered a PhD date (or equivalent degree)?

According to the ERC Work Programme 2019, the reference date towards the calculation of the eligibility period should be the date of the actual award according to the national rules in the country where the degree was awarded. The Information for Applicants to Starting and Consolidator Grant 2019 Calls complements that this is "generally, the date of successful defense/viva".

In case of applicants having been awarded several PhDs, the reference date is the award date of the first PhD.

In case of medical doctor degrees considered equivalent to PhD the certified date of the medical doctor degree completion plus two years is the time reference for calculation of the eligibility time-window.

For more information, see section 'Eligibility criteria' of the ERC Work Programme 2019 and its Annex 2.

Q: According to the conditions of the ERC Starting Grant 2019 call, what will happen if the PhD certificate is not submitted together with the proposal?

According to the conditions of the ERC Starting Grant 2019 call, as long as no PhD document or equivalent is uploaded in the Participant Portal Submission Service (PPSS), it will not be possible to validate/submit the proposal. A warning message will inform the applicant of the missing document. If another document is uploaded instead and the PhD certificate is missing the ERCEA may contact the PI and ask for a clarification and the missing document.

For more information, see section 'Eligibility criteria' of the ERC Work Programme 2019.

Q: According to the conditions of the ERC Starting Grant 2019 call, what are eligible career breaks that are considered for the extension of the eligibility window?

According to the conditions of the ERC Starting Grant 2019 call, eligible career breaks that can be considered for the extension of the eligibility window are:

  • Maternity or paternity leave (before or after PhD award),
  • Long-term illness (over ninety days for the Principal Investigator or a close family member) (after PhD award),
  • Clinical training (after award of first eligible degree and by up to 4 years max.),
  • National service (after PhD award).

All these circumstances need to be properly documented. Please find below examples of such documents:

  • For maternity: a birth certificate/passport of the child (ren), family book or any other official document where the link between the PI and the child (ren) is indicated.
  • For paternity leave taken: an official testimonial from employer or state benefit record certifying the actual duration of the paternity leave. The total number of days and the exact dates need to be specified. Part-time paternity leave is also accepted.
  • For clinical training: (an) official testimonial(s) certifying the actual duration(s) of the clinical (specialty) training(s)
  • For long-term illness (over ninety days),the documentation of the periods of medical / sick leaves must be issued by an official authority (e.g. the applicant's employer, health insurances, etc.) or by an authorised person such as the physician of the applicant (medical certificates).  
  • For national service: only the documented amount of leave taken for national service will be considered if they are issued by an official authority.

For more information, see section 'Eligibility criteria' of the ERC Work Programme 2019.

Q: According to the conditions applied to the ERC 2018 frontier research Grants 2018 [Starting (StG)/Consolidator (CoG)/Advanced (AdG)/Synergy (SyG)], can a Principal Investigator (PI) cover this role in more than one proposal at the same time?

According to the conditions applied to the ERC 2018 frontier research Grants, there are three main restrictions to be considered for Principal Investigators (PIs) in this regard:

  • A PI may submit proposals to different ERC frontier research Grant calls made under the same Work Programme, but only the first eligible proposal will be evaluated.
  • A researcher may participate as PI or Co-Investigator in only one ERC frontier research project at any one time (NB: A new frontier research project can only start after the duration of the project fixed in a previous frontier research grant agreement has ended).
  • A researcher participating as PI in an ERC frontier research project may not submit a proposal for another ERC frontier research grant, unless the existing project ends no more than two years after the call deadline (NB: This is according to the duration of the project fixed in the previous frontier research grant agreement).

These restrictions are specified in the ERC Work Programme 2018 and may be modified in future Work Programmes by the ERC Scientific Council in light of experience.

As a team member, it is possible to participate in more than one ERC Grant.

Q: Are changes to ERC projects possible? How are these changes implemented in the Grant Agreement?

Changes to the original proposal can be introduced during the preparation phase of the Grant Agreement and during the implementation of the action. Both types of changes require the ERC Scientific Department's approval. If the change intervenes after the signature of the grant agreement usually an amendment is required (cases of amendments are listed in the FP7 Guide for Amendments).

An amendment of the Description of Work (Annex I) is always needed for: a change in the scientific work or a change in the project's objectives; the removal/addition of tasks or substantial changes in the distribution of the work between beneficiaries (in case of multi-beneficiary grants); the introduction/removal of third parties and/or subcontractor (except for subcontracting of minor tasks); and the addition or removal of a beneficiary (including change of host institution).

Other changes require only an information letter, such as requests for sabbatical leaves and a change of authorised representative of the Host Institution.

Some changes do not require any amendment, such as changes in budget breakdown in between costs categories or in between reporting periods, etc. In this case the Project Officer should be informed.

When in doubt whether an amendment is needed, beneficiaries are encouraged to contact the ERCEA via the amendments functional mailbox:

Q: Is it possible to extend an ERC Grant under FP7 without receiving further funds?

In exceptional cases, the ERCEA may prolong the duration of a project. An extension may be granted in the following situations:

(1) on well-justified scientific grounds and provided that a high scientific value has been demonstrated in the project implementation;

(2) if the request was caused by events that were not reasonably foreseeable at the point of signing the grant;

(3) in cases of force majeure;

(4) for health reasons of the principal investigator (PI);

(5) in case of parental/maternity leave of the PI in line with the social legislation applicable in the Host country and Host Institution of the PI.

However, late starts or delays of administrative nature (e.g. purchase of equipment, recruitment of staff) are expected to be caught up during the life time of the project.

Only one extension may be accepted for one project. The ERC grant agreements may be extended by a maximum of 12 months, except for 'Proof of Concept' (PoC) grants for which the maximum extension is 6 months. These time limits do not apply in the above-mentioned cases relating to force majeure, health reasons and parental/maternity leave.

A request for extension can be submitted to the ERCEA only after the approval of the mid-term scientific report and no later than 6 months before the end of the project. Retro-active demands for extension will not be accepted. To extend a project, the ERC Grant Agreement has to be amended.

See Article II. 33 and II.35 of the General Conditions to FP7 ERC Grant Agreement.

Q: For ERC projects, are open access fees for monographs eligible costs?

Yes, these costs are eligible if they are incurred during the lifetime of the project and provided that they are in line with the requirements for direct costs as listed in Article II.14 of the General Conditions of the ERC Grant Agreement Single and Multi-Beneficiary.

Q: For ERC projects, in which cases the question box in the scientific report, with refers to whether a publication has been or will be made open access, should be ticked?

The box "Open access has been or will be provided?" should be ticked if: (1) the publisher has provided immediate open access, possibly after payment of an author publication charge (APC); or (2) the publication has been deposited in a repository for scientific publications and open access has been or will be provided through this repository either immediately or after the elapse of an embargo period.

If the Grant Agreement contains a Special Clause 39 ERC, then in principle the box should be ticked for all publications related to foreground from the project. In this case, if for some reason open access has not been provided to a publication related to foreground from the project and will not be provided within six months from publication, a justification must be included in the report, explaining the best efforts that have been made to provide open access to the publication, in line with the details explained in section 7.3 of the Guide to Intellectual Property Rules for FP7 projects.

Q: For ERC projects, what do the terms 'green open access' and 'gold open access' mean in the context of research publications?

For ERC projects, there are two main routes towards open access to publications, both equally valid:

(1) Self-archiving (also referred to as 'green open access') means that the published article, monograph, book chapter etc. or the final peer-reviewed manuscript is archived (deposited) by the author - or a representative - in an online repository before, alongside or after its publication. Repository software usually allows authors to delay access to the article (embargo period);

(2) Open access publishing (also referred to as 'gold open access') means that open access to an article, monograph, book chapter etc. is provided by the publisher immediately upon publication. This route towards open access often (but not always) requires the payment of an open access fee to the publisher to compensate for lost income from subscriptions or from the purchase of the monograph/book. In the case of journal articles, these fees are usually called APCs (article processing charges).

Q: In order to provide open access to the publications of ERC-funded researchers, is it enough to post them on the project's webpage or on the department's website?

If the Grant Agreement contains Special Clause 39 ERC, posting the publications on the project's webpage or the departments' website is not enough. The Special Clause clearly states that publications must be immediately deposited in a repository for scientific publications and that best efforts must be made to provide open access through this repository. The ERC Open Access Guidelines also state that publications should be deposited in a suitable repository immediately upon publication, with open access being provided as soon as possible.