RLUK and AHRC are delighted to open applications for a second round of their collaborative Professional Practice Fellowship Scheme for academic and research libraries. Please see below for further information about the scheme, including how to make an application.

About the Professional Practice Fellowships

Twelve fellowships of up to £25,000 (80% FEC) are available under this year’s scheme. The fellowships are designed to enable library colleagues to set research agendas, be active participants and leaders of multidisciplinary research, and to provide intellectual leadership in their own disciplines and beyond. 

They will provide a career development opportunity by enabling colleagues to have a transformative impact on their professional practice, discipline, and institution, and also act as advocates for the value and benefits of arts and humanities research to communities beyond academia. The Scheme offers opportunities for library staff to work in partnership with RLUK and the AHRC in strengthening research capacity and capabilities in libraries across the arts and humanities, and within and beyond the RLUK membership.

The Professional Practice Fellowship Scheme will provide time and support for library staff:

  • To develop their capability, capacity, and confidence as research partners and leaders.

  • To enable colleagues to place their work within wider professional or disciplinary frameworks which will have a transformative effect on their ability to act as research partners or leaders.

  • To equip colleagues with the research skills, knowledge, and confidence, to transform their professional practice through research.

  • To result in a tangible outcome that enables the fellowship to bring discernable and lasting benefit to both the individual, and their institution, beyond the fellowship’s duration.

General enquiries

If you have any questions regarding your eligibility for this scheme, please contact:

General scheme enquiries including regarding the eligibility criteria and application process: infrastructure@ahrc.ukri.org, inserting RLUK PPF22 in the subject line.

For specific questions regarding how the scheme can support the work of libraries: programmes@rluk.ac.uk, inserting RLUK PPF22 in the subject line.


The scheme is open to colleagues working within any unit or department that sits within a research or academic library which belongs to a recognised UK Higher Education Institution (HEI), Independent Research Organisation (IRO), or is a member of Research Libraries UK (RLUK). 

For organisations that do not have a research or academic library but, which do have professional research or academic library colleagues fulfilling the same role, and who can demonstrate that they meet all other eligibility criteria, please contact AHRC for further advice: infrastructure@ahrc.ukri.org including PPF22 within the subject title.

The scheme is open to both RLUK and non-RLUK member institutions, and has been designed to enable a wide variety of applications from individuals, institutions, and professions.

RLUK and AHRC welcome applications from individuals of all backgrounds. The scheme would particularly like to encourage applications from early-career professionals who are seeking to develop their research capability, confidence, and capacity. 

RLUK and AHRC would also like to encourage applications from members of ethnic minority communities, who constitute an underrepresented group within the library and information sectors.

In order to be eligible for the AHRC-RLUK Professional Practice Fellowship scheme, at the point of application, applicants must:

  • Be employed by an academic or research library that belongs to a recognised UK Higher Education Institution (HEI), Independent Research Organisation (IRO), or is a member of Research Libraries UK (RLUK)
  • Have at least two years of experience working within a collection-holding, cultural, or information institution or two-years postdoctoral experience
  • Have an existing employment contract that lasts at least until the end of the award
  • Have identified a named and willing mentor, with a strong academic or professional practice background relevant to their fellowship, who is willing to act as a mentor during the duration of their fellowship. This individual can work within their own institution or at an external institution or body
  • The research and work undertaken through these fellowships must fall under the funding remit of the AHRC.

Please refer to the full application guidance document to check the eligibility criteria before contacting AHRC with any queries.

Town hall launch with questions

The second round of the scheme was launched on 7 November in a virtual town hall. A recording of this event is made available here. A number of questions were asked and addressed during the meeting, time stamps for these questions are:

09:50 Should the mentor be external to your organisation?

16:11 Is there an expected minimum weekly time commitment for fellows?

17:06 Can you say a little more about the scheme last year. Strengths of  successful applications?

19:11 Can you talk a bit more about the role of the mentor and how to chose them.

21:27 Is it acceptable to apply for funding for the research to be carried out in additional hours if your current hours are part time?

22:03 Does your research project have to be related to the collection/institution you already work in? Or can you also work with other institution’s collections?

22:38 Should mentors be based at a UK institution?

23:08 Is funding available to cover mentor’s time?

24:14 Do you provide guidance/good practice advice for mentors?

25:07 If you applied but were unsuccessful last year, can you still apply again, with an updated/revised proposal or a different one?

27:07 Are costs for things like exhibitions and events included in the costing?

Background to the scheme

The creation of this scheme is a direct response to the findings and recommendations of a joint RLUK-AHRC scoping study regarding the role, and potential role, of research and academic libraries as research partners and leaders. The report, published in July 2021, highlighted the need to support colleagues working across research and academic libraries in the development of their research capability, capacity, and confidence.

  • The RLUK-AHRC scoping study report, which has informed the development of this scheme, is available here: Potential applicants are encouraged to familiarise themselves with this report and its findings as context for this scheme.
  • This is the second year of the scheme. Details about the first year of the Professional Practice Research Fellowships, including the details of our the scheme’s first 10 fellows, can be found here.