This programme has changed my life. It’s been incredibly transformative, and has given me a new enthusiasm for my profession and the sector I work in. It has made me see myself has someone who has things of value to share with others. It’s given me confidence and status and ideas for the future. I hope it will have given me the capacity for a successful funding application…!

I have a much-increased knowledge of research funding – of funders, types of funding and requirements when applying for funding. My confidence as a researcher and my capacity for developing my research ideas, and for making plans for my future are also much higher. I have now applied for research funding, something I would not have felt able to do before the Research Catalyst Cohort [programme].

RLUK and the AHRC are delighted to announce the launch of the second round of the Research Catalyst Cohort programme for colleagues from academic libraries. Delivered by the Association of Research Managers and Administrators (ARMA), this comprehensive and tailored training programme will support colleagues working in academic libraries to make competitive applications to academic funders as research partners and leaders. It will also build valuable relationships between the academic library and research management communities.

The programme will provide a step-by-step overview of the research development process for a small group of colleagues who, although interested in developing their research profile, have little or no experience of applying for research funding. It will provide an overview of the research funding landscape, explore the formulation of research questions, and project management techniques when submitting a funding application. 

The programme will be delivered on a ‘train the trainer’ basis with those accepted onto the programme expected to share their acquired learning and expertise with members of the wider academic library community via blogs, presentations, and self-delivered training events. 

This programme is co-funded by the AHRC and RLUK, and no charge is made to participate in this programme. Applicants will need to demonstrate that they will participate fully in this programme if their application is successful and that they have the support of their employer.

Learning outcomes

The programme will provide participants with a comprehensive overview of the research funding landscape and how they can develop a highly competitive funding application related to their area of interest. Applicants should note that participation in this programme will not guarantee a successful funding application.

The programme will enable participants to develop their:

  • Knowledge: of the research funding landscape, including the opportunities available from a variety of funders to which academic and research library colleagues might apply. The programme will provide details of the step-by-step process of developing a highly competitive application to a research funder and the various programmes and funds available.

  • Skills: as active partners and leaders of research, including how to formulate a research question, and develop an application for research funding. The programme will enable colleagues to develop their skills around project management, budgeting (including full economic costing), partnership formation, and impact.

  • Confidence: as research funding applicants, including an understanding of common application pitfalls, and how they can position their own research and professional practice for the greatest impact in funding applications.

  • Advocacy: support cohort members to actively advocate for the role of academic and research libraries as partners in, and leaders of, research within their institutions and across the wider information and research communities.


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).

The scheme is open to both RLUK and non-RLUK member institutions, and the programme welcomes applications from individuals of all backgrounds and career stages. The programme would particularly 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 to apply to join the Research Catalyst Cohort, 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 an existing employment contract that lasts at least until the end of the programme (June 2024) or is firmly expected to last until this point (for colleagues on contracts that are to be renewed).
  • Have the explicit support of their employer to undertake the programme and the commitment that their employer will allow them to dedicate sufficient time to the programme’s workshops, events, and discussions, including within work time, and to have sufficient capacity to realise its learning objectives.

This programme has been designed specifically for those colleagues who are beginning their research journey. Applicants will need to illustrate the likely transformative effect of participating in this programme on their research and professional practice. Participation does not depend on an applicant’s contract type (e.g. academic, academic related) and applications are welcomed from colleagues working both full time and part time.

Train-the-trainer model

In order to maximise the benefit of the Research Catalyst Cohort for the academic library community, this programme will be delivered through a ‘train the trainer’ model. Participants will be expected to actively share the learning and knowledge they acquire through the programme with colleagues, within and beyond their institution, and to be active advocates for the role of academic libraries as research partners and leaders. Examples of ways in which participants might share their learning include:

  • Deliver or contribute to training events to their colleagues within their institution and/or external peers.
  • Publish blogs or thought pieces 
  • Speak at conferences or events
  • Record or contribute to a podcast
  • Act as a mentor for colleagues interested in developing their own research capacity

These are examples only and cohort members may wish to tailor their dissemination activities to their own institution and professional practice. The expectation is that these activities will largely occur after a participant has completed the programme and employers will be required to commit to supporting cohort members in such dissemination activities as a legacy of their participation. RLUK will also publicise a range of opportunities through which cohort members might share their learning with the wider academic library community.

Course commitment: Research Catalyst Cohort

The Research Catalyst Cohort programme will be delivered by an expert team of trainers and facilitators from the ARMA community. It will be a fully virtual programme, delivered through a series of interactive workshops, development sprints, and seminars.

The successful completion of the programme will require a level of commitment from participants, and cohort members will be expected to participate fully in the programme’s events, workshops and discussions. In supporting an applicant, employers will need to recognise that the cohort programme will be delivered during working hours and that participants may need to be released from a portion of their substantive duties to enable them to fully participate.

Further details are given below of the duration and time commitment the programme is likely to represent.

  • Duration: the majority of the course will be delivered virtually between September 2023 and June 2024. The first session will be held in person at Senate House, London on Thursday 28 September 2023 and applicants should make a note of this time and date.
  • Frequency: events, workshops and seminars will be held every 3-4 weeks throughout this period and participants are expected to attend these in real time. Where this is not possible (e.g. for those colleagues with caring responsibilities), recordings will be made available.
  • Time commitment: the programme will consist of c. 45-50 hours of direct contact time between the participants and facilitator team through events, workshops, and seminars between September 2023 and June 2024. These sessions will be held during the working day.
  • Prerequisite experience: cohort members should have an active interest in and commitment to the development of their research capabilities, skills, and confidence. They should also have a commitment to developing colleagues and advocating for academic libraries as research partners and leaders. Cohort members are not expected to have had previous experience or success in applying for research funding.
  • Prerequisite knowledge: this programme is specifically aimed at library colleagues who are beginning their research journey. As a result, the programme is tailored to a ‘beginner’ level and assumes little previous knowledge of the academic funding landscape. This programme will not, therefore, be appropriate for colleagues with experience of submitting multiple/successful applications to research funders or with a comprehensive knowledge of the academic funding landscape.
  • Cost: This programme is co-funded by AHRC and RLUK. No charge will be made to participate in this programme, although colleagues will need to apply via a competitive application process (details below).

A preview of the 2023-24 application form is available here (for reference): application form questions as a PDF 

Click here to access the Research Catalyst Cohort Application form 2023-24

Only eighteen places are available on this cohort training programme. This is due to the qualitative and highly bespoke nature of this programme. The programme will run between September 2023 and June 2024.

Four part application

In order to apply to participate within the cohort, applicants will need to complete four application elements:

  1. Application form: This will outline their areas of interest, reasons for applying to the programme, and the perceived benefits of the programme to their ability and confidence to undertake research. This will be assessed as part of the selection process. Applicants need to submit this information via the smart survey application form (link above).
  2. Statement of support: a short statement of support (of no more than 500 words) is required on behalf of the applicant’s employer. This should confirm that the applicant’s employer supports their application and will provide them with sufficient time to participate fully within the programme, including during work hours, and undertake dissemination activities after its completion. The statement should include details of how participating in the programme will support the applicant’s development and its likely transformative effect on their professional practice. Where an applicant’s contract is due for renewal during the programme, employers should indicate the likelihood of renewal. ​​Statements should be sent to and be received by the application deadline of 17.00 Friday 28 July 2023. Please include ‘Research Catalyst Cohort: Statement of Support’ within the email subject and ensure that the applicant’s name is clearly stated within the statement and the accompanying email. Applications will not be considered without this statement and this will be assessed as part of the selection process.
  3. Training Needs Analysis: Applicants should also complete a Training Needs Analysis. This will be used by ARMA to refine the course content and will not be assessed as part of the selection process. Applicants need to submit this information via the smart survey application form (link above).
  4. Accessibility and declaration: applicants should note any accessibility requirements that they have to enable them to participate fully in this programme. They will also have to agree that RLUK will share their details with its programme partners, the AHRC and ARMA, and the members of a programme steering group (which will also form the selection panel for this programme, see below). This will not be assessed as part of the selection process, but an agreement to the declaration is required for an application to proceed.

All FOUR ELEMENTS must be completed in order to apply to join the cohort. Please note, in completing the application form, you agree that the information you provide will be shared between RLUK, ARMA, and AHRC, and with a panel of colleagues who constitute the programme selection panel.

Assessment process

Applications to join the Research Catalyst Cohort will close at 17.00 on Friday 28 July 2023. Applications will be assessed by a selection panel consisting of representatives from the research and academic library community, RLUK, AHRC, and ARMA.

Applications will be assessed against five established criteria and you should demonstrate these within your application:

  1. Commitment: Demonstration of the individual’s commitment to the programme and their desire to develop their research interests, capacity, and confidence, in line with the programme’s learning outcomes.
  2. Transformative effect: The extent to which participating in the Research Catalyst Cohort is likely to enhance the applicant’s capacity, capability, and confidence to initiate, develop, and lead research applications to a variety of academic funders in the future.
  3. Dissemination: The applicant’s commitment to sharing their learning with colleagues, within and beyond their institution, by offering further training, leading workshops, delivering conference papers, or publishing blogs. It is a requirement that participants agree to share the knowledge they learn widely, utilising the train-the-trainer model adopted by the programme.
  4. Employer support: The commitment of the applicant’s employer to support their undertaking of the Research Catalyst Cohort programme, including the provision that they will be released from elements of their substantive role (if required) in order to attend workshops and events, and make necessary preparation for learning elements during work time.
  5. Advocacy: The applicant’s willingness to act as an advocate for the value and benefit of research and academic libraries acting as research partners and leaders, and their potential contribution across the arts and humanities to academia and publics beyond academia.

Please note: Institutions need to ensure that applications submitted to this scheme meet the assessment criteria and are sufficiently rigorous to be highly competitive. If multiple applications from a single institution are proposed, the institution may wish to hold an internal selection and assessment process to ensure only the most competitive applications are submitted.

Applicants will hear the results of their application by early September, with the programme commencing on Thursday 28 September 2023. Applicants are encouraged to make a note of this date and ensure that they will be able to attend its first session, should their application be successful.


If you have any questions about the Research Catalyst Cohort programme, including around your eligibility, please email

Course outline

The Research Catalyst Cohort Programme is a bespoke professional development programme designed to enhance the capacity, capability, and confidence of colleagues working within academic libraries, to reposition them as research leaders and collaborators undertaking transformative research, supported through the submission of successful research funding applications. 

This will be delivered by the Association of Research Managers and Administrators (ARMA), sector leaders in delivering co-produced programmes with an array of partners, utilising the exceptional expertise and diverse experiences of their extensive community, to deliver high quality, inclusive and innovative training programmes. 

The Research Catalyst Cohort Programme will include a portfolio of development activities for participants, including (for example): 

  • Workshops on topics such as developing competitive funding applications 
  • Seminars with specialist speakers on key topics in the research landscape such as “Interdisciplinarity”
  • Mentoring support from a research development professional
  • Informal peer to peer sessions
  • Facilitated development sprints to help ensure progress in developing those successful research funding applications. 

On completion, candidates will feel better equipped than ever to step forward as research leaders and collaborators, taking forward bold new research ideas, and developing new funding proposals to take forward such initiatives. 

A full breakdown of course content, and learning schedule, will be provided to successful applicants.

If you have any questions about the nature of the course or specific content, please email