Synthesis Grants

Fast-tracking innovative and impactful research by contributing £30k towards the formation of new two-year synthesis groups. 

British Ecological Society Ecology Research Grants Synthesis

Synthesis is a growing scientific research method where scientists garner new knowledge and insights from existing data, using a hypothesis and question-led approach.

Synthesis outputs should help inform decision-making by various relevant stakeholders, such as policymakers, regulators and funding agencies.

This grant aims to bring together diverse interdisciplinary groups of 8-15 individuals to focus on data analysis and synthesis while fostering collaboration and mentoring opportunities.

Networks are encouraged across universities, research institutes, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), industry and government departments, and groups should include a mix of career stages and backgrounds. We ask that working groups are not formed entirely of members from academic institutions.

Every effort should be made to ensure long-lasting connections and networks are established far beyond the project’s funded length. Examples of this include producing open synthesis datasets and synthesis publications.

The groups should meet using a hybrid model, with regular formal meetings.

  • Two in-person meetings must be held at the kick-off and conclusion of the project. In-person meetings should rotate among different institutions to ensure mobility, and to maximise the opportunity each meeting should last for a minimum 3 days.
  • All other meetings should be held virtually, capitalising on advances made during the pandemic using remote meetings software (such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Webex, Google Meet, etc).

To Apply

There will be two rounds of funding in 2024. 

  • The first round of funding will open on January 11th 2024.
  • The second round of funding will open on July 11th 2024.


When applications open, register/log into our online grants system, complete your contact details, and navigate to ‘Your Applications’.

Applicants are only able to submit one grant application per round, across all grant schemes.

Synthesis groups should run for a maximum of two years, but every effort should be made to ensure long-lasting connections and networks are established far beyond the projects funded length.

It is a condition of all of our grant schemes that applicants submit a report within three months of the end date of your award. Reports will be submitted via our online grants system.


Round 1
Applications open on January 11th. The deadline to apply during Round 1 is March 8th. You will be notified in late May regarding the outcome of your application.

If you apply during round 1, projects should start from early June 2024 to early December 2024 and be completed within 24 months of the start date.

Round 2
Applications open on July 11th. The deadline to apply during Round 2 is September 11th. You will be notified in late November regarding the outcome of your application.

If you apply during round 2, projects should start from early December 2024 to early June 2025 and be completed within 24 months of the start date.

Eligibility and Conditions

  • The main applicant must have BES membership. It is not a requirement for all members of the working group to have membership.
  • The groups must have a diverse mix of members at different career stages, a diversity of institutions and have international participation.
  • Applicants are responsible for obtaining all relevant permits and permissions required to undertake the proposed work.
  • We will not award more than one grant to any one applicant in any one year, and no more than three grants in any five year period.
  • Failure to submit a satisfactory report at the end of a grant will mean the grantee is ineligible to apply for further grants.

All groups need to demonstrate principles of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) in their composition. To explicitly address this, at least 30% of participants should be from the Global South and balanced by gender and ethnicity.

Working groups will be required to promote the Findability, Accessibility, Interoperability and Reusability (FAIR) principles, since a central part of synthesis science requires assembling existing data and the creation of new databases.

All group members must meet in person at the project’s start and end. Smaller group meetings during the duration of the two year project is a reasonable expense.

Please consider your carbon footprint when arranging meetings. Meetings can be held at a conference for example, where group members were already planning to attend.

The contact details and experience levels for the group members must be provided as part of the application process.


Synthesis groups can claim up to £30,000 over two years for groups of 8-15 participants.

The size of the award allows for travel and subsistence to attend physical meetings, as well as facility and venue hire and computing costs to support working group activity within the hosting institutions, which do not have dedicated facilities and may require additional costs to enable hosting a working group onsite.

Funding can be used to support Global South ecologists in purchasing equipment such as laptops.

The lead applicant will be awarded all the funding. The lead applicant must state how the funding is administered across the group and institutions as part of the application process.

Funding can be used to contribute towards publishing a paper as a result of this project. The paper does not have to be published in a BES journal. BES members receive discounts on publishing costs:

  • 25% discount on Article Processing Charges (APCs) when publishing open access in Functional Ecology, Journal of Animal Ecology, Journal of Applied Ecology and Journal of Ecology. 
  • 20% discount when publishing in our fully open access journal’s People and Nature, Ecological Solutions and Evidence and Methods in Ecology and Evolution.
  • 10% discount when publishing in Ecology and Evolution

Although data collection should be limited for a Synthesis Group, funding can be used for employment to provide gap-filling data collection on the ground in Global South countries.

Funding is not available to cover a working group member’s time.

It is a condition of all grants that our contribution is acknowledged in any publication or publicity that may arise from this study. Please notify us of any publications supported by this funding.

Statement of Support

Each application requires two statements from host institutions indicating their support for this project and the facilities available to enable hosting.

We will automatically contact the referees using the emails provided in the application; both reference statements must be completed online before the application deadline. You cannot submit your application until these have been provided. We cannot accept referee statements sent independently via email or by letter.

Scoring Criteria and Assessment

Applications will be accepted not only from Academic Institutions but should also be led by and include research organisations, NGOs, etc. Non-academic participation is very important. The scheme will not be just Higher Education Institution (HEI) led.

Your application will be reviewed and scored by our Grants Committee.

More information on the scoring criteria can be found here. 

As part of our commitment to support the recommendations and principles set out by the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA;, applicants should not use journal-based metrics, such as journal impact factors, as a surrogate measure of the quality of individual research articles. Our Review College are also asked not to consider such journal metrics when reviewing applications.

Supporting Ecologists in the Global South

Our commitment to supporting Ecologists in the Global South can be found here.

We recognise the challenges ecologists across the Global South face in their science and research. We have set a target that at least 51% of our available grant funding will be allocated to Ecologists in the Global South.

Awards will be made to successful applications across all our grant schemes rather than having a separate grant scheme.

To be eligible for Global South funding, you must be a citizen of and working/studying in a Global South country. This question will be asked during the application process.

Examples of other Synthesis groups and published research

Synthesis grants are new to the BES, and therefore, we have no current examples of groups we have funded.

Synthesis at CESAB provides examples of currently funded Synthesis groups and research.

Some Synthesis based papers published in open-access BES journals include:


Resubmission Policy

We do not accept re-submissions of the same project. Applications will be rejected without review if they are re-submissions of a proposal rejected in a previous round, or if they represent only a minor revision of such a proposal (for example, with a modified experimental design). As a guide, to be significantly different, at least 80% of objectives and activities should be different to the original proposal.