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  • 29,584 funded projects
  • 21,111 grant winners
  • 15.69 PLN billion in grants
  • 55,988 applicants

Early-stage researchers

The NCN launches calls for proposals addressed to early-stage researchers at any stage of their research career. The call portfolio includes programmes designed for scientists at the onset of their career, experienced researchers as well as programmes in which early-stage researchers compete with their experienced colleagues.

  • Applicants are usually researchers who are up to 40-45 years old and whose PhD was awarded within the last 12 years.
  • In 2023, the NCN allocated over PLN 1.2 billion for research, 50% of which was designated to support the development of early-stage researchers.
  • Between 2016 (when the measurements started) and 2023, the NCN awarded a total of PLN 5.2 billion to support the development of early-stage researchers, which accounted for 47% of the total amount awarded for domestic and international calls.

Thanks to NCN grants, early-stage researchers can carry out their projects, build their own research teams, enjoy PhD scholarships and find employment in Polish research centres. There already exists a whole generation of young people (informally known as “the NCN generation”) who have come of age as researchers beneath the wings of the agency. Access to funding awarded via a reliable procedure dominated by international experts (free of nepotism or political concerns) has encouraged them to stay in Poland or return to Poland.

Number of years in research and age, in Polish (pdf)

NCN funding for early-stage researchers, in Polish (pdf)

Early-stage researchers in NCN calls (podcast)

Grant geography

  • In 2011-2023, proposals were submitted by a total of 824 universities, research institutes of the Polish Academy of Sciences, research centres and other entities. The largest number of proposals came from the largest academic centres: 33% of the units were situated in the Masovian Voivodeship, followed by the Lesser Poland Voivodeship, which accounted for over 11%. A similar trend can be observed among grant winners. Most grants tend to go to Masovia and Lesser Poland, due to the larger number of entities from these voivodeships in the applicant pool.
  • The greatest success rate over the 13 years in question was observed for entities from Greater Poland (55%), Masovian voivodeship (53%), and Lublin  voivodeship (52%).
  • In 2023, 31,8% of all grants awarded by the NCN went to the Masovian Voivodeship, and 18,5% to the Lesser Poland Voivodeship, followed by the Greater Poland with 11,2% and the Lower Silesian Voivodeship with 9,1%.

The NCN takes measures to support smaller academic centres. It promotes academic mobility, introduces caps on the number of grants per institution, launches regular MINIATURA calls and organises applicant training courses and NCN Days outside of the largest cities. In 2024 NCN Days took place in Bydgoszcz.

Number of submitted proposals, budgets, entities, applicants – per voivodeship, in Polish (pdf)

Grant geography (podcast)

Equal access to funding

  • The NCN has consistently prioritised equal access to research funding for men and women.  In 2022, we adopted a new NCN Gender Equality Plan. We also publish regular data on women’s participation in NCN-funded projects.

Gender participation in NCN-funded projects, in Polish (pdf)

Men and women in science (podcast)

NCN experts

Proposals submitted to NCN calls are evaluated by Polish and foreign researchers, who sit on Expert teams, as well as external peer reviewers, whose decisions are exclusively based on criteria of scientific excellence and involve no conflict of interest.

  • In 2022, proposals were evaluated by a total of 2136 experts and 9953 peer reviewers. Over 96% of reviewers and nearly 85% of experts are researchers affiliated with foreign research institutions. The largest percentage of researchers with a foreign affiliation is within Physical Sciences and Engineering, the lowest within Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. The highest internationalisation is within Life Sciences and the lowest within Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.
  • Proposals submitted to the National Science Centre between 2011 and 2023 were evaluated mainly by researchers employed in the USA, UK, Germany, Italy, France and Spain.
  • Nearly all experts participating in the evaluation process between 2017 and 2023 (almost 5,000 people) have worked as principal investigators (95% on average and 92% in 2023). Most had also served as peer reviewers in other grant agencies (87% on average and almost 95% in 2022) and NCN Expert Team members.
  • Nearly all experts who took part in the internal NCN evaluation process between 2021 and 2023 (over 6,000 people) were also peer reviewers in scientific journals (99%) and other grant agencies (91% on average) and worked as principal investigators (80% on average).

2023 NCN evaluation Report, in Polish (pdf)

Names and affiliations of NCN experts and peer reviewers.

NCN budget

A frozen budget of the National Science Centre is a huge challenge making it impossible to fund even good research projects.

  • In 2024, the state budget included PLN 31.349 billion for higher education and science which means that only 5.2% of the state budget (over PLN 1.643 billion) is designated for NCN research-funding operations.
  • The said PLN 1.643 billion includes PLN 200 million the National Science Centre received from the Ministry of Science and Higher Education so far. An increase in the subsidy would be impossible without the involvement of the scientific community supporting the NCN and advocating for its budget to be increased.
  • The additional PLN 200 million allowed us to fund 584 highly ranked projects on the waiting lists. Funding was awarded to 322 projects on the waiting lists under OPUS 25, PRELUDIUM 22, MAESTRO 15 and SONATA BIS 13 and 262 under OPUS 26 and SONATA 19.
  • Recently, the NCN budget has been virtually frozen. In 2015, funds for research from the state budget amounted to PLN 871 million. Three years later, the amount went up to PLN 1.226 billion, in 2022, it went up to PLN 1.392 billion and in 2023, it remained the same. This means that between 2015 and 2018, the NCN budget went up by over 40%, and between 2018 and 2023, by merely 13%.
  • A few years ago, the NCN success rate was ca. 25%. As a consequence of the NCN being poorly funded by the state and the cost of research increasing (due to a drastic increase in the prices of services, materials and research equipment), the success rate dropped to 17% in 2022 and (in some calls) even below 10% in 2023. In the calls concluded in 2024, following an increase in the NCN funding, the success rate went up by more than ten percent (15% in OPUS 26 and 19% in SONATA 19).
  • We are convinced that with a view of a long-term development of science and the needs of the scientific community, we should at least strive to reach the success rate of ca. 25%. Therefore, we have been appealing to the public authorities to increase the NCN funding.

2023 infomation

Funding appeals by the NCN Director and Council President

Appeals by the Chairs of international panels evaluating proposals under NCN calls

NCN budget  (podcast)