Fellowship FAQs

Important information to assist applicants for the State Library of NSW's Fellowships.


If I’m not currently employed as a researcher am I able to apply?

Yes. Many previous recipients of Fellowships have been early career researchers or independent scholars.

Do I need to be an Australian citizen or Australian resident?

No. You are, however, expected to engage with the collections at the State Library of NSW unless you are applying for the:

In which case, you can draw on the Library’s and any other repository’s collections.

Can a team of researchers apply for a Fellowship?

No. The research projects must be undertaken by a single researcher.

Am I able to apply if I am currently enrolled in a tertiary course?

Yes. Your application, however, will need to provide evidence that you are an experienced researcher, the Fellowships are not scholarships designed to facilitate the completion of a course. 

If you are completing a doctoral program, you should consider the workload of finalising a research higher degree and embarking on a new project at the same time.

I have already received funding for my project, am I still able to apply?

Yes. You will need to detail the source and value of any other funding you have received for your project. The judges reserve the right to privilege applicants who have no other source of financial support.

Am I able to apply if my project provides a direct output for another organisation or is the completion of a direct output commenced at another organisation (for example, the proposed output is an exhibition at another institution, or was a fellowship at another institution)?

No. Fellowship outputs must support the Library. All related presentations and publications, as well as other output types must acknowledge the support of the Library.

If my plan is to reformat an output from an already completed project (for example, reworking a dissertation or thesis into a publication) am I able to apply?

No. Fellowship outputs must support the Library. All presentations and publications, as well as other output types must acknowledge the support of the Library.

If I’m completing a project that is, essentially, already complete (for example, editing a book that has already been written) am I eligible to apply?

No. Fellowship outputs must support the Library during the period of the Fellowship.

Am I able to apply if I have already been awarded a Fellowship at the Library?

Yes. Previous recipients of Fellowships and Scholars at the Library can apply. Your proposal, however, cannot be an extension of work already undertaken as a Fellow, it must seek to answer a new question. The judges reserve the right to privilege applicants who have not been a previous recipient of a Library Fellowship or Scholar's position.

Who is an emerging writer or early career researcher?

An emerging writer is a writer who is yet to publish a full-length work, or who has had a debut full-length work published in the last five years (at the time of application). An early career researcher is a researcher who has graduated with a PhD in the last five years (at the time of application), or who has been practising in their field for less than five years (at the time of application).

What is a full-length work?

A full-length work is a volume published in book or eBook form, of at least 60,000 words, for commercial sale by a single author (so, excluding edited collections). Some types of writing, such as poetry, might be shorter than 60,000 words but should still present as a book made available for commercial sale.

Judges and judging criteria

How competitive are the Fellowships?

The Fellowship program is highly competitive.

What topics are most likely to be successful?

You are encouraged to visit the Fellowship pages and review the topics undertaken by the Library’s previous Fellows and Scholars.

What kind of outputs are most likely to be successful?

A range of outputs will be considered, but you need to note the specific aims of each Fellowship. 

Visiting Scholars and Summer Scholars are welcome to put forward outputs that are traditional, creative or both; all projects must be anchored in the Library collections.

Who are the judges?

The judging panel comprises experienced scholars, including former Fellows. The Mitchell Librarian serves on all the judging panels.

What are the judges looking for?

  • well-structured, well-written applications
  • evidence of your research experience, particularly experience with archival or special collections
  • the collections being utilised and how the outputs will engage the Library’s audiences.
What information do I need to include in my application?

Your application will require answers to the following questions:

  • personal details (name, address, etc) 
  • the title of the project (up to 30 words) 
  • key words (up to 5 words) 
  • a project abstract (up to 200 words) 
  • a detailed description of the project (up to 1000 words) 
  • whether, and if yes, how your proposal explores Australian Indigenous culture and/or history? (up to 500 words) 
  • your proposed project timeline (up to 500 words) 
  • the relevant research collections being utilised for the project (up to 1000 words) 
  • research outcomes and results (up to 1000 words) 
  • examples of your writing and research which demonstrates your previous use of library and archival collections (up to 1000 words) 
  • has this project commenced? 
  • have you applied to any other funding body? 
  • your referees
  • how did you hear about the Fellowship? 
  • a biographical note. 

What is meant by a project timeline? 

A project timeline provides an indication of your activity across the one- or two-year tenure of the Fellowship. A timeline will outline the research, writing and delivery phases of the project. If part of the project is to deliver a presentation or submit a publication, these points of activity would also appear on the timeline. 

Will I need to provide details of referees? 

Yes. You will need to provide details of three professional referees for the Coral Thomas and Imago Fellowships, two referees are required for all other Fellowship and Scholar positions.

What is expected from a referee? 

Nominated referees should be knowledgeable about your research ability and publication record. Your referees must be able to talk about your research skills. 

Can I save my application form? 

Yes. Once you have downloaded your form from the Library’s website you will be able to save it. 

Multiple applications

Can I submit more than one application for a single Fellowship?

No. Applicants can only submit one application for a Fellowship each year but may submit applications for multiple Fellowships in a year. For example, you cannot submit two, or more, different applications for the David Scott Mitchell Memorial Fellowship (see also the next question).

Can I submit the same application for multiple Fellowships?

Yes. You can submit applications for multiple Fellowships. For example, applicants will often submit the same application for both the David Scott Mitchell Memorial Fellowship and the Merewether Fellowship or the CH Currey Memorial Fellowship and the Nancy Keesing AM Fellowship.


How long does judging take?

  • applications open annually in May
  • applications close on Friday, 12 July 2024 at 5 pm
  • judging takes place in August
  • referee checks and other approvals are completed in September
  • applicants will be advised of the outcome in October.

Will a late application be considered?

Yes. Late applications can be accepted in exceptional circumstances. Contact the Mitchell Librarian via email at scholarship@sl.nsw.gov.au prior to the closing date.

If my application is successful, when do I start my Fellowship?

Traditionally, Fellows undertake their research in the calendar year following their application. Fellows who apply and are appointed in 2024 are 2025 Fellows.

How long do I have to complete the Fellowship?

Coral Thomas Fellows have the year of their appointment and the following two calendar years to complete their project. 

All other Fellows have the year of their appointment and the following calendar year to complete their project.

May I start my Fellowship early?

Some Fellows will start their research shortly after they are advised that their application has been successful. The bulk of a Fellowship project will still be undertaken in the calendar year following their application and appointment (Coral Thomas Fellows have two years to complete).

Is it possible to have an extension to my Fellowship?

It is expected that Fellows will complete their project in the calendar year following their application and appointment (Coral Thomas Fellows have two years to complete). In some circumstances, extensions can be granted by the Mitchell Librarian. This will depend upon a number of factors including the availability of the Donald & Myfanwy Horne Room. A completion date must be agreed on as part of the granting of an extension.

Financial information

When are Fellowships paid and what am I able to spend the funds on?

You can spend Fellowship funds on living expenses, travel expenses, to buy out teaching load or any other reasonable expense to facilitate the completion of the Fellowship. 

Note that Fellows are paid in two instalments, half on commencement (February) and half at roughly the mid-way point of the Fellowship (July). Summer Scholars will be paid $1000 upon commencement of their project in December.

If I receive Fellowship payments directly, do I have to pay tax?

The Library recommends that you seek financial advice that considers your personal circumstances. 

If my employer (for example, my university) receives my Fellowship payments, are they able to collect an administration fee?

The Library prefers that the full payment supports your research project costs directly. 

We provide some administrative support (for example, with invoicing and in liaising with the Library’s specialist staff). We also support some of the on-costs of research by providing access to a workspace for Fellows including printing facilities.

What is the monetary value of each Fellowship? 

Expectations and deliverables

How will I be advised of the outcome of my application?

Outcomes will be communicated via email in two rounds, successful applicants will be advised in the first round and unsuccessful applicants in the second.

If my application is successful what is expected from me as a Fellow?

  • active promotion of the research undertaken during your tenure
  • a presentation about the project at the conclusion of the Fellowship
  • engagement with Library staff so that they can benefit from your research
  • contributions to the Library’s print and digital publications
  • publications, outcomes or media coverage resulting from the Fellowship must prominently acknowledge the support of the Library and the Fellowship
  • submission, to the Mitchell Librarian, of a summary of their completed project, copies of any research outcomes (presentations and publications) and a bibliography or list of resources which will be held in the Library’s corporate records system
  • acquittal of the Fellowship in a timely manner.

Am I expected to spend time onsite at the Library?

Yes. It is acknowledged that all Fellows and Scholars have outside professional and personal commitments, but it is expected that Fellows and Scholars will make use of the Donald & Myfanwy Horne Room during their Fellowship.

Am I expected to attend an induction?

Yes. An induction for all new Fellows and Visiting Scholars takes place every February and all Fellows are encouraged to attend the group induction. Individual inductions can be arranged if necessary. Summer Scholars will be inducted in December.

What, in addition to funding, is provided to support Fellows?

Fellows and Scholars are given exclusive use of the Donald & Myfanwy Horne Room and behind-the-scenes access to Library staff. Mentoring and research support is available, Fellows and Scholars are encouraged to participate in the structured professional development sessions offered out of the Donald & Myfanwy Horne Room.  

Fellows and Scholars will also become part of the Fellows Alumni and will be invited to attend various events held at the Library.

How do I submit an application?

We have carefully considered your feedback and this year’s Fellowship application forms are downloadable Microsoft Word documents which enable you to work offline and save as you go. You can access the forms by clicking the appropriate link/s below.

If you do not have access to Microsoft Word, you can use the free, open-source word processor in LibreOffice. Please note that hand-written applications and printed, hard copies of the forms will not be accepted.

Email your completed application form/s, along with your resume, to scholarship@sl.nsw.gov.au using the subject line Application - Fellowship name - Your name, no later than 5 pm AEST on Friday, 12 July 2024.

Application forms