Fellowship – Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is meant by “original research”?
The work in question must be based on first hand work in the archives or on other primary sources. Authors whose output consists primarily of books providing a convenient synthesis of existing knowledge for students or non-specialists, or offering an overview of historical topics for a popular audience, should consider applying for Membership of the Society.

2. What is “a significant contribution to historical scholarship”?
A significant contribution will be a book or other work that looks beyond the immediate subject of the enquiry, to offer insights and findings that contribute to our understanding of broader historical problems and issues. As a result it will be a book or other publication that is likely to be discussed and cited, not just by other researchers working on the same topic, but by a wider group of historians interested in the more general relevance of its conclusions. It is also likely to be reviewed in the main relevant academic journals.

3. Do I have to have written a book?
Most of those elected to the Fellowship have produced a full length book. However it is also possible to be elected on the basis of a body of work of similar scale and importance, such as scholarly editions, catalogues or calendars of historical materials, or a substantial set of articles in learned journals. We also welcome applications from those who have made a significant scholarly contribution to the historical discipline, through activities such as exhibition curatorships, web and media productions and other roles outlined in our guidance notes under 3 (iii).

4. Do I have to have a Ph.D.?
Doctoral research is today the most common route into advanced historical research. However it is not a requirement of the Fellowship.

5. Do I have to teach in a university?
No. Elections to the Fellowship have also included independent scholars, producing works of advanced historical research outside the world of higher education. They have also included museum curators, filmmakers and others whose work, while focussed on communicating aspects of history to a wider public, is also grounded in their own advanced historical scholarship.

6. I work in another discipline, but with a historical dimension. Am I eligible?
Our definition of history includes all forms of scholarly exploration of the human past. So the Society welcomes applications from those working in other disciplines whose research has a substantial historical component.

7. What if I do not know any existing Fellows who could support my application?
It is not necessary that the Fellow supporting your application knows you personally. Given that you are doing advanced research in a particular field you will already know the names of leading specialists in that area. They, equally, are likely to know your work and will be happy to see it recognised by the award of a Fellowship. To check which specialists in your field are Fellows of the Society please consult the lists of current Fellows. You can then contact that Fellow to request their support. Please make sure to do this before giving their name on your application.

8. How are decisions reached on applications?
The Membership Committee, comprising four members of Council, reviews all applications. The Committee looks in the first instance at the C.V. and personal statement submitted by the applicant, and the Fellow’s statement of support. It may then go on to consult reviews of the applicant’s work in academic journals, and citations by other historians. It may also read some of the work concerned, or seek the advice of one or more other specialists in the area. On the basis of this examination it will then make a recommendation to the Council of the Society. Where possible this is done at the Council meeting following receipt of the application and of the Fellow’s recommendation, but in some cases it may be necessary to defer a decision while further enquiries are made.