Latest funding opportunities 2012 - ESRC


Communications Team Activity

Investments News is an opportunity for ESRC funded centres, programmes and ventures to inform us of any news worthy items. Items could be anything from a press release to an event, new research findings or reports. The information submitted will be published under our events section and tweeted, or may feed into web features, press releases, eNews, the Social Science for Schools website, or Society Now. Information provided will be included in the Communications calendar for Research Councils UK. Audiences for the above vary and will include academia, press, people with an interest in social science, as well as the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.


The Pathways to Impact Toolkit gives you everything you need to achieve the maximum impact for your work. The toolkit includes information on developing an impact strategy, promoting knowledge exchange, public engagement and communicating effectively with your key stakeholders. 

Public Engagement:

We are currently working with a small number of investments to create case studies for public engagement activity.  We are keen to involve more investments in this process and would encourage you to get in contact with us if you are involved in public engagement activity.  We are also developing a number of schools resources for our website, Social Science for Schools.  Please let us know if you have developed any resources suitable for secondary schools or young people, either for online or in hard copy.

2012-13 media training sessions now live

Available to ESRC PhD students, researchers and investments we run a number of media training courses, depending on your needs.

Web user survey

The re-launched ESRC website has been live for over a year, and you are probably now familiar with the new design and navigation. We'd like to know what you think of the website now, and would be grateful if you could spend a few minutes answering our quick survey:


Website reviews and guidelines

Our guidelines and requirements for investment websites are now available at

We will continue to review investment websites over the coming months. When we review a site we will provide a report that details improvements that could be made.


Festival of Social Science

The 10th annual ESRC festival will be held 3 to 10 November 2012. Applications are now welcome

Key Team contacts:

Press and Media: Danielle Moore

Festival of Social Science: Amy Parkman

Public Engagement: Melanie Knetsch

Society Now and Britain in: Nick Stevens

Web features: Arild Foss

Website development: Jonathan Connor
Banners and branding: Debbie Stalker

Training Team Activity

Recently launched was the PhD Partnering scheme to DTCs and international teams in universities with DTCs. Please see the PDF document that was also attached to my email for further information.

The Training team are also currently in the process of revising the guidance on grant linked studentships. This is partly as a result of the growing concern that applicants were not making a strong case for these studentships, which results in them being cut from the grant application, but also to reflect that now the network of Doctoral Training Centres is up and running grant linked studentships should be embedded within them.

As part of the revision the team will be emphasising that applicants should seek the support of the DTC prior to submitting their application and their funding will be paid alongside all DTC students. Once the guidance is updated, grant linked studentships will be costed on the same basis as standard students too (i.e. on the basis of a notional cost).

The key criterion remains unchanged i.e. that a grant linked studentship is designed to add value to the proposed research outlined in the application, whilst providing a clear opportunity for a distinct and independent course of enquiry for the student. The main research grant project should still be viable without the studentship and should have distinct objectives that are not reliant upon the studentship. The studentship must not be a displacement for the normal research support required on the grant.



In addition:

•              the grant applied for is for 3 years or more;

•              the Principal or Co-Investigators are approved to act as a primary supervisors for PhD students are based within an accredited Doctoral Training Centre (see exceptions below);

•              the student(s) are located in an ESRC accredited Doctoral Training Centre (DTC) and they are studying on an accredited pathway.

International Team Activity


  1. The ESRC pursues an aggressive international strategy that aims to reduce barriers to collaboration between UK social scientists and their counterparts worldwide.  It also strategically supports collaborative activities in priority research areas and with priority partner countries, including those with both established and emerging capacities for research excellence.
  2. Over the past two years, the ESRC has steadily undertaken a process of embedding opportunities for international cooperation throughout its core business. The purpose of this note is twofold:
    1. To provide major investment Directors with up to date information on the opportunities for international collaboration available from ESRC funding;
    2. To ask them to consider what further initiatives the ESRC could undertake that would strengthen their ability to work with international partners to generate excellent research.
  3. A meeting of Major Investment Directors is being held on April 26th, which will include a presentation on ESRC’s international strategy and the opportunity to provide feedback on its development.

International Funding Opportunities within ESRC

  1. International Co-investigators: Any ESRC research grant may include international co-investigators.  ESRC policy is to fund only direct research costs for these co-investigators, and these cannot exceed 30% of the total cost of the grant (at 100% FEC).
  2. International Partnering and Networking Scheme: For developing relatively new research collaborations, this scheme provides a small amount of funding (up to £25,000) to facilitate scholar exchanges, workshops, summer schools and other networking activities.
  3. PhD Partnering: ESRC’s Doctoral Training Centres will be invited to apply for funding to develop reciprocal institutional links with centres of social science excellence overseas.  The focus of this initiative will be on developing and emerging science nations, to ensure the UK social science base remains at the forefront of the emerging multi-polar research landscape.  We will support DTCs to develop international links to partner their cohorts of doctoral researchers with those in overseas institutions working on similar topics.
  4. Open Research Area: Since 2010, the ESRC has operated the Open Research Area in collaboration with partner agencies in France, Germany and the Netherlands.  This scheme enables collaborative research proposals that include researchers from any combination of the participating countries.  The scheme has proved highly successful and we hope to make an announcement soon concerning its expansion.
  5. Future Research Leaders Scheme:  The Future Research Leaders scheme, which supports early career researchers, encourages the inclusion of significant periods of international mobility, and allows for the appointment of an international mentor to support this.


 European Commission developments


  1. Investment Directors are probably aware that Horizon 2020, the successor to FP7, will be structured around the following three programmes:


  • Excellence Science – comprising the European Research Council, Future and Emerging Technologies, Marie Curie Actions and Research Infrastructure.

 Industrial Leadership - comprising leadership in enabling and industrial technologies (ICT, nanotech, advanced materials, biotech, advanced manufacturing and space), innovation in SMEs and risk financing.

  • Societal Challenges

The Societal Challenges respond directly to policy priorities identified in the Europe 2020 strategy and aim to stimulate the critical mass of research and innovation efforts needed to achieve Union policy goals. The following Societal Challenges are proposed:

  • Health, demographic change and well-being;
  • Food security, sustainable agriculture and the bio-economy;
  • Secure, clean and efficient energy;
  • Smart, green and integrated transport;
  • Climate action, resource efficiency and raw materials; and
  • Inclusive, innovative and secure societies.


  1. Through various forums the ESRC has been making the case that there should be social science contributions to all the Horizon 2020 societal challenges; that there should be a social sciences and humanities led challenge.  These efforts appear to have been largely successful.  Social sciences are stressed throughout the various challenges and Inclusive, innovative and secure societies is intended to be social science led.  The ESRC will continue to engage closely to ensure that there is a strong role for social science as detailed specifications for each challenge are developed, and that Inclusive, innovative and secure societies does not become dominated by technical approaches to security issues.

Future developments

  1. The ESRC is keen to address any gaps in its international strategy and ensure that its investments are equipped to be international leaders in their respective research areas.  We are currently investigating measures to support and encourage major investments to establish strong sustainable links with international centres of excellence enabling them to coordinate research agendas and activities.
  2. We would like to encourage major investment directors to provide us with their views on what action ESRC could take that would most effectively enhance the capacity of major investments to strengthen their international links. 



Resources: Team Activity

Research Resources – Updates for Research Investment Troikas

Administrative Data Taskforce

The Administrative Date Taskforce (ADT) chaired by Sir Alan Langlands was constituted in November 2011 with a membership drawn from key Whitehall departments, the devolved administrations, the academic community and a number of key funders (ESRC, MRC, Wellcome Trust). The ADT held its first meeting on 8th December 2011 followed by a major consultation meeting with a broader range of experts on 16th January 2012. 

Three broad ‘challenges’ are now being addressed in greater detail by expert-led sub groups: (a) data access and data linkage models (b) addressing the legal challenges to improving access to and use of administrative data and (c) public engagement with and attitudes to greater use of public data. The expert-led sub groups presented draft reports at the ADT meeting on 28th March, and following further iterations the final recommendations from each groups will be presented and discussed at the following meeting on the 25th April to enable the ADT to refine its thinking around these challenges. The ADT will then hold two further meetings, in May and July, to agree recommendations and produce an ‘action orientated’ report. This is still on track to be finalised by the early autumn. 

Some further information is available at:

(FFI: Vanessa Cuthill,

Understanding Society 

The full Wave 1 dataset was released to the public on 23 November 2011 and is available through the Economic and Social Data Service (ESDS). Wave 2 Year 1 (longitudinal) data was released on 29 February and the full Wave 2 dataset is expected to be available from Autumn 2012. In addition to this, Understanding Society data is currently being linked to the Department for Education’s National Pupil Database and this expected to be available for research use within the next twelve months.

Understanding Society: Findings 2012’ was published on 28 February 2012, revealing a complex and fascinating portrait of a society suffering the effects of the deepest recession since the early 1990’s and in which young people appear to have been hardest hit. The research also shows that efforts to get more students from poorer backgrounds to go to university have not been successful and that more needs to be done to get teenagers to live a healthier life in order to assure their future happiness.  

Further information on how our researchers can engage with the Study through the Innovation Panel, Associated Studies and Researcher Support and training can be found on the website:

(FFI: Jo Lake,

Birth Cohort Study

Progress is being made with the ESRC/ MRC Birth Cohort Study (BCS) on which work began in July 2011. The Study, which will be the largest of its kind to be established within the UK, is intended to support innovative research spanning the interface between the biomedical, social and clinical sciences. It will create a major resource for the research community, for the benefit of society generally, enabling analyses to explore how developments in society, the community, the environment and the family influence the health and well-being of children as they grow up. The Birth Cohort Study is being directed by the Study Director, Professor Carol Dezateux, and her Team based at University College London. Further information about the Study can be found at   

The Study is currently in its preparatory phase which will last until December 2012 before the main phase, including piloting, recruitment, and data collection starts from 2013.

(FFI: Paul Meller,

Cohort Resource Facility

The Cohort Resources Facility (CRF) is being commissioned by a two stage process including outline and full proposal stages. The call for outline proposals opened on 13 June 2011. Outline applications were sent to the CRF Commissioning Panel which is comprised of a range of experts on cohort management, data linkage and harmonisation. Following the Panel’s recommendation, full proposals have also now been submitted and peer reviewed by academics and users, selected for their expertise in cohort management or the use of cohort data. The Commissioning Panel is now assessing the full proposals and peer review comments before recommending whether the applicants should be invited to interview. Interviews are due to take place in April 2012 and, if successful, the CRF award is due to commence in July 2012.

(FFI: Paul Meller,

ESRC UK Data Service

The ESRC currently funds the Economic and Social Data Service (ESDS), which is the main facility through which the Council provides access to a wide range of national and international social and economic data resources. As part of its Delivery Plan objectives the Council identified the need to integrate its existing data services to provide a more seamless and cost effective way of supporting social and economic research.  As the current contracts for ESDS and other specialist services draw to close, the Methods and Infrastructure Committee has set about creating a new integrated UK Data Service.

The new Service will unify and extend the existing functionality offered by the ESRC funded data services. By providing simpler and seamless access to data resources it will help maximise their academic and non-academic use and impact.  The new Service will form a critical part of the UK data infrastructure - collecting, ingesting, preserving and providing access and user support to a wide variety of key national data resources which fundamentally drive forward UK social and economic research.

The Core Service will acquire, ingest, preserve and provide access and user support for all existing and future data holdings including major surveys funded by the ESRC, but also a huge variety of UK official statistics and surveys, international datasets and data from a diverse array of other bodies.

It is expected that that final funding decision will be taken by Council on 20 April 2012. It is planned that the new Service will become operational in October 2012 with the budget of £15m over five years for the Core Service.

(FFI: Kristine Doronenkova,

UK Data Service (UKDS) Census Support Service

The ESRC is also commissioning a UKDS Census Support Service to deliver data access and user support to Census data that will embedded within the UK Data Service - Core (operational from 1 October 2012) to operate with a common technical infrastructure and set of standards. The UK Data Service - Core will unify and extend the existing functionality offered by the Economic and Social Data Service (ESDS) ( and other ESRC-funded data services (including functions currently provided by the 2001 Census Programme and will provide simpler and seamless access to data resources in order to maximise their use and impact.

The purpose of the Census Support Service will be to enable user-friendly and well-informed use of 2011 Census data to the UK academic community that is critical to social science research. The Service will be one of a series of value-added services commissioned to focus on specialist user support, and bespoke interface and analysis tools for data from the 2011 Census and earlier UK Censuses of Population. This includes area, digital boundary, interaction and micro data. These services will also promote access to new forms of data to extend their research opportunities; and explore different ways of exploiting and handling various types of data.

(FFI: Claire Feary,

The UK Census LS Research Support Units and Development Hub

The ESRC is commissioning Research Support Units for the England & Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland Census Longitudinal Studies.  The core objectives of the Research Support Units will be to provide expert support to research users of the Census Longitudinal Studies and to promote the studies within the academic, policy, and practitioner communities. The Research Support Units will be affiliated to the UK Data Service and will take advantage of the integrated infrastructure and expertise it will offer. Users of the Research Support Units should be able to seamlessly access information from the UK Data Service.

To promote greater co-operation between the three Research Support Units and momentum by the UK Census organisations, a central Development Hub is also being commissioned to co-ordinate the common functions of the Units and improve harmonisation across the Census Longitudinal Studies. The Hub and Units will also seek to promote a UK-wide Longitudinal Study, in collaboration with other stakeholders.  

The Research Support Units and Development Hub are expected to commence from August 2012 for a period of five years.

(FFI: Claire Feary,

Expert Advisory Group on Data Access (EAGDA)

This new joint group is being established by the Wellcome Trust, MRC, ESRC and Cancer Research UK to provide strategic advice on the emerging scientific, legal and ethical issues associated with data access for human genetics research and cohort studies.

This Group will perform a crucial dual role.  It will serve to provide expert advice to the partner funders on key strategic issues in relation to data access, and it will support current and future study Data Access Committees (DACs) across the fields of genetics, epidemiology and the social sciences – identifying best practice and encouraging consistency in decision-making.  The Group will act at a strategic level: it will not make decisions on individual access applications, nor monitor or scrutinise the operations of individual DACs. Rather, it will act as a recognised UK authority on the governance of data access to which both funders and study DACs can refer new and problematic issues that arise for timely and authoritative advice.  It will also serve to enhance the UK’s input into international policy discussions on data access.

Professor Martin Bobrow has agreed to chair the Group. Thirteen other experts have agreed to join the group. Their expertise spans genetics, population research, social sciences, statistics, IT, data management and security, law and ethics.  The Group will have up to three face-to-face meetings per year, conducting deliberations by email and teleconference in between meetings where this is felt to be warranted.  In order to help formulate the work plan for the Group, the four funders held a stakeholder workshop on 3 April 2012 at the Wellcome Trust.

(FFI: Kristine Doronenkova,

National Data Strategy 2013 – 2017

The current National Data Strategy covers the period till the end of 2012. A number of consultations and in-depth interviews have been organised over the last six months to inform the work on the next Strategy that will cover the next five years. It is envisaged that the revised strategy will address issues related to administrative, geospatial, longitudinal, household survey data resources, organisational data; data discovery, curation and preservation as well as other data related issues.

This work is being led by the ESRC Strategic Advisors for Data Resources, Professor Peter Elias and Professor John Hobcraft under the auspices of the UK Data Forum. It is planned that the draft National Data Strategy 2012-2015 will be discussion by the Forum at its meeting in May 2012.

(FFI: Kristine Doronenkova,

Secondary Data Analysis Initiative

The overarching aim of the Initiative is to deliver high impact policy and practitioner relevant research through the analysis of various datasets. The Phase 1 call closing date is 19th April 2012 and we expect to fund around 20 small scale projects of up to £200,000 (at full economic cost) each and with a maximum duration of 18 months. Projects funded under Phase 1 are expected to start in October 2012. We are expecting the call to be a popular one as there is no advertised topic-focus to this call, nor is the call limited to the analysis of particular datasets, though it of course offers opportunities to address key issues in our strategic priorities.

Development of Phase 2 of the initiative will commence later in the year. This development will be informed by the response to and the outcome of the phase 1 call. It is unlikely that Phase 2 will be as open as Phase 1, with restrictions on perhaps topic area, the datasets to be analysed or the nature of awards that will be available.

(FFI: Alison Weir,

 Commissioning the next British Election Study

The British Election Study (BES) is a long running, high profile survey, describing and explaining the political attitudes and voting behaviours of UK citizens. Funding for the current study ends in late 2012 and we are currently re-commissioning the Study to cover the next General Election.

The call went live in early March with a closing date of 30th May 2012. The specification highlights the need for innovation whilst ensuring a degree of consistency to maintain the integrity of the time series. Innovations which balance continuity with new questions and approaches relevant to the changing political landscape are welcomed. Innovations might also include alternative approaches to data collection, such as extending the use of the internet, or introducing the use of smart phones (Web-enabled phones), tablets (such as the iPad), social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) and the use of administrative records (whether commercial or government) to replace or supplement traditional survey methods for data collection.

 The Methods and Infrastructure Committee will be invited to take the funding decision on the appointment of the scientific leadership team for the next BES at the November 2012 meeting.

(FFI: Alison Weir,




Get our newsletter

I agree to the Terms and Conditions
Find out more about our newsletter