Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Equality, diversity and inclusion caucus

Start application

Apply for funding to lead on providing high quality research evidence on equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) that informs policy and practice in the research and innovation system.

You must be based at either:

  • a UK higher education institution
  • a research council institute
  • a UKRI-approved independent research organisation
  • a public sector research establishment
  • a third sector organisation with research capacity.

The full economic cost of your project can be up to £4,562,500. ESRC will fund 80% of the full economic cost.

Funding is available for up to three years.

Who can apply

This funding opportunity is open to researchers from:

  • UK higher education institutions
  • research council institutes
  • UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)-approved independent research organisations
  • public sector research establishments
  • third sector organisations with research capacity.

Principal investigators must be based at a UK institution eligible for UKRI funding. The organisation will be responsible for submitting the grant application to UKRI.

If the application is from two co-principal investigators who will lead the caucus on a job share basis, applicants based at different institutions must nominate one institution to be responsible for submitting the grant application.

Applicants do not need to be in an existing job-share arrangement to apply on this basis.

Collaborations beyond academia are encouraged. UK co-investigators and co-principal investigators can be from other sectors, including:

  • businesses
  • third sector and non-profit organisations
  • government organisations
  • public sector research establishments.

Bids can include project partners (for example international organisations, businesses, and government organisations) providing co-funding or in kind contributions. However, this is not a requirement.

Standard UKRI eligibility rules apply. The funders will award 80% of the full economic costs of the research to institutions eligible for UKRI funding up to £3,650,000.

Your organisation must agree to fund the remaining 20% of the full economic cost (up to a total of £4,562,500 full economic cost).

Funding is available for up to three years.

UK co-investigators in the business, civil society or government sector

Any researcher from an established business, civil society or government body based in the UK will be eligible to be listed as a co-investigator under the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Caucus opportunity.

The co-investigators can receive 100% of justified costs, however the project costs associated with these types of co-investigator contributions must not exceed 30% of the overall cost of the grant (at 100% full economic cost).

The costs cannot be claimed from government bodies. Please refer to the UK co-investigators in business, civil society and government policy for more guidance.

International co-investigators

Any academic researcher (PhD or equivalent) from an established international research organisation of comparable standing to an ESRC-eligible UK research organisation will be eligible to be listed as an international co-investigator under this scheme.

International costs must not exceed 30% of the full 100% full economic cost of the grant. The total of international co-investigator costs and the costs for UK co-investigators in business, civil society of government bodies must not exceed 30% of the full 100% full economic cost of the grant.

Please refer to ESRC’s international co-investigator policy for more guidance.

Equality, diversity and inclusion

In line with the UKRI diversity principles, equality and diversity must be embedded at all levels and in all aspects of research practice.

We are committed to supporting the research community in the diverse ways a research career can be built with our investments. This includes:

  • career breaks
  • support for people with caring responsibilities
  • flexible working
  • alternative working patterns.

With this in mind, we welcome applications from academics who:

  • job share
  • have a part-time contract
  • need flexible working arrangements.

We encourage applicants to read our equality, diversity and inclusion strategy.

What we're looking for

Opportunity objectives

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the British Academy jointly invite applications for an interdisciplinary team to establish and lead an equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) caucus.

The caucus, which is made up of practitioners and researchers from a broad range of disciplines and sectors, will be responsible for providing high quality research evidence on EDI that informs policy and practice in the research and innovation system.

The objectives of the EDI caucus are as follows:

  • provide insights from research evidence on EDI that informs and shapes the work of the funders, and the broader research and innovation sector
  • address priority evidence gaps by commissioning and undertaking new research and by supporting UKRI and the British Academy in testing and evaluating new EDI-related initiatives
  • promote, coordinate and facilitate interdisciplinary approaches to research on EDI.

The leadership team will be expected to establish the caucus by recruiting an interdisciplinary network of practitioners and researchers on EDI and delivering a programme of work following an initial three-month co-design phase with UKRI and the British Academy.

Proposal requirements

Proposals are invited for an interdisciplinary research team that would:

  • recruit a network of practitioners and researchers from a broad range of disciplines and sectors to support evidence needs and inform policy and practice within the research and innovation system. This will involve designing and managing a process through which researchers and practitioners will apply to be part of the caucus and enable members to play an active role in shaping the programme of work
  • deliver a programme of activities focused on synthesising existing evidence on the effectiveness of different EDI practices. This could include translating evidence into actionable guidance for decision makers and practitioners in the research and innovation system, and undertaking new research to address priority evidence gaps
  • administer a flexible commissioning fund to support new research projects that are aligned with the aims of the caucus. This could include exploring new data opportunities, trialling and evaluating new practices, and researching lived experience
  • support UKRI and the British Academy by providing rapid evidence briefings and advising on the testing and rigorous evaluation of new EDI initiatives
  • inform EDI policies and practice in the wider research and innovation system (for example, higher education institutions, the business sector, and government partners) through proactive engagement.

What we will fund

Up to £3,650,000 (80% full economic cost) will be available for the following:

  • a principal investigator (or two co-principal investigators working as a job share) who will serve as the academic lead or leads for the EDI caucus
  • co-investigators who together with the principal investigator (or co-principal investigators) will form the leadership team for the caucus
  • a project manager who can act as a point of contact for the funders and coordinate caucus’ activities, including:
    • communications
    • briefings
    • research commissioning
    • impact tracking
  • postdoctoral research assistance that may be pooled across small research projects or used to provide academic input into the provision of evidence briefings and reviews
  • a flexible commissioning fund of at least £750,000, that the caucus leadership team would manage and use to commission research activities that address priority evidence gaps.
  • estates and indirect costs relating to staff employed to support the caucus
  • funding for travel, subsistence and venue hire for events held by the caucus as well as for meetings with key stakeholders
  • the cost of any external communication, including website development.

The funders will award 80% of the full economic costs of the proposed activity up to £3,650,000. The applicant’s organisation must agree to fund the remaining 20% of the activity’s full economic cost (up to a total of £4,562,500 full economic costs).

Equipment

For items of equipment costing between £10,000 and UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) equipment purchase threshold value (£115,000 excluding VAT), the research organisation will need to provide extra justification for these items in the ‘Justification of Resources’ attachment, providing evidence of an evaluation of the use of existing relevant capital assets to confirm why this existing equipment is not sufficient.

Host research organisations are expected to make a contribution towards the cost of the equipment in the order of 50% of the cost, therefore equipment should be costed at 50% of the full cost only.

All requests for items of equipment costing above the UKRI equipment purchase threshold (£115,000) should be accompanied by a two-page business case (to be included as an attachment within the equipment screen and not the attachments section) outlining the strategic need for the equipment.

UKRI will decide the strategic location for these items and will potentially fund them at 100%.

The ESRC will have flexibility in relation to the funding of 13 equipment to negotiate with potential grant recipients to achieve best value from the limited funds at its disposal.

For all items of equipment requested above the UKRI equipment purchase threshold (£115,000) three equipment quotations must be provided.

Where you believe that there are less than three potential suppliers for an item you should explain this in the ‘Justification of Resources’ attachment and upload two blank documents as equipment quotes.

For items of equipment which cost less than the UKRI equipment purchase threshold it is optional to provide quotations and up to three can be uploaded.

Social surveys

Social survey costs that are being sub-contracted should be included under this section and are eligible for full economic cost exception funding at 100% (for the amount sought from the council).

Other directly incurred costs

Other directly incurred costs include justified:

  • project specific consumables
  • consultancy fees
  • equipment costing less than £10,000
  • recruitment
  • advertising costs.

About the flexible commissioning fund

This devolved funding is to be awarded to caucus members for small projects (typically less than £100,000).

It is expected that these projects will be scoped in collaboration with user communities and agreed with the funders.

This commissioning fund should be included in the application costings, with applicants specifying the total size of the fund according to the balance of research activity that the leadership team propose to undertake directly versus devolve to network members via the fund.

Project duration

Applicants should apply for funding for up to three years, and the grant must start no later than 31 January 2023. The usual three-month leeway may not apply as we will not allow a delay to this start date.

Leadership team requirements

Proposals should set out how applicants have expertise or skills in:

  • working respectfully and collaboratively across disciplines and diverse stakeholder groups, including approaches to stakeholder engagement
  • co-designing research programmes with non-academic partners, including an awareness and appreciation of their operating contexts
  • evidence synthesis, the ability to produce and commission evidence reviews, systematic reviews, and evidence gap maps to inform policy and practice as well as identify areas for new research activity
  • impact evaluation, the ability to support UKRI and the British Academy with testing and evaluating new EDI initiatives, with a focus on counterfactual impact evaluation
  • producing rapid, actionable guidance for non-academic audiences
  • building networks and facilitating on-going dialogue with a broad range of stakeholders
  • conducting research on EDI issues across the breadth of the research and innovation system, including the business sector and business-led innovation, and awareness of how EDI challenges vary within different parts of the system
  • ability to draw on evidence from a range of relevant research fields. This might include, but is not limited to:
    • artificial intelligence and data science
    • anthropology
    • behavioural science
    • cognitive neuroscience
    • design
    • engineering and physical sciences
    • ethics
    • evaluation science
    • law
    • linguistics
    • organisational behaviour and management studies
    • psychology
    • sociology
  • commissioning research to address priority research questions and evidence gaps.

What to include in your proposal

Proposals should also set out:

  • the leadership team’s understanding of the main stakeholders and the key challenges and opportunities around EDI in the research and innovation system
  • key topics and priority evidence gaps for the research and innovation system identified by the proposed leadership team as areas of potential focus for the EDI caucus in year one. This proposed focus should allow for the generation, synthesis, and sharing of high quality evidence on the effectiveness of different EDI practices
  • an EDI plan to underpin how the caucus operates. This should give consideration to:
    • the recruitment of caucus members
    • how the leadership team will engage caucus members
    • career development of any staff, such as the programme manager and any postdoctoral researchers that are employed to support the caucus
    • the leadership team’s approach to engaging stakeholders
  • plans for stakeholder engagement that recognise the groups and institutions involved in supporting EDI improvements in the research and innovation system
  • a proposed process for:
    • allocating funding for new research projects via the commissioning fund
    • overseeing and embedding the activities that are supported by the caucus.

How to apply

Webinar

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the British Academy will hold a webinar for potential applicants on 4 July 2022 from 13:30 to 15:00.

To register for the webinar, please email EDI-caucus@esrc.ukri.org. If you are unable to attend, you can register to receive the webinar materials after the event by contacting the email address above.

How to apply

You must apply using the Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system.

We recommend you start your application early. You can save completed details in Je-S at any time and return to continue your application later.

When applying select ‘new document’ then:

  • council: ESRC
  • document type: standard proposal
  • scheme: standard
  • call/type/mode: equality, diversity and inclusion caucus director.

Once you have completed your application, make sure you ‘submit document’.

You can find advice on completing your application in the Je-S handbook.

Your host organisation will also be able to provide advice and guidance on completing your application.

ESRC must receive your application by 15 September at 16:00.

You will not be able to apply after this time. Please leave enough time for your proposal to pass through your organisation’s Je-S submission route before this date.

What to include

Proposals must include the following documents:

  • case for support (up to eight sides of A4). The case for support should include:
    • key deliverables (up to six sides of A4):
      • key topics and priority evidence gaps that could be areas of potential focus for the caucus in year one
      • roles within the leadership team and relevant skills and experience of each team member
      • approach to managing the commissioning fund
      • initial suggestions for key performance indicators and metrics
    • information on how the leadership team will include equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) considerations in all aspects of how the caucus operates (up to two sides of A4)
  • justification of resources (up to two sides of A4). This should be a narrative description of why you require the resources requested and cover all research organisations involved
  • CV (four sides of A4, per named staff). CVs are required for all named research staff. Applicants are welcome to submit a narrative CV for any or all named staff as an alternative a traditional CV
  • workplan (one side of A4)
  • institutional letter of support (up one side of A4 per organisation).

For help and advice on costings and writing your proposal please contact your research office in the first instance, allowing sufficient time for your organisation’s submission process.

How we will assess your application

The assessment process will be conducted in two stages. All applications will be assessed by a shortlisting panel of academic and non-academic experts and evidence users.

Shortlisted applicants will be invited to attend an interview with a subgroup of panel members. Representatives from the funders, as a key user group of the evidence generated by the caucus, will participate in the panel.

Interviews are expected to take place in the week commencing 31 October 2022 via an online communications platform.

When the funding opportunity closes, all applicants will be informed of the final interview dates and when we expect to inform you if you have been shortlisted.

We expect the funding decision will be communicated in November 2022. Applicants will be assessed against the following criteria:

  • the fit with the opportunity objectives, including:
    • championing an interdisciplinary approach to research on equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI)
    • the ability to generate, synthesise and share evidence on the effectiveness of different EDI practices
  • the vision for the EDI caucus that meets the aims of the opportunity, including:
    • an understanding of the EDI context in the research and innovation system
    • the identification of key topics and priority evidence gaps that could be areas of potential focus in year one
  • appropriateness of proposed activities, including:
    • plans for utilising the flexible commissioning fund to address evidence gaps
    • details of how you will engage core audiences (for example funders and the wider research and innovation sector, including business)
  • demonstrated ability to design and lead activity that supports effective knowledge exchange between research, practitioner, and funder communities
  • expertise in and experience of evidence synthesis and impact evaluation methods
  • plans to ensure EDI is considered in all aspects of how the caucus operates
  • appropriateness of management structure, considering how best to coordinate the caucus and encourage active participation, as well as the delineation of roles and responsibilities among the principal investigator (or co-principal investigators), co-investigators, and any project manager and research assistance
  • initial suggestions for key performance indicators and metrics
  • value for money and potential for impact.

Contact details

Get help with developing your proposal

For help and advice on costings and writing your proposal please contact your research office in the first instance, allowing sufficient time for your organisation’s submission process.

Ask about this funding opportunity

Email:  EDI-caucus@esrc.ukri.org

Get help with applying through Je-S

Email

jeshelp@je-s.ukri.org

Telephone

01793 444164

Opening times

Je-S helpdesk opening times

Additional info

Background

The government’s research and development people and culture strategy 2021 (PDF, 446KB) sets out the importance of growing and diversifying the research and development (R&D) workforce to achieve the UK’s target of spending 2.4% of GDP on R&D by 2027.

This involves recruiting and retaining talent of all backgrounds, ages, and career stages.

Offering an inclusive and welcoming research culture is essential, ensuring that a diversity of people and ideas can thrive in a dynamic, productive and sustainable research and innovation system.

As major public funders of research and innovation (R&I), UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) research councils, Innovate UK, and the British Academy have a responsibility to ensure a thriving and diverse R&I system, now and in the future.

This includes funding and mobilising high quality research evidence on equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) that informs policy and practice.

The idea for the EDI caucus is inspired by ESRC’s what works portfolio. This is aimed at synthesising and translating research evidence into relevant and actionable guidance for decision makers as well as generating applied research that addresses evidence gaps.

The proposed model is based on the Innovation Caucus, funded by ESRC and Innovate UK, which supports innovation-led growth by providing research evidence on the theory, policy and practice of innovation and innovation support.

Applicants may wish to consult existing statements on funders’ approach to EDI in the UKRI draft EDI strategy, the Innovate UK plan for action for UK business innovation (PDF, 7.3MB) and the British Academy’s EDI homepage.

Existing UKRI work and data in relation to EDI can be accessed via the UKRI EDI web portal and individual research council pages:

Governance

The leadership team will be expected to engage with the funding partners via an oversight group, that will include representatives from UKRI and the British Academy.

Through this platform, funders will be involved in the management and co-design of activities and engage as users of outputs and beneficiaries of outcomes.

The caucus leadership team will also be supported by an advisory group made up of academics, practitioners, and representatives from the R&I sector.

Appropriate and transparent decision-making processes should be put in place for the award of devolved funding to caucus members (through the commissioning fund).

Support from the host research organisation will be essential in ensuring the devolved budget is appropriately administered, as such UKRI will require a named senior contact supporting the application.

Key performance indicators

Funders will work with the EDI caucus to put in place key performance indicators and a methodology for evaluation and tracking impact over time.

Initial suggestions for both key performance indicators and metrics should be included in the proposal.

Investment management

The EDI caucus will be a key part of UKRI’s and the British Academy’s portfolio of managed research investments.

In addition to regular contact with the funders, the leadership team will be expected to participate in meetings that allow us to monitor the progress of the project.

We anticipate that opportunities to secure funding for additional projects may arise on an ad hoc basis over the duration of the programme in response to needs and priorities identified by the funders or other UKRI research councils and the UKRI corporate hub.

These will be funded separately through the grant should they arise and should the leadership team wish to pursue these opportunities.

Intellectual property, publication and non-disclosure

All new research supported by this investment will be subject to the usual UKRI terms and conditions for research grants with respect to intellectual property and publication.

However, to enable close working relationships between the leadership team, UKRI and the British Academy, it may be necessary to put a non-disclosure agreement in place between the funders and the leadership team to enable access to data and internal meetings that would support the aims of the caucus.

Such an arrangement is modelled on the Innovation Caucus funded by ESRC and Innovate UK.

Research ethics

The network is expected to comply with the ESRC framework for research ethics and to ensure that awards of devolved funding made to network members also comply.

UKRI and the British Academy will not support funding for a project if it believes that there are ethical concerns that have been overlooked or not appropriately accounted for.

All relevant parts of the ethical information section of the Je-S form must be completed.

Supporting documents

Je-S guidance (PDF, 353KB)
Equality impact assessment (PDF, 236KB)
Frequently asked questions (PDF, 199KB)

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