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ESRC new investigator grant

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We award new investigator grants to support new researchers at the start of their careers, based at research organisations eligible for UKRI funding, to become independent researchers through gaining experience of managing and leading research projects and teams.

In addition, they will provide applicants with an opportunity not only to support their own skill development, but also the skill development of research staff employed on the grant.

Grants range from £100,000 to £300,000 for a period of up to five years. Funding is based on the full economic costs of the research, with ESRC providing 80% of the cost and the research organisation covering the balance.

Proposals can cover any research area, but the social sciences must represent more than 50% of the research focus and effort.

Who can apply

You can apply for funding if:

  • you are an early career researcher
  • you are the principal investigator
  • you are an established member of an approved research organisation, or have an agreement with a recognised research organisation to work there and have access to appropriate research facilities for the duration of the grant.

You cannot apply for funding if:

  • you are not an early career researcher
  • you hold a professorship
  • you are a current or former principal investigator on ESRC or other UKRI grants, except ESRC postdoctoral fellowships.

Funding is available for individuals based at approved universities and independent research organisations in the UK.

Co-investigators from business, third sector or government can be included in the proposal. We encourage active collaboration between UK researchers and those in other countries, and co-investigators based in overseas research organisations can be included through our international co-investigators policy (PDF, 151KB).

For more information please read our specification for this funding opportunity (PDF, 141KB).

What we're looking for

ESRC funds research within the social sciences, including:

  • area and development studies
  • demography
  • economic and social history
  • economics
  • education
  • environmental planning
  • human geography
  • linguistics
  • management and business studies
  • political science and international relations
  • psychology
  • science and technology studies
  • social anthropology
  • social policy
  • social statistics, computing and methods
  • social work
  • socio-legal studies
  • sociology.

New investigator grants will support new researchers and academics at the start of their careers to become independent researchers through gaining experience of managing and leading research projects and teams.

In addition, they will provide applicants with an opportunity not only to support their own skill development, but also the skill development of research staff employed on the grant.

Proposals could be for a range of activities such as standard research projects, surveys and other infrastructure projects and methodological developments.

We welcome proposals across the full disciplinary range of the social sciences and extending to the wider sciences, but the social sciences must represent at least 50% of the research focus and effort.

For more information please read our specification for this funding opportunity (PDF, 141KB).

How to apply

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

To be able to do this your host organisation must be registered for Je-S, and you must hold a Je-S account. If you are unsure about this you should contact your research organisation’s research office for further guidance.

Proposals will need to show 100% of the full economic cost of the proposed research, with ESRC covering 80% of the costs.

When applying select ‘New document’, then:

  • council: ESRC
  • document type: standard proposal
  • scheme: research grants
  • call/type/mode: new investigator.

Mandatory attachments with the application include:

  • case for support
  • justification of resources
  • Data Management Plan (for grants planning to generate data)
  • CV(s).

You can apply at any time, but should consider the timing against other applications from your research organisation, as large volumes of applications for one assessment round will reduce the success rates.

Grant assessment panels meet in March, July and November of each year.

To begin writing your proposal, please select the New Document menu and search for and select ‘New Investigator’ using the Call Search function.

Please read the ESRC Je-S guidance for applicants (PDF, 261KB) for assistance in filling in the application.

How we will assess your application

Your application will be assessed against the following criteria:

  • originality and potential contribution to knowledge
  • research design and methods
  • value for money
  • outputs, dissemination and impact
  • the applicant and their skill development programme.

The proposal will be sent to a minimum of three reviewers primarily drawn from ESRC’s peer review college.

We may include reviewers from outside the college if college members lack necessary knowledge and expertise for a particular application, and ask for comments from non-academic research users, such as businesses or charities.

We encourage you to nominate two academic and two non-academic or user reviewers to respond to peer review comments.

The application, reviewers’ comments and your responses will be considered by a grant assessment panel, which will agree a prioritised list of proposals that it recommends for funding.

The list will then be considered by ESRC’s grants delivery group, which makes the final funding decisions.

Contact details

For further queries please email esrcenquiries@esrc.ukri.org.

For help with the Je-S application please email JeSHelp@je-s.ukri.org.

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