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ESRC research grant

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We award research grants to fund individuals or research teams based at research organisations eligible for UKRI funding.

Grants range from £350,000 to £1 million 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 draw from the wider sciences, 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 established member of an approved research organisation, or you have an agreement with a recognised research organisation to work there and have access to appropriate research facilities for the duration of the grant.

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 research proposals. 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.

For more information please read our specification for this funding opportunity (PDF, 150KB).

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.

As well as research on economic and social issues, we also support the national data infrastructure that underpins this research. Research grant applications can draw from the wider sciences, but the social sciences must represent more than 50% of the research focus and effort.

Your proposal can cover anything from a standard research project through to a large-scale survey, research methodology or infrastructure development (such as the compilation, classification and cataloguing of data). For infrastructure applications you should clearly outline the value for a broad community of researchers or wider audiences.

You can submit an application for two or more linked projects, provided that the relationship between them is properly explained and justified.

For more information please read our specification for this funding opportunity (PDF, 150KB).

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: research grants (open call).

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 ‘Research Grants (Open Call)’ using the Call Search function to find the ESRC research grant. Please read the ESRC Je-S guidance for applicants (PDF, 284KB) for assistance in filling in the application.

How we will assess your application

Your application will be assessed based on four key criteria:

  • originality, potential contribution to knowledge
  • research design and methods
  • value for money
  • outputs, dissemination and impact

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/user reviewers to respond to peer review comments. The application, reviewers’ comments and your responses will be considered by a grant assessment panel that will agree a prioritised list of proposals that it recommends for funding. The list will then be considered by ESRC’s Grants delivery group who make 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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