Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: ESRC responsive mode: new investigator grants round one

This opportunity supports researchers at the start of their careers to enable their transition to become independent researchers through gaining experience of managing and leading research projects and teams.

It also provides an opportunity for them to support their own skill development, and that of any research staff employed on the grant.

Proposals can draw from the wider sciences, but the social sciences must represent more than 50% of the research focus and effort.

Applications are via the UKRI Funding Service and will run as consecutive rounds with closing dates.

The full economic cost of your project can range from £100,000 to £300,000. ESRC will fund 80% of the full economic cost.

The deadline has been extended to 29 September at 4pm.

Who can apply

Before applying for funding, check the following:

UKRI is introducing new role types for opportunities being run on the new Funding Service from 22 May 2023.

For full details please see eligibility as an individual.

Who is eligible to apply

This opportunity is for early career researchers. As part of your application, you must articulate why you should be considered an early career researcher and how the award of a new investigator grant will have a demonstrable impact on your trajectory to becoming an independent researcher.

The ‘new investigator’ must be the project lead who submits the application. The project lead for this funding opportunity can be:

  • from anywhere in the world
  • with or without a permanent academic post

However, you must be based at an organisation eligible for ESRC funding for the duration of the grant.

Project co-leads are permitted on this opportunity and encouraged for interdisciplinary applications or where a project co-lead would provide specific technical expertise that is essential to the project. However, it must be clear that the project lead is responsible for leading the project.

See the ESRC Research Funding Guide for further information on eligibility and associated costs that can be included on ESRC grants.

Who is not eligible to apply

You cannot apply for funding if:

  • you are not an early career researcher
  • you already hold a professorship
  • you are a current or former project lead on ESRC or other UKRI grants, except ESRC postdoctoral fellowships

International applicants

Project leads from non-UK organisations who wish to apply for funding under this opportunity must apply through and be based at a UK organisation for the period of the award.

Project co-leads can be included in new investigator applications however, it must be clear that the project lead is responsible for leading the project.

Read project co-lead (international) policy guidance for details of eligible organisations and costs.

Business, third sector or government body project co-leads

Business, third sector or government body project co-leads based in the UK can also be included on research grant applications. Read including project co-leads from business, third sector or government bodies for details of eligible organisations and costs.

Resubmissions

We will not accept uninvited resubmissions of projects that have been submitted to UKRI or any other funder.

Find out more about ESRC’s Resubmissions policy.

Equality, diversity and inclusion

We are committed to achieving equality of opportunity for all funding applicants. We encourage applications from a diverse range of researchers.

We support people to work in a way that suits their personal circumstances. This includes:

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

Find out more about equality, diversity and inclusion at ESRC.

What we're looking for

Scope

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 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.

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

Proposals can draw from the wider sciences, as long as the social sciences are more than 50% of the focus and effort. For a full list of ESRC disciplines, or if you are unsure whether your project is suitable for ESRC funding, please check the eligibility of your proposal.

The early career researcher must be the project lead on the application and must articulate how an award would have a demonstrable impact on their career progression to becoming an independent researcher.

New investigator grants are designed to allow early career researchers to gain experience of research leadership and management and to formulate their plans for their research careers.

While the configuration of the team should be informed by the proposed project, we expect that by the end of these awards the new investigator will be able to demonstrate their ability to lead research projects and teams. Applicants need to carefully consider how they can demonstrate their ability to manage people either through employing research staff on their award or from other relevant experience.

Duration

The duration of this award is up to five years (60 months).

Funding available

The full economic cost of your project can range from £100,000 to £300,000.

ESRC will fund 80% of the full economic cost.

What we will fund

Funding can support:

  • standard research projects
  • surveys
  • infrastructure projects and methodological developments

What we will not fund

Applications cannot be accepted under this funding opportunity for:

  • unspecified research work
  • research already carried out
  • writing up previous research
  • literature surveys
  • conference attendance, other than within an award
  • travel for general study
  • expeditions
  • requests to hold conferences, workshops or seminars
  • preparation of books and publications
  • preparation and production of materials such as curriculum materials and software development where these constitute the primary research component

Associated studentships cannot be funded under this funding opportunity.

Contributions of the host research organisation

In submitting the application, the research organisation is demonstrating its commitment to supporting an individual researcher’s transition to the next stage of their research career. We expect to see only a limited number of applications from a single research organisation and organisations must have a process in place to support this. Beyond the standard support offered by a research organisation to an ESRC grant holder, we expect the following two aspects to be carefully considered by the proposed host organisation in supporting a new investigator application:

Provision of a mentor

All applicants are required to have a named mentor based at the research organisation where the grant is to be held. The proposed mentor should be of high academic standing and have a strong interest in the applicant’s field of research but should not normally be the applicant’s former PhD supervisor. The mentor should also be able to offer the applicant advice and assistance in developing their application, building suitable links with leading researchers in their field, as well as with potential beneficiaries and users of the applicant’s research.

The role of the mentor is to support the work of the grant holder, both scientific and non-scientific, but the mentor will not be directly involved in running the project. Regular contact must be maintained between the grant holder and mentor through the course of the project, and the mentor will help the grant holder to review progress against agreed milestones, including the implementation of the training and development programme.

Costs for mentoring time cannot be claimed as part of these grants; they must be met as part of the host institution’s contribution to the award.

Provision of career development support

The application must include a programme of research and skills development to ensure the applicant’s continued progression towards being an independent researcher. The programme must be tailored to the individual needs of the applicant considering their research and career goals in consultation between the applicant, their mentor and the host organisation.

It is likely that a programme of training and development activities will include aspects of project management, research methods development, knowledge exchange and user engagement, impact, national and international networking and research development.

You must also demonstrate how you will identify, address, and monitor the training needs of any staff employed on the grant.

Mobility: UK and international

As research is an increasingly international endeavour, we are keen to support grant holders in developing links with leading researchers in their field both in the UK and internationally. We encourage research visits to one or more internationally leading research organisations, either in the UK or abroad, for the purposes of research collaboration, training, access to data or other resources not available at the applicant’s host organisation.

We encourage research applications that use and develop international comparative methods. The opportunities provided for mobility should support this.

Where a long-term overseas visit is planned, applicants are required to name a second mentor at the overseas host organisation. They must also articulate how the research team will be managed effectively while they are overseas. However, the majority of the grant holder’s time should be in the UK at their host research organisation.

We also recognise that long-term mobility may be difficult or impossible for researchers with disabilities or caring responsibilities. You will therefore not be disadvantaged for not including a mobility element. In those instances, you may wish to consider alternative mechanisms for enhancing collaboration through your grant, such as hosting short visits from collaborators, or using information technology to develop and sustain collaborations.

Supporting skills and talent

We will be looking for evidence of a strong commitment to supporting the development of researchers at all stages of their career. We encourage you to follow the principles of the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers and the Technician Commitment.

We expect this to include a strong career development programme, shaped to suit the stage of the researchers’ career and providing increased opportunities for professional development. This should include, but not be limited to, the early career stage. Increasing capacity contributes to the quality and impact of the research. We encourage you to consider how you can support capacity building for all members of the project team.

Applicants to the new investigator grants scheme must include a programme of skill development for themselves and consider how they can support the career development of those employed on the grant.

ESRC data infrastructure

ESRC supports a range of data infrastructure. Where relevant, we encourage applicants to consider whether the use of these resources could add value to the project. Please find more details about the datasets available across the UK on Facilities and resources.

Details of datasets and infrastructure to be used in your project should be given in the Facilities section.

Impact, innovation and interdisciplinarity

We expect applicants to consider the potential scientific, societal and economic impacts of their project. Outputs, dissemination and impact are a key part of the assessment criteria. We also encourage applications that demonstrate innovation and interdisciplinarity (research combining approaches from more than one discipline).

Knowledge exchange and collaboration

We are committed to knowledge exchange and encouraging collaboration between researchers and the private, public and civil society sectors. Collaborative working benefits both the researchers and the individuals or organisations involved. Through collaboration, partners learn about each other’s expertise, share knowledge and gain an appreciation of different professional cultures. Collaborative activity can therefore lead to a better understanding of the ways that academic research can add value and offer insights to key issues of concern for policy and practice.

Knowledge exchange should not be treated as an ‘add-on’ at the end of a project but considered before the start and built into a project.

Equitable partnership principles

When undertaking research and innovation activities outside the UK, you must recognise and address the possible impact of contextual, societal and cultural differences on the ethical conduct of those activities.

Researchers should also follow the principles of equitable partnerships to address inherent power imbalances when working with partners in resource-poor settings.

Applying the principles will encourage equitable access, especially in low and middle-income countries (LMICs), while maintaining incentives for innovation. You should consider the principles from the start of the research and development cycle.

Read UKRI’s guidance on research in a global setting.

Trusted Research

If your application includes international applicants, project partners or collaborators, visit Trusted Research for more information on protection of those working in our thriving and collaborative international research and innovation sector.

Research ethics

ESRC requires that the research we support is designed and conducted in such a way that it

meets ethical principles and is subject to proper professional and institutional oversight in terms of research governance. We have agreed a Framework for Research Ethics that all submitted applications must comply with. Read further details about the Framework for Research Ethics and guidance on compliance.

How to apply

We are running this funding opportunity on the new UKRI Funding Service. You cannot apply on the Joint Electronic Submissions (Je-S) system.

The Project lead is responsible for completing the application process on the Funding Service, but we expect all team members and project partners to contribute to the application.

Only the lead research organisation can submit an application to UKRI.

To apply:

  1. Select ‘Start application’ near the beginning of this page.
  2. Confirm you are the Project lead.
  3. Sign in or create a Funding Service account. To create an account, select your organisation, verify your email address, and set a password. If your organisation is not listed, email support@funding-service.ukri.org
  4. Answer questions directly in the text boxes. You can save your answers and come back to them or work offline and return to copy and paste your answers. All questions and assessment criteria are listed in the ‘How to apply’ section on this Funding finder page.
  5. Send the completed application to your research office for checking. They will return it to you if it needs editing.
  6. Your research office will submit the completed and checked application to UKRI.

Watch our research office webinars about the new UKRI Funding Service.

Deadline

The closing date for the first responsive mode round on the UKRI Funding Service will be 28 September 2023 at 4:00pm UK time.

We must receive your application by this date. You should ensure that you are aware of and follow any internal institutional submission deadlines that may be in place.

Previously, this funding opportunity was open for applications on an ongoing basis. From 25 May 2023, there will be consecutive rounds with opening and closing dates for applications.

The subsequent responsive mode round on the Funding Service will open on 29 September 2023.

ESRC, as part of UKRI, will need to collect some personal information to manage your funding service account and the registration of your funding applications.

We will handle personal data in line with UK data protection legislation and manage it securely. For more information, including how to exercise your rights, read our privacy notice.

ESRC, as part of UKRI, will publish the outcomes of this funding opportunity at What ESRC has funded.

If your application is successful, some personal information will be published via the UKRI Gateway to Research.

UKRI Funding Service: section guidance

Summary

In plain English, provide a summary that can be sent to potential reviewers to determine if your application is within their field of expertise.

This summary may be made publicly available on external facing websites, so please ensure it can be understood by a variety of readers, for example:

  • opinion-formers
  • policymakers
  • the general public
  • the wider research community.
Guidance for writing a summary

Succinctly describe your proposed work in terms of:

  • its context
  • the challenge the project addresses and how it will be applied to this
  • its aims and objectives
  • its potential applications and benefits.

Word count: 550

Core team

List the key members of your team and assign them roles from the following:

  • project lead (PL)
  • project co-lead (UK) (PcL)
  • project co-lead (international) (PcL (I))
  • specialist
  • grant manager
  • professional enabling staff
  • research and innovation associate
  • technician
  • visiting researcher

Only list one individual as project lead.

Find out more about UKRI new grant roles.

Section: Eligibility to apply for opportunity

Question: Why do you consider yourself to be an early career researcher?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Give a clear articulation of why you are an early career researcher and therefore eligible for funding through this opportunity.

In your response you should consider, where relevant:

  • discipline or field of research
  • how a new investigator grant would differ from any previous non-UKRI grant or fellowship in terms of advancing your career development
  • any current or previous UKRI awards whose primary focus is not to fund research
  • equivalent professional experience if you do not have, and are not currently studying for, a PhD
  • personal circumstances such as career breaks

Your statement should also include confirmation that you do not currently hold, or have previously held, an ESRC or other UKRI grant except for an ESRC postdoctoral fellowship

Word count: 500

Section: Primary discipline classification

Question: Enter the primary discipline for this project.

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Select the primary area of research from the list of social disciplines and enter into the text field. This information is used to determine eligibility for ESRC funding and to assist in the selection of appropriate reviewers. The social disciplines include:

  • area studies
  • demography
  • development studies
  • economics
  • education
  • environmental planning
  • history
  • human geography
  • law and legal studies
  • linguistics
  • management and business studies
  • political science and international studies
  • psychology
  • science and technology studies
  • social anthropology
  • social policy
  • social work
  • sociology
  • tools, technologies and methods

Word count: 5

Section: Vision and approach

For this round we will ask you to submit a single six-page PDF attachment covering the ‘vision’ and ‘approach’ sections of the application and enter the words ‘attachment supplied’ in the text box below. The document must have single line spacing, margins of at least 2cm and be typed using Arial 11pt, or another ‘sans serif’ font with an equivalent size to Arial 11pt.

Question: What are you hoping to achieve with your proposed work and how will you deliver it?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

For the Vision, explain how your proposed work:

  • is of excellent quality and importance within or beyond the field(s) or area(s)
  • has the potential to advance current understanding, generates new knowledge, thinking or discovery within or beyond the field or area
  • is timely given current trends, context and needs
  • impacts world-leading research, society, the economy or the environment
  • will contribute to your career development as the project lead and your transition to being an independent researcher

Within the Vision section we also expect you to:

  • consider potential beneficiaries and users of the proposed research, including the relevance of the research to these beneficiaries
  • indicate the expected outputs, both academic and those orientated to users

For the Approach, explain how you have designed your work so that it:

  • is effective and appropriate to achieve your objectives
  • is feasible, and comprehensively identifies any risks to delivery and how they will be managed
  • if applicable, uses a clear and transparent methodology
  • if applicable, summarises the previous work and describes how this will be built upon and progressed
  • will maximise translation of outputs into outcomes and impacts
  • describes how your, and if applicable your team’s, research environment (in terms of the place, its location, and relevance to the project) will contribute to the success of the work
  • includes a programme of research and skills development to support your progression towards being an independent researcher

Within the Approach section we also expect you to:

  • clearly describe both the framework and specific analysis methods proposed and explain the reasons for their choice. You should particularly mention any innovation in this or how different methodologies or methods may be combined
  • explain what steps you will take to provide opportunities for users to benefit from your research, and to ensure that your research has maximum economic and societal impact

All applicants planning to generate data as part of their grant must complete the separate Data management question.

A list of references used to support your application can be added in the References question.

Word count: 5

Section: References

Question: list the references you’ve use to support your application.

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Ensure your application is a self-contained description. You can provide hyperlinks to relevant publications or online resources. However, assessors are not obliged to access the information they lead to or consider it in their assessment of your application. You must not include links to web resources in order to extend your application. If linking to web resources, to ensure the information’s integrity is maintained include, where possible, persistent identifiers such as digital object identifiers.

Word count: 1,000

Section: Applicant and team capability to deliver

Question: why are you the right individual or team to successfully deliver the proposed work?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Evidence of how you, and if relevant your team, have:

  • the relevant experience (appropriate to career stage) to deliver the proposed work
  • the right balance of skills and expertise to cover the proposed work
  • have or will develop the appropriate leadership and management skills to deliver the work and your approach to develop others
  • contributed to developing a positive research environment and wider community (if relevant)

The word count for this section is 1,500 words, 1,000 words to be used for Résumé for Research and Innovation (R4RI) modules and, if necessary, a further 500 words for Additions.

Use the R4RI format to showcase the range of relevant skills you, and if relevant your team (investigators, researchers, other (technical) staff for example research software engineers, data scientists and so on, and partners), have and how this will help to deliver the proposed work. You can include individuals’ specific achievements but only choose past contributions that best evidence their ability to deliver this work.

Complete this section using the R4RI module headings listed. You should use each heading once and include a response for the whole team, see the UKRI guidance on R4RI. You should consider how to balance your answer and emphasise where appropriate the key skills each team member brings.

The R4RI module headings are:

  • Contributions to the generation of new ideas, tools, methodologies, or knowledge
  • The development of others and maintenance of effective working relationships
  • Contributions to the wider research and innovation community
  • Contributions to broader research or innovation users and audiences and towards wider societal benefit

Additions: Provide any further details relevant to your application. This section is optional and can be up to 500 words. You should not use it to describe additional skills, experiences or outputs, but any factors that provide context for the rest of your R4RI (for example, details of career breaks if you wish to disclose them).

You should complete this as a narrative and you should avoid CV type format.

Word count: 1,500

Section: Your mentor support

Question: upload a single PDF containing a statement from your primary mentor detailing why they (and any additional mentors) are the most appropriate person or people to support you.

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Provide a statement from your mentor that demonstrates how they will support your career trajectory and how the support offered forms a cohesive career development package tailored to your aims and aspirations. Upload the statement and write ‘attachment supplied’ in the text box.

Your mentor support statement should articulate the following:

  • how they have tailored their programme of support to your individual needs
  • how they will ensure you are kept active and focused throughout the award
  • how they will keep your long-term career prospects clearly in mind
  • how they have the relevant skills and experience to be your mentor

The statement should be completed by the primary mentor but must detail the relevant skills and expertise of all mentors and their approach to mentoring. The statement should not exceed two sides of A4.

Unless specifically requested, please do not include any personal data within the attachment.

Upload details are provided within the service on the actual application.

Word count: 2

Section: Research environment and support

Question: why is the environment and the support provided by the research organisation, the right way to develop your career?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Use the text box to explain why your research organisation is the most appropriate host for an award based on your career trajectory and what your research organisation will provide, covering:

  • how your expertise fits within the wider interest and strategies of the research organisation
  • what development and training opportunities will be provided for you

Word count: 500

Section: Project partners: contributions

Question: provide details about any project partners’ contributions using the template provided.

What the assessors are looking for in your response

If you do not have any project partners, simply add ‘N/A’ into the text box, mark this section as complete and move to the next section.

If you do have project partners, download and complete the project partner contributions template (DOCX, 52KB) then copy and paste the table within it into the text box below.

Ensure you have obtained prior agreement from project partners that, should you be offered funding, they will support your project as indicated in the template.

Word count: 1,000

Section: Project partners: letters (or emails) of support

Question: upload a single PDF containing the letters or emails of support from each partner you named in the table in the previous ‘contributions’ section.

What the assessors are looking for in your response

If you do not have any project partners, simply add ‘N/A’ into the text box, mark this section as complete and move to the next section.

If you have named project partners in the previous ‘contributions’ section, enter the words ‘attachment supplied’ in the text box below.

Each letter or email you provide should:

  • confirm the partner’s commitment to the project
  • clearly explain the value, relevance and possible benefits of the work to them
  • describe any additional value that they bring to the project
  • be no more than one A4 page in length

Other accepted letters of support include those confirming access to datasets or confirming access to or use of the facilities provided by named collaborating organisations.

Letters of support may only be included where they confirm a specific contribution to the project as described above.

Letters of support from host or project co-leads’ research organisations will not be accepted.

Unless specifically requested, please do not include any personal data within the attachment.

Upload details are provided within the service on the actual application.

For audit purposes, UKRI requires formal collaboration agreements to be put in place if an award is made.

Word count: 5

Section: Facilities

Question: does your proposed research require the support and use of a facility?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

If not, enter N/A into the text box, mark this section as complete and move on to the next section.

If you will need to use a facility (including access to, and use of data, infrastructure and resources) you should follow your proposed facility’s normal access request procedures. Where prior agreement is required, ensure you obtain their agreement that, should you be offered funding, they will support the use of their facility on your project.

In the text box below, for each requested facility you should provide:

  • the name of facility, copied and pasted from this list
  • the proposed usage or costs, or costs per unit where indicted on that list
  • confirmation you have their agreement where required

Do not put the facility contact details in your response.

Word count: 250

Section: Data management

Question: how will you manage and share data collected or acquired through the proposed research?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Provide a data management plan which should clearly detail how you will comply with ESRC’s published Data Sharing Policy, which includes detailed guidance notes.

If you are not generating new data as part of your grant application, you are not required to complete this section. Please enter ‘N/A’ in the text box, mark this section as complete and move to the next question.

ESRC recognises the importance of research data quality and provenance. Research data generated by ESRC-funded research must be well-managed by the grant holder to enable their data to be exploited to the maximum potential for further research.

Using the text box below you should:

  • describe how you will publish your research findings
  • demonstrate that you comply with ESRC’s Research Data policy and ESRC Framework for Research Ethics. This should include confirmation that existing datasets have been reviewed and why currently available datasets are inadequate for the proposed research. You should cover any legal and ethical considerations of collecting, releasing or storing the data, including consent, confidentiality, anonymisation, security and other ethical issues
  • explain how data collected, generated or acquired through the proposed research (such as primary input into research and first order results of that research) will be managed, including planning for the research through the life cycle of the award until data is accepted for archiving by the UK Data Service (UKDS). See the importance of managing and sharing data on the UKDS website for further information. Detailed advice on what assessors are looking for in your response can also be found on the UKDS site. We expect you to provide a summary of the points provided
  • critically consider any challenges to data sharing for example, copyright or data confidentiality, with possible solutions discussed to optimise data sharing. Most data collected, generated or acquired as a result of economic and social research can be successfully archived and shared. However, some research data are more sensitive than others. It is a responsibility of the grant holders to consider all issues related to confidentiality, ethics, security and copyright before initiating the research

Word count: 500

Section: Ethics and Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI)

Question: what are the ethical or RRI implications and issues relating to the proposed work? If you do not think that the proposed work raises any ethical or RRI issues, explain why.

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Using the text box, demonstrate that you have identified and evaluated the relevant ethical or responsible research and innovation considerations, and how you will manage them.

Council specific optional guidance can be appended to clarify how we expect applicants to provide answers to the above criteria. Such as mentioning some exemplars.

All proposals have to comply with the ESRC Framework for Research Ethics which includes guidance for applicants and links to related web resources.

All necessary ethical approvals must be in place before the project commences, but do not need to have been secured at the time of application.

If you are generating new data as part of your project, you should complete the Data Management question and should cover ethical considerations relating to data in your response.

If you are not generating new data and have not completed the Data Management question you should address any legal or ethical considerations relating to your use of data here.

Additional sub-questions (to be answered only if appropriate) relating to research involving:

  • animals
  • human participants
  • genetically modified organisms

Word count: 500

Section: Resources and cost justification

Question: what will you need to deliver your proposed work and how much will it cost?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Use the resources and cost summary table to enter the full costs. Include high-level costs only, not a breakdown of individual items. Use the justification text box to demonstrate how the resources you anticipate needing for your proposed work:

  • are comprehensive, appropriate, and justified
  • represent the optimal use of resources to achieve the intended outcomes
  • maximise potential outcomes and impacts

This section should not simply be a list of the resources requested, as this will already be given in the detailed ‘costs’ table. Costings should be justified on the basis of full economic costs (FEC) of the project, not just on the costs expected from UKRI. For some items we do not expect you to justify the monetary value, rather the type of resource, such as amount of time or type of staff requested.

Where you do not provide adequate justification for a resource, we may deduct it from any funding awarded.

You should identify:

  • support for activities to either increase impact, for public engagement, knowledge exchange or to support responsible innovation
  • support for access to facilities, infrastructure or procurement of equipment
  • support for preserving, long-term storage, or sharing of data
  • support from your organisation or partner organisations and how that enhances value for money
  • support for activities outsourced to a third party (such as consultancy or surveys)
  • support for project co-leads under ESRC’s international, business and third sector eligibility policies

For detailed guidance on eligible costs please see the ESRC Research Funding Guide.

Word count: 1,000

How we will assess your application

Assessment process

We will assess your application using the following process:

First stage Expert Review

Following eligibility checks, we will invite experts to review your application independently against the specified criteria for this opportunity.

Applications are sent to three reviewers. Sometimes more reviewers will be approached depending on the nature of the project.

Applicants to opportunities offered through the new Funding Service will not be able to nominate reviewers for their applications. Expert reviewers will continue to be selected by research councils. We are monitoring the requirement for applicant-nominated reviewers as we review policies and processes as part of the continued development of the new UKRI Funding Service.

Application Sift and Applicant Response

Applications receiving sufficiently supportive reviewers’ comments (average score of 4.5 or above on a one to six scale) will be invited to respond to reviewers’ comments. You will be given 14 calendar days to provide a response or 10 working days if longer. Applications with an average score below 4.5 will normally be rejected at this stage.

Second stage Panel

Applications and reviewer comments, together with the applicant response will be allocated to the two most appropriate members of the Grant Assessment Panels for assessment and scoring.

The Grant Assessment Panels will agree the applications that it recommends for funding, and these will be considered by the Grants Delivery Group, which will make funding recommendations to the ESRC. The Grants Delivery Group is chaired by a member of ESRC Council, and its members are the Chairs of the Grant Assessment Panels.

ESRC will make the final funding decision.

Find out more about the ESRC responsive mode grant assessment process, including the Grant Assessment Panel structure and membership.

Timescale

We aim to complete the assessment process by spring 2024.

Feedback

Feedback will be provided where available.

Principles of assessment

UKRI supports the San Francisco declaration on research assessment (DORA) and recognises the relationship between research assessment and research integrity.

Find out about the UKRI Principles of Assessment and Decision Making.

Assessment criteria

What we are looking for

Section: Eligibility to apply to this opportunity

Has the project lead provided a clear justification as to why they are an early career researcher and therefore eligible for funding through this opportunity, considering where relevant:

  • discipline or field of research
  • how a New Investigator grant would differ from any previous non-UKRI grant or fellowship in terms of advancing their career development
  • any current or previous UKRI awards whose primary focus is not to fund research
  • equivalent professional experience if they do not have, and are not currently studying for, a PhD
  • personal circumstances such as career breaks
Section: Vision

Have the applicants demonstrated how the work they are proposing:

  • is of excellent quality and importance within or beyond the field(s) or area(s)
  • has the potential to advance current understanding, generates new knowledge, thinking or discovery within or beyond the field or area
  • is timely given current trends, context and needs
  • will impact world-leading research, society, the economy or the environment
  • will contribute to their career development as the project lead and their transition to being an independent researcher
Section: Approach

Have the applicants demonstrated that they have designed their approach so that it:

  • is effective and appropriate to achieve their objectives
  • is feasible, and comprehensively identifies any risks to delivery and how they will be managed
  • if applicable, uses a clear and transparent methodology
  • if applicable, summarises the previous work and describes how this will be built upon and progressed
  • will maximise translation of outputs into outcomes and impacts
  • describes how their, and if applicable their team’s, research environment (in terms of the place, its location and relevance to the project) will contribute to the success of the proposed work
  • includes a programme of research and skills development to support their progression towards being an independent researcher
Section: Applicant and team capability to deliver

Have the applicants provided evidence of how they, and if relevant their team, have:

  • the relevant experience (appropriate to career stage) to deliver the proposed work
  • the right balance of skills and expertise to cover the proposed work
  • the appropriate leadership and management skills to deliver the work and their approach to develop others
  • contributed to developing a positive research environment and wider community (if relevant)
  • how they will ensure the project lead will be kept active and focused throughout the award
  • how they will keep the long-term career prospects of the project lead clearly in mind
  • how they have the relevant skills and experience to be a mentor to the project lead
Section: Your Mentor support

Have the applicants provided a statement from their mentor which shows:

  • how they have tailored their programme of support to the needs of the project lead
  • how they will ensure the project lead will be kept active and focused throughout the award
  • how they will keep the long-term career prospects of the project lead clearly in mind
  • how they have the relevant skills and experience to be a mentor to the project lead
Section: Research environment and support

Have the applicants explained why their research organisation is the most appropriate host for an award based on their career trajectory and what their research organisation will provide, covering:

  • how their expertise fits within the wider interest and strategies of the research organisation
  • what development and training opportunities will be provided for them
Section: Resources and cost justification

Have the applicants demonstrated how the resources they anticipate needing for their proposed work:

  • are comprehensive, appropriate, and justified
  • represent the optimal use of resources to achieve the intended outcomes
  • maximise potential outcomes and impacts
Section: Ethics and Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI)

Have the applicants identified and evaluated the relevant ethical or responsible research and innovation considerations, and how they will be managed.

Contact details

Get help with your application

For help on costings and writing your application, contact your research office.

Allow enough time for your organisation’s submission process.

Ask about this funding opportunity

Email: support@funding-service.ukri.org

Phone: 01793 547490

Our phone lines are open Monday-Thursday 8:30am to 5:00pm and Friday 8:30am to 4:30pm

Questions about eligibility

Read UKRI’s research organisation and applicant eligibility guidance.

Sensitive information

If you, or a key team member, need to tell us something you wish to remain confidential, email the Funding Service helpdesk on support@funding-service.ukri.org. You must include in the subject line: <ESRC responsive mode: new investigator grants round one, sensitive info, Funding Service application number>

Typical examples of confidential information include:

  • applicant is unavailable until a certain date (for example due to parental leave)
  • declaration of interest
  • additional information about eligibility to apply that would not be appropriately shared in the Applicant and team capability section
  • conflict of interest for UKRI to consider in reviewer or panel participant selection
  • the application is an invited resubmission (please include reference number of original submission and a brief overview of changes made)

For information about how UKRI handles personal data, see UKRI’s privacy notice.

Additional info

Supporting links

ESRC Research Funding Guide

ESRC Guidance for Applicants

UKRI policies and standards

Accessibility statement for the UKRI Funding Service

Equality impact assessment (PDF, 748KB)

Global Talent visa

Fellowship holders are eligible for a Global Talent visa under the ‘exceptional promise’ category for future research leaders.

Research disruption due to COVID-19

We recognise that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused major interruptions and disruptions across our communities. We are committed to ensuring that individual applicants and their wider team, including partners and networks, are not penalised for any disruption to their career, such as:

  • breaks and delays
  • disruptive working patterns and conditions
  • the loss of ongoing work
  • role changes that may have been caused by the pandemic

Reviewers and panel members will be advised to consider the unequal impacts that COVID-19 related disruption might have had on the capability to deliver and career development of those individuals included in the application. They will be asked to consider the capability of the applicant and their wider team to deliver the research they are proposing.

Where disruptions have occurred, you can highlight this within your application if you wish, but there is no requirement to detail the specific circumstances that caused the disruption.

Updates

  • 6 February 2024
    In the timeline, have changed 'panel meeting' to 'panel assessment'. Within 'how we will assess your application', under the 'second stage panel' section, have edited the second paragraph to 'The Grant Assessment Panels will agree the applications that it recommends for funding, and these will...'.
  • 28 September 2023
    New closing date added.
  • 21 June 2023
    Word count for 'Section: References' increased to 1,000 under 'UKRI Funding Service: section guidance'.

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