Protecting citizens online complementary projects: outline stage

Apply for funding to research the needs of citizens online, help them control how their data is used and protect them from online harms.

Projects should align with the National Research Centre on Privacy, Harm Reduction and Adversarial Influence Online (REPHRAIN) funded through the first phase of the programme.

Projects must have a team of investigators from a mix of disciplines.

You can apply if you are based in the UK.

Your project’s full economic cost can be £3.44 million. We will fund 80% of this.

We will support four projects.

Your project must last three years. It must start in April 2022.

Who can apply

Applications are welcomed from interdisciplinary teams across the relevant UKRI portfolio, spanning:

  • computer and data science
  • cybersecurity
  • human computer interaction
  • psychology
  • design
  • law
  • criminology
  • philosophy
  • ethics
  • media and communications
  • other relevant disciplines.

Applicant team requirements

The investigatory team must comprise a mix of disciplines relevant to the research questions. It must be balanced across the technical and social sciences and humanities, with at least two co-investigators from disciplines within different research councils’ remits.

The proposed project must involve collaborations with at least one of the following:

  • industry
  • government
  • policy
  • third sector project partners.

Any single investigator is only permitted to appear on one proposal, either as investigator or co-investigator.

Individuals based in non-UK countries can be involved in the grant as visiting researchers, project partners or members of advisory boards. However, they are not eligible to be investigators.

Eligibility

Research grants are open to:

  • UK higher education institutions
  • research council institutes
  • UKRI-approved independent research organisations
  • NHS bodies with research capacity
  • public sector research establishments (PSRE).

Please see guidance on institutional eligibility.

You can apply as an investigator if you are a resident in the UK and meet at least one of the bullets below:

  • are employed at the submitting research organisation at lecturer level or equivalent
  • hold a fixed-term contract that extends beyond the duration of the proposed project, and the host research organisation is prepared to give you all the support normal for a permanent employee
  • hold an EPSRC, Royal Society or Royal Academy of Engineering fellowship aimed at later career stages
  • hold fellowships under other schemes.

Please contact EPSRC to check eligibility.

Please note that holders of postdoctoral-level fellowships are not eligible to apply for an EPSRC grant.

Early career researchers

Inclusion of early career researchers including postdoctoral research associates (PDRAs) within teams is encouraged. PDRA roles not covering the duration of the award may be requested, but due consideration must be given to career development.

All PDRAs should have the opportunity to develop transferable technical and soft skills to enable them to progress their careers. The contribution of all PDRAs must be clearly defined and justified.

PDRAs from all funded projects will join a cohort, including PDRAs within REPHRAIN, and projects must provide support for this engagement to further their development.

Equality, diversity and inclusion

UKRI encourages applications from research teams exploiting the strength of diversity in the wider UK research and innovation community. Applicants are expected to consider these issues from the earliest stage of building their teams through to the delivery of awarded projects.

Consideration of equality, diversity and inclusion is important for all applications to UKRI for funding.

We are committed to supporting the research community, offering a range of flexible options which allow applicants to design a package that fits their research goals, career and personal circumstances. 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 or need flexible working arrangements.

Please see additional guidance on equality, diversity and inclusion considerations in grant applications (EPSRC website).

Investigators not registered on Je-S

Please ensure sufficient time to create Je-S accounts for investigators who do not currently have one. Allow at least seven days prior to the intended submission date for the account to be approved and submitted. For more information, please see the Je-S website.

Start date

Grants have a fixed start date of 1 April 2022 and must end on 31 March 2025.

Extensions will only be considered under exceptional circumstances (in line with the Equality Act 2010) and will require UKRI agreement on a case-by-case basis.

What we're looking for

Funding available

The UKRI Strategic Priority Fund (SPF) is awarding up to £11 million of research funding for this opportunity.

This is an opportunity to research the diverse and changing realities of citizens’ needs online, and empower them to understand and control how their data is used. This will create user-focused tools to mitigate online harms whilst enabling data sharing to maximise societal benefit in the digital economy.

This is the second phase of the SPF Protecting Citizens Online (PCO) programme, aiming to fund a portfolio of projects complementary to the National Research Centre on Privacy, Harm Reduction and Adversarial Influence Online (REPHRAIN), funded through phase one.

Together, these two discrete but interdependent workstreams comprise the PCO programme.

This funding will support four interdisciplinary, collaborative projects of three years’ duration, costed at £2.75 million each (to be funded at 80% full economic cost (FEC), so £3.44 million at 100% FEC).

UKRI aims to support innovative and ambitious collaborations. Applicants must demonstrate that the amount of funding requested is commensurate with the work to be undertaken in addressing the research questions, and their ability to deliver and create impact.

Please note proposals requesting more than £2.75 million of funding are ineligible.

Research undertaken through the funded projects should complement, but not replicate, the work carried out by REPHRAIN.

Projects are expected to ring-fence funding and staff time engage with REPHRAIN during its lifetime, including attending all-hands meetings and undertaking joint work to incorporate project outcomes into the REPHRAIN Map and the REPHRAIN Toolbox in order to achieve the wider aims of the PCO programme.

Projects should also engage with REPHRAIN events, such as:

  • knowledge exchange workshops
  • showcases
  • masterclasses.

REPHRAIN is expected to run until October 2023, so engagement is expected to be primarily within the first two years of the funded projects. However, projects will also be expected to engage with the cohort of other projects funded through this call, and the wider PCO community. Engagement must be clearly resourced and fully justified.

Grants will have a fixed start date of 1 April 2022 and end on 31 March 2025. Prior to commencement, final expenditure profiles for each grant holder will be agreed so that grant payments align with activity undertaken to deliver the grant.

The awards will be made on the terms and conditions of UKRI grants. There will be additional conditions required to meet the requirements of SPF.

Equipment over £10,000 in value (including VAT) is not available through this call. Smaller items of equipment (individually under £10,000) should be listed under the “Directly Incurred – Other Costs” heading. For more information on equipment funding, please see EPSRC equipment funding (EPSRC website).

Scope

The scope for this opportunity has been developed in collaboration with REPHRAIN.

The REPHRAIN centre is an £8.6 million three-year UKRI Research Centre of Excellence focused on the protection of citizens online, funded through the first phase of the PCO programme.

The centre is designed to build and lead the UK’s world-leading interdisciplinary community on this mission and provide a clear single front door to engage and build capacity with:

  • government
  • industry
  • citizens.

In addition to its core research programme, a key function of REPHRAIN was to build the scope of the second phase of the PCO programme. Proposals funded through this second phase are therefore expected to:

  • complement the work undertaken by REPHRAIN
  • align with its core missions
  • engage with the centre and wider community.

Together, these two workstreams comprise the PCO programme.

A scoping document (PDF, 620KB) was produced by REPHRAIN, which synthesised insights from literature, as well as a series of community workshops focused on the current online harms landscape. The document was subject to community review and comment, and drew out key research themes and challenges to be addressed.

Research themes to be addressed

Projects are expected to address at least one of the following three research themes:

1. Understanding citizens’ needs and empowering them in ever-changing threat contexts, where those aiming to exploit users’ data (for example for profiling for targeted advertising, unauthorised disclosure, identity theft, misinformation) regularly adapt their approaches as privacy and harm reduction measures are put in place.

Research must be grounded in an understanding of:

  • the diverse realities of the users of digital technologies
  • users’ understanding of online privacy and harms
  • the challenges users face
  • users’ coping strategies
  • other dynamics of citizens and digital technologies intersecting with each other, encompassing the legal and policy landscape of online data exploitation.

Potential research challenges include:

  • creating usable, inclusive, user-focused harm mitigation tools, co-designed with citizens and drawing on psychology, human-computer interaction, design and beyond, building on a nuanced up-to-date understanding of users and non-users (including traditionally excluded groups), their complex realities and changing behaviours in response to technological innovations
  • enabling users to evaluate the potential risks of data sharing, alert them about imminent and potential harms (including evolving threats), such as sensitive information being involved in data breaches, and efficient, cost-effective measures to mitigate the resulting harms
  • usable, scalable, user-oriented tools to prevent harm through impersonation and support citizens in the face of rapidly evolving adversarial capabilities.

2. Navigating information asymmetries between state, companies and citizens, and enabling citizens to make informed decisions about their data transactions and online behaviour.

Research must be grounded in and understanding of:

  • the information and power asymmetries in the sharing of data
  • what levels they sit at (for example individual, group, state)
  • the policy and legal aspects of data transactions.

Potential research challenges include:

  • methods, tools and techniques for responsible data usage and dissemination, navigating the tensions between data sharing for societal benefit and preservation of citizens’ privacy, grounded in an understanding of the privacy-utility trade-offs of data
  • actionable mechanisms and effective tools to maximise users’ agency and enable data transparency, traceability, assurance and portability, empowering citizens to understand how their data is being used, monetised or shared with third parties, manage their privacy, and identify unfair and harmful practices by platforms
  • identifying what citizens understand by ‘informed consent’ and ‘legitimate interest’, and designing novel socio-technical mechanisms for citizens to give informed consent in ‘seamless’ interactions with technologies that often involve wearables, shared devices and shared spaces.

3. Understanding the balance between the use of data-centric applications for the common good and protecting citizens’ interests in the digital age.

Research must be grounded in an understanding of:

  • data-centric applications for public and economic benefit
  • the ethical complexities of defining what constitutes the ‘common good’ for different citizen groups, industries and organisations
  • the acceptable trade-offs, compromises, and consequences of data sharing, obtained through reasoned dialogue between various stakeholders (including users)
  • how the above may reflect in the design of systems and platforms as well as regulatory and policy interventions.

Potential research challenges include:

  • novel advances in privacy-enhancing technologies (PETs) to facilitate anonymous privilege management and protection of citizens’ data, whilst allowing for secure authentication of user credentials and without compromising the legitimate needs of businesses, regulators and law enforcement
  • novel tools to ensure devices are sensitive to legitimate forensic needs, and enable effective apprehension of cybercrime without violating the data privacy rights of the subjects, developed at the boundary of technology, law, ethics, human rights and criminology
  • sound, context-specific metrics for assessing the effectiveness of harm mitigation interventions.

Further detail on these research themes and challenges can be found in the full REPHRAIN scoping document (PDF, 620KB).

Requirements

Applicants must demonstrate:

  • engagement with citizens, and co-design integrated at the heart of the research methodology
  • a truly interdisciplinary approach and an existing track record of working across disciplines in the area
  • engagement with relevant stakeholders in this area, including government, policy, industry and the third sector
  • commitment to deliver responsible research and innovation.

Project partners

Projects are expected to involve collaborations with industry, government, policy or third sector project partners. Charity partners are welcomed. Please note that project partners who wish to receive funding from the grant must be providing services (for example consultancy) or equipment that will go through a formal procurement process audited by the host research organisation.

Methodological considerations

Applicants are encouraged to think creatively about their research methodologies, and consider incorporating elements such as:

  • placements
  • knowledge exchange
  • public engagement
  • “research in the wild” (research which identifies a genuine user need, exposes potential research ideas to beneficiaries and co-creates solutions with users).

Alignment with REPHRAIN and community engagement

Projects will also be expected to engage with the cohort of other projects funded through this opportunity and the wider PCO community. Engagement must be clearly resourced and fully justified.

Resources must be allocated to allow PDRAs to engage with their cohort, including PDRAs at the REPHRAIN centre.

Research undertaken through the funded projects should complement, but not replicate, the work carried out by REPHRAIN. Projects are expected to align with the REPHRAIN research programme’s core missions and engage with the centre and wider community. Read about REPHRAIN’s core missions.

Projects are expected to ring-fence funding and staff time engage with REPHRAIN during its lifetime, including attending all-hands meetings and undertaking joint work to incorporate project outcomes into the REPHRAIN map and the REPHRAIN toolbox in order to achieve the wider aims of the PCO programme.

Projects should clearly articulate:

  • how they complement one or more of REPHRAIN’s missions
  • how they will contribute to the REPHRAIN map and REPHRAIN toolbox, including resourcing allocated to achieve this.

Projects should also engage with REPHRAIN events, such as:

  • knowledge exchange workshops
  • showcases
  • masterclasses.

REPHRAIN is expected to run until October 2023, so engagement with REPHRAIN is expected to be primarily within the first two years of the funded projects.

REPHRAIN will be running an event on 9 June to support this call and bring together the wider community. Applicants are strongly advised to take this opportunity to learn about REPHRAIN’s research programme, meet the team and network with potential collaborators.

Applicants are welcome to contact REPHRAIN in their formative phases.

Register for the event (Eventbrite).

Responsible innovation

Research has the ability to not only produce understanding, knowledge and value, but also unintended consequences, questions, ethical dilemmas and, at times, unexpected social transformations.

We recognise that we have a duty of care to promote approaches to responsible innovation that will initiate ongoing reflection about the potential ethical and societal implications of the research that we sponsor, and to encourage our research community to do likewise.

Responsible innovation creates spaces and processes to explore innovation and its consequences in an open, inclusive and timely way, going beyond consideration of:

  • ethics
  • public engagement
  • risk
  • regulation.

Innovation is a collective responsibility, where funders, researchers, interested and affected parties, including the public, all have an important role to play. Applicants are expected to work within the framework for responsible research and innovation (EPSRC website).

Applicants should consider responsible innovation throughout the research project, and include, for example, details of anticipatory work and stakeholder inclusion plans in the proposal.

In their engagement with REPHRAIN, projects should take into account the Responsible, inclusive and ethical innovation strand (REPHRAIN). Funded projects will need to seek additional approval from the REPHRAIN Ethics Board, which specifically considers responsible innovation.

How to apply

This is the first stage of a two-stage assessment process. Your outline proposal should consist of the Je-S application form and a four-page case for support.

Applicants should refer to the assessment criteria in the next section when writing a proposal.

Compulsory intent to submit

Applicants must register an intent to submit (SmartSurvey) by 16:00 on 22 June 2021.

The intent to submit process is mandatory and intended to assist UKRI with planning and preparation for the assessment process, but does not form part of the assessment.

Applying through Je-S

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

Named investigators who have not previously registered Je-S accounts are encouraged to do so well in advance of the submission deadline.

If you need help in applying, you can contact Je-S:

Je-S helpdesk is staffed from Monday to Thursday 8:30 to 17:00 and Fridays 8:30 to 16:30 (excluding bank holidays and other holidays).

When applying select:

  • create new document
  • council: EPSRC
  • document type: Outline Proposal
  • scheme: Outline
  • call/type/mode: SPF Protecting Citizens Online 2 – Outline.

After completing the application:

  • you must ‘submit document’ which will send your application to your host organisation’s administration
  • your host organisation’s administration is required to complete the submission process. Applicants should allow sufficient time for your organisation’s submission process between submitting your proposal to them and the call closing date.

Applicants should ensure they are aware of, and comply with, any internal institutional deadlines that may be in place.

UKRI must receive your application by 16:00 on 6 July 2021.

The outline will take the form of a four-page case for support. As such, when completing the Je-S application form, please enter ‘N/A’ within the objectives and summary sections. Objectives should be summarised in the main body of the case for support.

The outline proposal needs to be fully costed, however, a detailed breakdown and justification of the costs is not required at the outline stage.

Project partners do not have to be identified at the outline stage, but engagement with project partners including industry, government, policy and the third sector is mandatory at full proposal stage. Applicants should engage with potential partners ahead of invitations for full proposals being issued.

Full proposals will require a breakdown of support (direct or in-kind contributions) from project partners.

As well as the Je-S application form, the case for support document must be submitted.

Anonymous case for support

The anonymous case for support is made up of four pages, outlining the objectives, case, vision and fit to call.

The anonymous case for support should:

  • describe the background of the proposal, its vision and overall goals, timeliness and potential, and set this in the broader context of current knowledge
  • describe the specific high-level objectives (main work packages) of the proposed project and briefly describe how these will be tackled
  • highlight features within the work proposed which are particularly original or distinctive (a detailed technical description is not required)
  • explain how citizen engagement will be embedded into the research methodology
  • explain how the proposed research fits the scope of the call, the commitment to engaging with the existing REPHRAIN centre and wider PCO community, and the added value of bringing together disciplines in a creative way to achieve an outcome ‘greater than the sum of its parts’.
  • articulate how the proposed research will:
    • complement one or more of REPHRAIN’s missions
    • contribute to the REPHRAIN Map and REPHRAIN Toolbox, including resourcing allocated to achieve this.

Anonymisation

The outline stage of this call will be anonymous, in order to encourage applications from a range of technical, social and humanities disciplines, and encourage a diverse pool of applicants from a range of universities, backgrounds and career stages.

UKRI staff will see the principal investigator’s name and institution as the proposal comes through Je-S, but these will not be visible to the assessment panel. The panel will therefore assess applications anonymously (without knowing the identities or institutions of applicants).

Please take care not to reveal researchers’ identities in your outline application. This includes names, institutions, track records, references that may reveal your institution and details of previous projects that could be used to identify you. Applications that have not been fully anonymised will be disqualified prior to assessment.

If you are invited to submit a full proposal, you will have the opportunity to present full track records, project partner and host organisation support statements, and CVs for named researchers.

Other documents

No other documents, such as annexes, a work plan attachment or letters of support, will be accepted.

All documents must be attached as PDFs to avoid errors. They should be completed in single-spaced Arial 11pt font or similar-sized sans serif typeface.

General advice

Read our advice on writing proposals (EPSRC website).

Applicants are advised to self-check that the outline document and application form meet the requirements. If the application does not comply with the stated rules, including formatting (font and spacing rules), given the timeline constraints, it may not be possible for us to return the submission to the applicant for amendments or corrections.

UKRI will not fund 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 must be completed.

For more information, read our further guidance on completing the Je-S form (Je-S).

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

Assessment process: outline

Anonymous outlines will be assessed by an interdisciplinary expert panel, with members from across relevant EPSRC, ESRC and AHRC communities, including academics and user representatives. These panel members will have experience of carrying out interdisciplinary research.

Ahead of the anonymous outline panel, a member of REPHRAIN will provide feedback on how the proposed research complements one or more of REPHRAIN’s missions, and contributes to the REPHRAIN Map and REPHRAIN Toolbox, including resourcing allocated to achieve this. This will be taken into account in the panel’s discussions as part of fit to call.

The outline applications will be assessed anonymously (without knowing the identities or institutions of applicants). Institutional conflicts will be avoided in assigning REPHRAIN assessors and introducers. The panel will operate on perceived conflicts (since EPSRC declaring conflicts of interest could reveal the identity of the institution).

Panel members will leave the discussion voluntarily and take no part in the assessment of any application if they believe that they have identified the applicant(s) or institution(s) involved.

Recommendations to invite to the full proposal stage will be made by the panel, who will create a rank ordered list of outlines against the assessment criteria described below.

In the event of this call being substantially oversubscribed as to be unmanageable, EPSRC reserve the right to modify the assessment process.

Please note, outline proposals will be office rejected if applicants:

  • do not adequately anonymise their outline application
  • request more than £2.75 million funding from UKRI
  • do not have an interdisciplinary group of investigators
  • do not provide evidence of citizen engagement and co-creation
  • do not adequately demonstrate fit to the scope of this call.

Assessment criteria: outline

The panel will assess outlines against the following criteria:

  • vision: the ambition, adventure, transformative aspects and intended outcomes of the proposed research
  • fit to call: how the project demonstrates fit to the call scope (as described under scope) including interdisciplinarity and plans for citizen engagement, how the proposed research complements one or more of REPHRAIN’s missions, and contributes to the REPHRAIN Map and REPHRAIN Toolbox, including resourcing allocated to achieve this, commitment to engaging with REPHRAIN and the wider PCO community, and how it brings the disciplines together in an exciting and novel way, to ensure the project achieves added value and a result greater than the sum of its parts.

Assessment criteria: full proposal

This stage will only be open to applicants who are successful at the outline stage.

Successful applicants will be provided with full guidance upon invitation to submit a full proposal.

In addition to standard documentation, an additional two pages will be permitted within the case for support (bringing the total page limit to 10). A full economic profile for the lifetime of the grant will also be required, but will not be seen by the panel.

Full proposals will be expected to provide evidence of project partner commitment, explain how engagement with partners including industry, government, policy and the third sector will be integrated to enhance the project and increase its impact, and translate research findings into tangible outcomes.

Full proposals will be assessed by an interdisciplinary expert panel, with members from UKRI’s research and user communities across EPSRC, ESRC and AHRC remit. These panel members will have experience of carrying out interdisciplinary research.

Panel members will initially review the full proposals via Je-S, and provide feedback to applicants, who will have the opportunity to submit a PI response. The same panel members will then discuss the proposals at the panel, taking the PI response into account.

In the response, applicants will be allowed three pages. This extra space in both these documents will be for applicants to explain how their proposed multidisciplinary research will be combined to achieve more than the sum of its parts, and how citizen engagement will form an integral part of the methodology.

The panel will prioritise the proposals for funding, using the assessment criteria described below.

Call specific criteria: full proposal

Fit to call (primary)

The alignment of the research programme to the aims and objectives of the call, making reference to:

  • how the project addresses at least one of the research themes defined in the call scope
  • how the applicants will bring disciplines together creatively to ensure the project achieves a result greater than the sum of its parts; evidence of synergy and added value across the programme of work
  • how engagement between researchers, government, industry, charities, data holders and other interested stakeholders will enable the project to deliver impact and tangible outcomes, including proof of specific project plans in place to deliver this engagement
  • how the applicants will ensure the sustainability of their research outcomes beyond the lifetime of the grant
  • how responsible research and innovation has been incorporated as part of the core research methodology and approach
  • how citizen participation will be incorporated into the methodology
  • clear, resourced plans and commitment to engaging and networking with REPHRAIN, the cohort of projects funded through this call, and the wider PCO community
  • how the proposed research complements one or more of REPHRAIN’s missions, and contributes to the REPHRAIN Map and REPHRAIN Toolbox, including resourcing allocated to achieve this, contributing to centre-level outcomes to deliver the PCO programme
  • level of commitment and contributions from host organisation(s)
  • appropriate people-support mechanisms in place to grow and develop the pool of interdisciplinary trained researchers.

Standard criteria: full proposal

Quality of research (primary)

The research excellence, making reference to:

  • how the proposed research will explore the diverse and changing realities of citizens’ needs online, and empower them to understand and control how their data is used, creating user-focused tools to mitigate online harms whilst enabling data sharing to maximise societal benefit in the digital economy
  • the novelty, relationship to the context, timeliness and relevance to identified stakeholders
  • the ambition, adventure, transformative aspects or potential outcomes
  • the suitability of the proposed plan of research, methodologies and the approach to achieving impact.

National importance (secondary major)

How the research:

  • contributes to or helps maintain the health of discipline
  • contributes to interdisciplinary capability and capacity
  • contributes to addressing key UK societal challenges
  • contributes to future UK economic success and development of emerging industry or industries
  • meets national needs by establishing or maintaining a unique world-leading activity, and creating a cohort of researchers with transferable technical skills
  • complements other UK research funded in the area, including REPHRAIN, and any relationship to the EPSRC plus ESRC or AHRC portfolios.

Team (secondary)

The ability to deliver the proposed project, making reference to:

  • appropriateness of the applicants’ track record, with regards to the balance and complementarity of their skills and experience, underpinning their ability to deliver the programme of work
  • the team’s strategy for managing a complex multidisciplinary project, including the appointment of a project manager and evidence of relevant past experience or professional development
  • the applicants’ approach to (or track record of, if applicable) career development and mentorship within the team.

Resources and management (secondary)

The effectiveness of the proposed planning and management and whether the requested resources are appropriate and have been fully justified, making reference to:

  • any equipment requested, or the viability of the arrangements described to access equipment needed for this project, and particularly on any university or third-party contribution
  • any resources requested for activities to either increase impact, for public engagement or to support responsible innovation
  • resources requested for active engagement with REPHRAIN and the wider PCO community throughout the lifetime of the grant
  • the identification of potential risks with appropriate mitigation strategies.

Feedback

Successful applicants invited to submit full proposals will be given access to a separate call document, providing additional guidance on the second stage’s application and assessment processes.

Brief feedback may be given to unsuccessful applicants at the outline stage if directed by the panel.

Contact details

Dr Sonia Raikova

Email: sonia.raikova@epsrc.ukri.org

Afia Masood

Email: afia.masood@epsrc.ukri.org

EPSRC Digital Economy Theme

Email: digitaleconomy@epsrc.ukri.org

Other

Any queries regarding the submission of proposals through Je-S should be directed to:

Je-S helpdesk is staffed from Monday to Thursday 8:30 to 17:00 and Fridays 8:30 to 16:30 (excluding bank holidays and other holidays).

Additional info

Background

This is a key component of the Protecting Citizens Online programme, funded through the Strategic Priorities Fund (SPF). It is a UKRI-funded programme, not attached to any particular research council’s remit, but administered by EPSRC in partnership with ESRC and AHRC.

The need to tackle the negative consequences of being online for individuals, for social cohesion and for democratic society, has been recognised in the Online Harms White Paper published in April 2019.

The mission is to reduce harms without inhibiting online innovation and the significant benefits it brings.

The PCO programme aims to build world-leading and coherent UK critical mass of interdisciplinary research activity focused on the mission through two discrete but interdependent components: a central research ‘hub’ (REPHRAIN) and a cross-sectoral, challenge-driven research opportunity (this opportunity).

Additional grant conditions

The awards will be made on the terms and conditions of UKRI grants. Additional conditions required to meet the requirements of SPF on spending profile, reporting, monitoring and evaluation, and extension will apply.

These additional requirements will be reflected in specific grant conditions and those funded will need to comply with them.

Before submission to UKRI, the completed financial template must be signed off by a host university finance member. For a grant value over £2 million per year in value, this should be the host university’s head of finance (faculty), or equivalent.

Additional conditions will include, but are not limited to, the following points:

Fixed start date

Grants will have a fixed start date of 1 April 2022. No slippage of this date will be permitted.

Extensions

Grant extensions will only be considered under exceptional circumstances (in line with the Equality Act 2010) and will require UK Research and Innovation agreement on a case-by-case basis.

Non-standard profiling

Grants will have a fixed start date of 1 April 2022 and end on 31 March 2025. Prior to commencement, final expenditure profiles for each grant holder will be agreed so that grant payments align with activity undertaken to deliver the grant.

Project officer appointment

We will nominate a member of UKRI staff (the project officer) who will be your primary point of contact.

Advisory board appointment

This grant must establish and run an independent advisory board, or equivalent body, to oversee the running of the project and provide advice on the strategic direction and activities of the project.

Management

Adequate resourcing to support an appropriate management structure should be costed within the grant. This includes employing a project manager on the grant.

Supporting documents

NOTE Council web content is being transitioned to this website – let us know if you have feedback or would like to help us test new developments.