Adventurous research collaborations between social and computing scientists are being encouraged as the Economic and Social Research Council and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council invest Pounds 4 million in a new programme, People at the Centre of Communication and Information Technologies.
"This is the largest-scale attempt by the two councils to forge multidisciplinary teams that bring research on psychological, social and organisational factors into the heart of investigations into IT design problems," said Anne Anderson of Glasgow University, director of the ESRC's Cognitive Engineering programme and one of the formulators of PACCIT's strategy.
"Effective cross-disciplinary collaboration is a vital mechanism for overcoming past technological failures caused by the inadequate feedback of social science knowledge into IT evaluation and design processes," said Professor Anderson.
The joint programme's wide scope and active encouragement of innovative ideas in fundamental and applied research were emphasised during a series of recent seminars promoting the initiative.
"PACCIT will fund high-quality research in any area that could lead to more effective products and systems through the application of advances in knowledge about the complex interactions between people, computers and organisations," Professor Anderson said.
"Proposals for adventurous research based on radical new ideas are particularly welcomed, in addition to projects where important results can be achieved by building incrementally on established knowledge."
A first call for outline academic-only research proposals ends on November 10. The programme's second phase will focus on academic-industry partnerships.