ESRC proposes a whole new way of thinking

ESRC offers grants for ambition

November 22, 2012

The Economic and Social Research Council has launched a new pilot scheme to fund the kind of “transformative research” that often loses out in standard peer review.

The research council is offering grants of up to £250,000 to fund ambitious, high-risk research that promises to change accepted thinking in the social sciences by applying new theoretical and methodological insights.

Paul Boyle, chief executive of the ESRC, said that he was proud of the funder’s existing portfolio of research but admitted he was “not quite sure we are getting enough transformative science coming through”.

“We encourage all our peer reviewers to be willing to consider … slightly high-risk proposals but it can still be challenging to get (such proposals) through peer review. For fairly innovative ideas we need innovative ways of assessing them,” he said.

Shortlisted applicants will be invited to pitch their ideas at a “workshop” in March next year, and will also be asked to critique each other’s proposals.

Professor Boyle said that proposals will have to address one of the ESRC’s priority areas. Applicants will still be asked to think about the wider impact of their work “but we accept some of the projects are more likely to have academic impact in the short term”.

Only institutions that received more than £100,000 of ESRC research funding in 2011-12 can apply. Each will be restricted to one entry, rising to two for those that earned more than £3 million.

Professor Boyle said the ESRC needed to limit its workload but insisted that its intention was not “to select certain institutions above any others”. He said that more than 70 institutions would be eligible.

“We are just trying to be realistic. We wouldn’t want to encourage applications from places that, frankly, are unlikely to have a chance of succeeding,” he said.

He also denied that requiring universities to sift applications internally would encourage conservatism given the scheme’s remit and he hoped universities would consider submitting early-career researchers.

paul.jump@tsleducation.com.

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Assistant Recruitment - Human Resources Office

University Of Nottingham Ningbo China

Outreach Officer

Gsm London

Professorship in Geomatics

Norwegian University Of Science & Technology -ntnu

Professor of European History

Newcastle University

Head of Department

University Of Chichester
See all jobs

Most Commented

men in office with feet on desk. Vintage

Three-quarters of respondents are dissatisfied with the people running their institutions

students use laptops

Researchers say students who use computers score half a grade lower than those who write notes

Canal houses, Amsterdam, Netherlands

All three of England’s for-profit universities owned in Netherlands

Humboldt University, Berlin

As the country succeeds in attracting even more students from overseas, a mixture of demographics, ‘soft power’ concerns and local politics help explain its policy

sitting by statue

Institutions told they have a ‘culture of excluding postgraduates’ in wake of damning study