ESRC Update – Spring 2013 - Staffordshire University Blogs

ESRC Update
Professor Paul Boyle, Chief Executive, ESRC
▶ The major public sector funder of social science
research and post graduate training in the UK
▶ Non-Departmental Public Body, established in 1965,
largely funded through the Department of Business
Innovation and Skills (BIS)
▶ Key Principles:
– Quality
– Impact
– Independence
Economic and Societal Impact
▶ ESRC supports excellent research that has impact
▶ Creating, assessing and communicating impact is
central to all our activities
– Pathways to impact
– Impact toolkit
▶ Research Excellence Framework (20% for impact)
Distribution of ESRC Funding 2011/12
Exchange, £6m
International, £4m
Training & Skills,
£54m (26%)
Strategic &
Research, £53m
Research, £49m
Methods &
£30m (14%)
Administration &
Management, £13m
▶ Budget for 2012/13 is £200m (BIS allocation of £179m)
▶ CSR 2010
– 2% cut in real terms to Programme budget
– 23% cut in real terms to Administration budget
▶ Need to continue to make strong arguments for social
science research in the next CSR
▶ Importance of continuing to invest in the future:
– Long-term infrastructure
– Next generation of research leaders
– Research areas of major national importance
ESRC Funding Opportunities
Datasets and
Data Services
Centres and Large Grants
Funding Amount
(early career researchers involved
through grant linked studentships
etc rather than as Principal
Research Grants
Open Research Area
International Bi-laterals
Secondary Data Analysis
Knowledge Exchange & Follow-on Funding
Seminars & International Networking
Research Career
International Collaboration
▶ Embed international in all we do
– International Co-Investigators
▶ Work with European partners
– Open Research Area (ESRC, NOW, DFG, ANR – now NSF)
▶ Strengthen collaborations with key partner countries
– 3 RCUK teams (US, India and China)
▶ Influence Horizon 2020
– Ensure social scientists contribute to all societal challenges
▶ Extend our successful partnerships with DfID
7 Research Councils and RCUK
RCUK Programmes
▶ Social Science is embedded in all
six cross-Council programmes
▶ ESRC leads – Global
Partnerships and Collaboration
▶ Collaboration with private, public and third-sector
bodies through co-funding of research and people
– Attract around £20m of additional co-funding each year
– Co-production ensures research is better placed to inform
policy and practice
▶ Private sector prioritised for increased engagement and
– Focus initially on financial services, green business and retail
– ESRC-led partnerships
Refreshing the Strategic Priorities
2011 Delivery Plan
▶ Economic Performance and Sustainable Growth
▶ Influencing Behaviour and Informing Interventions
▶ Vibrant and Fair Society
▶ Contributions to all 6 RCUK challenges and TSB
▶ Building social science capability
Refresh February 2013
▶ What have we achieved and which gaps need to be filled?
▶ How can we respond to urgent but unpredictable
scientific opportunities?
Economic Performance and Sustainable
In 2011 Council committed to making new investments in:
Achieved as Enterprise Research Centre; BIS, BBA, ESRC
£2.9 m, lead: University of Warwick
Rising Powers
Achieved as third phase of Rising Powers Programme
£6m, 12 projects
Achieved as Centre for Macroeconomics, £3.9 m
lead: LSE (also international symposium)
Achieved as Systemic Risk Centre, £3.8 m lead: LSE
and Centre for Study of Risk and Ambiguity £3.4 m lead:
Global distribution of Economic Performance
5 of 5 targets met
Achieved as ESRC/DFID growth programme,
Venture, £9.9 m, 18 projects
Expenditure across ESRC’s portfolio
Expenditure across ESRC’s portfolio
Analysis of Expenditure by Strategic Priority Area
(Minus DfID Poverty Alleviation programme)
Economic Performance
Understanding Individual Behaviour
V& F (Exc DFID)
Financial Years
Putting it Together
Strategic Priority
Economic Performance and Sustainable
Influencing Behaviour and Informing
A Vibrant and Fair Society
Building Social Science Capacity
Business Innovation
Future Cities
Green Economy
Local Economic Growth
New Macro Economics
Financial Markets
Health Inequalities
Educational Neuroscience
Innovation in Healthcare
Civil Society, Social Innovation, Civic Participation
Human Rights, Diversity
Education – Developing Countries, Higher Education
Social Media
Democratic Renewal
Big Data
Evidence, What Works
Smart Potential
N.B. Europe!
Capacity Building
National Capability
▶ Providing support across all stages of the career
▶ Opportunities for early and mid-career
– Doctoral Training Centres
– Future Research Leaders and Research Grants
▶ Opportunities for senior and established researchers
– Professorial Fellowships and larger schemes
▶ Opportunities for all researchers through ESRC grants
schemes, and training through NCRM and RDI
Doctoral Training Centres
21 DTCs – our main capacity building vehicle
First cohorts started in October 2011
645 awards made in year 1, and 753 in year 2
First and final year conferences for ESRC PhD students
Tailored initiatives to:
– Concentrate studentships in strategic areas (e.g. AQM and economics)
– Expand collaboration with public, private and civil society organisations through
internships and collaborative activities
– Utilise and build upon existing or emerging international links
– Develop an Advanced Training Network
Advanced Training Network
▶ Integrated network of advanced training for all
postgraduate researchers, not only those funded by
– Consultation to identify gaps in provision
– Additional training commissioned later in the year
– All postgraduate researchers can register for any of these
courses, at a maximum cost of £30 per day
DTC Lessons Learned
▶ Training and Skills Committee is currently carrying
out a ‘lessons learned’ exercise
– ESRC expects studentships to be awarded on the basis of
– Balance between +3 and 1+3 studentships
– Success of securing co-funding
▶ Progress on these matters will be considered when
decisions around re-commissioning are being made
▶ ESRC encourages DTC Directors to work together
to develop best practice
UK Strategy for Data Resources for
Social and Economic Research
▶ The ‘national data strategy’ was first published in
2007, updated in 2009, and being refreshed for 2013
▶ Owned by the UK Data Forum
▶ Priorities and recommendations include:
– Improved data linkage
– Develop partnerships and collaborative work
– Explore customer databases and international partnerships
▶ ESRC Data infrastructure led by the new UK Data
Service (UKDS)
– Access to census and other datasets and a new website
Capital Funding
▶ Chancellor’s Autumn Statement included £600m for
science, research and innovation, £484m for RCUK
– Funds to support the development of innovative
technologies across eight areas, including ‘big data’
– Draws from RCUK Strategic Framework for Capital
Investment (published Nov 2012)
– ESRC earmarked £64m to support packages of activity
within the ‘big data’ theme
Administrative Data Taskforce
▶ Jointly established by the ESRC, MRC, Wellcome Trust,
chaired by Sir Alan Langlands
▶ 5 recommendations
– Administrative Data Research Centres (ADRCs) should be
established in each country of the UK
– Legislation should be enacted to facilitate research access to
administrative data (generic legal gateway)
– Researcher accreditation process and training
– Strategy for engaging with the public
– Funds to support access to and linkage between data
Business Datasafe
▶ National resource for analysing business dynamics, drawing
upon a wide range of previously unavailable and disparate data
▶ From organisational surveys to customer databases (e.g. store
cards, utilities data, banking transactions, mortgage details, etc.)
▶ Enable new analysis that informs broad understanding of
economic growth, organisational efficiency, productivity,
employment relations, organisational finance, investment,
health and wellbeing at the workplace…..
Understanding Populations
▶ Opportunities to capitalise on existing data assets
▶ ESRC funds world leading longitudinal studies:
– British Household Panel Study & Understanding Society
– English Longitudinal Study, Scottish LS & N. Ireland LS
– Birth cohorts (1958, 1970, Millennium Cohort) and Life
– English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) and other
ageing studies
▶ Further collection of a wide variety of biomarkers
and the genotyping of existing DNA samples
Social Media Research
▶ Social media is distinctive in capturing user-generated
data from populations
▶ Social media analytics represent an opportunity to
invest in large scale social research
– A Centre comprising a network of nodes across
participating countries, with a coordinating hub
– Workshop in May 2013 to discuss Centre structure and
– Call likely to be announced in September 2013
New Schemes
Building QM Capacity
▶ £15.5 million funding programme with Nuffield
Foundation and HEFCE
– Promoting a step-change in quantitative methods training
for UK social science undergraduates
– Centres of excellence that will provide cohorts of students
capable of filling the quantitative skills gap among
– Possibility of new 4-year social science degrees
The Future of the UK and Scotland
▶ Objective evidence on the effects of Scottish
▶ Phase 1
– 7 one-year Professorial Fellowships
– 10 research projects based at major ESRC investments
– Conference event, May 2013, to inform the debate
– Research Coordinator
▶ Phase 2
– Potential research initiative, examining medium term
What Works
▶ National, co-ordinated initiative that seeks to
strengthen the use of evidence for policy and practice
▶ Worked with Cabinet Office to establish ‘What
Works’ centres
– Local economic growth (call opens March 25th)
– Ageing
– Crime and policing
– Re-offending
– Early intervention (Education Endowment Foundation)
Transformative Research
▶ ESRC-funded research tends to be incremental
▶ Want to encourage greater innovation – next big
‘transformative’ ideas in social science
– ROs receiving over £100k of ESRC funding, 2011/12
– 66 applications; panel shortlisted 32
– ‘Pitch to Peers’ workshop (March)
– Supporting 20 awards, from June 2013
▶ Re-launching the transformative potential of existing
Engaging with Retail
▶ ESRC is continuing to increase its engagement with
retail sector
▶ Retail Navigators – Nottingham Business School
– Facilitating better communication between social science
researchers and retailers
▶ Data Navigators – Demographic Decisions Ltd
– Data infrastructure of mutual interest to researchers and
retailers (e.g. store card data)
Impact Prize
▶ Annual prize (£10,000) for achieving economic
/societal impact
– Business
– Public Policy
– Society
– International
– Early Career
– Impact Champion of the Year
▶ 2 applications have been shortlisted in each category
Large Grants and Centres
▶ Call due to be launched shortly
▶ Likely to fund up to 8 awards – more than ever
▶ Total budget likely to be doubled to £10 million
▶ We want to see:
– Ambitious bids
– Improved quality bids
– More cross-institutional bids, bringing the very best
‘Priority Networks’
▶ Mechanism for Centre/Large Grant applications
– Small group of projects
– Usually with existing relationships between researchers
– Coordinator selected from within the group
▶ Evaluation show strengths include high levels of
collaboration and coordination
▶ Recent example: ‘Network for Integrated
Behavioural Science’ (Nottingham, Warwick and UEA)
▶ Scale: not ‘scattergun’ large Programme approach
Other Funding Opportunities
▶ EU Joint Programme - Neurodegenerative Disease
Research (JPND)
▶ Coordinator for the Retail Sector Initiative
▶ Strategic Advisors for Data Resources
▶ DFID-ESRC Growth Research Programme - call 2
▶ Retail Knowledge Exchange Opportunities
▶ UK Drought and Water Scarcity (NERC website)
▶ Digging into Data round 3
Operational Issues
Demand Management
▶ Over last five years we have seen a 33% increase in
the number of applications
▶ No additional funding available leading to fall in
success rates (research grants scheme 13%)
▶ Burden on researchers, reviewers, universities and the
▶ We expect to see individuals and HEIs demonstrate
that they are improving self-regulation
Demand Management
▶ To help meet these expectations we have…
– Provision of performance data to individuals and institutions
– Developed good practice guidelines
– Invited-only resubmissions policy with associated guidance
– Reduced external peer review burden (greater use of
outline applications; reduced referee thresholds)
– More tightly specified calls on managed mode schemes (e.g.
Centres and Large Grants competition)
– RCUK harmonising demand management measures
Demand Management Progress
▶ Results include:
– 37% drop in application volume
– Increase in overall success rates from 17% to 24%
– Signs of improvements in the quality of applications
– Reduction of around 20% in peer review requirements
Open Access
▶ RCUK policy on Open Access from 1st April
▶ RCUK definition of Open Access
– Peer reviewed papers that acknowledge RC funding
– Gold preferred, but green (6 / 12 months) also supported
– CC-BY license
▶ Additional funding (£10m + £17m year 1) to support
this activity
▶ Journey, not an event (5 years)
▶ Part of an international revolution
Open Access
Triennial Review
▶ Review of the Research Councils, conducted by BIS,
taking place over 6 months from January 2013
▶ Two stage review process
– Stage 1 (Jan–March): Assess the need for Research Councils
– Stage 2 (Apr–June): Examine RC structure and governance
▶ Consultation of a wide range of stakeholders, on
– How structure contributes to delivery of functions
– Relationship between RCs and other stakeholders
– Relationship between RCs and ‘customers’
Communication Highlights
▶ May 2012, over 1286 ESRC-related
media stories
▶ Twitter followers increased 200% to
over 6,000 from 2,000 in 2011
▶ ESRC videos viewed over 9,000
times in 2011, from 830 in 2010
▶ Britain In magazine (2011 won 2nd
prize in International Content
Marketing Awards)
ESRC’s Contacts
▶ Committees/Council Secretaries:
– Nigel Bird, Audit Committee
[email protected]
– Vicki Crossley, Council
[email protected]
– Vicki Crossley, Evaluation Committee
[email protected]
– Paul Meller, Methods and Infrastructure Committee
[email protected]
– Michelle Dodson, Research Committee
[email protected]
– Dawn Woodgate, Training and Skills Committee
[email protected]

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