ISRF Flexible Grants for Small Groups Competition (FG6)

The Independent Social Research Foundation wishes to support independent-minded researchers to explore and present original research ideas which take new approaches, and suggest new solutions, to real world social problems. Such work would be unlikely to be funded by existing funding bodies.


Please read these details carefully, and consult our Frequently Asked Questions, before commencing an application or contacting the ISRF with a query.

Eligible Applicants

Scholars from within Europe† are eligible to apply as Principal Investigator(s) to lead a small group of 2-10 scholars (which may include graduate students). Applicants should hold a PhD and will normally have a permanent appointment at an institution of higher education and research. Applications may be made by those whose sole or principal post is a part-time equivalent. Independent scholars with an academic affiliation may also apply. The awards are intended as providing flexible support (for instance: relief from teaching &/or administration, research and travel expenses, fieldwork and practical work) for a period of (up to) one year, for the activities of the research group. Stipends are not provided.

† There is no limitation on nationality – however, the Principal Investigator(s) should be affiliated to a European institution, through which the award would be processed.

Eligible Research

Innovative research which crosses established disciplinary boundaries and critically challenges incumbent theories and approaches, so as to address afresh empirical problems with no currently adequate theory or investigative methodology. Innovation may also come from controversial theoretical approaches motivated by critical challenge of incumbent theories. Projects ranging across the breadth of the social scientific disciplines and interdisciplinary research fields are welcome, and relevant applications from scholars working within the humanities are also encouraged.

Check our Frequently Asked Questions for further clarification on eligibility, Terms & Conditions, the application procedure, and competition-specific questions.

Nature & Timing of Support

The awards are intended as enabling one or more short periods of face-to-face joint group work such as workshops, working-in-pairs, or short academic visits (e-working, video-conferencing or Skype expenses are not included) over a period of up to one year, and must be taken up (i.e. commencing) no later than end of December 2020.


The amount of an award depends on the nature of the work proposed and individual circumstances – the ISRF expects applications for grants up to a maximum of £5,000 or €5,500.†

† PLEASE NOTE: Applicants with based in the UK must apply in GBP (£), up to the limit of £5,000. All other applicants must apply in EUR (€), up to the limit of €5,500. These amounts are fixed as of 21st September 2019, and will not be adjusted in the event of GBP/EUR currency fluctuations.

Terms & Conditions

The ISRF reserves the right to extend the deadline for the competition. A short final report will be required. Award holders may be invited to present their findings in person to the Foundation’s academic representatives. ISRF’s support to be acknowledged in all public presentation of research. Full Terms & Conditions governing awards will be provided to successful applicants in their formal offer, based on the draft general terms and conditions available on the ISRF website. Formal acceptance of the award must be completed by the end of June 2019.

Joint Applications

The competition is open to individual researchers who wish to bring together and to cooperate with others (to be named in the proposal), on a specific project: this may be at the pilot stage. There will normally be one principal applicant but joint applications by two colleagues are acceptable. In such cases, the application should be submitted by one of the PI’s, and the other should be clearly labelled as co-PI when details of collaborators are entered in the application form. CV’s for both PI’s must be submitted.

Applications to Other Funding Bodies

Applicants may apply without prejudice to other funding bodies. If applications for identical projects were successful it would be expected that only one award (i.e. either the ISRF or another) would be accepted. If applications for either wholly or partly different projects are successful there should be no duplication in the budget headings funded by the ISRF and another body.

Check our Frequently Asked Questions for further clarification on eligibility, Terms & Conditions, the application procedure, and competition-specific questions.

The Research Proposal

All applicants will be expected to provide the following details as part of their proposal:

  • The Research Idea: The innovative thesis of the project (250 words)
  • Background: Current research reference points and their limitations (250 words)
  • The Focus: How the research provides a fresh approach to real-life problems (250 words)
  • Theory & Methodology: What conceptual innovation the research is aiming at, and how different disciplinary inputs will interact in empirical inquiry – specific methodological examples are often helpful for non-specialist readers (500 words)
  • Work Plan: How the work will be organised over the award period and what outputs are intended (250 words)
  • Outcome: What further steps and what longer-term outcome are envisaged (250 words)
  • Ethics Statement: Any measures required for ethical conduct of the research (300 words)

The Submitted Application

This will be read by academic evaluators who are social scientists but not necessarily in the applicant’s own field; applicants should bear this in mind when writing their application. In particular for key theoretical terms and references, enough detail of methods must be given.

In order to be considered for the award, all applications must comprise the following:

A completed Application Form, to include:
  • An Abstract (300 words) of the research’s aims, methods, contribution to knowledge, and value in realising the goals of ISRF.
  • A completed Research Project Proposal form (1750 words total, plus the Ethics Statement where relevant)
  • The Budget, comprising a full outline of eligible costs.
  • A List of References (where applicable)
A Curriculum Vitae
  • Including both academic and non-academic details

Institutional Approval

Applicants must confirm that their home institution is aware of their application, and should provide the contact details for the relevant Administrative Officer.

Check our Frequently Asked Questions for further clarification on eligibility, Terms & Conditions, the application procedure, and competition-specific questions.

Application Procedure

Applicants are expected to submit their complete application electronically via the online application system, in English. Alternative methods of application (i.e. postal applications) are available in certain circumstances – please contact the ISRF to discuss this.

Completed applications must arrive no later than 4:00pm (GMT) on 8th November 2019. It will not be possible to submit an application after this time – it is strongly advised that applications are submitted well before the deadline.

A candidate may submit only one application. Applicants can expect to be informed of the result of their applications by letter by the end of February 2020.

Check our Frequently Asked Questions for further clarification on eligibility, Terms & Conditions, the application procedure, and competition-specific questions.
For any other queries: Telephone +44 (0) 20 7262 0196 or email