ISRF Political Economy Research Fellowship Competition (PERF4)

The Independent Social Research Foundation wishes to support independent-minded researchers working in Political Economy, which the ISRF here extends to include the social scientific study of economies across the whole range of the social sciences. The work would be conceptually innovative, interdisciplinary, and unlikely to be funded by existing funding bodies.

Please read these details carefully – and consult the FAQs – before commencing an application or contacting the ISRF with a query. Applications must be submitted before 4pm (GMT) on 14th February 2020. Applicants are strongly advised to submit applications well in advance of this deadline. If you ave any technical issues, please notify Stuart Wilson immediately.


PLEASE NOTE: A Mid-Career Fellowship (MCF5) competition is running concurrently. Eligible applicants may submit an application for each competition, each containing a discrete project proposal (i.e. not the same proposal). Such applications will be considered individually – however, multiple awards will not be made to the same applicant. Political Economy applications should not be submitted for MCF5.

Eligible Applicants

Scholars from within Europe are eligible to apply. Applicants will normally have a permanent appointment at an institution of higher education and research. The awards are intended as providing full relief from all teaching duties and all associated academic administration for a period of (up to) one year; applications may be made by those whose sole or principal post is a part-time equivalent.‡

 There is no limitation on nationality – however, we are unable to consider applications from those whose home institution is not within Europe.

‡ Independent Scholars may apply, and should contact for further information.

PLEASE NOTE: Eligibility for ISRF funding opportunities will be unaffected by Brexit. We continue to encourage applications from scholars working within Europe (geographically defined – so, including those at UK institutions).

Eligible Research

Innovative research which breaks with existing explanatory frameworks 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. Interdisciplinarity in the generation of new investigative initiatives may be achieved by combining, cross-fertilising, and so transforming empirical methods and theoretical insights from the social sciences. 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.

Duration and Timing

The awards are intended as providing full relief from all teaching duties and all associated academic administration for a period of up to one year, and must commence no later than end of December 2021.


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 £70,000† to buy-out the cost of all teaching and associated administration in the applicant’s home institution for up to 12 months. Within that sum, reasonable support for research expenses may be considered on a matched-funding basis with the host Institution.

† PLEASE NOTE: Applicants based in the UK must apply in GBP (£), up to the limit of £70,000. All other applicants must apply in EUR (€), up to the limit of €83,000 (fixed as of 1st January 2020 – this 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 December 2020.

Joint/Group Applications

The competition is open to individuals who wish to undertake a piece of original research. Where more than one researcher wishes to seek funds for the same project, each person should submit a separate application and clearly demonstrate what his or her specific contribution to the project will be. Each application will be treated on its own merits, and applicants should be aware that the Committee may decide not to fund either or all individuals seeking funds for the same project.

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.

All awards are conditional upon acceptance of our Standard Award Terms & Conditions.

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)
  • Theoretical & 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 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)
  • A list of references that support the proposal, limited to two sides of A4 (this should be uploaded as an additional attachment)
  • A Budget comprising a full outline of employment costs. If matched-funded research expenses are included for consideration, an explanation should be given as to why these are deemed necessary.
A Curriculum Vitae
  • Including a list of publications
A Letter of Support from a recognised scholar in the applicant’s field of interest, covering:
  • The applicant’s status (personal academic reference).
  • The research proposed (brief comment on how this meets the ISRF criteria).
  • Why the research would not be funded by existing resources.

This must be sent from the nominated scholar direct to ISRF at

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. Should your application progress, this Officer (Institutional Approver) will be asked to confirm, on behalf of your department and institution that:

  • You will be granted the period and proportion of time requested in the Duration and Timing section;
  • If replacement costs are requested, you will be in receipt of your normal salary during tenure of the award and the institution will provide cover;
  • If research expenses are sought, this request has the support of the head of department/school and institution, who will confirm that these will be matched.
Therefore, it is advisable that you ensure that your Head of Department is in agreement with the content of your application before you submit.

Application Procedure

Applicants are expected to submit their complete application electronically via the online application system, in English.

Completed applications must arrive – via the online application system – no later than 4:00pm on 14th February 2020. Letters of Support must arrive, by email to, direct from the supporter, no later than 21st February 2020.

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

† A Mid-Career Fellowship (MCF5) competition is running concurrently. Eligible applicants may submit an application for each competition, each containing a discrete (i.e. different) project proposal. Such applications will be considered individually – however, multiple awards will not be made to the same applicant. Political Economy applications should not be submitted for MCF5.


Application Queries: Telephone +44 (0) 20 7262 0196 or email