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.
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 5pm (GMT) on 28th March 2024. Applicants are strongly advised to submit applications well in advance of this deadline. If you have any technical issues, please notify Stuart Wilson immediately.
Scholars from within Europe* are eligible to apply. Applicants will normally hold a full-time or part-time salaried position – which may be permanent or fixed-term – at an Institution of Higher Education and Research†. Candidates should be 10 years or more from the year of their PhD award. However, a shorter time from PhD award may exceptionally be considered, if the candidate has other qualifications to be considered as mid-career (these might include: length of appointment to permanent post, seniority, teaching responsibilities). 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.
PLEASE NOTE: Eligibility for ISRF funding opportunities is unaffected by Brexit. We continue to encourage applications from scholars working within Europe (geographically defined – so, including those at UK institutions). There is no limitation on the geographical focus of proposed research.
* There is no limitation on nationality – however, we are unable to consider applications from those whose home institution is not within Europe.
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.
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 2025 (award notification is intended by the end of August 2024).
Should buy-out funding not be administratively viable or appropriate, non-UK based applicants should contact ISRF to discuss other ways that a Fellowship award could be administered in the context of their local academic/administrative requirements.
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 €100,000 (or GBP equivalent)† 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.
Where home institutions are unable to comply with the matched-funding requirement for research expenses, applications will still be considered – an explanatory note from the relevant Head of School/Head of Department/Research Manager should be submitted as an attachment. Note also that applications without any research expenses component are also accepted.
† PLEASE NOTE: Applicants based in the UK must apply in GBP (£), up to the limit of £85,000. All other applicants must apply in EUR (€), up to the limit of €100,000. These limits will not be adjusted in the event of GBP/EUR currency fluctuations.
The ISRF reserves the right to extend the deadline for the competition. A short final report will be required, as part of a presentation of the Fellow’s findings, in-person, to the Foundation’s academic representatives.† Award holders may be invited to present their findings in person to the Foundation’s academic representatives. The ISRF’s support is 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 2024.
† The ISRF does not require a lengthy report on your work, although reflections and comments are welcome as an addendum/appendix; for our records we require a short (no more than 500 words) report on the main features of your work: a short recap/outline of research aims and work plan; changes in research plans with reasons; new or surprising findings or results; what was achieved and how; outputs (presentations, publications etc); lessons learned; collaborations, partnerships, networks that have resulted; further plans/projects that arise from research.
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, two types of joint application will be considered:
Co-applicants: whereby one application is submitted for a single project, with a total budget up to the limit of €100,000 (or GBP equivalent), wherein two applicants would work on the same project. In the event that the application is successful, both applicants would be awarded ISRF Fellowships. It is up to the applicants to decide how the budget will be split, and to detail this in the application – for example, a 50-50 split could see each applicant bought out for, say, six months. The total project duration should be no more than 12 months, but buy-out periods may overlap wholly or in part. The application should be submitted in the name of one of the PIs, using their institutional details; the fields prompting for submission of prior publications/outputs and qualifications/experience should be completed for both applicants (labelled Applicant 1 & Applicant 2); and the Project Title should begin ‘CoApp’.
Co-investigators: whereby separate applications are submitted, for discrete contributions to an overall project. The budget for each application may be up to the limit of €100,000 (or GBP equivalent). The applications will be considered independently of each other, and neither, one or both may be awarded. Each individual project may last up to 12 months, and award periods may overlap wholly or in part. Each application should have the same Project Title, beginning ‘CoInv’.
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 applicants will be expected to provide the following details as part of their proposal:
For example Research Proposals from previous Mid-Career Fellows, see the project pages for Michelle Bastian, Beth Epstein, Deana Heath, Jayne Raisborough, Jonathan Saha, Sherrill Stroschein & Lisa Taylor.
In support of the Research Proposal, applicants are also prompted to submit:
* The submitted bibliography will be appended to your Research Proposal, visible at all stages of the selection process. Please ensure that any references to your own previous publications are anonymised.
** Your budget, prior publications/outputs and previous experience/qualifications will only be appended to your Research Proposal, and therefore visible to reviewers, if your application reaches the final, Selection Panel stage.
Finally, you are required to nominate two referees who may be contacted by the ISRF for a Letter of Support.
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. To make the assessment procedure as fair as possible, we ask applicants to ensure their proposal has been anonymised. It may contain references to the applicant’s previous work but these should not be identifiable. Our Assessment Procedure is set out online.
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:
It is therefore advisable that your Head of Department be aware of your application before you submit.
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 5:00pm GMT on 28th March 2024.
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 August 2024.