1st stage deadlines

Faculty EOI: 8th December 2017

Faculty review 1st draft: 15th December 2017

Divisional review: Midday, 15th January 2018 - NEW DEADLINE (ORIGINALLY ADVERTISED AS 12th JANUARY)

Faculty review 2nd draft: 19th February 2018

Research Services deadline: 8th March 2018

Funder deadline: 15th March 2018

Full details regarding this competition can be found on the ESRC website  


ESRC are investing up to £30 million over five years through this centres competition. It is anticipated that ESRC will fund four centres. The competition is for proposals ranging from £2 million to £8 million 100% full economic cost (fEC) with a term of five years. We will meet 80% of the full economic costs on proposals submitted (ie ESRC funding total of £24 million at 80% fEC).

Research centre funding is aimed at experienced research leaders who require longer-term or extended support for research groups, inter-institutional research networks, project-linked programmes, medium-to-large surveys, other infrastructure or methodological developments, or any related larger-scale projects.

We envisage centres as long term investments which strengthen the social science landscape in the UK and successful proposals must add value to the current portfolio of ESRC centres. In addition to taking forward an ambitious research agenda and making significant economic or societal impact, centres add value by increasing research infrastructure, building capacity, encouraging interdisciplinary working in social science and beyond, and enabling research collaboration in the UK and internationally. We anticipate that over time centres awarded under this call will become major strategic partnerships with their host research organisations.

The competition is open to innovative new research addressing any major social and economic topic. There will be no priority areas for this call. It is an essential requirement that your primary research area is in the social sciences. We strongly encourage inter/multidisciplinary working both within and beyond the social sciences, as long as at least 50% of the proposed programme of research is within ESRC remit. Please refer to the list of research areas that fall within ESRC remit for further information.  

We particularly encourage ambitious and novel research proposals addressing new concepts and techniques, and proposals with the potential for significant scientific or societal and economic impact.  Knowledge exchange and impact-generating activities will be an integral part of any centre proposal, regardless of topic area or discipline.

Submissions from existing centres should explain how the proposal meets the current centre’s aims and objectives and how the research programme will be expanded upon. Proposals for new centres should ensure that they do not substantially overlap or duplicate an existing centre. We would expect centres to have the strategic support of their host research organisation (RO), and to provide evidence of the institution’s support to the centre over the longer term.   

New policy
As in previous Centres Competitions, ESRC will be looking for evidence of long term institutional commitment, both strategic and financial, to the proposed centre application through the provision of grant-associated parallel activities and capacity-building. ESRC has recently reviewed and revised our centres policy with the aim of fostering and sustaining a larger number of centres within the UK social science infrastructure over the longer term. ESRC will provide an opportunity for centres that are successful in this competition to go on to apply for further graduated ESRC support to follow on from the centre grant. It is expected that a successful centre will be supported by strong strategic, and financial, commitment from their host Research Organisation (RO). 

Further information about the new centres funding model
We encourage applicants to think imaginatively about the structure and organisation of their centre proposals. We strongly encourage proposals which involve partnerships and collaborative relationships. Partnerships may build on existing relationships or represent new collaborative relationships.

How to apply
The assessment of proposals will be a two-stage process. Outline proposals will be assessed and shortlisted by an assessment panel. It is anticipated that shortlisted applicants will be contacted to invite submission to the full proposal stage in June 2018.

Outline proposals must be submitted to the Je-S system: by the call deadline 16:00 on 15 March 2018.

Applications will be assessed by the commissioning panels and a final short-list invited to interview in London in early February 2019. Funding decisions will be available at the end of March 2019, and the centres awarded will start in October 2019.

Internal selection process

There is an institutional restriction of three applications to this competition. We are aware of a number of potential applications to this call, and so believe that this application process needs some coordination in order to ensure Oxford submits the three most competitive proposals. 
We kindly ask applicants to submit their 6 page case for support, 2 page pathways to impact document, and a summary of the resources required to undertake the programme of activities, by 12:00 on 12th January, to Dr Sharron Pleydell-Pearce (Senior Research Facilitator, Social Science Division, (sharron.pleydell-pearce@socsci.ox.ac.uk ). 
A cross-divisional panel of senior academics with experience of running such collaborative, multi-disciplinary centres will be convened. Each panel member will read all of the applications and provide comments and a score, to indicate their ranking of the applications based on all of the ESRC criteria. The panel’s ranked list and comments will form the basis of the institutional decision of which applications are the strongest to take forward for submission. The panel will meet on 22nd January2018, with applicants receiving feedback and results shortly after.
This timeframe should ensure applicants can incorporate feedback from the panel, and work with Dr Pleydell-Pearce, Dr Kathrin McCann (Research Services) and their local research support officer/facilitator as appropriate, to enable a good period of time to strengthen proposals. Research Services will be informed of the panel decision and submit only those three applications. Research Services will require your submissions via JeS on Thursday 8th March for submission by the 15th March deadline.