Research & Innovation Services

University of Bath pilots new approach to supporting research applications

The Economic and Social Research Council has the remit of funding excellent social science research. Their Future Research Leaders scheme is designed specifically to provide three years of funding to those early career researchers who are deemed potential leaders within their field.

The scheme has run for three years and the University of Bath has developed an intensive support package to help early career academics who wish to propose a research project. Seven researchers from across the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences and the School of Management submitted applications to this scheme at the end of September 2013 with results due in June 2014.

This submission followed an intensive period of training and review that started in February 2013. Monthly training sessions on topics linked to the application form (for example, writing aims, developing a case for support, impact, budgeting, data management) were accompanied by various stages of review by both academics and professionals within the University. It is hoped that this intensive approach will lead to better peer reviewed proposals once they reach the ESRC.

Comments from the cohort applicants include:“It was really useful to break the application down by section and progress through each one together as a group” (Dr Rachel Arnold, Department for Health) and “The timeline was fantastic as it encouraged ongoing engagement with the application and meant that the chances of a mad rush at the end were reduced” (Dr Jessica Francombe-Webb, Department of Education).

Professor Jane Millar, Pro- Vice-Chancellor (Research) is an advocate of this intensive approach to training leading to research applications, she comments that: “Being able to work through proposals one stage at a time not only helps the applicant to make their own proposals as good as they can be but it also provides an excellent opportunity to show the ESRC the quality of both ideas and people we have here at the University of Bath”.

The training was led by Sarah Jones from the Research Development and Support Office (RDSO) and supported by the Pro-Vice-Chancellor, the Associate Deans (Research), academics and professionals from across the University.

Due to the success of the approach there are plans to repeat the programme leading up to the next ESRC deadline in September 2014. The first session will be an introduction to the scheme, a discussion on what is meant by leadership in academia, the training package being offered and the obligations on the participants. This session is scheduled for 27 January 2014 between 12 and 2.05 in 1 West North 2.4.

The scheme is of relevance to those working within the ESRC remit and applicants should usually have submitted their PhD after September 2010 and before September 2015. This is open to variation based on personal circumstances.

Further information

Further details on last year’s call are available  


Please email Sarah Jones if you are interested in attending the first session or know of a suitable candidate.

RDSO is also planning a similar intensive support package for mid-career academics. Further information on this pilot will be released soon.