ISRF Grant Competitions

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.

The ISRF seeks to fund 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 and 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 and the natural sciences are also encouraged.

Funding Categories

Scholars from within Europe are eligible to apply – applicants should be within 10 years of PhD award, and they will normally have a permanent appointment at an institution of higher education and research. Career breaks may be taken into account. 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.

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 £50,000 sterling 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.

Fourth ISRF Early Career Fellowship Competition (ECF4)

On 23rd January 2017, the ISRF launched its fourth Early Career Fellowship competition. The deadline for applications was 4:00pm (UK Time) on 3rd March 2017.

Applicants can expect to be informed of the result of their applications by email by the end of June 2017.

Third ISRF Early Career Fellowship Competition (ECF3)

In January 2015, the ISRF launched its third Early Career Fellowship competition. Having received a number of strong proposals, the Selection Panel met in June 2015, and voted to make five awards.

The recipients were Dr Nishat Awan (University of Sheffield), Dr Oche Onazi (University of Dundee), Dr Patrick Overeem (Leiden University), Dr Illan rua Wall (University of Warwick), and Dr Jay Wiggan (University of Edinburgh).

Second ISRF Early Career Fellowship Competition (ECF2)

In January 2013, the ISRF launched its second Early Career Fellowship competition. Having received a number of strong proposals, the Selection Panel met in June 2013, and voted to make five awards.

The recipients were Dr Kimberley Brownlee (University of Warwick), Dr Lara Coleman (University of Sussex), Dr Julia Laite (Birkbeck, University of London), Dr Audra Mitchell (University of York), and Dr Martin O’Neill (University of York).

First ISRF Early Career Fellowship Competition (ECF1)

In August 2011, the ISRF launched its first Early Career Fellowship competition. Having received a number of strong proposals, the Selection Panel met in January 2012, and voted to make five awards.

The recipients were Dr Jacob Copeman (University of Edinburgh), Dr Bregje De Kok (Queen Margaret University, Belfast), Dr Oliver Dowlen (Queen Mary, University of London), Dr Juliane Reinecke (University of Warwick), and Dr Andrea Ruggeri (University of Amsterdam).

Scholars from within Europe are eligible to apply. Applicants will normally hold a salaried position 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). Career breaks may also be taken into account. 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.

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 £60,000 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.

Third ISRF Mid-Career Fellowship Competition (MCF3)

In January 2016, the ISRF launched its third Mid-Career Fellowship competition. Having received a number of strong proposals, the Selection Panel met in May 2016, and voted to make five awards.

The recipients were Dr Deana Heath (University of Liverpool), Professor Ian Loader (University of Oxford), Dr Martin O’Neill (University of York),  Dr Julie Parsons (Plymouth University), and Dr Sherrill Stroschein (University College London).

Second ISRF Mid-Career Fellowship Competition (MCF2)

In January 2014, the ISRF launched its second Mid-Career Fellowship competition. Having received a number of strong proposals, the Selection Panel met in June 2014, and voted to make six awards.

The recipients were Dr Sarah Amsler (University of Lincoln), Dr Lisa Baraitser (Birkbeck, University of London), Dr Matt ffytche (University of Essex), Dr Richard Powell (University of Oxford), Dr Jayne Raisborough (University of Brighton), and Professor Martin Thomas (University of Exeter).

First ISRF Mid-Career Fellowship Competition (MCF1)

In May 2012, the ISRF launched its first Mid-Career Fellowship competition. Having received a number of strong proposals, the Selection Panel met in November 2012, and voted to make five awards.

The recipients were Dr David Graeber (Goldsmiths, University of London), Dr Jonathan Hearn (Edinburgh University), Dr Derek Hook (Birkbeck, University of London), Professor Matt Matravers (York University), and Professor Pál Nyiri (Vrije University of Amsterdam).

Scholars from within Europe are eligible to apply – applicants will normally have a permanent appointment at an institution of higher education and research. Career breaks may be taken into account. 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.

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 £60,000 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.

First ISRF Political Economy Research Fellowship Competition (PERF1)

In August 2016, the ISRF launched its first Political Economy Research Fellowship competition. Having received a number of strong proposals, the Selection Panel met in February 2017, and voted to make five awards.

The recipients were Dr Jurgen De Wispelaere (Independent Scholar), Dr David Elder-Vass (Loughborough University), Dr Emanuele Lobina (University of Greenwich), Professor Keir Martin (University of Oslo) & Professor Adam Leaver (University of Manchester), and Dr Gábor Scheiring (University of Cambridge).

Independent scholars from within Europe are eligible to apply, and they will normally not hold an appointment, temporary or permanent, at an institution of higher education and research. Applications will be considered from those who hold part-time posts within academia and seek support for research carried out outside of their contracted hours. The awards are intended as providing a stipend to allow applicants full or partial relief from non-academic duties for a period of (up to) one year; applications may be made by those whose sole or principal post is a part-time equivalent. The awards are not intended to support newly qualified scholars entering the post-doctoral stage.

Normally applicants will hold a PhD. Other academic or professional qualifications may be considered, along with publications usually in peer-reviewed academic journals. Monographs, professional journals and the popular media may also be considered.

For the purposes of this competition, an ‘Independent Scholar’ is understood as someone, whether or not currently in employment, who is engaged on intellectual work of a nature and standard comparable to that of a professional academic.

The research proposed may include, but is not confined to: initiation of a project or of research level work intended to draw on or contribute to one of the professions, completion of a project, or preparation of an article or monograph for publication, based on existing work.

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 £25,000. Within that sum, reasonable support for research expenses will be considered. Reasonable childcare or other domestic costs may be considered.

Third ISRF Independent Scholar Fellowship Competition (ISF3)

In July 2015, the ISRF launched its third Independent Scholar Fellowship competition. Having received a number of strong proposals, the Selection Panel met in December 2015, and voted to make three awards.

The recipients were Dr Paul Dobraszczyk (University of Manchester), Dr Alessandra Gribaldo (University of Modena and Reggio Emilia), and Dr Nina Moeller (University of Oxford).

Second ISRF Independent Scholar Fellowship Competition (ISF2)

In July 2014, the ISRF launched its second Independent Scholar Fellowship competition. Having received a number of strong proposals, the Selection Panel met in December 2014, and voted to make two awards.

The recipients were Dr Joel Lazarus (University of Warwick) and Dr Joy White (University of Greenwich).

First ISRF Independent Scholar Fellowship Competition (ISF1)

In August 2013, the ISRF launched its first Independent Scholar Fellowship competition. Having received a number of strong proposals, the Selection Panel met in September 2013, and voted to make two awards.

The recipients were Dr Maja Petrović-Šteger (Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts) and Dr David Reece (University of Lancaster).

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.

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.

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.

Third ISRF Flexible Grants for Small Groups Competition (FG3)

In April 2016, the ISRF launched its third Flexible Grants for Small Groups competition, aimed at supporting independent-minded researchers from different disciplines who wish to work together towards conceptual innovation in Political Economy – which the ISRF here extends to include the social scientific study of economies across the whole range of the social sciences.

Having received a number of strong proposals, a pool of independent external assessors supported the funding of eight projects.

The successful projects (PIs in parentheses) were:

Second ISRF Flexible Grants for Small Groups Competition (FG2)

In October 2015, the ISRF launched its second Flexible Grants for Small Groups competition. Having received a number of strong proposals, a pool of independent external assessors supported the funding of twelve projects.

The successful projects were:

First ISRF Flexible Grants for Small Groups Competition (FG1)

In November 2014, the ISRF launched its first Flexible Grants for Small Groups competition. Having received a number of strong proposals, a pool of independent external assessors supported the funding of nine projects.

The successful projects were:

Frequently Asked Questions

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

Long-listed applications are externally assessed.

Click here for more information on the assessment procedure, and a list of previous assessors.
All awards are conditional upon acceptance of our Standard Award Terms & Conditions.
For updates on future application calls, please subscribe to our mailing list.