ISRF Flexible Grants for Small Groups Competition (FG4)

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. Such work would be unlikely to be funded by existing funding bodies.

2017/09/01 16:00:00

Please read these details carefully, and consult our Frequently Asked Questions, before commencing an application or contacting the ISRF with a query.

Eligible Applicants

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.

† There is no limitation on nationality – however, the Principal Investigator(s) should be affiliated to a European institution.

Eligible Research

Innovative research which crosses established disciplinary boundaries and critically challenges incumbent theories and approaches, 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. 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.

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

Nature & Timing of Support

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, and must be taken up no later than end of December 2018.


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.

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 March 2018.

Joint Applications

The competition is open to individual researchers who wish to bring together and to cooperate with others (to be named in the proposal), on a specific project: this may be at the pilot stage. There will normally be one principal applicant but joint applications by two colleagues are acceptable. In such cases, the application should be submitted by one of the PI’s, and the other should be clearly labelled as co-PI when details of collaborators are entered in the application form. CV’s for both PI’s must be submitted.

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.

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

The Research Proposal

All applicants will be expected to provide the following details as part of their proposal (maximum of 1750 words total; 250 words per section):

  • The Research Idea: The innovative thesis of the project.
  • Background: Current research reference points and their limitations.
  • The Focus: How the research provides a fresh approach to real-life problems.
  • Theoretical novelty: What conceptual innovation the research is aiming at.
  • Methodology: How different disciplinary inputs will interact in empirical inquiry.
  • Work Plan: How the group’s work will be organised over the award period and what outputs are intended.
  • Outcome: What further steps and what longer-term outcome are envisaged.

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 particular for key theoretical terms and references, enough detail of methods must be given.

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; 250 words per section)
  • The Budget should comprise a full outline of eligible costs.
A Curriculum Vitae
  • Including both academic and non-academic details
Letters of Support
  • Letters of support from two recognised scholars, from different disciplines covered by your research proposal. These should be sent directly to the ISRF to arrive no later than 8th September 2017. Supporters should be advised to send their letters, electronically, to

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.

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

Application Procedure

Applicants are expected to submit their complete application electronically via the online application system, in English. Alternative methods of application (i.e. postal applications) are available in certain circumstances – please contact the ISRF to discuss this.

Completed applications must arrive no later than 4:00pm on 1st September 2017.

Letters of Support must arrive no later than 8th September 2017. A candidate may submit only one application. Applicants can expect to be informed of the result of their applications by letter by the end of December 2017.

Check our Frequently Asked Questions for further clarification on eligibility, Terms & Conditions, the application procedure, and competition-specific questions.
For any other queries: Telephone +44 (0) 20 7262 0196 or email