Our guidance for writing a good research grant application.

7. Knowledge exchange and impact

Our mission places emphasis on ensuring that researchers engage as fully as possible with the users of research outcomes. These may be other academics, government departments, public bodies, businesses, voluntary organisations or other interested parties. Try to consult with and involve people who could make a valuable contribution to the research and who could provide support and interest. Involving stakeholders and users in the planning stages can be highly beneficial.  

In line with the common position on Excellence with Impact adopted by RCUK, the ESRC expects that the researchers we fund will have considered the potential scientific, societal and economic impacts of their research.

You should actively consider how these can be maximised and developed through the Pathways to Impact document in your application. Consideration of the detail provided here will form part of the peer review and assessment process. You are expected to take Pathways to Impact seriously and in general we would expect to see at least one page of text in the document, and more typically two. If you believe that your research project is purely theoretical/methodological and will only have impacts within academia you should use the Pathways to Impact document to justify your belief.

Opportunities for making an impact may arise, and should be taken, at any stage during the lifecourse of the research. It is important that researchers have in place a robust strategy for maximising the likelihood of such opportunities arising and their own capacity for taking advantage of these.

8. Check the details

Once you have completed the application form make sure that all the required information is provided. Some of the most common issues are:

  • an unrealistic start date
  • missing details of previous or current proposals with reports on current projects or End of Award reports where required. We will not process new proposals if an End of Award Report is overdue
  • Case for Support exceeding six sides of A4
  • no covering letter in the case of invited resubmissions.

9. What happens next?

For the Research Grants (open call):

Proposals receiving an average score of at least 4.5 (out of 6) from external academic reviewers are forwarded to the Panel Members (Introducers) for a funding recommendation. Proposals receiving a lower average score from reviewers are rejected as not meeting the requisite scientific standard. In this case, the referee comments that will be sent to you with the decision letter may offer some helpful guidance for any future submissions of new proposals.  

At the full Panel meetings a proportion of proposals will be recommended for funding. Unsuccessful proposals fall into two categories - those which are unsuccessful due to lack of funds, and those which do not meet the requisite scientific standard. A ranked list of recommendations is then considered by the Grants Delivery Group for a final funding decision.

Anonymous comments will be sent with your decision letter, and the feedback may be helpful if you submit a new proposal in the future.

We accept only invited resubmissions. We do not allow the resubmission of any previously unsuccessful proposals (including proposals previously submitted to another Research Council), unless applicants have been specifically invited to do so.

In the majority of cases funding decisions are made around six months from the submission of your proposal, so please bear this in mind when applying. If your research is time-critical you will need to allow enough time from submission for the proposal to go through the full application process, and the post-award checks/contracting process which takes an additional two months, on average.  .

10. If you are successful...

Congratulations, and we hope your project goes well.

However, if difficulties arise such as delays in recruitment, staff illness, replacements, or changes to the work plan then please let us know immediately via your Research Office. Under our Research Funding Guide rules you will not need to notify us of virements of funds between headings and no supplementation will be allowed.