What is corpus linguistics and how does it contribute to society?

Professor Tony McEnery, previously Director of the ESRC Centre for Corpus Approaches to Social Science, is the ESRC’s new Research Director. Here, in a piece to be published in the upcoming Society Now magazine, he explains corpus linguistics and its contribution to society, how language is changing, and his aspirations in his new role.


What are the challenges of the corpus linguistics area of research and what is the contribution that corpus linguistics has made to society? What might a non-scientific person on the street recognise/understand as the impacts from this genre of research? Continue reading

Welfare conditionality: sanctions, support and behaviour change

Dr Janis Bright is impact and communications officer for the ESRC-funded Welfare Conditionality: Sanctions, support and behaviour change research project.

Professor Peter Dwyer is professor of social policy at the University of York and principal investigator for the Welfare Conditionality project.

Here they discuss some of the findings from the project to date, including the effects of sanctions on welfare recipients.


People who are out of work and are deemed not to have complied with the benefit rules are at risk of being sanctioned – having their benefit stopped. So much we probably all know. But behind that fact lie a myriad of experiences and consequences. And that’s before we get on to the complexities of government policy and practice on welfare.

Our project’s work is seeking to disentangle some of those complexities and ask fundamental questions about what’s become known as ‘welfare conditionality’. Continue reading

Pathways to impact on stop and search policing

Dr Kath Murray is a Research Fellow at the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research (SCCJR) based at the University of Edinburgh.

kath-murray-150Earlier this year Dr Murray won the Outstanding Early Career Impact award in our Celebrating Impact Prize 2016.

This is the second blog in a series which looks into the research behind the five successful awards, whilst touching on how the winning academics will spend their £10,000 prize.

In January 2014, police use of stop and search in Scotland hit the headlines. The publication of key findings from my ESRC/Scottish Government funded PhD revealed for the first time, the extraordinary scale of stop and search in Scotland, the fact that most searches lacked legal authority or reasonable suspicion, and fell disproportionately on young people. As a rough guide to the size of the matter, police records showed that in 2012/13, officers recorded more stop searches and seizures on 16 to 19 year olds than the population of 16 to 19 year olds in Scotland.

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How you can help decide the important societal issues tackled by longitudinal studies

Joe Ellery is an ESRC Policy Manager supporting the council’s strategic interests in Longitudinal and Biosocial, Data and Resources and International Strategy.

Part of his role includes trying to better understand the range and type of international longitudinal and cohort studies, with a view to promoting collaboration with ESRC-funded studies.


Every once in a while it’s important to take a step back and evaluate whether the path you’re travelling is leading you in a direction towards success. This is no different in the case of the UK’s world-leading longitudinal studies; in particular the ways in which these are funded and supported by the ESRC.

Despite their status as internationally-renowned sources of longitudinal data that span up to 60 years, it’s important to understand the future scientific needs for evidence over the lifecourse, in order to ensure the development of meaningful, robust and impactful research resources: resources as relevant to society as those we currently support. Continue reading

Shifting attitudes around cycling

Dr Rachel Aldred is a Reader in Transport at the University of Westminster.
Earlier this year Dr Aldred was presented with the
Outstanding Impact in Public Policy award in our annual Celebrating Impact Prize.

This blog is part of a new series which looks into the research behind the five successful awards, whilst touching on how the winning academics will spend their £10,000 prize.


I was delighted to win the 2016 ESRC Outstanding Impact in Public Policy prize for my research into cycling. In this and the other categories, there was a strong field that showcased the importance of social science – and the need to support it.

Continue reading