Becoming a Research Institute: the Centre for Economic Performance

by Stephen Machin

As Director of the Centre for Economic Performance (CEP) at LSE, I am delighted that the Centre has been named as one of the two inaugural ESRC Research Institutes. This is testament to the achievements of the Centre, and its significant impact on a wide range of policy over the years.

Whilst the Centre’s mission has always been to study economic performance and its determinants, it has never been a ‘single issue’ centre. CEP has continually evolved to ensure that research attention is placed on key contemporary economic questions. Continue reading

We need to rethink ‘impact’ – the findings from the Longitudinal Studies Strategic Review

by Rebecca Fairbairn

In 2016 the ESRC set out to review our vast Longitudinal Studies portfolio with an aim to fully understand the future scientific needs for survey data gathered on people throughout their lives. We did this to ensure the development of meaningful, robust and impactful research resources: resources that would be as relevant to society in the future as those we currently support are now.

The ESRC’s portfolio has data spanning 60 years with studies including the 1958 National Child Development Study, the 1970 British Cohort Study, the Millennium Cohort Study (all hosted by the Centre for Longitudinal Studies) and Understanding Society. Although the UK is world-leading in this sector and impacts from these studies relate to increased understanding of genetic, health, educational, social and economic dynamics that influence individuals’ lives, it was essential that we took a step back so that we could be confident our future investment plans are well designed for future research needs. Continue reading

Explaining Bitcoin technology using weddings and fridge magnets

by Chris Speed

Marriage contracts, fridge magnets and Pokemon-style games have been the inspiration behind our research tools to help people understand the concept of blockchain technology – the underlying architecture of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.

Most of us have heard of Bitcoin – the (relatively) new digital and global money system currency, allowing people to send or receive money across the internet – and are used to digital transactions like internet banking and contactless, but few of us understand the technology behind it. Continue reading

Why 50 years since the Abortion Act some people in Northern Ireland are still buying illegal abortions online – research explores their story

by Goretti Horgan

Today (27 April 2018) marks 50 years since the implementation of the 1967 Abortion Act. One of the main reasons it was supported in Parliament was to end practice of backstreet or self-induced abortions which was widespread, although very dangerous. Before the Act, each year, 30 or so deaths occurred and at least 30,000 women were admitted to hospital with complications. Continue reading

Bringing social science into the forefront of interdisciplinary research – a reflection of my time at the ESRC

by Tony McEnery

Former ESRC Director of Research and interim Chief Executive, Tony McEnery, reflects on some personal highlights and organisational successes during his time at ESRC.

I have had the unique privilege of working as Director of Research in two of the UK research councils – the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and, more recently, the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). It will come as no surprise to discover, then, that for me cross-council working comes easily – which was handy while steering the ESRC towards the move into UK Research and Innovation! Continue reading