Where has all the money gone?

by Alex Hulkes

The concept of ‘place’ is a key part of the UK’s Industrial Strategy. Knowledge, capabilities and skills might be rather abstract things but in the end they act through and on people who have a physical presence in a place or places.

We’ve just published some new analysis of ESRC regional spending (PDF) which links the intangible inputs and outputs of ESRC funding with their physical and geographical placement.

Continue reading

Life, the universe and everything

by Alex Hulkes

Presumably ‘How many ways are there to travel between UK research council interfaces?’ isn’t a question that Douglas Adams had in mind when he was writing The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. But there are seven research councils, which means that the number of directions that can be taken is 42 (that’s n(n-1) if there are n councils and the direction of travel matters). All of which serves merely to provide a preamble to this blog, which looks at one aspect of cross-council application behaviour. Continue reading

A disciplined approach to disciplines

by Alex Hulkes

If you were to guess what proportion of the ESRC portfolio reflected thinking from, or somehow related to, more than one discipline, what figure would you come up with?

We tried this experiment in ESRC, and came up with a figure of around 60%, but that was based on gut feel. Happily, ‘gut feel’ isn’t the basis for our decision making. Neither are dowsing or entrail reading, and someone has lost the corporate copy of the I Ching. Continue reading

Very nearly an armful

alex-hulkes-150Alex Hulkes is Strategic Lead for Insights at the ESRC, and is responsible for developing our ability to evaluate and carry out data-informed analysis of ESRC investments, policy and operation.

In his latest blog, he looks at new analysis on the size of ESRC grant submissions and awards.

One of the most common questions we’re asked by potential applicants is ‘how much should I ask for?’ Suppositions and folklore tend to suggest that there is an acceptable upper (and maybe a lower) bound for a funding request: unwritten and culturally derived rather than mandated, and beyond which it is not safe to stray. As Tony Hancock might say, it’s somewhere between a smear and an armful. Continue reading

Quincunx: revealing patterns of funding

alex-hulkes-150Alex Hulkes is Strategic Lead for Insights at the ESRC, and is responsible for developing our ability to evaluate and carry out data-informed analysis of ESRC investments, policy and operation.

Here he outlines the latest analysis from ESRC on funding distribution, funding concentration and the size of the ESRC applicant population.

No, it’s not ESRC Scrabble day (243 points to us though). The quincunx, or ‘bean machine’, demonstrates the way in which the cumulative results of many small effects can create striking patterns in distributions of outcomes. Along these lines there are three new analyses which seek to explain how the resources we provide come to be shared the way that they are shared. Continue reading