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

What the latest application and success rates data tells us

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 explores the latest analysis just published on ESRC’s application and success rate data.

The data for decisions (ODS) made on ESRC research grant and fellowship proposals in the last financial year is now available on the ESRC website. And our analysis (PDF) has been updated to reflect this. Some parts of the picture have changed, but some remain the same. Continue reading

Fundable research and success rates


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 writes about the different types of success rate for research proposals. 

There’s a lot that can be learned from the data we have on research proposal outcomes. Attention tends to focus on the overall proposal success rate and the success rates of individual research organisations.

Our two most recent ESRC Insights analyses look at other types of success rate and try to understand why they are what they are. Continue reading