ESRC will be inviting applications to establish a dedicated Centre for Doctoral Training Plus in Behavioural Research (CDT+).
This opportunity is part of a wider £15 million initial investment to develop a national capability for behavioural research over the next four to six years.
The overarching aim of the national capability is to harness, connect, and extend the UK’s existing capacity and capability to research fundamental questions about how and why people, organisations and groups behave in the way they do to inform policy and practice.
We take a broad definition of what ‘behavioural research’ encompasses, which goes beyond individualistic approaches to behaviour change. We require a range of disciplinary perspectives to be involved in the investment. We expect understandings of behaviour to be situated within wider societal and economic contexts, and want outputs from the investment to be targeted towards addressing major societal challenges.
National capability objectives
The key objectives of the national capability, as a whole, are to:
- facilitate evidence-based decision making through timely, high impact and independent research on human behaviour that meets the needs of policymakers, industry and civil society
- enhance national capability by building a critical mass of researchers with the knowledge and research skills to transform our understanding of human behaviour. This includes applying a range of relevant research methods and approaches such as data science, human-centred design and experimental methods. This objective will be achieved in part by this CDT+.
Hub and spoke model
A ‘hub and spoke’ model will be used for this initiative, with an interdisciplinary leadership team responsible for the core management and running of a central research and coordination ‘hub’ (see ‘additional information’). This will be complemented by a series of ‘spokes’ (centres of excellence) that will be established to deliver key aspects of the programme.
The hub and spokes will be expected to work together to achieve the overarching ambition of the national capability. From the outset, this will include a spoke for capacity and capability building, delivered through this CDT+, that provides academic capacity building, in addition to other relevant training for non-academic audiences. Further spokes will be added over time.
The CDT+ is therefore expected to support innovative interdisciplinary training that ensures graduates have the skills they need to work confidently and fluently across disciplinary and sector boundaries (for example, government, academic, and industry). As part of their training, all doctoral students will be expected to undertake placements with non-academic organisations.
The centre will be expected to meet the minimum requirements for doctoral training in the social sciences as set out in the ESRC postgraduate training and development guidelines 2022.
In addition to the doctoral programme, the centre is expected to offer a fellowships programme to support and encourage early career researchers to develop the knowledge and skills required to pursue a career in behavioural research.
The centre’s training programme should also be designed flexibly to support the participation of researchers in government and other sectors where there is mutual benefit. This could be through participation in masterclasses, workshops and particular modules.
We expect the centre to work closely with government and other key stakeholders, including business, in developing their programme of activity and to have a strategy in place to secure co-funding from external partners.
Specific requirements will be made available once the full opportunity is launched and until that time, details are subject to change.