People’s interactions with the world and each other are increasingly digital. These interactions create Digital Footprints Data (DFD). This data includes:
- internet and social media
- commercial and transactional
- sensor and image.
They can be harnessed to understand and address key research, business and policy questions about our increasingly digital society.
However, DFD cannot currently be used to its full potential. Researchers are limited by a number of challenges including insufficient data access and infrastructure, underdeveloped methodology and theoretical development and opaque ethical procedures.
We wish to appoint a team to provide high-quality, systematic and sustained strategic advice and support to ESRC on the development of Digital Footprints. Digital Footprints is a £60 million programme of work focused on providing the leadership, skills, coordination and data infrastructure to deliver a transformational shift in the creation, access and use of DFD. See ‘Additional info’ for further details.
The team will be required to:
- work with new and existing investments
- bring together world-leading experts that have the skills, networks and capabilities to develop an on-going dialogue with a broad range of stakeholders focused on delivering a transformational shift in creation, access and use of DFD.
Your team must deliver the following objectives:
- provide ESRC with expert scientific, strategic and technical advice to support the development and delivery of the Digital Footprints programme and approval of phase two’s business case
- establish and run an expert network to support the provision of expert scientific, strategic and technical advice. It is envisaged that running the network will involve a series of engagement activities, for example workshops, events or meetings. The number of engagement activities depends on the scale and scope proposed but we would expect eight activities as a minimum
- the provision of at least four papers for discussion at the Digital Footprints strategic advisory group, which draws on, synthesises and analyses advice received through the expert network. Advice should seek to ensure Digital Footprints builds on and integrates with existing and future capability within the landscape. Papers will be commissioned around key aspects for Digital Footprints, for example:
- requirements and options appraisal for the development and delivery of phase two’s digital research infrastructure (priority)
- requirements and options appraisal for the delivery of capacity building at the intersection between social science and DFD
- analysis of areas of national and international interest that illustrate and focus Digital Footprints’ role, including identification of partnership opportunities with relevant programmes of activity across and beyond UKRI
- legislative and policy interventions required to support the development and delivery of Digital Footprints
- contributions to synthesis, reviews and any other activities to add value to the Digital Footprints programme and business case
- engagement with key stakeholders across policy, business, civil society and academia, helping to champion Digital Footprints, build enduring connections and setting the foundations for the transformational shift in creation, access and use of DFD.
You should propose your own operating delivery model to meet the objectives above. Proposals are required to set out:
- a description and structure of the team, including roles and responsibilities, and how this will enable the team to deliver the aims of the opportunity as set out above
- a clear plan in the ‘case for support’ for how the proposed team will deliver the objectives of the opportunity
- a description of how the team will work collaboratively to co-produce and deliver a programme of activities, developing strong links at national and international scales with policy, business, and the third sector
- a description of how the team will champion existing and future Digital Footprints activity commissioned by ESRC and UKRI in order to add value and achieve greater impact
- how delivery will be integrated with existing UKRI strategic programmes, champions and co-ordinators, and work closely with UKRI staff throughout the programme.
This is not a research grant. Some research activity, such as research synthesis, may be proposed if they contribute to delivering the objectives of the opportunity.
Management and governance
The successful proposal will be required to work in partnership with ESRC, UKRI partners, and existing and future investments to deliver the objectives.
The grant is intended to complement existing and future investments and the team will be required to work closely with ESRC.
ESRC will retain overall responsibility for the governance of Digital Footprints, including the development and delivery of the case for longer term funding for Digital Footprints. The team will be accountable to an ESRC Director and will be expected to provide ESRC with an update on activities on a monthly basis.
Successful applicants will also be expected to:
- develop and implement a stakeholder engagement strategy
- develop a monitoring and evaluation framework with annual reporting of outcomes to ESRC.
A member of the Digital Footprints strategic advice team will be required to attend the quarterly meetings of the Digital Footprints:
- programme board (as an observer)
- strategic advisory group (as an observer)
- management group (as a member).
They should also attend other ESRC and UKRI advisory or governance groups as necessary.
As the Digital Footprints programme will overlap with the Future Data Services programme, the team will also be expected to work with the Future Data Services senior strategic fellow and the Future Data Services strategic fellow.
To avoid a conflict of interest, the principal investigator for the Team should not already be a principal or co-investigator on an existing UKRI data services infrastructure investment.
The full economic cost of your project can be up to £650,000. ESRC will fund 80% of the full economic cost.
The principal investigator for the grant must allocate a minimum of 0.2 full-time equivalent.
The budget should include costs for travel and subsistence (maximum £40,000), including costs to cover a minimum of four trips to Swindon, travel restrictions permitting.
We strongly advise you to ensure sufficient administrative support is included to deliver the objectives of the opportunity.
We will award one grant to fund a team for two years. Your start date must be no later than October 2022.