ESRC research methods development grants (2020)
Working in partnership with Administrative Data Research UK (ADR UK), ESRC invited grant proposals to develop methods to support the social science community and researchers to work collaboratively across sectors and disciplines to address common methodological challenges.
Overall, 14 grants were funded with the aim of helping researchers and social scientists to develop their research practice:
Additionally, grants were funded through the ADR UK strategic steer, including:
Find out more about the grants funded through the strategic steer (ADR UK).
Building quantitative skills capability
Q-Step was a £19.5 million initiative funded by the Nuffield Foundation, ESRC and Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), designed to promote a step-change in quantitative social science training in the UK.
Over a five-year period from 2013, Q-Step supported 15 Q-Step centres at universities across the UK to support the development and delivery of specialist undergraduate programmes. These included:
- new courses
- a broad range of summer schools
- research placements and internships.
Most of the Q-Step centres also engaged in outreach work to schools to support teachers and encourage student recruitment. The reach of the programme was increased to include groups of departments in a further three universities that demonstrate a high level of commitment to the aims of Q-Step.
These departments were granted ‘affiliate’ status and were awarded funding for student bursaries for short courses and work placements associated with their revised training provision.
An evaluation of the initiative was published in May 2022. Key findings included that:
- students who take ‘Q-Step’ quantitative skills modules during their social science degrees have better earning potential than students on similar courses
- Q-Step is helping to address the shortage of graduates with the skills to apply quantitative methods in both research and professional settings
- Q-Step equips students with a deep and secure grasp of the skills needed to make sense of data, and a grounding in the ways that data can be used to better understand society
- the programme has also increased quantitative teaching capacity at participating universities, and has prompted a range of further investment and initiatives designed to boost quantitative methods across these institutions, as well as in other universities and educational organisations
- student satisfaction levels for Q-Step programmes are high as a result of good quality teaching and work placements.
See the full evaluation report (Nuffield Foundation).
Stand Out and Be Counted
Stand Out and Be Counted signals the value of data-handling skills to undergraduate students. Produced in partnership with the British Academy and Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and aimed at students in the social sciences and humanities, the guide sought to challenge many of the myths that surrounded quantitative skills.
The booklet illustrates the concrete steps that can be taken to become adept at handling numbers and statistics, and contains personal stories from journalists, entrepreneurs, charity workers, lecturers, PhD candidates and civil servants.