The ESRC views partnerships with non-academic organisations as essential in developing exceptional researchers, and delivering its strategic aim to “increase public understanding of social science and what it can offer, and to help maximise the impact of social science research”. The ESRC seeks to:
■ Engage with a wide range of research users and help build partner coalitions to deliver our priorities
■ Address our priorities in collaboration with a range of organisations including the other research councils, Innovate UK, as well as government, business, and third-sector organisations
■ Embed knowledge exchange in all of our priorities – and enable researchers to develop knowledge exchange strategies ‘locally’ through our Impact Acceleration Accounts
■ Explore and promote new ways of maximising, recording and communicating impact to users of research and the public
ESRC Strategic Plan 2015
To facilitate these shared goals, NINE DTP aims to award at least 15 studentships each year to postgraduates undertaking collaborative research projects with a partner organisation in the public, private or third sectors.
These projects entail students working collaboratively with external partners during the course of their PhD, undertaking research that directly supports and/or is directly supporting by the partner organisation, and applying their knowledge and skills beyond the conventional boundaries of academia.
Students and Supervisors are encouraged to develop collaborative research proposals which directly involve and engage non-academic partner organisations, including businesses, industry, government departments and agencies, charities, the NHS, local authorities and think-tanks. The collaboration should make a distinct contribution to both the student and the partner organisation, generating both intellectual and practical benefits and outcomes.
Collaborative partners are no longer required to make a financial contribution to the studentship, although these should be encouraged as they indicate a level of commitment from the partner institution. However, there is an expectation that the partner should offer some, or all, of the following forms of support:
- Project Supervision and Support
- Placement / workshadowing opportunities
- Training and developmental opportunities
- Access to research facilities and equipment
- Office space and / or other resources
We encourage proposals which are collaborative in nature by not including them in the quota of research proposals that each Pathway can nominate to the final Studentship Competition.
Collaborative nominations will be scored against the usual criteria for the competition (Research Proposal; Supervisory Fit; Qualifications & Experience), but will also receive a portion of their mark from the quality of the collaboration. It is therefore necessary for the collaborative element of any application to be well developed and clear as to the nature of the relationship proposed, and how it will benefit both parties.
Any successful Collaborative Project will need to be underpinned by a formal written agreement with the collaborative partner regarding access, intellectual property, and the nature of any financial contributions.
The choice of a partner organisation, and establishing a relationship to determine the nature of that relationship, remains the responsibility of the student in partnership with their supervisors.
You may already have identified a suitable partner; however, if you are looking for some inspiration, or a list of organisations who would be open to working with you, please see our list of partners. Alternatively, discuss potential partners with your potential supervisors – they will be able to provide you with advice and guidance as to how to develop a collaborative application.