ESRC has invested in methodological innovation and capacity building over a long period of time and our ongoing commitment to investing in this area is set out in our Delivery Plan (PDF, 7.5MB).
We provide support for social science research methods through different initiatives, most notably through the National Centre for Research Methods (NCRM) (external website) but also through our Centres competition, responsive mode schemes and strategically targeted calls.
National Centre for Research Methods (NCRM)
Funded until December 2024
The ESRC established the National Centre for Research Methods (NCRM) (external website) in 2004 to address long-recognised problems of methodological under-capacity in the UK social science research community.
Recently, ESRC has invested a further £2.8m in NCRM over five years, until 2024. In its new phase, the principal aim of the Centre is to increase research methods capability in the social sciences and beyond through innovative training and capacity-building activities in the application of core and advanced research methods techniques.
Additionally, the Centre is responsible for the co-ordination of methods training funded by ESRC across its portfolio, acting as the first point of contact for social scientists seeking further information and training on research methods. NCRM also identifies and shares good practice in both the use and teaching of social science research methods.
ESRC Research Methods Development Grants (2020)
In 2020, ESRC invited proposals for grants to develop methods to support the social science community to work collaboratively across sectors and disciplines to address common methodological challenges. Funded proposals were expected to achieve at least one of the following:
- Develop new methods
- Apply existing methods in a novel way
- Develop our understanding of a methodological challenge and scope the new research activity required to address it.
To deliver the call, ESRC worked in in partnership with Administrative Data Research UK (ADR UK) and the call included a strategic steer to support proposals that addressed a methodological challenge related to ADR UK’s core mission.
Overall, 14 grants were funded:
- Methodological advancements on the use of administrative data in official statistics
- Co-producing knowledge about the impacts of emergencies/pandemics: Developing remote participatory visual methods using smartphones
- Reservoir computing for macroeconomic modelling
- Mapping spatial practices and social distancing in smart schools: Sensory and digital ethnographic methods
- Developing latent hierarchical network models for cross-cultural comparisons of social and economic inequality
- The diffusion of development: Extending RCTs with agent-based modelling to understand spillovers of development interventions
- Complex systems simulations for intervention development: Human trafficking and conflict-related violence
- Making data work for public sector policy: A scoping study to develop a mixed-methods framework for culture
- 'Our Stories...': Co-constructing digital storytelling methodologies for supporting the transitions of autistic children
- Model selection for high-dimensional temporal disaggregation in official statistics
- Innovative participatory methods in health & social care: Academic/user-led organisation partnerships as a response to changing research environments
Grants funded through the ADR UK Strategic Steer:
- Creating longitudinal datasets for linked administrative data research using synthetic data
- Linkage of national longitudinal cohort studies and administrative data: A mutually beneficial arrangement (Link-AMBA)
- Machine learning methods for studying the trajectories of young offenders in administrative data
Grants are due to start in early 2021 and will run for up to 18 months.