Understanding Society Policy Fellowships

Understanding Society Policy Fellowships are short-term projects that suppport researchers in undertaking a social science project that uses Understanding Society data which has the potential to make a substantial contribution to informing and influencing public policy. The aim of the scheme is to catalyse research-led impact whilst developing new models of working with policy makers.

Policy Fellowships are advertised once a year. The 2018 deadline for applications has now passed. 

The Understanding Society Policy Unit promotes the use of the Study among policy makers. It has strong relationships with policy makers, with its work currently supported by the Understanding Society Co-Funders Group whose core members include the Department of Work and Pensions, Department of Transport, Department of Health, the Scottish Government and the Welsh Assembly, as well as the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). The aim of the Fellowship scheme is to enhance researcher-led impact among government departments, business and/or the third sector by producing evidence that supports policy makers diagnose social, economic and health problems and evaluate or prescribe solutions. Projects that exploit the data’s longitudinal panel framework are particularly encouraged.

A key aim of the Fellowship is to generate scientifically sound, policy relevant research showcasing the benefits of Understanding Society data. They will be expected, with the assistance of the Policy Unit, to engage widely with policy makers, including the Understanding Society Co-Funder Group or other relevant government departments. They will also be expected to work with the Policy Unit and our Co-funders to disseminate their findings and generate impact.

Scope: policy topics

The following topics are of particular interest:

  • Income, poverty, wealth
  • Physical and mental health and well-being
  • Employment
  • Families and children
  • Young people’s outcomes, including household economic shocks, family mental health and emotional and educational outcomes
  • Social capital

The policy topics highlighted are not exclusive and other areas of policy relevant research will also be considered. Applicants should aim to link their proposal to current government priorities (such as the Industrial Strategy). Analysis should be reported for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland where sample sizes permit or where the devolved nations might have a particular interest in the research.

Requirements of a Fellowship

Fellows will be required to undertake a policy relevant data analysis project using Understanding Society data. A key requirement of the Fellowship is that it should demonstrate the potential to generate policy impact via instrumental or conceptual change; for example, through contributing to policy debates, influencing the development of policy or practice or altering behaviour.

Fellows will also be expected to produce a briefing paper and/or case study from the project and will be required to present their findings to policy audiences. The findings from the project should also be submitted to a peer review journal and presented at a minimum of one academic conference in 2018/2019. Research must be completed by 30 September 2019, with dissemination of findings within a further six-months.

What does the Fellowship provide?

Funding will be provided for salary and on costs for up to 12 months (full or part time). The planned project must be achievable in the timescale of the project, and the application should demonstrate this. Any additional funding required for travel, conference attendance, knowledge exchange and communications activities based on the Fellowship findings should be included in your proposal. The total budget should not exceed £60,000.

How to apply

Calls for new Policy Fellowships are advertised once a year. If you would like to be notified of the next call for applications please sign up to our mailing list