Submissions for the Innovation Panel Competition 2020 is now closed.

Have you got a worthy research idea, but need certain data to carry out your work? Are you a researcher wanting to develop an experimental or methodological element?

Why enter?Get the opportunity to field your experiment.

Access rich data

The chance to access rich household data, you can’t get through other research channels.

Test your ideas

The IP competition is a test-bed for new and existing projects without the associated cost.

Get valuable support

Understanding Society will provide you with a high level of support throughout your research.

What’s involved?

Researchers submit ideas for an experiment or test to be carried in the subsequent wave or waves of the Innovation Panel. Experiments may address a wide range of methodological questions, but must meet some specific criteria. Methodological studies could relate to the design of survey instruments (e.g. question wording, item order, etc.) or to survey design features (e.g. procedures intended to reduce non-response or to improve fieldwork efficiency).

This year we are particularly interested in proposals that explore measurement challenges related to the productivity research agenda. Proposals might include:

  • New ways of measuring skills and human capital, such as formal and informal training, on-the-job skills acquisition and skills utilisation, skill and task mismatch, or over-qualification
  • Improved methods of measuring labour inputs supplied, particularly, though not exclusively, where individuals have new or nonstandard employment arrangements.
  • Measuring the value added, input use and productivity of the self-employed and other household-based businesses
  • How to accurately conceptualise, measure and understand the role and implication of unpaid and uncosted labour.

Download the call for proposals.

Entry criteria

The proposed research design must:

  • Have an experimental or methodological element. Proposals for new content will only be considered if they include a research design for evaluating the proposed questions.
  • Have an expected sample size sufficient to answer the proposed research questions.
  • Be within the resources of the Innovation Panel, in terms of system costs, development time and questionnaire time.
  • Include a draft specification of all proposed questions and other required text.
  • The proposal must not pose a threat to the future of the panel.

Additional judging criteria

Having met the mandatory criteria, proposals are then judged on their scientific merit and value for money based on the following:

The quality and publication potential of the research design, including:

  • Innovative research questions and design
  • Preferably on topics for which there is little or no existing evidence.
  • Careful research design, including the specification of the study design and implementation, consideration of sample sizes and adequate analysis plan.

The research questions should be within the general remit of Understanding Society.


The latest Innovation Panel Competition will take place in the Spring/Summer of 2019. The key milestones are summarised below.

Phase Action & events Date
Call for entries Online application opens 14 Feb 2020
Deadline for entries Ensure proposal meets mandatory criteria 2 April 2020
Notification of decisions Proposers notified by email July 2020
Development work Work with implementation team to finalise the details of your experiment July-Dec 2020
Fieldwork Interview IP households May-September 2021
Early data available to proposers Report on key outcome/s for a Working Paper January 2022
Data released through UK Data Service Publish your findings Summer 2022


How do I apply?
Our online application process takes you through all the steps needed to complete your entry. You will also need to upload your references, CVs and specifications of questions or other required text.

What experiments have previously been carried out?
The experiments implemented in the Innovation Panel are summarised each year in an Understanding Society Working Paper. You can find the Working Paper series here

I’m not sure whether I meet the criteria. Who can I talk to?
Please get in touch with Annette Jäckle, Understanding Society Associate Director for Innovations, to discuss your ideas in the first instance.

Who judges the competition?
All proposals are reviewed for feasibility and considered by a panel made up of members of the Understanding Society Principal Investigator’s team.

Can I make more than one proposal?
Yes – there is no set limit to the number or proportion of proposals that will be accepted. As many good proposals as can reasonably be carried out in conjunction with one another will be accepted.

When will I find out if my idea has been accepted?
Proposers are usually notified in July 2020. Final acceptance is conditional on fully establishing the feasibility of the proposed study with the fieldwork agency.

Do I have to pay for anything?
Standard data collection costs will be borne by Understanding Society and there will be no cost to successful proposers. Costs for non-standard elements of data collection (e.g. additional mailings or task-related incentive payouts) will be borne by proposers.

When will the data be made available?
The data are made available to competition proposers as soon as possible and in advance of general release via the UK Data Service.

What do you expect from successful applicants?
Successful proposers work with the Innovation Panel survey team to develop and finalise the details of the implementation of the proposal. Researchers are expected to analyse and report on the main outcome(s) in a summary form appropriate for inclusion in a Working Paper and publish their findings based on the resultant data.

Download the call for proposals

Note: The deadline for applications is the 2 April 2020. You will be notified about the decision for your proposal by the end of July 2020