How the competition works

Innovation Panel
Competition 2014
Tell us your great idea
And we'll collect the data >

Entries for the 2014 Innovation Panel Competition closed on April 11th 2014. Our next competition will be published in February 2015.

This page contains useful resources to help you create a winning entry, including:

  • mandatory entry criteria and how to meet it;
  • previous experiments and winners
  • Q&A with a former Innovation Panel Competition winner
  • podcast by Dr Annette Jäckle, Innovation Panel Research Director.

About the Innovation Panel Competition

A unique feature of Understanding Society, the IP provides a test bed for ideas and experiments in the area of longitudinal research. Since the first open competition in 2011, it has attracted many submissions from a wide range of disciplines and continues to blaze a trail for the development of pioneering research methods.

How does it work?

Researchers submit ideas for an experiment or test to be carried in the subsequent wave or waves of the Innovation Panel e.g. successful entries submitted in the Competition in 2013 are carried in Wave 7 of the Innovation Panel, which is carried out in 2014.

Why should I apply?

We’re looking for top quality experiments and research proposals with great publication potential. In return, you gain a great opportunity to test your ideas within the context of an established study framework – with all data collection costs paid for.

Read our entry guidelines: Innovation Panel Competition Wave 8 – Call for proposals

Previous experiments and winners

Successful entries must have a longitudinal element and also contain an experimental design or methodological test. These extracts show some examples of how previous successful experiments met the entry criteria.

Study Objectives Design Methodological questions Longitudinal element Waves carried
Feasibility of measuring prenatal testosterone exposure through finger length ratios Test the feasibility of collecting data from general population via face to face & web Assess relativity of biological/social factors in determining personal traits & life histories Feasibility of collecting finger length ratios in sample of general population and impact of web vs interview comparisons on data quality Assessing relationship between person’s finger length and parents’ socioeconomic status at birth IP5
Measuring partner satisfaction with work division using vignettes To test why women tend to do more housework than men Respondents rate satisfaction with division of household/paid work and to rate satisfaction under different hypothetical scenarios Assess anchoring vignettes, factorial design methodologies & individual effects as methods for measuring satisfaction with work division Study carried over two waves to allow full testing of statistical assumptions made by individual effects models IP5, IP6
Keeping in contact: The effects of multiple contacts Assess whether multiple contact between waves has a positive or negative effect Random half of households sent one letter after fieldwork close. Other half sent 3 mailings in two-month intervals Does the number of mailings affect response rates at following wave? Outcomes measured during the following year’s fieldwork IP7
Impact of response scale direction on survey response How does the direction of a response scale affect survey responses? Response scales running + to – and converse sent to each half of the sample; direction reversed for each group in following wave Does the direction of response scale affect quality of response? How does this vary depending on mode of data collection? To assess effect of direction of response scale on test/retest reliability over at least two interviews IP7, IP8

Working Paper and User Guide

Full details of the experiments are in the User Guide. The survey’s methodological Working Paper Series has research papers summarising initial findings of the experiments for each wave.

Application process

The latest Innovation Panel Competition took place in the Spring/Summer of 2014. The key milestones are summarised below.

Phase Action & events Date
Call for entries Online process opens Feb 17 2014
Deadline for entries Ensure proposal meets mandatory criteria 11 April 2014
Notification of decisions Successful candidates notified by email July 2014
Development work Work with implementation team to finalise the details of your experiment Aug-Dec 2014
Fieldwork Interview IP households March-July 2015
Early data available to proposers Report on key outcome/s for a Working Paper Autumn 2015
Data released through UK Data Archive Publish your findings Summer 2016

Additional detailed information about the Innovation Panel is available in our User Guide for researchers and also in the survey’s Working Paper Series.

Criteria and eligibility

Experiments may address a wide range of social science questions or methodological experiments, but must all meet some very specific criteria.

Substantive or methodological?

Proposals may address substantive social science questions or methodological issues that advance longitudinal survey research methodology.

  • Substantive social science studies must include experiments or evaluations of questions for measuring new content.
  • Methodological studies could relate to the design of survey instruments (e.g. question wording, scale format, item order, etc) or to survey design features (e.g. procedures intended to reduce non-response or to improve fieldwork efficiency).

Mandatory entry criteria

The criteria for the evaluation and selection of proposals are as follows:

The proposed research design must:

1. 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.
2. Have a longitudinal element. Proposals that could be implemented on a cross-sectional survey will not be considered.

This could be a design that is:

  • conditional on past characteristics or dynamics, or
  • which requires repeated measurement to measure a longitudinal phenomenon (e.g. 
transitions), or
  • which requires measurement of outcomes later in time.

3. Have an expected sample size sufficient to answer the proposed research questions.

4. Be within the resources of the Innovation Panel, in 
terms of systems costs, development time and questionnaire time
5. Include a draft specification of all proposed questions and other required text.

The proposed research design must not:

1. Conflict with core UKHLS methods tests or with requirements for 
experiments accepted in previous waves.
2. Pose a threat to the future of the panel.

Additional judging criteria

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

  • The quality and publication potential of the research design, including:
    • innovative research questions or 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 UKHLS.

Application tips

We are looking for top quality ideas, so here are a few tips on the main things to think about as you prepare to put together your proposal:

  1. Make sure your proposal meets the necessary criteria: Why does it require a longitudinal survey? Does it include an experiment, or a research design to evaluate the proposed questions?
  2. Make sure you include a draft specification of question wordings and other necessary text
  3. Think about how much questionnaire time your proposal would require, given that the total questionnaire length is only 40 minutes.
  4. Outline clearly any elements of your proposal which would entail additional costs for example mailings, printing materials, incentives etc.
  5. Outline clearly how the study you are proposing would be implemented
  6. Outline your analysis/evaluation plans carefully
  7. Tell us about your plans to get the results of your work published
  8. Think carefully about the sample size you would need to answer your research questions and check previous waves of the Innovation Panel to gauge whether the expected sample sizes would be sufficient.


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.

I’m not sure whether I meet the criteria. Who can I talk to?
Please get in touch with Annette Jäckle, Research Director of the Innovation Panel team, 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 Principal Investigator’s team and of the Methodological Advisory Committee.

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 2014. 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. 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 Archive.

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.