Improving Research Culture Through Addressing Inequality in Research Funding

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Research funding is a key measure of research excellence for Higher Education Institutions (HEI), and as such is a core feature of institutional research expectations, annual reviews, rewards and recognition, and promotion criteria. UKRI's diversity data show inequality in research funding and fellowship applications and awards in terms of gender, race and disability.

There is a strong need to enforce enablers and remove barriers to improve access to funding for all. Inequality in research funding is a multifaceted issue and is not well understood in the context of the UK, despite the extensive debates that have intensified in recent years.  

Research overview

This research project seeks to:

(1) Set out evidence-based actions to improve understanding of enablers and barriers to research funding applications and grant attainment by people from currently underrepresented groups

(2) Identify gaps in current data and develop interventions focussed on research funding support, training & development (T&D), and research communications, with the aim of developing future research leadership skills and facilitating career progression of researchers and research support staff at Leeds University Business School and beyond.

An annual evaluation of the School’s data (T&D, grant applications, internal schemes) will be used to measure the effectiveness of each intervention. 

The project uses the pre-award stages defined within the workflow diagram (Appendix A) of: Bell, A et al. “If we use the strength of diversity among researchers we can only improve the quality and impact of our research” Issues of equality, diversity, inclusion, and transparency in the process of applying for research funding. (2023) Elizabeth Blackwell Institute, University of Bristol and MoreBrains Cooperative.

The workflow diagram and the issues highlighted by it were used to structure discussions at a symposium for a range of research stakeholders (including Dr Charlotte Stephenson, this project's PI), held in Bristol, UK, in January 2023. 

Past events

Improving Research Culture Through Addressing Inequality in Research Funding - workshop, July 2023, Leeds.

The purpose of this workshop was for colleagues to:

  • Find out more about the project activities to date
  • Discuss in groups the identified enablers and barriers associated with the research funding landscape, and proposed local-level interventions
  • Understand and contribute to the next steps of the project.


Publications and outputs

Visit the Phase 2 project page – Developing an inclusive research culture through improving research support practices.

Ethics review reference: AREA FREC 2023-0533-513 

This work is supported by Research England under the Enhancing Culture Research funding stream.

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