ISRF independent scholar fellowship competition (isf7)


Apply Now

The Independent Social Research Foundation wishes to support independent-minded researchers to explore and present original research ideas which take new approaches, and suggest new solutions, to real world social problems.

Please read these details carefully – and consult the FAQs – before commencing an application or contacting the ISRF with a query. Applications must be submitted before 5pm (BST) on 14th August 2020. Applicants are strongly advised to submit applications well in advance of this deadline – late submissions will not be considered. If you ave any technical issues, please notify Stuart Wilson immediately.


Eligible Applicants

Independent scholars from within Europe are eligible to apply, and they will normally not hold an appointment, temporary or permanent, at an institution of higher education and research.

For the purposes of this competition, an ‘Independent Scholar’ is understood as someone, whether or not currently in employment, who is engaged in intellectual work of a nature and standard comparable to that of a professional academic scholar. Applicants will usually hold a PhD but other academic or professional qualifications may be considered. Evidence of scholarly achievement at a sufficiently high level can include publications in academic journals, edited collections and monographs, as well as pieces for professional journals and the popular media.

Independent Scholars intending to pursue or complete a piece of independent (non-contract) research and desiring an affiliation to an institution of higher education and research within Europe are eligible to apply. They may be in professional employment, including in the arts, full- or part-time, or in an unpaid occupation. Applications may be considered from those who hold a temporary or permanent part-time post at an institution of higher education and research and wish to pursue research that is independent of their contracted work; other applicants from this field should apply to the ISRF’s Early or Mid-career fellowships.

The awards are intended as providing a stipend to allow applicants full or partial support for academic research and relief from non-academic work (including domestic care) for a period of up to one year. The awards are not normally available or intended for support of newly qualified post-doctoral scholars (within 12 months of PhD).

If you have a query about your eligibility for this competition, please contact Dr Lars Cornelissen.

PLEASE NOTE: Eligibility for ISRF funding opportunities will be unaffected by Brexit. We continue to encourage applications from scholars working within Europe (geographically defined – so, including those at UK institutions).

 There is no limitation on nationality – however, the proposed institutional affiliation must be with a European institution.

Eligible Research

Innovative research which breaks with existing explanatory frameworks so as to address afresh empirical problems with no currently adequate theory or investigative methodology. Innovation may also come from controversial theoretical approaches motivated by critical challenge of incumbent theories. Interdisciplinarity in the generation of new investigative initiatives may be achieved by combining, cross-fertilising, and so transforming empirical methods and theoretical insights from the social sciences. Projects ranging across the breadth of the social scientific disciplines and interdisciplinary research fields are welcome, and relevant applications from scholars working within the humanities are also encouraged.

The research proposed may include, but is not confined to: initiation of a project or of research level work intended to draw on or contribute to one of the professions, completion of a project, or preparation of an article or monograph for publication, based on existing work.

Terms & Conditions

Duration & Timing

The awards are intended as providing a stipend to allow applicants full or partial relief from non-academic duties, for a period of up to one year; alternatively, the award may be sought by those who wish to be bought-out directly from their current employment contract (in whole or partially), with the prior consent of their current employer. The award period must begin no later than the end of December 2021.


The amount of an award depends on the nature of the work proposed and individual circumstances – the ISRF expects applications for grants up to a maximum of £28,750 or €31,250†. Within that sum, reasonable support for research expenses will be considered. Reasonable childcare or other domestic costs may be considered.

† PLEASE NOTE: Applicants seeking an affiliation in the UK must apply in GBP (£), up to the limit of £28,750. Applicants seeking an affiliation elsewhere in Europe, including non-Eurozone countries, must apply in EUR (€), up to the limit of €31,250. These amounts are fixed as of 1st July 2020, and will not be adjusted in the event of GBP/EUR currency fluctuations.

Terms & Conditions

The ISRF reserves the right to extend the deadline for the competition. Awards will be conditional on the establishment of an institutional affiliation, to cover the duration of the proposed research project. Whilst the ISRF will take a lead in negotiating the terms of affiliation, it is the responsibility of the applicant to identify suitable institutions with which they would like to be affiliated. A short final report will be required.† Award holders may be invited to present their findings in person to the Foundation’s academic representatives. ISRF’s support to be acknowledged in all public presentation of research. Full Terms & Conditions governing awards will be provided to successful applicants in their formal offer, based on the draft general terms and conditions available on the ISRF website. Formal acceptance of the award must be completed by the end of March 2020.

† The ISRF does not require a lengthy report on your work, although reflections and comments are welcome as an addendum/appendix; for our records we require a short (no more than 500 words) report on the main features of your work: a short recap/outline of research aims and work plan; changes in research plans with reasons; new or surprising findings or results; what was achieved and how; outputs (presentations, publications etc); lessons learned; collaborations, partnerships, networks that have resulted; further plans/projects that arise from research.

Joint Applications

The competition is open to individuals who wish to undertake a piece of original research. Joint/group applications will not be considered.

Applications to Other Funding Bodies

Applicants may apply without prejudice to other funding bodies. If applications for identical projects were successful it would be expected that only one award (i.e. either the ISRF or another) would be accepted. If applications for either wholly or partly different projects are successful there should be no duplication in the budget headings funded by the ISRF and another body.

All awards are conditional upon acceptance of our Standard Award Terms & Conditions.

The Application

The Research Proposal

All applicants will be expected to provide the following details as part of their proposal:

  • The Research Idea: The innovative thesis of the project (250 words)
  • Background: Current research reference points and their limitations (250 words)
  • The Focus: How the research provides a fresh approach to real-life problems (250 words)
  • Theoretical Novelty: What conceptual innovation the research is aiming at (250 words)
  • Methodology: How different disciplinary inputs will interact in empirical inquiry – specific methodological examples are often helpful for non-specialist readers (250 words)
  • Work Plan: How the work will be organised over the award period and what outputs are intended (250 words)
  • Outcome: What further steps and what longer-term outcome are envisaged (250 words)
  • Ethics Statement: Any measures required for ethical conduct of the research (300 words)
The Submitted Application

This will be read by academic evaluators who are social scientists but not necessarily in the applicant’s own field; applicants should bear this in mind when writing their application. Our Assessment Procedure is set out online.

In order to be considered for the award, all applications must comprise the following:

  • A statement on your Independent Scholar Status.
  • An Abstract (300 words) of the research’s aims, methods, contribution to knowledge, and value in realising the goals of ISRF.
  • A completed, anonymised Research Project Proposal form (2050 words total).

    For example Research Proposals from previous Independent Scholar Fellows, see the project pages for Alessandra GribaldoNina MoellerMike Waite & Joy White.
  • An anonymised List of References that support the proposal, limited to two sides of A4 (this should be uploaded as an additional attachment)
  • An anonymised Budget comprising a full outline of employment costs. If matched-funded research expenses are included for consideration, an explanation should be given as to why these are deemed necessary.
  • Including a list of relevant publications.
  • The applicant’s status (personal academic reference).
  • The research proposed (brief comment on how this meets the ISRF criteria).
  • Why the research would not be funded by existing resources.

The Letter of Support must be sent from the nominated scholar direct to ISRF at

Employer Approval

Where applicants wish to be bought out from existing employment (either wholly or in part) they must confirm that their employer is aware of their application, and should provide the contact details for the relevant contact. Should your application progress, this contact will be asked to confirm, on behalf of your employer, that:

  • You will be granted the period and proportion of time requested in the Duration and Timing section;
  • If replacement costs are requested, you will be in receipt of your normal salary during tenure of the award and the institution will provide cover;

It is therefore advisable that you ensure that your Employer is in agreement with the content of your application before you submit.

How to Apply

Application Procedure

Applicants are expected to submit their complete application electronically via the online application system, in English.

Completed applications must arrive – via the online application system – no later than 5:00pm (BST) on 14th August 2020. Letters of Support must arrive, by email to, direct from the supporter, no later than 21st August 2020.

A candidate may submit only one application. Applicants can expect to be informed of the result of their applications by email by the end of December 2020.Apply Now

Application Queries

Please consult the FAQ’s before contacting us directly.

Academic queries (including questions of eligibility) should be directed to Dr Lars Cornelissen (Academic Editor) at

Queries relating to the Terms & Conditions of award, or about the online application system, should be directed to Stuart Wilson (Administrator) at

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.