Developing Inclusive Cultures for Research Grants

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Building inclusive research cultures is a key priority of most UK funding organisations. Researchers seeking funding must recognise and reflect on aspects of equality, diversity and inclusion relevant the context of the research.

Research that is inclusive is designed to be open and accessible to a diverse range of participants. Inclusive research cultures are shaped through collaboration and recognise the breadth of perspectives, experiences and inputs that contribute to the successful delivery of project outputs and outcomes. 

Criteria such as attentiveness to EDI aspects, such as co-creation of research and outputs, and a nuanced consideration of both positive and negative impacts of the research process and outcomes on underrepresented populations are increasingly given more emphasis and weighting in the assessment of proposals. 

The guidance below outlines a few key areas of consideration for Principal Investigators who are at early stages of grant proposal planning. Further resources including examples of best practice, are available on the UKRI’s Good Research Resource Hub.

Who do I need to include in my research?

Team composition, partnerships, and stakeholders

  • Support the formation of diverse teams (attention to gender, ethnicity, career stage and pathway, disciplines, [dis]abilities) with relevant research expertise and recognition for all roles, responsibilities, and contributions.
  • Address power imbalances while working with individuals and teams in resource-poor settings, by developing equitable partnerships.
  • Recruit research staff (PDRAs, RAs, PhDs) with attentiveness to skills development, training, capacity building and enabling flexible career pathways.
  • Engage the end-users/beneficiaries/stakeholders of your research and by facilitating collaborative and accessible routes for relevant groups, especially those which are typically under-represented
  • Set up an Advisory Board or Steering Group to provide external perspectives and direction to your research and provide a wider context for the project you are delivering.

How are my research ideas being shaped?

Co-production of research, patient and public involvement

  • Consider the intended outcomes of your research project idea and which communities and settings it will impact. 
  • Engage participants or stakeholders from these communities in jointly identifying key research questions and to ensure relevance to them. 
  • Be mindful of the ethical considerations in relation to responsibility, accountability and power while engaging research stakeholders and set shared expectations for undertaking research jointly.
  • Develop appropriate mechanisms for recognition and payment, where allowable by funders, and commensurate with the nature and demands of the research activities involving stakeholders.
  • Be attentive to the format, timing and location of project events, workshops, interviews, etc. to ensure accessibility and make them conducive for wider participation.
  • Recognise the diversity of interests, contributions, and desired outcomes and design your project to holistically meet the needs of participants. This may be occasionally constrained by funding guidelines and it is important to transparently communicate the parameters of the research and funding to all those involved.

What impact does my project have and for whom?

Research outputs and impact

  • Develop collaborative outputs where feasible and appropriate to do so, including models of co-authorship or co-delivery with research participants.
  • Traditional academic outputs such as journal papers may not capture the contributions of wider research participants or have the same reach as some other types of deliverables (reports or user guides, policy briefs, videos, blogs, etc). 
  • Positive and sustainable legacies are an important aspects of co-production and should be considered alongside the research deliverables. The impact of your project on people’s development, the building of networks and future collaborations, the capacity and processes of institutions, and the development of new concepts and frameworks are important to consider and articulate. 
  • Be attentive to the potential negative impacts of your research and especially when involving vulnerable or under-represented groups. Outline mitigation strategies in your ethics application and implement these in the governance and delivery of your project. 





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