Open World Research Initiative Call for Expressions of Interest Closing date: 23

Open World Research Initiative Call for Expressions of
Closing date: 23rd October 2014
The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) is pleased to announce details of the
Open World Research Initiative (OWRI), a major new funding initiative in modern
languages research. This call represents the first of two stages in the application
Expressions of Interest are invited for world-class research programmes that establish a
new and exciting vision for language-led research in response to the challenges and
opportunities presented by a globalised research environment and multi-lingual world.
Programmes funded under this initiative will be multi-institutional and multi-disciplinary
collaborations which develop and present a cogent, positive and compelling vision for
how language-led research draws on, and enhances our openness to, other languages,
cultures, literatures and histories.
We envisage at least £20m being available for the initiative, to fund 5 or more
programmes from 2016.
Up to £4m Full Economic Cost (fEC) is available per OWRI programme over 4 years.
Successful applicants will be funded at 80% of fEC.
There is an expectation that OWRI programmes will leverage additional income or
support from universities and other national and international partners, such that after
the four-year period of Research Council funding, there will be a clear and sustainable
legacy of the work, including partnerships, and on-going impact both within and beyond
This document contains the following information:
Introduction ................................................................................................... 2
Research Programmes ..................................................................................... 3
Programme delivery ........................................................................................ 7
Programme structure ....................................................................................... 8
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Number, duration and value of awards .............................................................. 9
Application and assessment process .................................................................. 9
Eligibility ...................................................................................................... 10
How to apply (EOI stage) ............................................................................... 11
Assessment criteria for Expressions of Interest ................................................. 11
10. Call timetable ............................................................................................... 12
You are advised to read all the information in this document thoroughly before
submitting your Expression of Interest. Please see Annex 1 for required information and
word limits.
1. Introduction
AHRC’s Open World Research Initiative (OWRI) aims to achieve a transformational
impact on modern languages research in the UK, and is central to AHRC’s wider
Arts and humanities research changes the ways in which we see the world – the
past world, the present world and the world of the future. It enhances
understanding of our times, our capacities and our inheritance.
It explores forms of identity, behaviour and expression, and seeks out new ways
of knowing what it means to be human in different societies and across the
centuries. It helps us to learn from the wealth of a complex and contested
history, transmitting the flow of ideas, ambitions and achievements to this and
future generations. It promotes an understanding of cultural difference and
diversity. It brings this knowledge to public use, and makes the human world a
richer place in which to live.
From AHRC Strategy 2013-2018: The Arts and Humanities in our Times
Through OWRI, AHRC wishes to fund ambitious, multi-institutional and multi-disciplinary
research programmes that demonstrate the strategic importance of language-led
research and enhanced language expertise across the arts and humanities, and beyond.
These programmes will provide the foundations for enhancing national research
capability in languages and harnessing wider benefits extending beyond the academy. It
is expected that the programmes will be of a scale and ambition that cannot be
supported through AHRC’s standard research funding schemes.
OWRI programmes will be expected to develop innovative ways of working and achieve
wider impacts by engaging extensively with public audiences, policy bodies, private
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enterprises, the third sector and international partners. The Research Organisations
(ROs) involved in a programme will be required to demonstrate longer-term strategic
commitment to the initiative, including the capacity to leverage additional funding
resources and a commitment to sustainability beyond the initial funding period.
OWRI programmes will be expected to develop links with other strategic initiatives, such
as ‘Routes into Languages’, in order to help sustain the health of disciplines in modern
languages, and to connect with AHRC investments in postgraduate research, such as
the Doctoral Training Partnerships and Centres for Doctoral Training.
While AHRC wishes to fund programmes that demonstrate the strategic importance of
languages research, we are open to the case for ‘strategic importance’ being made in
different ways. In other words, it is expected that applicants will themselves develop a
compelling case for the importance of their proposed research. This might relate to the
innovativeness of the ideas being explored, or the opening up and sustaining of new and
exciting areas of thought or cultural expression, as well as the potential for significant
and continuing social, cultural and economic impact.
Equally, no particular languages or group of languages are prioritised, and any modern
language is eligible under the call. In this context ‘modern languages’ means any human
language, with a system and grammar, in current use anywhere in the world (including
sign languages). Unless an exceptional case can be made, AHRC would not expect to
fund a programme based solely or principally in a classical language(s), though these
may form part of a wider programme, for example where historical or cultural
antecedents are to be explored. Please also note that English is not eligible as a main
language area under the call but may feature, where appropriate, as part of a
component research strand(s), for example, where the focus of the research is on
multilingual communities in the UK, or where issues of translation into English are
2. Research Programmes
OWRI aims to support at least five major research programmes, each with a distinctive
focus around research questions grounded in modern language expertise. The
expectation is that each programme will draw in expertise from a number of languages,
and make a compelling case for the benefits of exploring the research questions posed in
a coordinated, multi-lingual way. In other words, the intention is to support programmes
with a language discipline focus, not where language resources are employed merely as
a tool for addressing the research area in question. The language areas and language-
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led issues (e.g. interpretation, language change, translation, etc) should provide the
rationale and means for engaging other disciplines, rather than the other way around.
It is anticipated that each OWRI programme will involve a number of interconnected
research strands (see below), but that across the whole programme, they will
demonstrate the following characteristics:
Language-led research: OWRI programmes should be driven by language-led
research. ‘Language-led’ in this context is used to describe activity where a modern
languages focus determines the content of the research or the methodologies,
theories or concepts by which the approach will be underpinned, thereby embodying
the distinctive capacity of modern languages research to foster multi-disciplinary
approaches and create new research agendas. Crucially, programmes should not
treat language expertise merely as a tool that facilitates research in other areas, but
should pursue research that is rooted in language and intercultural issues and
Multi-language: each proposal should set out research with an arts and humanities
focus, drawing on capabilities from a number of languages. As above, there will be no
restriction on the languages that might be included, but ROs will need to
demonstrate the strategic value of the proposed research and the languages
involved. No single-language programmes will be supported, unless there is strong
case for innovative research drawing on multiple dialect variations and / or multinational use of the ‘same’ language.
Multi-disciplinary: the capacity of languages research to operate as a nexus for
multi-disciplinary engagement, and to stimulate change in other areas, will be a
defining characteristic of OWRI. It is expected that programmes will not only bring
together expertise in different languages, but a range of arts and humanities
disciplines – there should be no programmes that draw exclusively on the expertise
of modern language departments or schools. Innovative approaches should be used
to bring together expertise from a range of disciplines, creating new opportunities
and breaking-down departmental and disciplinary silos.
Equally, whilst the research should have a primary focus in the arts and humanities,
programmes can also include wider cross / inter-disciplinary approaches outside the
arts and humanities. Applicants are encouraged to apply innovative approaches in
this regard, and to consider the potential for languages research to facilitate
engagements not only in more traditional areas of collaboration, such as the social
sciences, but also in emerging contexts such as health and digital and big data
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Multi-partner: OWRI programmes will be expected to draw extensively on
partnerships outside the academic sector, for example, with cultural institutions,
policy bodies, business, the third sector and community organisations. Again,
applicants are encouraged to think innovatively about these partnerships, and to
consider how they might link with emerging dynamics – such as community
languages and evidence arising from the 2011 census relating to multi-lingualism –
as well as groups not traditionally engaged in such contexts, such as multi-lingual
communities in rural areas. Given the focus of OWRI it is also expected that
programmes will engage extensively with international partners, both within and
beyond the academic sector.
Partnerships should aim to maximise the wider significance of language-led research
and explore different pathways to impact. They should strengthen and diversify the
collaborative and participative research activities delivered through OWRI, and foster
a wide range of interactions and outcomes that contribute to the transformative
effect of the research and enhance public understanding. Further information on the
broad definition of impact used by the Research Councils is available on the RCUK
website (opens in a new window).
Multi-institutional: programmes must be collaborative between ROs and no single
RO bids will be eligible. The AHRC does not intend to stipulate a minimum number of
ROs involved in a programme and OWRI programmes do not need to be physical
‘centres’ organised according to geographic proximity. The key criterion for
institutional collaboration should be the gathering of academic expertise to address
the research programme set out. ROs are encouraged to take an innovative approach
to partnerships - for example by taking account of the advantages that might be
derived from tapping into ‘pockets of excellence’ - but must be able to demonstrate a
robust management and governance structure. OWRI programmes will be expected
to employ flexible funding streams to support the on-going engagement of a wide
spectrum of researchers during the duration of the award (see below under
Programme Delivery).
Balanced portfolio: The AHRC will endeavour to fund a balanced portfolio of OWRI
programmes – i.e. ensure that each programme supported through the initiative is
distinctive in its focus and approach to research. On this basis, AHRC does not
anticipate funding programmes involving substantially the same set of languages.
National collaboration between existing centres of excellence is therefore strongly
encouraged, and applicants may wish to use subject associations and other networks
to help with the formation of partnerships and collaborations.
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National flagships: OWRI programmes will be expected to act as flagships for their
distinctive language areas and expertise, and to play a national role in making new
language resources available. This should include extending access to wider
audiences and leading on public engagement activity.
Health of disciplines: Whilst OWRI programmes must be defined and distinguished
by new, innovative approaches to language-led research, it is also expected that they
will connect to wider initiatives in order to make a sustained contribution to the
health of modern languages. For example, where appropriate, programmes should
seek to engage with other strategic interventions, such as ‘Routes into Languages’.
Similarly, OWRI programmes should consider how they might contribute to, and
enhance, the development of language expertise at lower levels within HEIs. This
might include opportunities for undergraduates to engage with the research, the
development and sharing of teaching and learning resources for the benefit of a
range of disciplines, and exploring whether there are curricula interventions that
might stimulate progression from undergraduate and taught postgraduate
programmes. As below, ROs comprising an OWRI programme should clearly
demonstrate how their involvement will be supported by a wider institutional
commitment to promoting the health of the discipline.
Capacity-building and sustainability: proposals should also indicate how they will
make innovative contributions to capacity building and sustainability of modern
languages research. This might include the provision or support of advanced
language development options, particularly for PhD students and early-career
researchers, such as international placements, study visits, research exchanges and
internships. This should include measures to support the development and mentoring
of early career researchers and research assistants involved in the research strands,
as well as wider networking and outreach activities.
Proposals should include plans for fostering the next generation of research leaders
in modern languages, for example, by enabling academics to work collaboratively
across programmes, across disciplines and across sectors.
Whilst direct funding for Masters and PhD students will not be permitted under
OWRI (see below), proposals should also set out how they might work with AHRC
Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTPs) and Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs) to
drive the development of new PhD models, for example through intensive language
learning opportunities as part of longer PhD programmes. (Please note that OWRI
programmes do not need to mirror particular consortia arrangements funded through
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the DTPs and CDTs). This might include, for example, the provision of funding to
support relevant language opportunities for PhD students in a way that mirrors the
availability of ‘Student Development Funding’ (SDF) within DTPs and CDTs. More
widely, proposals should consider how OWRI funding might supplement postgraduate
training options by supporting activities that promote progression through the
system, research careers and sustainability of the discipline.
Institutional Commitment: it is expected that all ROs will be able to demonstrate
that they are participating in an OWRI proposal on the basis of a firm commitment to
language-led research – for example, as part of developments that support the
integration of modern languages across institutional strategies for teaching and
research, reflecting the role of universities and other research organisations in a
globalised research environment and multi-lingual world.
3. Programme delivery
OWRI programmes should be underpinned by a compelling vision that articulates the
strategic importance of the research and associated activity proposed, and how it will
realise the aims of the initiative. In terms of the delivery of proposed programmes:
Research Strands: Programmes should comprise a series of discrete, but interconnected research strands, each of which should have a designated academic
lead(s). The research strands should provide areas of specific focus (be they
thematic, regional, chronological etc) within the programme’s broader remit, whilst
forming part of a coherent, interconnected whole. It is at the discretion of component
ROs to determine the number and distribution of research strands within a
programme, but it is important that a balance is created between the delivery of a
wide-ranging and diverse body of work on the one-hand, and the need to ensure that
research strands are large enough to have the capacity to deliver impact and be
responsive to new challenges as they arise, on the other.
Flexible funding to support wider collaboration: Programmes should include
funding to support new and emerging research ideas in a responsive way during the
period of the award. In other words, the programme should be able to deploy funding
to, for example, support new networks, partnerships, visits, workshops etc in a
flexible way that draws in new researchers over the course of the award, rather than
fixing the distribution of funding at the outset. Please note that this should not
constitute contingency funding, but rather should provide the responsiveness needed
by a programme of this breadth and scale. Applicants should clearly identify these
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allocations in the context of the research strands and overall programme structure in
a manner that can be assessed against the value for money criterion.
Leadership and management: Applicants should not under-estimate the resources
needed to coordinate and deliver a complex, multi-strand, multi-institutional research
programme that engages with multiple external partners. Careful consideration
should be given to the management and administration support required, and these
costs should be included in the proposal, or clearly shown to be met from other
4. Programme structure
Leadership and management
Strong and inclusive academic leadership of an OWRI programme will be essential. A
Director (PI), with lead responsibility for the programme, should be identified. The
Director should be based at the lead institution (the submitting institution). CoInvestigators should be identified for each of the research strands and other areas of the
programme as appropriate. Each programme should be supported by an appropriate
governance structure.
Please note that a single RO can lead on only one OWRI programme and a PI / Director
can be named in this is capacity on only one bid. It is permissible for an RO to be named
as a partner RO on multiple bids and for Co-Is to be named on multiple bids. It is
permissible for a PI / Director to be named as a Co-Investigator on other bids only where
it can be demonstrated that sufficient time is available to dedicate to the projects, should
they all be successful.
Research Assistants and PhD Project Students
It is anticipated that OWRI programmes will include funding for Postdoctoral Research
Assistants or Fellows to work within or across research strands. Please note that funding
for Masters studentships or PhD project students is not permitted under the OWRI
initiative. Proposals may, however, include funding for activities such as short PhD
language or placement opportunities, which mirror the way in which ‘Student
Development Funding’ is available within the AHRC’s DTPs and CDTs, in order to support
longer and enriched programmes of study, where this can help attract and support the
next generation of researchers.
Collaborations and Partnerships
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As above, it is anticipated that partnerships will be integral to OWRI programmes where
the added value and contribution of this collaboration can be clearly explained. Further
information on project partners is available in the AHRC Research Funding Guide (opens
in a new window). Letters of support are not compulsory at the EOI stage, but may be
included where partnerships are confirmed (see Annex 1 for further information).
Research strands should be led by a UK RO, but international Co-Investigators are an
eligible cost under OWRI. Further information on the international Co-I policy is available
on the AHRC website (opens in a new window). Please note that this policy is currently in
a pilot phase and will be reviewed prior to renewal in December 2014; applicants will be
alerted to any subsequent changes. International collaborations may also be embedded
as project partners. Costs such as the time of consultants; overseas travel/subsistence;
international phone calls and/ or video conferencing; and overseas events/activities can
be included within the grant. Costs for international collaboration must be included
within the £4m (fEC) limit.
5. Number, duration and value of awards
Programmes will be funded for a total of 4 years and will be expected to start between
1st April and 1st July 2016. A minimum of £3m and maximum £4m Full Economic Cost
(fEC) is available per programme over four years. The successful applicants will be
funded at 80% of fEC. As above, there is an expectation that programmes will leverage
additional income or support from partners and other sources, both during and after the
award period, such that, after the four-year period of Research Council funding, there
will be a clear and sustainable legacy of its work, including partnerships, and on-going
impact both within and beyond academia.
Funding will be profiled over the period of the award, with continuation subject to midterm review to assess progress against objectives and agreed milestones.
AHRC intends to make at least 5 awards through OWRI.
6. Application and assessment process
The application process for the OWRI call will be in two stages: an Expression of Interest
(EOI) stage and a Full Proposal stage. The EOI stage is open to any applicants that meet
the eligibility criteria outlined below.
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EOIs will be peer reviewed by an assessment panel comprising members of the OWRI
Advisory Group and AHRC Strategic Review College. Proposals will be reviewed against
the assessment criteria set out below.
The AHRC does not expect that projects will be fully formed at the point of submitting
the EOI and it is permissible for components such as costs and partnerships to be
provisional at this stage. The main purpose of the EOI stage is to assess the potential
of proposed ideas to realise the aims of the OWRI initiative.
Shortlisted applicants from the EOI stage will be provided with feedback from the
assessment panel and invited to submit a full proposal. It is anticipated that 8-10
proposals will be shortlisted to submit full applications. Full proposals will be peer
reviewed and the applicants interviewed by a multi-disciplinary panel, which will make
funding recommendations to the AHRC.
7. Eligibility
Applications are welcomed from UK Higher Education Institutions, or accredited AHRC
Independent Research Organisations (opens in a new window), with an established track
record of research excellence in the relevant areas and the appropriate infrastructure.
The following criteria apply to applicant eligibility:
Lead Research Organisation – there should be one lead RO with the capability to
support a grant of this size.
Principal Investigator / Director (PI) – should be based at the lead RO and have a
demonstrable track record of research management.
Co-Investigators (Co-I) – should be identified for each research strand and other
elements of the programme with significant coordination requirements as
appropriate; they should have demonstrable expertise within the range of disciplines
required to undertake the project.
Research Assistants – proposals may include Postdoctoral Research Assistants
(PDRAs) who have the expertise required to take forward the research and related
activities proposed; PDRAs may be named where candidates are known and
considered particularly suitable.
PhD project students – are not eligible under this initiative, please see 4) above.
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PI and Co-I commitment – should be commensurate with the scale and ambition of
the proposed project and the challenges of managing and integrating activities within
complex large grants of this scale.
Project /Administrative support – the time and cost of any administrative support
should be included within the proposal.
8. How to apply (EOI stage)
Applicants should submit an Expression of Interest addressing the key headings given in
Annex 1 of this document. Submissions should not exceed the word limits under each
Expressions of Interest should be submitted via SmartSurvey by 4pm on 23rd October
9. Assessment criteria for Expressions of Interest
EOIs will be assessed using the following criteria:
Quality and fit
the quality and innovative nature of the proposed research, and its potential to have
a transformational impact on the conception and scope of modern languages
fit with call specification: the vision established by the proposed programme and its
potential to realise the aims of the OWRI initiative;
the extent to which the programme will use language-led research as the means to
generate new, innovative engagements across disciplines, both within the arts and
humanities and more widely;
Partnerships, collaboration and wider engagement
the potential for external engagement, including international engagement, and the
quality, innovation and breadth of non-academic partnerships,
the potential for collaborative and / or participative research activities;
the potential for public engagement in the research and associated activities;
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the demonstration of a robust and appropriate strategy for the sharing and
dissemination of research outcomes;
Capacity building and health of the discipline
the potential to contribute to the longer-term health of the modern languages
involved, including the potential to connect to other relevant initiatives;
the potential to build research capacity in modern languages, including plans to
support the next generation of research leaders in the field, the provision of training
resources, and support for the development of innovative PhD programmes;
Institutional support and delivery
the strength and rationale of the proposed partnerships between institutions, and the
commitment demonstrated by participating ROs to the programme as part of wider
international and language strategies;
the strength of the management and governance arrangements, including the
expertise and experience of the Principal Investigator / Director, Co-Investigators
and other team members to manage and deliver the proposed activities and outputs,
and the feasibility of the timetable;
Resource distribution and value for money
the extent to which the research strands represent a balanced portfolio within a
programme and across the OWRI initiative as a whole;
value for money, including the plans for ensuring a long-term sustainable legacy
from the research beyond the funding period .
Call timetable
Expressions of Interest call announced: 29th May 2014
Closing date for submissions: 23rd October 2014
EOI assessment panel: January 2015
Shortlist announced: by 30th January 2015
Closing date for full applications: 30th June 2015
Full application peer review: July – November 2015
Assessment panel/interviews: December 2015 (date tbc)
Announcement of successful bids: January 2016
Earliest start date: 1st April 2016
Latest start date: 1st July 2016
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Please contact the AHRC to discuss any queries you have with the initiative.
We envisage publishing an FAQ document in due course to accompany this call
in order to address any common issues or questions, and you are encouraged to
check the website for updates.
AHRC Contacts:
Gemma Evans
Programmes Coordinator, Languages, Literature and International Engagement
Tel: 01793 416073 [email protected]
Ellie Ricketts-Jones
Portfolio Manager, Languages, Literature and International Engagement
Tel: 01793 416027 [email protected]
Adam Walker
Head of Languages, Literature and International Engagement
Tel: 01793 416098 [email protected]
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Annex 1
Open World Research Initiative Expression of Interest
When completing the application in ‘SmartSurvey’, please provide the following details:
Programme title:
Main languages:
Lead institution:
Partner institutions:
Principal Investigator (Director), HEI and department:
Co-Investigators, HEI and department:
Key partners:
Proposed start date:
Proposed end date:
Please provide information using the following headings (including total word
count used under each section). Please address headings 1-11 within a single
word document (A4 11 pt font). All other headings should be addressed using
additional attachments.
1. Programme vision (limit 100 words)
Outline a succinct vision for the proposed programme, summarising its strategic
importance and potential to have a transformational impact in the field.
2. Fit into call (limit 1000 words)
Set out here how the programme proposed will meet the aims, objectives and vision of
the OWRI call, providing further detail on its innovative nature and potential to have a
transformational impact. For example, you may wish to set out the proposed innovative
approaches to language-led research, or ambitions relating to cross-disciplinary and
multi-partner engagement, collaborative research and capacity-building.
3. Research context (limit 500 words)
You should briefly describe the wider research context for the programme as a whole.
Why is it important that these questions or issues are explored? What other research is
being or has been conducted in this area? What contribution will your research make to
improving, enhancing, or developing creativity, insights, knowledge or understanding in
the area?
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4. Research strands - questions and methods (limit 1000 words)
You should provide a brief, clear description of the research strands within the
programmes, including the research questions on which they are based, and how they
underpin the programme vision. You should briefly describe the research methods you
will be using to address the questions in each strand. Why have you chosen this
5. Partnership, governance and management (limit 500 words)
Please provide information on the rationale behind the selection of ROs participating in
the programme, and the key personnel, including the PI and Co-Is. Please also provide
information on the proposed governance structure for the programme, and the
administrative and management support needed for delivery.
6. Collaborations (limit 500 words)
Whilst it is acknowledged that partnerships will be provisional at the EOI stage, please
indicate the wider strategy and rationale for engaging project partners (including
overseas partners if appropriate) and, where known, who they will be and their role in
and contribution to the project. Where key partners have been identified, statements of
support (with relevant signatures) may be provided (limit 250 words per statement).
7. Health of the discipline (limit 500 words)
How do you envisage engaging with other funding initiatives (such as Routes into
Language) to strengthen the flow of people into language disciplines? How will you
ensure that the activities and achievements of the programme will inform undergraduate
learning opportunities?
8. Capacity Building (limit 500 words)
How will the proposed research and associated activity contribute to capacity building in
modern languages research and foster the next generation of research leaders? How will
you ensure that the activities and achievements of the programme will inform
postgraduate development and training opportunities, and how will connectivity with
AHRC’s DTPs and CDTs be achieved? What mentoring and support will be offered to early
career researchers and research assistants working on the research strands?
9. Outcomes, impact and knowledge exchange (limit 500 words)
Please provide examples of any outputs you propose to produce during the award and
their focus. How will you identify the key audiences, beneficiaries and interest groups for
the research and how will they be engaged in the process and/or development of the
outputs? How will any outputs be discussed with, and/or communicated and
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disseminated to, those audiences? How will pathways to impact outside academia be
10. Sustainability and legacy (limit 300 words)
Please demonstrate how you see the programme having a sustainable legacy, of a scope
and scale commensurate with the OWRI vision, beyond the funding period.
11. Institutional commitment (limit 200 words)
Please indicate how the HEIs involved will support the proposed OWRI programme. You
should also include a letter (1 page max.) signed by the lead Research Organisation’s
Vice Chancellor or Head of Institution, endorsing the EOI bid and summarising the
institutional commitment in the context of a wider international or languages strategy.
Timetable (max. 1 page A4)
You should include a brief timetable to show the scheduling of the major planned
activities within the proposed timescale, indicating key milestones.
Resources (max. 1 page A4)
Whilst it is acknowledged that resources at the EOI stage will be provisional, please
include a brief budget providing information on the costs (fEC) as currently conceived,
including the balance between staff, directly incurred and other costs. Please also
identify potential sources of external funding.
Curricula Vitae
Summary CVs should be attached as separate documents for the Principal Investigator
(Director) and any Co-Investigators. These should be no more than two sides of A4
paper (11 pt font). CVs should include basic information about education, employment
history, academic responsibilities and any relevant publications and research grants.
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