Any views expressed within media held on this service are those of the contributors, should not be taken as approved or endorsed by the University, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the University in respect of any particular issue.

What do funders want to know about Research Culture?


Have you been writing a funding application, and come across a request for information on our research culture? Have you been asked about your contribution to research culture? Do you need a little demystification about the whole research culture thing?

Dr Charlotte Brady, Strategic Research Executive has written a useful guide on what funders look for with regards to research culture in funding applications. In the guide you will find valuable information, signposts to additional resources, and guidance on how to demonstrate existing research culture activity within funding applications, or what you plan to do going forward.

Research Culture is a relatively new term that describes a lot of what we do, including the environment that we work in, our ways of working and how we interact with each other considerately and respectfully. While it’s called research culture, things like workplace culture and professional research standards go hand in hand with HR policies on recruitment and progression. Because it is related to research, it also is felt by our technicians, professional services colleagues enabling research, and research-conducting students. In fact everyone who conducts, contributes or enables research! How they are treated, developed and enabled is also part of the activity. It also covers that our research should be impactful, innovative and inclusive to bring benefit to everyone. When funders ask about it, it’s because they want to know what both you and your institution more broadly are doing that makes working with you (and with their funds) a positive experience.

Funders want to ensure that their money is spent in the best possible way. To ensure this, they might want to know what you do, or will do, to develop the people that you hire into your research group. Or perhaps what mentoring you provide within your discipline. They might also want to verify that when you publish your research outputs that you do so in an open manner. Perhaps they also want to know how you engage with the people who will be affected by your research when it translates to impact. Any evidence that you can provide will be beneficial here. At the University of Edinburgh we have a Research Cultures Action Plan, and a complementary Delivery Plan that sets out the institutional aspirations and activities. In your College you will also find experts in areas such as Research Ethics, public engagement, or Equality Diversity and Inclusion who can provide guidance at a more local level.



There is a lot of activity that you might want to talk about when convincing your target funder to award your project resources. In our new useful guide we have broken down the various areas that might be relevant to funders, and what activities we undertake as an institution or want to develop in that area. Not all areas will be relevant to each investigator e.g. team science may not be as relevant to the lone scholar, or shared laboratory facility use may not be relevant when the research is set in a music studio. But you can pick the areas that inspire you to get involved, and write about how the funders’ resource can be used to enhance culture as you deliver your research activity. Remember, not all areas will be a priority for your selected funder and it’s always best to check their guidance and ensure your application is written to be relevant for their terms and conditions. Throughout the document there are examples of different funder policies that you can reference to make sure your funding application is relevant to what they wish to fund.


Read the Research Cultures Information for Funding Applications guide on the ERO SharePoint here



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Report this page

To report inappropriate content on this page, please use the form below. Upon receiving your report, we will be in touch as per the Take Down Policy of the service.

Please note that personal data collected through this form is used and stored for the purposes of processing this report and communication with you.

If you are unable to report a concern about content via this form please contact the Service Owner.

Please enter an email address you wish to be contacted on. Please describe the unacceptable content in sufficient detail to allow us to locate it, and why you consider it to be unacceptable.
By submitting this report, you accept that it is accurate and that fraudulent or nuisance complaints may result in action by the University.