EPSRC logo

Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/S012087/1
Title: eBase: Evidence-Base; growing the Big Grant Club
Principal Investigator: Robertson, Professor D
Other Investigators:
Halliday, Professor KJ Arnold, Professor PL Shinton, Dr S
Salt, Dr K Thijssen, Dr J
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Institute of Physics Knowledge Transfer Network Ltd Royal Society of Chemistry Publishing
SRP in Engineering
Department: College of Science and Engineering
Organisation: University of Edinburgh
Scheme: Standard Research - NR1
Starts: 01 December 2018 Ends: 20 April 2022 Value (£): 582,054
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
No relevance to Underpinning Sectors
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
07 Jun 2018 Inclusion Matters Panel Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
There are strong economic and ethical arguments to improve inclusion across engineering and the physical sciences. As it is known that scientific potential does not segregate according to socially constructed lines of identity, and that diversity improves the quality of problem-solving and decision-making, the persistent low levels of diversity at the top of EPS subjects represents a severe loss of research output quality.

The project

In the two-year grant period eBase will define and create the trajectories that enable an individual's participation in larger strategic and centre grants. eBase employs innovative, evidence-based, "system-level" methods that leverage diversity to transform our approach. It represents a wholesale move from the entrenched current culture that will both accelerate the pace of change and up-scale our capabilities, resulting in an overall improvement in the quality of our science and our working experience. eBase is a cross-institution project and will operate as a "boundary" organisation: where its own research, analysis, and interventions, co-created by internal and external partners, will be integrated with knowledge from other initiatives to generate maximum value from the project. It will disseminate the research outputs to wide-ranging stakeholders including the learned societies and industry.


The rationale for our approach is as follows: i) eye-wateringly few EPSRC large grants (>2.5M) are led by female or BME scientists, and to date, these extreme discrepancies have not been fully recognised or challenged; ii) the current system skews access to the significant financial rewards and kudos that large grants bring to recipients and their institutions; iii) focussing on this discrete problem will allow us to gain significant traction on driving institutional change within the two year grant term; iv) this emblematic high-level problem reports the effects of multiple constraints in the system, thus while being focussed, our study will reveal generic malfunctions that have wide-ranging inclusion implications for our institution and beyond.


The eBase team is strongly interdisciplinary pulling together experts in gender and BME studies, systems theory, engineering and the physical sciences, human resources, academic development and policy reform. Our project will roll out three connected strands of work: research, innovation and dissemination. The research component will comprise an unbiased systems-based ethnographic study to identify structural and cultural features that restrict the path to big grant leadership, and to develop better integrated mechanisms to translate and embed our recommendations. The concurrent innovation strand will begin the institutional reform required to improve inclusion governance across the University. We will take a strictly evidence-based approach to inform our strategy for change that aims to facilitate implementation of our research findings. Dissemination of resources will include a peer-reviewed publication, reports, on-line recommendation documentation, and on-line training. The project will be outward facing and will work directly with other HEIs, companies, government scientist networks, UKRI, learned societies, the KTN network, regional and national governments. These external connections are vital as they provide a route to discover new examples of best-practice, to broadly disseminate our findings and to obtain critical feedback. A principal goal of our project will be to engage the wider community in our ambition to move beyond current practices toward a more evidence-based analytical approach that will deepen our understanding of the barriers to inclusion and open innovative support paths to effect change.

Key Findings
This information can now be found on Gateway to Research (GtR) http://gtr.rcuk.ac.uk
Potential use in non-academic contexts
This information can now be found on Gateway to Research (GtR) http://gtr.rcuk.ac.uk
Description This information can now be found on Gateway to Research (GtR) http://gtr.rcuk.ac.uk
Date Materialised
Sectors submitted by the Researcher
This information can now be found on Gateway to Research (GtR) http://gtr.rcuk.ac.uk
Project URL:  
Further Information:  
Organisation Website: http://www.ed.ac.uk