Researchers at the University of Bristol are calling for participants for a newly-launched survey, designed to advance evidence-based initiatives and policies on how to overcome ongoing racial injustices in national funding award practices.
The survey, which is being co-funded by the University alongside the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), has been established following on from a recent review of the portfolio of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the UK’s national funding agency investing in science and research, which revealed that the proportion of awardees who identify as Black and Black heritage academics is severely underrepresented.
The survey aims to explore how Black and Black heritage academics in the UK experience the lack of equitable research funding access. Eligible for participation are Black and Black heritage academics who are currently employed by a UK university (incl. pre/post-1992 institutions) and working (part-time or full-time) in the Natural Sciences, Medical Sciences, Engineering, Informatics, Mathematics, and/or Technology.
Professor Stephen Eichhorn, Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Bristol and Principal Investigator on the Breaking Barriers for Black Academic Project, said: “Through research and scholarship we seek to uncover truths that will help create better futures.
“Conversations about race and racial discrimination are often uncomfortable, but this does not mean we should shy away from them or the necessary self-reflection and learning required to make a change.
“Overturning decades of discrimination will not happen overnight but with the launch of this national survey we are committing to engage with our community and partners to listen to, share and learn from the lived experiences of Black and Black heritage scholars and continually challenge ourselves and others to do more.
“I look forward to the ongoing engagement of our community in the conversations and decisions that will shape our path as we collectively work towards a more equitable future.”
Professor Robert Mokaya OBE FRSC, Professor of Chemistry and Pro Vice-Chancellor for Global Engagement at the University of Nottingham, Fellow of the Royal Society, said: “Equitable access to funding is absolutely key in ensuring a thriving UK research ecosystem where all researchers have equal opportunity.
“Unfortunately, existing data shows that this is not the case for sections of the scientific community and especially for Black and Black heritage academics who seek funding.
“On reflection, the data is likely consistent with the experience of many Black academics, including my own.
“Lack of funding for any one group deprives the scientific community of the diversity needed for overall performance at the highest level. It can also be career stopper, leading to under-representation.
“Work such as the Breaking Barriers project is, therefore, essential in throwing light on what needs to be done to address the under-representation of Black academics in the UK research ecosystem.”
Dr Joanna Jenkinson MBE, Director of GW4 Alliance said: “It is vitally important that we ensure equitable access to research funding for Black and Black heritage academics and scholars across the UK.
“The GW4 Alliance is committed to working with our institutions, and the wider academic research community, to increase the inclusion of Black and Black heritage academics across national research funding awards, and UK research more broadly.
“We would encourage all those who are eligible to take part in this new survey.”
Take part in the survey
The survey will remain open until September 30 2023. Survey participation takes about 15 minutes and is completely confidential.
Please consider supporting this important initiative by participating yourself (if eligible) and/or by distributing this survey to eligible scholars. Further information about the survey’s purpose and data use can be found on its landing page: