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My winning proposal: High-risk bid triumphs with ESRC

Penal systems in Russia and Kazakhstan are not the easiest topic to research, but Laura Piacentini will do just that thanks to a Research Grant from the ESRC. Fiona McIntyre hears how she put together her biggest bid yet.

Laura’s top tips

  • The research councils want high-risk, high-gain research proposals but they don’t want to take a risk on the team.
  • Don’t be afraid of digging within your niche, but always show how your research applies to a wider context in bids.
  • Building big multi-partner bids takes time—which can be frustrating—but those strong partnerships will land you the bid.
  • Plan for success; don’t be cowed into fatalism by low success rates.

Laura Piacentini, a criminologist at the University of Strathclyde, won a £636,479 grant from the Economic and Social Research Council to investigate prison cultures in Russia and Kazakhstan, the two biggest countries in the former Soviet Union and the two with the most gulags. The project began in September and will run until August 2021.

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