ESRC Digital Good Network

Digital Good Network Fellowships: call for applications

Dgn Fellowships
  • Up to 20,000GBP for research activities exploring what a good digital society looks like.
  • Short-term residency in one of our Network Management Team’s institutions in the UK or US anytime between September 2024 and June 2026.
  • Supporting knowledge exchange across disciplines, approaches, sectors, and countries.
  • ‘Digital Good from the Global South’: we will ring fence 50% of the funds to be awarded to applicants who are EITHER based in the Global South OR whose proposed activities take place in or are about the Global South.

The  Digital Good Network is seeking to award at least five individual Fellowships. Digital Good Network Fellows will receive up to £20,000 to pursue research activities exploring what a good digital society looks like and addressing any of our Network’s core societal challenges: equity, sustainability, and resilience. We expect that Fellows will use this opportunity for original data-gathering, writing collaborations, public engagement activities, research translation or other forms of scholarship. 

The Fellowships are expected to last between 3 to 6 months, and should involve a visit to a Digital Good Network-linked institution in the UK or US, where Fellows will be hosted by one of our Network Management Team

We are particularly interested in supporting Fellows taking diverse perspectives to studying, evaluating, organising, and designing for ‘the Digital Good’.  To read about the projects we funded last year and research being undertaken by the Digital Good Network’s core team, please visit our research page. But please note, we welcome proposals which include currently under-represented disciplines, methods, researchers and topic areas, and that address issues we haven’t thought about!

We welcome fellowship applications from academics and individuals in policy, industry, community and civil society organisations.

We will ring fence a minimum of 50% of the funds to be awarded to applicants who are EITHER based in the Global South OR whose proposed activities take place in or are about the Global South.

The Exchange

We will award up to £20,000 for each fellowship. 

This award will cover any of the following activities: 

  • Your travel to the host institution.  Please note that – in line with our sustainability statement – the fellowship scheme could not be used to cost more than one return air journey for visiting the host institution. 
  • Accommodation whilst visiting the host institution.
  • Where relevant, your visa and travel insurance costs (please note it is the applicant’s responsibility to check, and make, any arrangements relating to relevant visas).
  • Research costs (eg. travel to interviews, participant incentives, transcription, survey hosting, prototype building, research assistant fees, fieldwork costs).
  • Costs of running workshops / seminars / stakeholder activities (eg. hosting small events with relevant stakeholders in home or host institutions).
  • Public engagement initiatives (eg., translating research to multimodal formats, graphic designers’ fees, etc.).
  • Subsistence/per diem for Fellows from the Global South whose salary would not cover subsistence costs in the host country, or for those who are suspending their salaries while they undertake the fellowship. 

Your host institution will support you with desk space. If your fellowship requires access to particular software or hardware, or you anticipate needing specialist equipment, we cannot fund the purchase of these. You should discuss access to technology in advance with your host organisation.

Please note that value for money is a core Digital Good Network principle, in line with ESRC and UKRI norms. We will therefore cover standard class travel and expect accommodation costs to be modest. Alcohol costs are not permitted, unless as hospitality for an event. Each budget will be assessed on a case by case basis to check expected costs are reasonable (including subsistence costs where requested).

If there are any costs that we’ve not mentioned and you’d like to check if they’re covered please contact us on info@digitalgood.net.

Review Criteria

Each application will be reviewed by two reviewers from our Management Team and/or College of Experts. Principles of peer review, including conflicts of interest, will be strictly adhered to. 

Following our Network’s internationalisation principles, we seek to apply a ring fencing policy that supports scholars from the Global South or whose primary stakeholders and fieldsite are in the Global South. 

1. Engaging the Digital Good

We are looking for critical and innovative approaches that advance debates about ‘the digital good’. 

We prioritise those applying interdisciplinary and/or comparative approaches to studying, evaluating, and designing for ‘the digital good’.

Projects that clearly articulate their fit to our societal challenges (equity, resilience and sustainability) will be given priority, as well as those that show alignment with our values of equity, diversity, inclusion, internationalisation, and/or interdisciplinarity. 

2. Knowledge Transfer

We’re keen to support Fellows whose proposed activities enable knowledge exchange across sectors, disciplines, methodological traditions, and regions. We value cross-cultural exchange and invite diverse applicants introducing normative frameworks that challenge established paradigms to apply. 

We encourage Fellows to articulate who their main users are for their research and outputs.

3. Professional development

Applicants are invited to discuss how their proposed activities will advance their career. 

We are keen to hear what exchange or mentoring you are also seeking from the Network Management Team member that will serve as your host for the Fellowship.

4. Value for money

This includes whether:

  • the funds requested are essential for the work
  • the importance and scientific potential justify funding on the scale requested
  • there’s a clear allocation of duties and responsibilities 
  • the proposal represents good value for money.

Fellowship hosts and institutions

The following Digital Good Network management team members will host Fellows as part of this scheme:

  • Helen Kennedy – Professor of Digital Society, University of Sheffield, UK.
  • Gina Neff – Executive Director of the Minderoo Centre for Technology & Democracy at the University of Cambridge, UK.
  • Ros Williams – Senior Lecturer in Digital Media and Society, University of Sheffield, UK.
  • Abigail Millings – Professor of Applied Social Psychology, Centre for Behavioural Science & Applied Psychology (CeBSAP), Sheffield Hallam University, UK.
  • Jonathan Corpus Ong – Associate Professor of Global Digital Media, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, USA.
  • Reema Patel – Director, Elgon Social Research, UK.
  • Dan Richards – Lecturer in Data Prototyping and Visualisation, Lancaster University, UK.
  • Rhianne Jones – Responsible Innovation Lead, BBC Research and Development, UK.
  • Scott Hale –  Associate Professor and Senior Research Fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute.
  • Sara Wajid – Co-CEO of the Birmingham Museums Trust.

How to apply

Stage 1 – Expression of Interest (Deadline: Tuesday 30 April 2024)

By 17:00 (UK time) on 30 April 2024, please send a maximum one-page summary of your proposed fellowship and potential host to info@digitalgood.net. Your expression of interest will then be shared with the host for initial review.

Long-listed applicants will then be invited to move on to Stage 2 and submit a full application.  

Stage 2 – Application

Long-listed applicants will then develop a full proposal for their fellowship project using our application form (below) and submit by 16:00 (UK time) on Friday 28 June 2024.

If you need an alternative format please email info@digitalgood.net to discuss your requirements.

You will be required to prepare a list of activities and proposed outcomes, timetable, and budget. 

Download the Fellowships Application Form (long-listed applicants only) and apply by 16:00 (UK time) on Friday 28 June 2024.

Eligibility

  • This opportunity is open to both UK-based and non-UK-based researchers.
  • We will ring fence 50% of the funds to be awarded to applicants who are EITHER based in the Global South OR whose proposed activities take place in or are about the Global South.

We are cognisant that the term ‘Global South’ is itself a contested term when referring to global divides and inequalities. The Digital Good Network is committed to spreading the network’s investments in a way that opens up diverse channels of knowledge production and exchange. We use ‘Global South’ to refer to countries listed on the UK’s Overseas Development Assistance country recipients for 2024-2025′, listed here. Fellows who apply from, or whose primary fieldsite and/or stakeholders are in any one of these countries, would be considered for the ring fenced awards.

  • We expect Fellowships to last between 3-6 months (except where is a valid reason that this isn’t possible).
  • You do not need to be an academic, or affiliated with an academic institution, to apply. We welcome applications from both academics and individuals working in policy, industry, community and civil society organisations.  We appreciate that the current scheme structure may make it difficult for those outside of academia to participate given that we’re not covering salaries (and given that paid sabbaticals are more common in academia). However it may well be a feasible route for some people and we welcome creative approaches to solving this issue.  For example, spreading the fellowships over a longer period with a few weeks of activity which might be more permissible with one’s employer.  
  • Fellowships can run at any point between September 2024 and June 2026 inclusive.
  • Fellows will be invited to contribute to either the Network’s annual Summer School or its annual research showcase (in person or remote). Fellows are also encouraged to use this opportunity to collaborate with Digital Good Network team members (eg. paper or grant writing) and participate in public engagement activities (eg. presenting in webinars, contributing blogs or video content for the website). The costs of making these contributions will be covered by the network and do not need to be included in your proposal.
  • This scheme is not intended for PhD students who are currently enrolled on a PhD programme.  An exception to this would be an applicant who is studying for a PhD but who is applying in a non-academic capacity.  We would encourage PhD students to consider our annual Summer School and/or our Internship Scheme.

Timeline

  • Launch: Friday 19 January 2024. View launch video here.
  • Live Q&A Session: Tuesday 30 January, 12.30pm (UK time). Sign up here.
  • ‘Digital Good from the South’ webinar: Tuesday 12 March 3.00pm (UK time). Sign up here.
  • Expression of Interest Deadline: Tuesday 30 April 2024.
  • Deadline for official application: Friday 28 June 2024, 4:00pm (UK time).
  • Results to be communicated: September 2024.
  • Fellowship to be carried out: September 2024 – June 2026.

Logistics of funding

The Network Manager will work with successful applicants to create a bespoke plan to find the best way to transfer the funds. 

This could be any (or all) of the following:

  • Agreed funds may be spent by the applicant and then claimed back via an expenses form.
  • Where it’s difficult for Fellows to pay upfront costs (ie large costs for flights/hotels) the Network may be able to arrange payment directly.
  • The Network may transfer agreed funds to the Fellow’s host HEI upon receipt of an invoice.
  • For applicants who have had a per diem authorised this can be transferred to a bank account in advance.  Please note – Fellows should check, in advance, that their bank account is able to accept overseas payments – preferably in GBP or USD.  Fellows should also think about how they will access funds when in the UK or US as opening a UK or US bank account may not be possible for short trips.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Last updated 6 February 2024

“Digital Good from the South”: What do we mean by Global South?

We are cognisant that the term ‘Global South’ is itself a contested term when referring to global divides and inequalities. The Digital Good Network is committed to spreading the network’s investments in a way that opens up diverse channels of knowledge production and exchange. We use ‘Global South’ to refer to countries listed on the UK’s Overseas Development Assistance country recipients for 2024-2025′, listed here. Fellows who apply from, or whose primary fieldsite and/or stakeholders are in any one of these countries, would be considered for the ring fenced awards.

Do I have to be based physically at the host institution for the duration of the fellowship? 

The fellowship could be all face-to-face or hybrid. We expect at least one face-to-face visit during this time, which can be costed into the fellowship application. It is between host and applicant to determine the most effective and appropriate arrangement, including when a visit would be made if working remotely. Please note that – in line with our sustainability statement – the fellowship scheme could not be used to cost more than one return air journey for visiting the host organisation.  We expect a visit requiring air travel should last long enough to justify the trip. We do not impose a lower limit, but your application should make clear the expected duration and how you plan to maximise the trip.

Can we get assistance for the expression of interest?

We would expect prospective Fellows to work on this themselves. The purpose of the expression of interest stage is to make the initial contact between you and your proposed host so please include as much detail in this as possible. If the host feels able, and is willing, to support you to full application stage then your proposed host would then provide support with the formal application.

How many fellowships will be funded?

We have £100,000 for this scheme in total. The exact amount of fellowships that we will fund will depend on the amounts request by applicants but there is a limit of £20,000 per Fellow. So we are hoping to fund between 5-10 fellowships.

Would it be alright to reach out to Digital Good Network members at host institutions prior to the Expression of Interest deadline, or would that be redundant?

We would not recommend this. Prospective hosts will wait until the 30 April 2024 deadline to decide what capacity they have for hosting and who (and how many applicants) they’re interested in supporting to final application stage.

Is there any match funding expected from our university for the fellowship scheme?

No.

If we want to have a international collaboration (Mexico) is possible to apply for a Fellowship in Mexico?

You would apply to be ‘hosted’ by one of our core team members. These are listed above in the ‘Fellowship hosts and institutions‘ section. Most are based in the UK with the exception of one team member who is based in the USA.

For a US researcher proposing to visit a UK network member under the fellowship scheme, would it support or undermine their chances to identify opportunities to collaborate with *additional* researchers in the UK (as long as this is coherent with their overall aims as stated in the proposal)? And would it be important for those to be new connections, or can they be existing ones?

As long as what you’re suggesting would further some of the goals of the fellowship scheme, then prospective Fellows would be welcome to identify additional collaborations with new or existing connections.

I am interested in the fellowship. I live in one of the Global South countries. Would I have to relocate to the host institution for the period of the fellowship. Would that cost be considered?

The expectation is that there would be some travel and some time spent at the host institution. The duration of this visit is flexible and would not need to be for the entire period of the fellowship. The funding will cover subsistence/a ‘per diem’ for Fellows from the Global South whose salary would not cover subsistence costs in the host country, or for those who are suspending their salaries while they undertake the fellowship. Please note that – in line with our sustainability statement – the fellowship scheme could not be used to fund more than one return air journey for visiting the host organisation, so activities should be planned around any proposed visit.