Why nurturing talent is everybody’s business

12 Dec 2014

At the British Academy we believe that ideas matter. And it’s when we share ideas that we all benefit.

Big ideas in the humanities and social sciences can do more than challenge the way we think, they can change the way we act and this can have a huge impact on the way in which we live. From business to economics, archaeology to law these disciplines force us to examine our social constructs and the nature of human progress.

The Academy has a long history of supporting innovation through research. We recognise that sometimes it is by first nurturing those small sparks of brightness that we inspire the greatest change. This is the philosophy behind our Small Research Grants scheme.

We have been awarding small grants for over 50 years. With awards up to £10k we allow researchers to undertake primary research, share new ideas and push boundaries. Much of this vibrant work leads to larger projects, additional funding and opportunities to engage the public and policymakers.

In 2007 Professor Clare Wood from Coventry University was granted £7,500 to research the effects of the use of text abbreviations on literacy development in young children. Despite widespread negative attitudes to ‘textisms’ Clare found that young children using text abbreviations in their messages performed better in spelling tests than those who did not.

As a result of these findings Clare has been working with the National Literacy Trust and the Department for Education to pioneer a new approach to literary skills in children.

Demand for Small Research Grants has grown to record levels. Despite our efforts to expand our funding base and many generous contributions from partners and supporters we can still only support a small percentage of the many outstanding and highly talented researchers who apply for funding.

Though 70% of applications to the Small Research Grants scheme are assessed as “fundable” we are currently only able to make awards to around 20% of applicants.
We need to fund more of this outstanding research. Research which we argue is everybody’s business.

Without help from people like you, the intellectually curious, thought leaders and academics we will have to turn down unique sparks of imagination and talent. Sparks which might one day change the way we live.

Please consider making a gift to support these vital grants today.

You can donate online by visiting the Support page on the British Academy website. If you would like to discuss giving to the Academy in detail please contact us at [email protected] or call Jennifer Hawton, Development Officer at the British Academy, on 0207 9695 258.

British Academy Leverhulme Small Research Grants are in part funded by the Leverhulme Trust, which generously contributes towards these awards.

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