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NILS/UK LS small research grants


Six small grants, each for £5,000, are being offered to pump prime research using the Northern Ireland Longitudinal Study (NILS) and at least one other of the UK Longitudinal Studies (UK LSs) – the Scottish Longitudinal Study (SLS) and the Office for National Statistics Longitudinal Study for England & Wales (ONS LS). The grants can be used to cover directly incurred costs such as travel, accommodation, or PDRA time needed to develop a research application. Successful applicants are strongly encouraged to use this opportunity as a stepping stone to pursue funded research from programmes such as the ESRC Secondary Data Analysis Initiative although the LS data are free at the point of access and can thus also be used for self-funded research. 


The process

Applicants should, firstly, populate the template in Appendix 1 below to outline their research ideas. These will then go through a screening refereeing process where they will be reviewed and assessed by the three directors of the NILS, SLS and ONS LS research support units. The closing date for applications in 30th June 2019. Successful applicants will be notified by 15th August 2019 and will then be invited to make full applications to access LS data. At this stage they will be able to call on their research grant and will be able to seek further advice from the support staff in the LS support units. Applications in any research area and from any academic field are invited although preference may be given to those with interests which fall within ESRC strategic research themes and two awards will be dedicated to early-career researchers who wish to extend their experience by using the UK LSs. We encourage applicants to apply for approved researcher status if they do not already have this.



Our primary expectation in offering these grants is to generate research applications to use the UK LSs that deal with questions of national and international significance with the ultimate intention of helping the successful applicants gain research funding. There are many research questions that would benefit from cross-UK comparative analysis or from a perspective drawn from two or more of the constituent countries of the UK. Our secondary expectation is that we will grow the research community that uses the UK LSs. Successful applicants will therefore be required to give a presentation on their research at a half-day event on cross-UK research using the LSs.


Further information

The UK LSs are large individual-level data sources built on the linkage of census and administrative data. They are suitable for research on inter- and intra-general change. They have large membership numbers and very low attrition rates; and they have been used for research on topics including health, mortality, ethnicity, migration, and social mobility, among others. The ONS LS incorporates 1% of the England & Wales population from 1971; the SLS 5% of the Scottish population from 1991; and the NILS 28% of the Northern Ireland population from 1981, with each having its own strengths. Further information on each study is available at the following websites:






Those interested in applying are advised to contact the research support units above if they have initial queries about data and Dr Ian Shuttleworth ( for informal advice on the application process and research ideas.


Please click on the below link to download the application form. Please send the application back to Dr Ian Shuttleworth (


NILS-UKLS Small Research Grants Application Form