RSE opens ‘window of opportunity’ for academics in Scotland with £470k funding award

We are very proud to announce we have awarded funding of £470,000 to help 29 hard-hit academics in Scotland.

We issued a funding call in February – the Research Reboot Grant – which was designed to support academics whose research had been disproportionately affected by pandemic restrictions. Of the 29 awardees, 79% are women.

A total of 58% of all applicants identified as early career and 67% of all applicants stated they had taken on additional caring duties because of Covid-19.

In 2020, the national response to the pandemic meant the immediate closure of laboratories, libraries and archival centres, resulting in many academics being unable to carry out basic research and secure funding. The ban on international travel meant that academic exchanges stopped and the shipping of lab samples and other research materials also often ceased.

Dr Rebekah Widdowfield, Chief Executive of the RSE said: “Evidence shows that Scottish-based academics have been heavily impacted by Covid-19, due to the closure of research facilities, and end to face-to-face networking opportunities and research visits, loss of funding, and a substantial increase in family caring and home-schooling.

“The Research Reboot funding awards have created a ‘window of opportunity’ for awardees to reconnect with their research, regaining precious time and resources lost to Covid-19. They are also now part of a unique peer network with each other and RSE Fellows, giving another form of support and mentoring during this time of ongoing challenge.”

A woman wearing glasses and smiling at the camera
Dr. Rachel McPherson, a Criminal Law lecturer at the University of Glasgow and a recipient of the Research Reboot Grant

One of the awardees is Dr. Rachel McPherson, a Criminal Law lecturer at the University of Glasgow. Her research into translating and understanding cases where women kill following domestic abuse was put on hold during the pandemic.

Dr. McPherson said: “Due to the need to upskill to deliver course material online, carrying out my day-to-day lecturing responsibilities, as well as homeschooling our two young children for six months, the research I had planned to conduct in 2020 could not go ahead.

“At a time when the Scottish Law Commission is reviewing homicide and defences to murder, my project seeks to examine how cases in which women kill their abusers have been communicated to the Scottish public and how public (mis)perceptions may inform policy. It will illuminate misconceptions which may be informing public opinion, and this insight will be of key significance if reform is suggested. There is currently no existing body of work on this issue.”

Dr Stuart Fancey, Director of Research and Innovation at the Scottish Funding Council, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has had an adverse effect on some parts of Scotland’s world-leading research community. This has been especially true for those with caring responsibilities, those at an early stage of their career and those with protected characteristics.

“I’m therefore delighted that we have been able to support these Research Re-boot Grants through the RSE. They are an imaginative and apt response to a real need. I would like to congratulate the successful applicants and to wish them every success as they work to recharge their efforts and re-establish their projects.”

In addition, a total of £105,000 was issued at the same time through the RSE COP26 International Climate Change Network Grant to eleven recipients.