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BERA Research Commissions 2020/2022

The aim of the BERA Research Commissions is to identify and address issues of current importance to the study and practice of education which may have future consequences for the discipline and its research communities.  Research Commissions should explore how educational research can respond to the challenges and opportunities raised by the changing nature of education across the four nations.


Since 2015, BERA has awarded funding for a variety of Research Commissions. The most recent award was for a project on ‘Competing Discourses of Early Childhood Education and Care’, which will make its final report towards the end of the year.

The aim of the BERA Research Commissions is to identify and address issues of current importance to the study and practice of education which may have future consequences for the discipline and its research communities. 

Research Commissions should explore how educational research can respond to the challenges and opportunities raised by the changing nature of education across the four nations.

BERA is now accepting proposals for the 2020-2022 Research Commissions.

Research Commission proposals for 2020-2022 should address issues concerning
education and environmental sustainability.

This subject follows popular sessions at the 2019 Annual Conference, a Blog series and some recent podcasts and is designed to offer opportunities for researchers to examine how all those involved in education – including pupils, educators and educational researchers can respond to our climate crisis.

This follows BERA’s wider commitment to look at the role that educational research can play in responding to the global challenges and in particular to the Global Challenges Research Fund announced by UKRI.  

At this stage we have funding for up to two Commissions but we might have more depending upon the quality of applications and BERA’s financial position at the time of award. Similarly, we reserve the right not to make an award if insufficient high quality proposals are received.

What is the format of a Research Commission?

The specific approach and methodology will be for each Commission to agree for itself at the point of application. We recognise that different formats will better suit different approaches and welcome a diversity of applications.

We expect there to be tangible outcome of each proposal. This might be in the way of a seminar series or commissioned papers. Proposals should have an impact strategy that will allow the reports to be disseminated and find a use within the wider community. The potential for impact should be built it into the tender specification with a brief to think creatively about how to do this.

We also expect both a short interim report on the progress of the Commissions and then a final report including recommendations for any next steps. While direct recommendations can be made for BERA to develop the work of the commission, the intention is that this funding will allow for further work without the need for further funding from BERA. It is the responsibility of each commission to decide what recommendations are appropriate and how to follow these up in the future. The Commission’s findings will provide both theoretical rigour and an evidence base that can help set the strategic direction and aspirations of BERA and influence how it engages with other learned societies, research councils, government and the education community more broadly.


BERA would like these Commissions to help the discipline, working alongside practitioners and policy-makers, to contribute to and lead current debates. We would encourage involvement of those from other disciplines and from policymakers and practitioners as well as members of BERA. The proposal should explain how different groups of participants will be identified and involved in the Commission’s work.

BERA strongly encourages the development of research capacity by involving postgraduate students and early career researchers in your proposal.

We also recognise that international collaboration has tremendous potential to add value to research and increase impact, and therefore encourage applicants to consider engaging overseas researchers and stakeholders in their proposal.

BERA is committed to working towards greater equality, inclusion & representation. In that spirit, we particularly welcome applications from under-represented groups.

All applicants must be a current member of BERA and remain a member throughout the duration of the funding and reporting period.


Efficiency, cost-effectiveness and value for money should be clearly demonstrated.

Funding for any one Commission is up to £14,000.

Successful applicants will receive an award letter, which will act as a contract between the Association, the grant holder and (where appropriate) their Higher Education Institute (HEI). The award letter and any subsequent agreement will need to be signed by both the grant applicant and the higher education institution (HEI). Normally payment will be made in three stages: 30% upon signing of the award letter, 30% upon submission of the interim report and 40% upon submission and acceptance of the final report. Our preference is to make these payments upon invoice from a host institution. While that institution could be different for different instalments, we are unable to process multiple invoices for each instalment.

Alternatively, it is possible for BERA to hold funds centrally and directly fund outputs such as event costs. This would need to be agreed at the time of award and the preferred method of funding should be made clear at the proposal stage.

Eligible Costs

Funds may be spent to cover the direct expenses incurred in planning, conducting, and developing the research, including but not limited to:

  • Project planning and development costs
  • Teaching or research buy-out
  • Research assistance
  • Consumables – purchase of datasets, photocopies, microfilms etc and any minor items that will be used during the course of the project
  • Costs of interpreters in the field and transcription costs of interviews
  • Cost of setting up the research website
  • Software – of any description
  • Costs of deposit of digital material in a suitably accessible repository may be considered
  • Travel and expenses for speakers and participants
  • Hire of rooms and facilities
  • BERA and some other Conference attendance

In addition to this direct funding, BERA will provide:

  • Event organisation for any events relating to the work of the Commission (these must be stipulated at the time of application and any direct costs included in the budget)
  • Report editing and design for the final report from each Commission
  • Dissemination to BERA members and wider contacts

Ineligible Costs

Applicants registered with special needs may consult the Association about possible exceptions. Ineligible costs are:

  • Institutional overheads
  • Payment to the principal researcher in lieu of salary or for personal maintenance at home
  • Equipment including but not limited to computing, printing, cameras, telephones of any type, recording equipment etc •
  • Subventions for direct production costs (printing, binding, distribution, marketing etc…
  • BERA Membership Fee

Research Ethics

The host organisation is responsible for ensuring that ethical issues relating to the research project are identified and brought to the attention of the relevant approval or regulatory body. Approval to undertake the research must be granted before any work requiring approval begins. Ethical issues should be interpreted broadly and may encompass, among other things, relevant codes of practice, the involvement of human participants, tissue or data in research, the use of animals, research that may result in damage to the environment and the use of sensitive economic, social or personal data. The BERA Ethical Guidelines can be found on our website.





September-November 2020

Open call for proposals

November 11th 2020

All applications to be submitted.

November-December 2020

Proposals assessed and BERA to agree on Commission to be funded

January 2021

Commission awarded and begins work

December 2021

Interim report submitted to BERA Office

April 2022

Final report submitted to BERA Office

September 2022

Commission to present at BERA Conference (subject to acceptance through the normal process)

Autumn 2022

Final report published


Criteria for assessment

Applications will be assessed on the basis of quality and the deliverability of the proposed project. Assessment will focus on the following aspects of each proposal:

  • The aims and objectives of the proposed Commission, including the extent to which proposal ideas are innovative and address BERA’s priority areas
  • The planned outputs and likely impact

Each proposal will be judged as to its:

  • Relevance
  • Clarity
  • Quality
  • Significance

Initial assessment will be carried out by BERA’s newly formed College of Reviewers with a final decision taken by members of Council. BERA reserves the right not to award a commission if insufficient quality proposals are submitted.

We regret that as a small-scale funder, and a registered charity relying on the volunteer labour of our members, BERA is not able to offer feedback on individual applications and correspondence will not be entered into.

For further information on Branding and Publicity, Events, Reporting, Misconduct and Conflicts of Interest , Liabilities and Links to other BERA work please view the full Research Commission outline here

How to apply

Please note this is a 2 part process to apply.

  1. Please login to your member profile then Click to submit application details.
  2. Then, please download the attached document, complete with your research proposal and submit to by 12pm on November 11th.