Funding and Incentivising Research & Capacity Building

In keeping with the aim of supporting a broad community of researchers working on related issues, the research project will seek to build a network of research, rather than funding the full expenses of a limited number of specific projects. Funding will be available for incentive grants to encourage, and contribute to the costs of research that addresses each focus area’s identified research gaps and contributes to the associated policy debates.

Types of grants

The provisional incentive framework has the following elements:

  1. Incentive grants will take the form of a payment for a completed and finally (post peer review) accepted research paper based on an agreed research proposal. Payment can be in more than one tranche, and can be used by the researcher as she/ he sees fit (as own taxable income or to finance research expenses or assistants; the funding will be disbursed subject to the financial rules and requirements of the researcher’s home institution).
  2. Scholarship grants are available primarily in the form of (one-off) top-ups for master’s and doctoral students working in a team with a researcher-supervisor and producing at least one paper for master’s students and at least two for doctoral students. For smaller centres, a limited number of scholarships with a higher value are available to help finance full-time PhDs. All scholarships will be administered through the relevant university financial aid offices.
  3. Special projects: Data infrastructure (referring to a basic resource created for use by a research community and others). A limited number of data projects will be funded, intended to broaden the data available to researchers on unemployment and employment, income distribution and distributional aspects of growth by improving current databases or generating new databases in key areas.

While these will be the main funding mechanisms, consideration will be given to alternative arrangements for projects with a unique scope and character, or where good circumstances warrant special provisions. Researchers are encouraged to source other funding to cover research expenses, but are cautioned that ‘parallel funding’ will not be supported, i.e. duplication of funding through similar or overlapping incentive awards for the same paper. Researchers are encouraged to advise the project team of relevant work that has been undertaken or is in progress, but the project will not finance or ‘incentivise’ research that is already largely completed.


Applications for research funding should in the first instance take the form of a two-to-three page research proposal which details:

  • the topic
  • focused research questions (with explicit reference to relevant sections of our gaps framework and approach)
  • data and research methods
  • expected outputs
  • time-frame (8-12 months / 2 years / 3 years, say)
  • sequencing and prioritisation (relative to a researcher’s other submissions, if any)
  • an indication of whether this is new or ongoing research
  • other funding
  • any other relevant information.

This will enable the project team to engage with a proposer on aspects of the proposal that may need further development (including alignment with the project gaps and topics) and to come to an agreement and contract.

For student scholarship grants the researcher-supervisor must provide similar information, as well as the student’s personal particulars, academic status and record.

Researcher-supervisors are urged to try hard to find black students to be involved in this research area in this way, given the long-term capacity building objectives of the project, and to provide feedback on such efforts if not successful.

Applications can be submitted at any time, but prospective participants should first contact the Project Director or the Project Research Coordinator to discuss the matter. Persons currently outside any of the research groups should also submit information on their interests, competence, experience and track record (e.g. research output) in the relevant area.

Non-funded participants

Researchers who do not wish to make use of the incentive framework but would like to be an active member of a research group, are very much welcomed. We urge them to keep us informed of their work. With their permission we will inform the network of new relevant research and facilitate its inclusion in the debates. They would also be welcome to present papers at seminars and workshops of the project. As noted, building active research communities and a broad research dialogue in each of the three areas are amongst the main objectives of the project.

Additional capacity building

In addition to scholarships and incentive grants for black students and researchers, the research project will support workshops, training and seminar forums aimed at broadening participation in the research dialogue. In keeping with South Africa’s broad-based participation and empowerment challenge, special attention will be given to encouraging and involve potential researchers from historically disadvantaged universities and communities in these activities.