Strategic Research Fund

About the Strategic Research Fund

The Strategic Research Fund (SRF) seeks to build lasting research capacity at the University through major transformative investments in researchers and research. It is designed to have impact at scale.

The fund typically approves between one and five awards each year. It is administered by Research Services, however, each division has its own process to select which projects should reach the SRF for assessment. This webpage has information regarding the SRF and how the Social Sciences Division selects proposals to be submitted to the Fund.

About the Strategic Research Fund

There is no submission deadline for SRF proposals. The SRF Board will consider projects roughly every 2 months. Guidance on the eligibility of applicants, types of awards, the scope of funding, and governance is available on the Strategic Research Fund support website.

Only proposals supported by an academic division(s) can be submitted to the SRF Board. Social Sciences applicants must therefore first submit an Expression of Interest to the division. EOIs selected by the division will become SRF applications and submitted to the Board. All details on how to submit an EOI to the division are available on the tabs to the right of this page.

If you have any queries, please email Armando Roman Zozaya, Senior Research Facilitator, at

Social Sciences Division SRF application information

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The Strategic Research Fund aims to build lasting research capacity through major investments that:

  • position the University for global pre-eminence and fosters a cohort of outstanding researchers and research leaders;  
  • are beyond the means of any single unit, and typically span disciplines and existing internal structures;
  • demonstrate the case for ongoing sustainability through departmental/divisional co-investment both alongside and beyond the SRF-funded period.

Investments typically demonstrate the following features:

  • transformative – establish the lasting change the investment will enable at Oxford, beyond the SRF funding period; start a new, or significantly develop an existing area of research activity which positions the University to be the global leader; 
  • people-focused – the primary focus is investing in researchers and permanent (as opposed to fixed-term) research positions to build capacity and capability: the investment must be from the people ‘outwards’, with clear plans to build future leaders and enable succession-planning within the period of investment, aligning the university investment with the commitment to support researcher career development. Visit the research webpages to find out more about the Researcher Hub Concordat.
  • how the investment advances University strategies on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, and Environmental Sustainability
  • sustainable – SRF investments are non-recurrent and pump-priming, with a demonstrable case for sustaining the activity within academic divisions and units, through co-investment and income generation plans beyond the SRF funding period, building ongoing research capacity and succession planning to embed the lasting change. SRF takes the up-front risk so departments/divisions can make new established hires. For example, if an initiative receives an SRF investment for five years then it would be expected for a department/unit to begin to co-invest in these posts and/or generate external income covering these costs by year three, and therefore the proportionate reduction of SRF funds to departmental funds occurs during year three to five.
  • at scale – investments have a clear vision for transformation, and aim to effect or create a critical mass of researchers and research capability. Investments are not ‘business as usual’ and are not currently fundable within the departments’/divisions’ normal budgets or by other established internal and external funding mechanisms
  • interdisciplinary – investments will be preferred where transformation occurs beyond a single unit or disciplinary area. Cross-divisional investments will be particularly encouraged.
  • matching – one important use of the SRF will be in acting as an institutional commitment or as matching funding to major and strategic external opportunities which would enable transformation at Oxford in line with the central aim of SRF.

To apply for SRF funding, PIs must present an SRF Proposal to the SRF Board. If the Board considers the proposal appropriate, the PI will be invited to submit a Business Case. The Board will then make a final decision regarding the project.

SRF Proposals can only be submitted to the SRF board if they are supported by an academic division(s).  For the Social Sciences Division, PIs must first complete an Expression of Interest form, which is reviewed by the Social Sciences SRF Divisional Assessment sub-panel. Successful EOIs will then be put forward as part of an SRF Proposal. 

Completing the Expression of Interest form

To submit an EOI to the division, PIs should:

  • fill in the SSD EOI form and make sure their Head of Department has approved it;

  • send the completed form to the Senior Divisional Research Facilitator ( 

Download Expression of Interest Form

Expression of Interest deadline

The Social Sciences SRF Divisional Assessment sub-panel review EOIs twice per year. The deadline is Friday close of business, Week Four of Hilary and Michaelmas Term.  Please ensure your EOI is submitted in advance of these deadlines to be considered in each round of assessment. 

Social Sciences Strategic Research Fund (SRF) Divisional Assessment sub-panel

The Social Sciences SRF Divisional Assessment sub-panel consists of two permanent members, i.e., the Chair (the Divisional Associate Head for Research) and the Divisional Senior Research Facilitator (panel secretary and advisor), and a number of rotating members, i.e., academics from different departments from across the division (normally six, including a fixed-term researcher usually selected from the Divisional Research Staff Forum) and a representative from the University’s Strategic Research Development Team (panel advisor). The division aims for all rotating panel members to sit on the panel for at least one academic year and no more than two.  

Project selection process

EOIs are assessed by the sub-panel according to the characteristics of SRF investments (explained above). The purpose of the assessment is not to produce a ranking of EOIs (if there is more than one EOI to assess) but, rather, to collect feedback for each of them for the consideration of the Head of Division and Associate Head of Division (Research) who will make all final decisions regarding EOIs.

Notification of application outcome and feedback

All PIs submitting an EOI will receive feedback from the sub-panel regardless of whether their EOI has been selected for submission to the SRF Board.  

Next steps for successful EOIs

If an EOI has been successful and selected by the division for SRF submission, the PI will be contacted to work with the Divisional Senior Research Facilitator and the University’s Strategic Research Development Team in turning their EOI into a SRF Proposal. 


If you have any questions regarding the Strategic Research Fund, please email Armando Roman Zozaya, Senior Divisional Research Facilitator, at

If you are planning to submit an SRF EOI to the division, you are encouraged to contact the Senior Facilitator to discuss your plan and to get help and support in preparing the EOI.