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Call for research proposals

Apply for funding to undertake applied research projects on IELTS

The IELTS partners invite educational institutions and suitably qualified individuals to apply for funding to undertake applied research projects in relation to the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Financial support for individual projects selected is limited to a maximum of £45,000/AU$70,000.  

IELTS joint-funded research program 2020

Annual timetable
30 June 2020 Deadline for applications
July/August 2020 Preliminary review of applications
October 2020 Evaluation and selection of successful applicants
November 2020 Applicants are notified of the Research Committee's decision 
January 2021 Research commences. Programs can be one or two years in length.
December 2021/22
Final reports due 

All applications received will be treated on a confidential basis. The decision of the review committee is final.

Proposals are welcomed from researchers and institutions with expertise in language learning and assessment research. Institutions/individuals are invited to submit a written application (maximum of 10 pages, unbound) in accordance with the format and content requirements, see guidelines for applying.

Areas of interest for 2020

This year, the IELTS Joint Research Committee particularly encourages applications to undertake research studies which fit within these three broad areas.

Test development and validation issues

Research in this area would include:

  • Studies investigating the essential language knowledge, skills, and abilities in domains where IELTS is used (e.g. for migration, employment, academic study)
  • Studies investigating the cognitive processes of IELTS test takers
  • Studies investigating IELTS General Training Reading and Writing tests
  • Studies investigating the Writing and Speaking features that distinguish IELTS proficiency levels.

Issues relating to contexts of test use

Research in this area would include:

  • Studies on the use of IELTS for purposes of migration, citizenship, professional registration, exit testing and employment
  • Studies on the use of IELTS and IELTS scores in specific local contexts
  • Studies to establish appropriate IELTS score levels in specific contexts.

Issues of test impact

Research in this area would include:

  • Studies investigating the attitudes and perceptions towards IELTS among users of test scores (e.g. test takers, teachers, admissions staff, etc.)
  • Studies investigating the impact of preparing for IELTS on various stakeholders
  • Studies investigating the role of interactive communication in IELTS Speaking or Writing tests and its impact on candidates’ preparedness for communication in training or study contexts
  • Studies on English language progression among students, including studies on the relationship between hours of study and typical score gains
  • Consideration will also be given to other issues of current interest in relation to IELTS.

Guidelines for applying