Guidelines for applying

As part of their on-going commitment to IELTS-related validation and research, the British Council and IDP: IELTS Australia are once again making available funding for research projects commencing in 2022. Research proposals should reflect current concerns and issues relating to the IELTS test in the international context. 

A list of research studies which have received grant funding since 1995 is available in the Research Reports section. This research makes an important contribution to the monitoring and test development process for IELTS; it also helps IELTS stakeholders (e.g. English language professionals and teachers) to develop a greater understanding of the test.

All IELTS research is managed by a Joint Research Committee, which agrees research priorities and oversees the tendering process. In determining the quality of the proposals and the research carried out, the Committee may call on a panel of external reviewers. The Committee also oversees the publication and/or presentation of research findings.

Access to IELTS test materials and score data

Access to IELTS test materials or score data is often not possible for a variety of reasons, e.g. test security, data confidentiality. However, researchers may have access to a range of other materials and data:

  • a limited amount of retired material (e.g. Writing test prompts).
  • IELTS official practice materials, IELTS Scores Guide and other published practice tests
  • Cambridge English writing scripts and Speaking test recordings for the purposes of analysis,
  • instruments and procedures for investigating the impact of IELTS on materials and on the teaching/learning context.

These are available for use by researchers following consultation with Cambridge English (and subject to an appropriate research agreement).

Who can submit proposals?

Proposals are invited from researchers and institutions with demonstrated experience and expertise in language learning and assessment research and suitably qualified researchers and organisations with a direct and ongoing connection with IELTS, e.g. consultants, examiners and IELTS Administration Centres.

Both individuals and teams are invited to apply. Inexperienced applicants are encouraged to join a team led by an appropriately qualified researcher. 

Funding for PhD research projects is discouraged.

Research ethics and confidentiality

All applications should follow the necessary ethical clearance and confidentiality codes as required by your university, organisation and/or region and include the ethics approval process to be followed.

What level and duration of funding is available?

The maximum amount of funding available for any one proposal is £45,000/AUD$80,000, including institutional overheads/taxes (limit of 15% overheads recommended.) The proposal should make it evident why the requested term of research and amount of funding are justified/appropriate (e.g. there is a longitudinal dimension to the study); otherwise, the chances of a successful application may be affected.

Please note that requests for extensive travel, large items of equipment and conference attendance is not encouraged. After completion of the project, conference attendance may be supported where a presentation based on a successfully completed/published report has been accepted. 

Researchers funded under this round will commence research in January 2022, and the research study will need to be completed and a full report submitted by the end of December 2022 (one-year programmes) or December 2023 (two year programmes).

Submitting a proposal

Proposals for funding should take the form of a typed document of no more than 10 pages (2,500 words) and be accompanied by the completed Application form.
Here is the Application Form (download PDF version or download Word version), and a sample proposal.
Applicants should submit application forms and project proposals electronically to either the British Council or IDP: IELTS Australia who are equal funding bodies for the IELTS Research Programme.

Contact details

IDP: IELTS Australia British Council

Anna Forsythe

Mina Patel
Stakeholder Engagement Officer
IDP Education
Research Administrator
British Council

Who will evaluate proposals?

All research proposals will be evaluated by the IELTS Joint Research Committee. This comprises representatives of the three IELTS Partners, as well as other academic research experts in the field of applied linguistics and language testing.

What criteria will be used to evaluate proposals?

The following factors will be taken into consideration when evaluating proposals:

  • relevance and benefit of outcomes to IELTS
  • clarity and coherence of proposals rationale, objectives and methodology
  • feasibility of outcomes, timelines and budget (including ability to keep to deadlines)
  • qualifications and experience of proposed project staff
  • potential of the project to be reported in a form which would be both useful to IELTS and of interest to an international audience.

Timescale for submission and evaluation of proposals


The following timescale will apply:


30 June Deadline for submission of proposals
July/August Preliminary review of proposals by IELTS Partners
October Meeting of Joint Research Committee to evaluate and select successful proposals
November Applicants notified of the Committee's decision