IELTS joint-funded research programme 2016
All IELTS-related research activities are co-ordinated as part of a coherent framework for research and validation. Activities are divided into areas which are the direct responsibility of Cambridge English Language Assessment, and work which is funded and supported by IDP: IELTS Australia and the British Council.
As part of their on-going commitment to IELTS-related validation and research, IDP: IELTS Australia and the British Council are once again making available funding for research projects in 2016. For several years now the two partners have issued a joint call for research proposals that reflect current concerns and issues relating to the IELTS test in the international context. A recent list of research studies which have received grant funding since 1995 is available in the Research Reports section. Such 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.
Areas of interest for 2016
The IELTS Joint Research Committee is interested in supporting external researchers to conduct quality research under the three headings below. This year we would particularly encourage applications to undertake research studies which fit within these broad areas.
Test development and validation issues
- 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
- 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
- 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 among 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.
Is access to IELTS test materials or score data possible?
Access to IELTS test materials or score data is often not possible for a variety of reasons, e.g. test security, data confidentiality. However, a limited amount of retired material (e.g. Writing test prompts) may be made available for research purposes, and IELTS Official Practice Materials, IELTS Scores Explained DVD and other published practice tests can often be used as research tools. Cambridge English Language Assessment may be able to supply writing scripts and Speaking test recordings for the purposes of analysis, and a set of instruments and procedures for investigating the impact of IELTS on materials and on the teaching/learning context has also been developed in recent years; these are available for use by researchers following consultation with Cambridge English Language Assessment (and subject to an appropriate research agreement).
Who can submit proposals?
Proposals are welcomed from researchers and institutions with expertise in language learning and assessment research. In addition, as part of the IELTS policy of stimulating test-related research among its stakeholders, it is hoped that proposals will come from researchers and organisations who have a direct and ongoing connection with IELTS, e.g. consultants, examiners and IELTS Administration Centres.
Research ethics and confidentiality
All applications should follow necessary ethical clearance and confidentiality codes as required by your university, organisation and/or region.
What is the level and duration of funding available?
The maximum amount of funding which will be made available for any one proposal is £45,000/AUD$70,000 (including institutional overheads/taxes). Researchers funded under this round will commence research in January 2017, and the research study will need to be completed and a full report submitted by the end of December 2017 or December 2018 for research that lasts one year and two years, respectively. 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 applications for extensive travel or large items of equipment are not encouraged.
What is the procedure for submitting proposals?
The Grants Application Form (download PDF version, 100KB or download Word version, 265KB), and a sample proposal (Word, 35KB) are available online and from IELTS Australia and the British Council – see below for contact details. Proposals for funding should take the form of a typed/wordprocessed document of no more than 10 pages, and be accompanied by the completed application forms.
Who will evaluate the proposals?
All research proposals will be evaluated by the IELTS Joint Research Committee comprising 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.
What is the timescale for the submission and evaluation of proposals?
The following timescale will apply:
||Deadline for submission of proposals
||Preliminary review of proposals by IELTS partners
||Meeting of Joint Research Committee to evaluate and select successful proposals
||Applicants notified of the Committee's decision
Where and how to send application forms and proposals
Applicants should submit application forms and project proposals in electronic form either the British Council or IDP: IELTS Australia who are equal funding bodies for the IELTS Research Programme.
Stakeholder Relations Co-ordinator
IDP Education Pty Ltd
Level 8, 535 Bourke Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
Fax: +61 3 9614 0534