Frequently asked questions

Read the guidelines for applicants to help you complete your application.

Q&A with Oriana Bandiera

Tips on writing a research proposal

Tips from Christopher Woodruff on how to improve your research application

1. Do we need prior engagement with the respective IGC country team and stakeholders?

Prior engagement is not a requirement, but the proposal is more likely to be successful if it responds to policy demands in the country selected. However, for small grant applicants, they must contact the IGC country team as they develop their proposals. The IGC recommends researchers submitting country-focused research to discuss their proposals with the relevant IGC partner country team. Country teams can also facilitate dialogue between researchers and policymakers. Researchers should contact the country teams for more information.

2. We are applying for other sources of funding, or have already received other funds. Is it still possible to apply?

Yes. The IGC encourages applicants to indicate budget priorities in their proposals under the section regarding ‘financial information’. In the event that the IGC is unable to fund the entire project, it will then be easier to identify which modules are essential. Applicants who have secured or aim to secure other funding are also welcome to apply for only partial funding for their project from the IGC. In this scenario, applicants should make clear what proportion of overall funding for the project is being requested from the IGC, and which proposed milestones will trigger IGC payments.

3. Do you fund researchers who are not engaged at top universities or who are not local (where applicable) to the country of research focus?

Yes, IGC gives equal opportunity to researchers from all over the world, and proposals are assessed on quality and the evaluation criteria outlined in the guidelines for applicants document.

4. Can a research assistant be hired?

It is typical for researchers to hire their own Research Assistants (RAs) for these projects. For institutionally managed projects, these RAs are contracted by the managing institution. For individually managed projects, these RAs are contracted by the IGC.

5. Do you pay per diems?

No, the IGC follows the UK FCDO’s travel policies, and is unable to pay per diems. It does, however, fund expenses if they have been budgeted for in the proposal, and only if original receipts are presented. Please refer to the IGC Travel Policy in annex 4 of the guideline for applicants for further details.

6. Does IGC consider research proposals that aim to contribute empirically but not theoretically to a particular topic?

IGC rarely funds proposals that are purely theoretical. Majority of projects that IGC has funded don’t have mathematical models. Most of funded projects are based on microeconomics and its very rare for IGC to fund projects based on macroeconomic questions. Proposals based on purely empirical questions are welcomed.

7. How methodologically intensive do the proposals need to be?

The proposal has to contain a description of how the researchers plan to execute the project. It can’t be just a research idea or a research question. It should have other substantial details on how to answer that research question through empirical research. If you only have a research question with some plan to execute the project but don’t have the data, please get in touch with the country team and share your research question/idea with them and they can help guide you on how to get access to the required data and how to proceed with the proposal.

8. Would it be ideal to undertake a preliminary analysis of the proposed study before embarking on writing the proposal?

IGC has funded a lot of scoping work or pilot studies by researchers in the past. We don’t fund desk research. You should finish your desk research before you apply for funding at the IGC. A project where the researchers want to pilot a survey to understand the effect of their intervention in a population is acceptable.

9. Should researchers come from IGC countries or only focus on IGC countries?

Applicants can come from anywhere in the world but we strongly encourage research to be conducted in an IGC resident country.

10. How important will COVID protocols be in designing your survey design estimation strategy i.e., some surveys might be difficult to design in such situations?

IGC wants researchers to conduct field research in an ethical and responsible way and comply with COVID guidelines.

11. Is research design necessary if you are using secondary data?

Yes, research design is important if you are using primary or secondary/administrative data. Your research design should explain how you are going to use the data and analyse the data so it is equally important for all data types.

12. How likely is it for IGC to fund a replication study especially if it has never been done before in that country of interest?

If it’s pure replication, where you are taking the exact same project and taking it to another country, it has a low chance of going through funding as it won’t be very competitive. If it is pure replication but you have had an interaction with the policymaker who specifically asked for that work to be replicated in that country then that has a much better chance of going through funding. If you add a small component of novelty to it and you have strong policymaker interest, then you have a high chance of acceptance.

13. Can we apply if we work for an NGO (and not an academic institution)?

Typically, no. IGC has funded projects in the past where an NGO collaborates with an academic institution but we have rarely funded projects purely with NGOs as lead institution. We would strongly encourage you to collaborate with an academic partner.

14. Is there any limit on project duration?

On average IGC projects last between 1 – 3 years. It is very rare for IGC to fund projects that are more than 3 years long or last less than 1 year.