Helping you develop your bright idea

Supporting Early Career Researchers to develop the next productivity insights

Applications now closed – Thank you for your interest. If you are an ECR working on productivity related research and would like to hear about similar opportunities in the future, please get in touch

The Productivity Insights Network is delighted to announce an exciting opportunity for Early Career Researchers (ECRs) engaged in productivity research. The “productivity puzzle” is one of the most important economic and social issues of our time and engaging ECRs working at the forefront of the debate is critical.

On 18th and 19th October 2018 the Productivity Insights Network will host a ‘sandpit’ style event for ECRs to develop proposals for new directions in productivity research. The two-day event will include roundtable debates and panel discussions with leading academics, policymakers and business leaders about the big questions and emerging issues for productivity researchers.

The broad aims of the sandpit are to generate research proposals from ECRS which can:

  • advance understanding of the productivity puzzle in the UK
  • address the key research challenges that are identified
  • identify a common and cross cutting approach in the social sciences
  • facilitate interactions between ECRs and established researchers

By exploring innovative new research ideas through this sandpit, the research themes discussed will be dependent on the attendees. The Productivity Insights Network is about changing the tone of the productivity debate and so we are looking for the participation of researchers from across the social sciences.

The Sandpit

At the event the Productivity Insights Network team will facilitate an open and collegiate environment designed to promote collaborative thinking and develop innovative approaches. Starting with lunch to define the scope of the challenges, the aim is to develop a shared understanding of the challenges through the expertise of the participants at the sandpit. Working in groups the aim is to capture ideas to inform innovative research projects with “real-time” peer review input from established researchers.

The focus of Day 2 will begin with a presentation and discussion with the ESRC about funding, knowledge exchange and impact for ECRs. The remainder of the day will see the Productivity Insights Network team assist participants in defining and exploring research challenges in this area. Whether working in groups or as individuals the aim is to develop ideas that will form the basis of future proposals to the Productivity Insights Network. The afternoon will culminate in a ‘Pitch to Peers’ session where feedback will be provided on ideas, and the best ideas will be offered seedcorn funding to develop their idea into a proposal.

Location and Date

The date for this sandpit is 18th and 19th October 2018, and will be hosted at Kollider in Sheffield. An application will be taken to indicate participant availability for these dates and their commitment to attend if selected.

It should be noted that all accommodation, refreshments, breakfast and lunch costs will be met by the Productivity Insights Network. Reasonable travel expenses will also be covered where agreed with the Productivity Insights Network team. All other and incidental costs incurred while at the event must be met by the participant.


The sandpit is aimed at ECRs working in the field of productivity from across the social sciences, but would welcome applications from other disciplines. Early Career Researchers are broadly defined as within 4 years of PhD submission or having held an academic position for less than 4 years (full-time equivalent). We are open to applications from PhD candidates writing up (with written permission from their PhD supervisor).

Applying to Participate

If you have a productivity-based research idea and are an Early Career Researcher, we want to hear from you! Places are limited, so to apply please fill in the application form below with a summary of your research idea (max. 500 words) and a summary of why attending this workshop would be beneficial to you (max. 200 words).

Applications will be judged by a panel including two members of the Productivity Insights Network team and an external partner.

  • Application Opens: Monday 3rd September
  • Application Closes: Monday 1st October
  • Applicants informed of outcome by: Friday 5th October


If you have any questions about this event, please don’t hesitate to contact Phil Wallace (Impact & Knowledge Exchange Officer) via

About the Productivity Insights Network

The Productivity Insights Network was established in January 2018 and is funded by the  Economic and Social Research Council. As a multi-disciplinary network of social science researchers engaged with public, private, and third sector partners, our aim is to change the tone of the productivity debate in theory and practice. It is led by the University of Sheffield, with co-investigators at the Cambridge EconometricsCardiff UniversityDurham UniversityGlasgow Caledonian UniversitySQWUniversity of CambridgeUniversity of EssexUniversity of GlasgowUniversity of Leeds and the University of Strathclyde. For more information on our team click here.