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Funding call: addressing modern slavery with data science methods - closed

Call for applications for funding for research on understanding and addressing modern slavery with data science methods.

Published: 30th June 2022

The Modern Slavery and Human Rights Policy and Evidence Centre (Modern Slavery PEC) has issued a funding call for applications for funding of research projects using data science methods to enhance understanding of modern slavery and improve the effectiveness of laws and policies designed to address it.

Please note the deadline for expressions of interest has been extended by one week to 4pm (UK time) 11 August.

There is widespread evidence that data science has the potential to generate more innovative and impactful research, including the potential to help understand modern slavery and improve laws and policies to address it.

The aim of this funding call is to support research projects to use data science methods to either enhance understanding of modern slavery or transform the effectiveness of laws and policies designed to address it.

For the purposes of this call, the Modern Slavery PEC understands data science as an interdisciplinary field that uses a variety of tools and techniques to extract useful information from large data-sets.

Objectives:

All projects must meet two objectives: firstly, all projects must meet objective A, and then they must meet either objective B or C:

A. To use data science methods to develop evidence-based recommendations for policymakers and other decisionmakers (such as businesses) on modern slavery

  1. Projects should align with the Modern Slavery PEC’s guiding principles on research, i.e. addressing effectiveness, equity, and involvement of people with lived experience
  2. While the focus of this call is on data science approaches, research could employ a combined or mixed-method approach that includes qualitative methods, e.g. to provide the important background and contextual information required to enhance the value of quantitative analysis
  3. Projects may also include the involvement or development of local partnerships or networks to create sustainable research infrastructure to enable analysis of new or existing data-sets relevant to understanding of modern slavery and efforts to address it.

PLUS

B. To use data science methods to produce new knowledge on the changing nature of modern slavery in the UK and inform understanding regarding future patterns and trends

  1. This may include a focus on a particular population group, geographical area or exploitation type that is, or may become, a challenge for UK policymakers (such as criminal exploitation of children, or online exploitation)
  2. Projects must include analysis of new or existing data-sets, but if using publicly available data, for example through the UK’s National Referral Mechanism (NRM), they should apply an innovative method/approach or include analysis of additional data-sets. Prevalence studies using data science techniques to estimate numbers or cases of modern slavery are not in scope for this call

OR

C. To provide evidence on how data science methods can improve effectiveness, equity and inclusion of lived experience in policy and/or service delivery, or in supply chain governance/procurement.

  1. This may include the application, replication or scaling of novel or existing approaches drawing on data science to understand or address modern slavery or that have been developed in other related areas or policy fields.
  2. Projects addressing objective C should include identification of best practice (e.g. on data-sharing, involvement of people with lived experience), and mitigation of associated risks (e.g. on privacy, issues of bias or discrimination associated with algorithmic approaches to service delivery), although barriers, obstacles or ethical issues around data-usage should not be the exclusive or primary focus of the research.

Scope:

All projects must demonstrate how they will contribute to policy in the UK.

Projects would be out of scope if they:

  • Propose to only focus on ethical issues, barriers or obstacles to data science analysis and/or data-sharing
  • Propose to use the project to support already-ongoing analysis of existing datasets, for example analysis that is produced by organisations as part of regular reporting.
  • Do not constitute novel research.
  • Propose to use data science methods to estimate prevalence of modern slavery.

Each objective has specific requirements for their scope, please see the call document for the scope of each objective.

Methodology:

While the focus of this call is on data science, research could employ a combined/mixed-method approach that includes qualitative methods, e.g. to provide the important background and contextual information required to enhance the value of quantitative analysis.

Projects using publicly available data or datasets that have already been analysed to understand Modern Slavery must demonstrate significant novelty or innovation, e.g. with the application of new methods, or by combining data-sets in new ways.

Where appropriate researcher should meaningfully include people with lived experience in the design of the research.

Working with the Modern Slavery PEC

Collaboration and co-operation are key values for the Modern Slavery PEC. As such we will work jointly with the successful research team from the outset and will co-design and co-create research outputs that are timely, relevant, accessible, and have the potential to deliver policy impact. The Modern Slavery PEC and the successful research team will meet every 6 weeks to check in on progress, discuss next steps and provide support. This support includes policy impact planning, communications work and operational support and will be tailored to each project

Cost:

A maximum budget of £250,000 at 100% full economic cost (FEC) is allocated for this project. The Modern Slavery PEC expects to fund up to 3 projects for this work

Eligibility:

The project may be led by either a UK higher education institution or an approved research organisation eligible to receive UKRI funding. Project teams must demonstrate collaboration between the lead institution and a UK based third sector organisation. UK based third sector organisations can receive up to 50% of the total budget.
You can find the full details and specification of the call in the call guidance below.

Application process:

This call will be run using a two-stage process. Stage one requires submission of an expression of interest (EOI) which will then be looked at to establish whether proposed research projects meet the assessment criteria, set out in the call document. This will be run by the Modern Slavery PEC and feedback will be given to projects progressing from stage one to two. Stage two will consist of a full application which will be assessed for funding by an independent assessment panel convened and run by the Modern Slavery PEC.

Full information on the application process and assessment criteria can be found in the call document.

The deadline for Expressions of Interest is 11 August 2022. These must be submitted through our online form:

Webinar

On 13 July 2022 we held a call webinar to go through the scope of the call and answer questions from potential applicants. Following the webinar, a recording of it can be found below and on our YouTube channel. The Q&A from the session will be unrecorded, questions and answers will be put into an FAQ document which is shared below.

Please note that since the webinar, the deadline for expressions of interest has been extended to 4pm (UK time) 11 August 2022.