Thanks for your interest in the Community Led Research Pilot!

Please complete our expression of interest form by 17:00 on Friday 29 September 2023 if you’re a researcher who’d like to be involved with the programme.

The Community Led Research Grant is putting communities at the heart of their own research process – inviting them to develop and deliver their own research project – by working with a researcher. The Community Led Research Pilot is part of our ongoing Community Engagement work at the British Science Association (BSA).

The pilot is funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and co-created with the British Science Association, the University of Reading, community partners in Reading and Slough, and communities that are new to or are traditionally underrepresented in research.

Through the pilot, we want to support local people and community groups to feel that research and science is more accessible, and to highlight the value communities can bring to research by improving both its quality and relevance.

This page provides information for researchers that are interested in being involved in the pilot.

If you are interested and have any questions that aren’t answered below, or if you require information in different formats, please get in touch at [email protected].

You can skip to the following sections:

  1. What funding is available?
  2. Which researchers are eligible to take part?
  3. How will researchers be matched with community groups?
  4. How will researchers work with community groups?
  5. What is the time commitment?
  6. What do we hope that communities and researchers will get out of working together?

1. What funding is available?

Five grants of up to £9,200 are available to support community groups based in Reading and Slough to work with researchers on designing local research around themes, ideas, issues and questions that are important to their communities.

The projects will address a particular research question – they will be a new idea, or build on existing work by the community, with a broad link to science and would benefit from working with a researcher.

To be eligible for a grant, the application must come from a community group (rather than a researcher). Grant-funded projects will run from October 2023 to October 2024, with researcher and community group ‘matching’ occurring in October 2023.

2. Which researchers are eligible to take part?

This opportunity is open to academics working in Reading and Slough and across a variety of disciplines.

We are currently working with community groups to develop research questions which are broadly science-based; this may include arts, humanities and social sciences perspectives and approaches. Topics which have come up in discussion to date include, but are not limited to:

  • Health and wellbeing, including; mental health, diet, nutrition and exercise.
  • Climate and the environment, including; community education, food growing, food banks, recycling and composting, youth voice and social inequalities.

3. How will researchers be matched with community groups?

For the community groups that don’t have an existing partnership with a researcher, the British Science Association and the University of Reading will match appropriate researchers to community groups in October 2023. This will be done through one-to-one researcher and community group conversations to establish how to best work together.  

Each community group is asked to provide information on how building a relationship with a researcher may support their community led research project idea in their application form. This information should help drive the conversation on how to best work together.

Community groups who have worked with a researcher before, or have someone in mind, are also eligible to apply for the grant.

4. How will researchers work with community groups?

Projects will be community led, and we expect that knowledge will flow both ways. We will fund projects that have the potential to lead to longer-term community and researcher relationships and generate new knowledge, rather than projects where researchers carry out research or gather data “on” or “about” rather than with your community.

We will not fund projects suggesting only a ‘one-off’ intervention by a researcher (e.g. a single visit or presentation with no follow-up, relationship building or further interaction). Whilst a researcher working in a ‘consultancy’ capacity might be a small element of a project, we're interested in relationships developing over the duration of the project. We’d also like to see how the researcher can learn from the community group in a way that might inform their research in the future.

Examples of how communities and researchers can work together include:

  • Spending time getting to know each other and sharing each other’s skills and knowledge of the issue or themes you want to address, working with communities, or researching ideas and techniques.
  • Researchers training community members to design and run their own research - from interviewing other volunteers of the community about their priorities to running carbon audits.
  • Researchers supporting the community to expand an existing project, e.g. developing a reusable cup trial for businesses and sharing talks with the wider community around sustainability and consumption.

More project examples of how communities and researchers have worked together

As you may not have done this type of project before, and we want this to be an accessible learning experience for the communities and researchers involved, there is support available throughout the whole grant process. This includes matching community groups with researchers, as well as during the delivery of the project itself.

As part of the pilot, there will be six community of practice workshops, bringing together community groups and researchers from the five grant-funded projects. These sessions will provide space for the wider group to connect, share candidly how things are progressing, and work through specific issues together.

5. What is the time commitment?

The time commitment at each stage will depend on the research project, and will be agreed upon once researchers are matched with a community group. Below is a timeline containing information on each stage of the programme:

Deadline for the researcher expression of interest form - submit form by 17:00

29 September 2023

Grants confirmed

Mid-October 2023

Researcher/group ‘matching’

6 - 16 November 2023

Projects begin

End of November 2023

In-person Community of Practice workshop

Early December 2023

In-person Community of Practice workshop

January 2024

Online Community of Practice workshop

March 2024

In-person Community of Practice workshop

May 2024

Online Community of Practice workshop

July 2024

In-person Community of Practice workshop

September/October 2024

Projects completed

31 October 2024


November/December 2024

End of project celebration, sharing findings and the evaluation report

February/March 2025

6. What do we hope that communities and researchers will get out of working together?

Community groups will have the opportunity to explore how research and the research process can add value to community projects and explore the impact of research on the communities it serves. 

For researchers, the pilot provides an opportunity to work with a grassroots community organisation and support them to address a local priority. The pilot may help develop your community/ participatory action research skills and experience, build networks with local communities and other university researchers, and provide a unique opportunity to be part of a research project where the community is at the heart.

Through this process, the pilot aims to create a legacy, forming new networks and more equitable ways of working between local communities and the research sector and by building confidence, interest, and ownership when it comes to research, and science more broadly.

Please complete our expression of interest form if you’d like to be involved with the programme.


View a PDF of the expression of interest form questions

For more information please visit:

The Community Led Research Grant Guidelines

Frequently Asked Questions

Back to the Community Led Research Pilot homepage

If you have any questions or require any assistance, please get in touch at [email protected].