The British Science Association (BSA) is currently scoping a potential report into science engagement and inequity across the UK. We are looking for a freelance research professional or small agency to provide support for scoping this project.

The Request for Proposals (RfP) closes at 09:00 on Monday 2 August 2021

Download the Request for Proposals document (pdf)

About the BSA

The British Science Association (BSA) is a charity with a vision of a world where science is at the heart of society and culture. Our mission is to transform the diversity and inclusivity of science, reach under-served audiences, and increase the number of people who are actively engaged and involved in science.  

We have a team of 33 staff, currently working from home but usually head quartered in London with some staff based elsewhere in the UK. We are funded by a mix of grants, sponsorship and donations; our annual turnover is c. £4m.

About this project

The BSA are currently scoping a report into science engagement and inequity across the UK. The chosen candidate for this research will support us with a brief literature review of existing research and data, which will help us define the scope and content of our main report.

Groups such as UK Music have looked at opportunities to engage across the UK nations and regions; the American Academy of Arts and Sciences have looked at engagement across science engagement formats; the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Left Behind Neighbourhoods have looked at social infrastructure and charitable funding across the UK.

The BSA takes a broad view of science and science engagement – we include a wide range of fields such as computing science/technology, chemicals, food, textiles, craft, design, engineering, graphics and applied technologies including those relating to construction, transport, the built environment, biomedical, microbiological and food technology. We recognise that people and communities across the UK have many opportunities to interact with science and scientists in different settings and locations. We would like to start creating a map of science engagement activity, and to highlight gaps, inequities, and areas for development.

What we need

We are looking to produce a report into different dimensions of inequity in the UK nations and regions (the research included can be local, regional, or national), and what this means for science engagement. The aim of this research is to identify any research or data that already exists in this area that the BSA could build on in our main report.

This research might look at how access to and uptake of science and science engagement is impacted by:

  • Proximity to educational establishments (including universities, FE colleges etc);
  • Proximity to opportunities to engage with science;
  • Proximity to opportunities to engage with arts, culture, sports, natural environment, or community assets;
  • Educational attainment, particularly at GCSE stage (or equivalent);
  • Local authority or government intervention (for example, subsidy or funding for science/STEM activities);
  • Proximity to science/STEM business and industry clusters;
  • Social and economic factors such as indices of multiple deprivation.

We are interested in engagement across all age groups and contexts, including but not limited to: science/STEM enrichment; museums and discovery centres; festivals; university-led engagement; local science business; citizen science; and science jobs. We are also interested in research that has been carried out outside the UK, which we may be able to replicate or build on.

Examples of relevant research in science engagement and/or inequity might include:

We will provide guidance on specific themes to focus on but would also like the chosen candidate to cast the net wide with their data collection and analysis. We would appreciate any additional suggestions for other research to include and will work with the chosen candidate to finalise the scope of the work.

We are looking for a researcher(s) with:

  • A track record of gathering public data sets and academic literature to inform research;
  • Confidence with interpreting quantitative and qualitative research;
  • A solid knowledge of the UK science engagement practice and research landscape;
  • Experience of building knowledge quickly;
  • Confidence with scholarly search tools, such as Google Scholar;
  • Knowledge of issues relating to equality, diversity and inclusion in science engagement;
  • Access to academic publications (via institutional subscription or library access).

We will provide guidance and a research template for the chosen candidate to structure their work. We need a researcher who can highlight work in fields relating to science engagement and UK inequity.

The chosen candidate will produce an annotated bibliography, compiling a representative selection of relevant academic publications, public datasets, and other reports. We expect this to comprise of 15-25 sources. Once we have this, the BSA will be able to identify any trends, gaps, or compelling narratives to highlight in our main report.

This work should take up to 6 days in August-September 2021 and should be within a budget of £2500. This work will be done remotely, and the candidate should be available for video call briefings and updates throughout the contract.

Your proposal

Please include the following information in your response:

  • A biography or CV;
  • A short summary of your approach;
  • Your track record (a summary of your relevant experience);
  • Names of one or more previous clients & a brief description of your work for them;
  • Budget breakdown (including whether you will charge VAT) and your ability to deliver this project during Summer 2021. We recommend providing a day rate and the number of days you think this research will take.
  • (For agencies) An up-to-date Diversity and Inclusion Policy.


19 July 2021 Request for proposals issued
2 August 2021 Deadline for submissions (by 09:00)
w/c 2 August 2021 Submissions reviewed and phone calls with shortlisted respondents
9 August 2021  Contract offered
9 August – 6 September 2021 Work undertaken

    How to apply

    Please submit your proposal by 09.00 on Monday 2 August to Clio Heslop, Partnerships and Impact Manager [email protected]

    Any enquiries in relation to this RfP can contact Clio Heslop via email to organise a call or meeting – note that responses given may be shared with other bidders. If you require this information in a different format for accessibility reasons, please contact Clio Heslop.