Research Grants

Please note: We remain open for research proposals. That said, our current process for funding research projects has been adapted to reflect the risks posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. We will be guided by three broad principles in considering proposals:

  1. Presumption of caution: We will continue to consider all funding proposals – including those requiring face-to-face data gathering. However, we will generally presume that research activities requiring face-to-face data gathering, such as in-person surveys or focus groups, cannot presently be carried out, and that the timing of their resumption remains uncertain. As such, our ability to fund certain projects may depend on the evolution of the crisis in the months ahead. Where necessary we encourage partners to consider alternative research strategies that do not require face-to face data gathering. We will also consider making project preparation grants.
  2. Adherence to local public health guidelines: We will consider requests for exceptions, in order to allow for some face-to-face data-gathering, where any such exceptions are (a) essential to the research activity, (b) clearly consistent with public health guidelines of the country were the work is being done, (c) and involve clearly defined strategies for mitigating health risks and risks of disruption. 
  3. Explicit contingency planning: Before full review all research projects will be asked to provide a clear statement of potential risks – to health, of disruption, or to the validity of findings – resulting from Covid-19, the implications of those risks for the project, and potential responses to those risks. So, for example, a project requiring face-to-face data gathering, would need to explain any risks of disruption, the implications of any such disruption for the feasibility of the research, and possible adjustments that could be implemented. We are committed to working with partners – and particularly our partners in Africa and South Asia – collaboratively in seeking to manage these uncertainties.

New and revised proposals should ideally refer explicitly, even if briefly, to Covid-19 risks, and possible implications, in order to facilitate project review. We will regularly review this policy. For more information on our response to Covid-19, please see here.

Conducting research with the ICTD

The ICTD is a research network dedicated to improving tax policies and practices in low-income countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. We aim to do this through (a) undertaking policy relevant research to a high professional standard and (b) disseminating the results of that research effectively, and c) building the research capacity of our partners. The ICTD strongly encourages collaboration and co-production of research projects between international academics and local partners. Ideally such collaboration would occur throughout the key steps of a typical project’s cycle, such as design, implementation, data analysis and writing up. Please see our principles of engagement for research collaborations here

From time to time, the ICTD may issue calls for research proposals in specific areas and provide specific guidance on how to respond to those calls (See our calls for proposals here). However, even if there is no specific call, we are always open to receiving ideas through brief research proposals, especially from African researchers, tax officials, and tax policymakers. 

Please note: ICTD is unable to give studentships for Masters or Doctoral students. We may be able to provide some support for students’ field research provided we are convinced (a) that they are likely to do valuable, original research and (b) that they are committed to writing up the results of this research explicitly for ICTD – and separately from their dissertations/theses.

Submitting your initial research proposal

A good research proposal is key to doing good research. A good initial proposal essentially deals with the following issues:

  1. What question (or questions) am I going to try to answer?
  2. What data do I need to answer those questions?
  3. How will I get that data?
  4. How will I use that data to answer the question?

Few of us are very good at producing research proposals. ICTD invests quite heavily in proposal preparation. We will provide support from experienced staff; applicants can expect to invest significant time and go through multiple forms and re-drafts. Do not be discouraged by a request for revisions. That is a sign that we are interested.

If you have an idea for a research project, please fill out one of the relevant forms below:

If your proposal falls under two different categories, please submit using one form only and do not submit the same proposal twice.

Please remember to attach the CVs for all researchers involved in the proposal to the form. We are here to encourage and facilitate research – and especially to help people who have professional experience of taxation to engage in research. In other cases, where some preliminary investigations are needed before a good proposal can be developed, we might offer small research preparation grants.

Kigali meeting small group

Research Ethics

The ICTD’s guiding principles on research ethics are: 

1. Do no harm: respect of human life and dignity.
2. Accountability and transparency.
3. Collaboration, giving voice, and equal respectful partnership (see Our Approach).

The ICTD is guided by the IDS’ Research Ethics Policy and DFID’s Ethical Guideline for Research. The researcher is responsible for exercising appropriate professional judgment when undertaking an ethical review of their research. It is also the responsibility of the researcher to follow the ICTD Ethics Guideline and any relevant academic or professional guidelines in the conduct of the study. Any significant change in the question, design or conduct over the course of the research will necessitate an amendment to the ethics review and will be subject to the same process of approval as for the original statement. For further guidance on considering issues of research ethics, please contact ICTD (ictdethics@ids.ac.uk).

If you are aware of an ethical concern that you wish to report, please enter the details into the whistleblowing comment box below. This will be emailed directly to the ICTD Ethics Committeekeeping the source anonymous.