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Small grants for PhD Research Assistants in Data and the Creative Industries

We are offering small grants for research active staff across the University of Edinburgh and Edinburgh Napier University that would like to hire PhD-level research assistants for a maximum of 56 hours of work.

Creative Informatics is committed to funding at least 10 x 56-hour PhD roles within the 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 academic years, with posts paid at normal postgraduate rate (UoE Grade 6.1 £15.52 p/h, ENU Grade 4 £14.68 p/h).

Applications can be made by researchers working on a project that fits within at least one of the four broad Creative Informatics themes:

  • How can Data Driven Innovation support access and engagement to new audiences and markets for the creative industries?
  • How can Data Driven Innovation support the development of new modalities of experience for the creative industries?
  • How can Data Driven Innovation unlock hidden value in archives and creative industries’ data sets?
  • How can Data Driven Innovation reveal new business models for the creative industries?


Interactive map of Edinburgh Region’s creative industries credit Inge Panneels

The purpose of these small grants is to allow research active staff to either start new, or complete ongoing research projects, where a number of hours of research assistance would be beneficial. As well as the funded PhD Research Assistant salary, we will also consider applications for consumables such as software licenses or datasets which will be crucial to undertake the Research Assistant work.

These grants are part of our initiative to support research engaging with Creative Informatics themes, building a larger research community, as well as, crucially, to provide short-term support to PhD students who may be affected by labour precarity exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis. Applicants are welcome to propose projects that engage with Creative Informatics activities and researchers, but do not have to do so.

We use the creative industries definition from the UK Government’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS): as “those industries which have their origin in individual creativity, skill and talent and which have a potential for wealth and job creation through the generation and exploitation of intellectual property” .

There are nine sub-sectors under the term ‘creative industries’ and these are: advertising and marketing; architecture; crafts; product design, graphic design and fashion design; film, TV, video, radio and photography; IT, software, video games and computer services; publishing and translation; museums, galleries and libraries; and music, performing arts, visual arts and cultural education.

The type of work we are interested in funding includes the following (but applicants can suggest their own topic in this space):

  • Digital Platforms and Equality, Diversity & Inclusion in the Creative Industries
  • Future of Work in Data-Driven Creative Industries
  • New Data-Driven Economies in the Creative Industries
  • Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence and Automation in the Creative Industries
  • Remote and Online Work in Creative Industries
  • Beyond Economic Value in the Creative Industries
  • Freelancing, Gig-Work and Platform Economies in the Creative Industries
  • Sustainable Creative Practice through Data
  • Creative Circular Economy and Data
  • Futures of Digital Festivals and Online Performance
  • FinTech, Fundraising and Digital Payments in the Creative Industries
  • Remote and Hybrid Creative Practices
  • Collaboration over Distance
  • Creativity and Data Literacy / Computing Education
  • Unlocking Value from Digitised Heritage Content
  • IP ownership and Human-machine Coproduction

Members of research active staff are eligible to apply for this funding (i.e., those who have research as part of their contracted employment).  It is the responsibility of the research active member of staff to find a currently registered PhD student at the University of Edinburgh or Edinburgh Napier University who they can employ as a short-term research assistant, and priority will be given to applications where PhD students are already identified.

PhD students will have to have the approval of their PhD supervisor to undertake this work. We foresee this stream primarily being used by research active staff to help support ongoing research, but we also encourage PhD students to approach research active staff to see if they might be interested in conducting research together. The application has to be made by a member of research active staff from any department across the University of Edinburgh or Edinburgh Napier University. Standard ethical procedures and approvals for research practice at the University of Edinburgh or Edinburgh Napier University should be followed, and we encourage candidates to engage with the Creative Informatics’ ethical research approach.

Applications will be accepted on a first come, first served, rolling basis. We are looking for innovative or explorative research work that will benefit the Creative Informatics research environment. A panel from Creative Informatics will review the applications at the end of each calendar month, and aim to respond to each application within 5 weeks of its submission. The first date we will review applications will be in the week commencing 31st May 2021, ensuring a grace period for the initial batch of applications.

Upon completion of the project, we will ask the lead researcher to write a blogpost for the Creative Informatics website summarising the work that has been accomplished. We may also ask for further evaluation and input. We ask that those given funding keep in touch with Creative Informatics, and name the project on any eventual outputs, so we can help promote them and understand the impact of allocating this type of funding. Both Creative Informatics and the student should be acknowledged and appropriately recognised in future outputs.

If you have any questions about this opportunity please contact the Creative Informatics team at creativeinformatics@ed.ac.uk.



If you have any questions about Creative Informatics, please contact us.

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