Collaborative analysis of microdata resources – pathfinder research projects

The Pathfinder Research Projects are aimed at supporting the ESRC in pursuit of its international agenda by broadening the outreach of the Council to encourage and support research in collaboration with Brazil, India, China and South Africa. To advance the achievement of this aim the initiative was designed to:

  • build or strengthen research networks, joining social scientists in Brazil, India, China and South Africa with UK counterparts
  • help build capacity in quantitative methods in the social sciences within the rising powers
  • familiarise UK social scientists with a range of data resources not widely recognised as available for research in these countries.

Two competitions have been held:

  • the first call in 2009 for collaborative projects with Brazil and India, with projects starting in spring 2010
  • the second call in 2010 for collaborative projects between China and South Africa, with projects starting in spring 2011

The budget for each of the calls was £1 million and in both cases the UK provided the strategic lead for projects with co-investigators from the participating countries. In total, 24 projects were funded across the two calls, 12 in the first call and 12 in the second call. Projects are no more than 12 months duration.

Applicants to the second call whose projects involved Chinese partners were also invited to apply for funds from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) (external website).

The Pathfinder Research Projects have the following distinguishing features.

Collaboration and network creation: the projects are focused on collaboration and creating networks between research teams and individuals based in UK Research Organisations and those based in Brazil and/or India (first phase) and China and/or South Africa (second phase). The projects are multidisciplinary, established on a collaborative international basis, both bilateral and trilateral.

Research: the projects address the following research themes:

  • Economic Restructuring
  • Social Equality and Higher Education (first phase)
  • Economic Restructuring
  • Higher Education

Secondary data analysis: no new data collection is envisaged. The projects are expected to make use of various Brazilian, Indian, Chinese and South African micro-datasets. Analysis of relevant UK microdata sources may be undertaken for comparative analytical purposes.

Further information

Alternatively view the project summaries (PDF, 172Kb)

Press release: Research forging pathways between South Africa, China and the UK

For more information on the call or projects, please contact: