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AHRC's Definition of Research

Taken from the AHRC Research Funding Guide 2005 (accessed online 6/12/05)

The AHRC's definition of research is primarily concerned with the definition of research processes, rather than outputs. This definition is built around three key features and your application must fully address all of these in order to be considered eligible for support:

  1. it must define a series of research questions or problems that will be addressed in the course of the research. It must also define its objectives in terms of seeking to enhance knowledge and understanding relating to the questions or problems to be addressed
  2. it must specify a research context for the questions or problems to be addressed. You must specify why it is important that these particular questions or problems should be addressed; what other research is being or has been conducted in this area; and what particular contribution this project will make to the advancement of creativity, insights, knowledge and understanding in this area
  3. it must specify the research methods for addressing and answering the research questions or problems. You must state how, in the course of the research project, you will seek to answer the questions, or advance available knowledge and understanding of the problems. You should also explain the rationale for your chosen research methods and why you think they provide the most appropriate means by which to answer the research questions.

This definition of research provides a distinction between research and practice per se. Creative output can be produced, or practice undertaken, as an integral part of a research process as defined above. The Council would expect, however, this practice to be accompanied by some form of documentation of the research process, as well as some form of textual analysis or explanation to support its position and to demonstrate critical reflection. Equally, creativity or practice may involve no such process at all, in which case they would be ineligible for funding from the Council. For further guidance concerning practice-led research, please see additional guidance for the Fellowships in the Creative and Performing Arts Scheme, below.

The AHRC's primary concern is to ensure that the research it funds will address clearly-articulated research questions or problems, set in a clear research context, and using appropriate research methods. The precise nature of the outputs of the research may vary considerably, and may include, for example, monographs, editions or articles; electronic data, including sound or images; performances, films or broadcasts; or exhibitions. Teaching materials may also be an appropriate outcome from a research project provided that it fulfils the definition above.


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