Frequently asked questions

www.nesta.org.uk/project/collective-intelligence-grants/frequently-asked-questions/
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What is an experiment?

An experiment is a way of testing something to gain new knowledge; to explore if something works; or to determine whether an assumption is true. Put differently, it is a procedure carried out to support, refute, or validate a hypothesis. Experiments can often involve control groups. Using a control group helps to isolate the effects of the experiment from other variables. This increases the reliability of the results, often through a comparison between control measurements and the other measurements.

How do I design an experiment?

There are certain things you will need to think about in order to be able to create an experiment:

  • You will need to define the specific hypothesis(es) or assumptions that your experiment is designed to test. Try to formulate each research question as a testable hypothesis: e.g., If [your intervention] then [expected result]. This is your best guess about what you think will happen, and should be based on a clear rationale and good evidence. Your experiment should aim to prove or disprove this hypothesis.
  • What are the factors/variables that you will test? What’s the setting/context in which your experiment will take place?
  • What will you compare your results to (e.g., what controls will you use)?
  • How many participants will you need for your experiment?
  • Is it feasible to conduct your experiment within the 9-months time frame of the grants programme?
  • What will be your outcome indicators, and how will you measure these? This is to find out whether your experiment has been successful or not (i.e. what does success look like, and how will you measure it).
  • A theory of change or logic model might be a useful tool for planning an experiment.

Where can I find out more about designing an experiment?

We have recorded a short webinar on experiment design which you might find a helpful source when designing your experiment which you can find here.

If you are interested in learning more about experimentation, have a look at the Experimenter’s Inventory published by the Alliance for Useful Evidence earlier this year.

What other resources should I look at?

We have published various reports that might be useful for you to have a look at before applying to our grants programme.

  • The Future of Minds and Machines - a report about the different ways in which AI can enhance collective intelligence (and vice versa).
  • Combining Crowds and Machines captures the results from the experiments of our first cohort. This is a useful resource to get an understanding about the type of experiments that we’re looking to fund.
  • Collective Intelligence Design Playbook - a detailed resource with worksheets, exercises and case studies to help you understand more about collective intelligence, and how to design a collective intelligence project.
  • We put together some feedback for past applicants, listing some of the most common reasons why proposals were not shortlisted. This might help you understand our thinking and as a guide for future applications.
  • The Centre for Collective Intelligence Design - other articles, blogs and resources which you may provide some inspiration.

May people representing different organisations form a consortium for the research?

Yes, this is something we strongly encourage and support. We will provide interested applicants with an opportunity to find potential partner organisations. You can find more info and sign up for this offer in the ‘How to apply’ section in our call for ideas. However, you need to decide on one lead organisation and one lead contact person. The lead organisation needs to be incorporated in the UK.

Can I submit more than one application?

We can only accept one application per person and organisation.

Universities may send several applications from different departments, but we can only accept one application per department, and the teams may not overlap.

How many organisations are you going to fund?

We have a pot of £120,000 to give out to different organisations. We aim to shortlist around ten organisations of which we will fund four to five.

What kind of costs does the grant funding cover?

It covers:

  • Direct project costs
  • Directly related staff costs (but usually not the costs of recruiting any new staff for the duration of the experiment - this would need to be individually discussed)
  • Limited amount of project-related marketing costs (this will be considered individually for each project)
  • Learning and development / user research for the project(this will be considered individually for each project)

In the initial Expression of Interest you will be asked to indicate the overall costs that you expect, but do not need to add a detailed breakdown of the costs. If your project is shortlisted, we will go into the details of your estimated budget with you and will see if there is anything we cannot cover. Please note that Nesta can only fund projects that advance our charitable objects for public benefit.

Is there anything the grant funding will not cover?

We do not usually cover overheads (unless this is a mandatory policy requirement of your organisation/institution, in which case we can cover overhead costs directly linked to delivering the project up to a maximum of 15% of the project budget). We do not cover costs to attend academic conferences. We only only cover travel costs if they are absolutely vital to the experiment’s success and this will be at Nesta’s discretion.

Is there any requirement for a financial contribution from the institution through which I am applying?

There is no need for any additional financial contribution from the institution. The maximum amount of funding Nesta can provide is £30,000, so if you require additional funds to conduct your experiment you will need to find alternative additional funding sources.

My project already receives funding from another source. Can I still apply?

Yes. We are open to funding additional activities within an existing project/projects that already receive funding, as long as your proposal clearly demonstrates the added value of Nesta funds and explicitly shows what the Nesta-funded component of the project is.

If any of my partner organisations wish to make a further financial contribution to the project, will this be an advantage or disadvantage in my application?

Your application will not be affected by further financial contributions from another partner. You will be asked in the application form to indicate if you need further funding from other organisations and if so whether you have already secured this, but this will be neither an advantage nor a disadvantage for you.

Are non-UK projects eligible to apply for the grants?

No. Unfortunately we can only accept applications from organisations incorporated and based in the United Kingdom. Partner organisations do not need to be incorporated and based in the UK.

I work for a private business. Can I still apply?

Yes. We are open to working with startups and large firms, public bodies and charities, universities and research organisations. If shortlisted, any private companies will need to demonstrate how they will ensure that private benefit is not excessive.

When will the call close?

The deadline for submitting your Expression of Interest is Wednesday, 4 November 2020, 12pm GMT (UK time).

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