Digital Scholarship @ Oxford Transformative R&D Fellowships


Digital Scholarship @ Oxford (DiSc) Steering Committee is seeking proposals from Oxford researchers in all humanities disciplines for transformative researcher-led projects contributing to DiSc’s stated objectives. This call is for research and development to pilot transformative digital research projects that will:

  • innovate with or create data, tools, and methods for existing Oxford-based databases or digital resources, including documentation, and/or:
  • fund the scoping or proof-of-concept R&D leading to future external funding applications and/or significant new research outputs and/or institutionally-based expertise.

This call is not for maintaining existing resources, incremental work or to develop or sustain networks; digitisation may be a tangential output of a project, not the main driver for it. Risk taking is encouraged as is working across disciplines, with external partners, using innovative methods and tools. Proposals bringing together multiple Oxford-based projects and/or GLAM resources are particularly welcomed.

Up to £40,000 is available per fellowship project with an additional £5,000 available to match financial or resource contributions from a named external partner. Up to £10,000 may be budgeted on buyout for the lead applicant (the fellowship) with the remaining focused on R&D, such as developer, coder or Research Software Engineer time, general research assistance, student engagement, travel and workshop expenses.

Applications will be made using IRAMS. The deadline for applications to be submitted to your faculty is noon on 22 September. Fellowships may start from January 2023 and must end by 31 July 2024.

Who is eligible?

The fund’s priority is to support academic staff with a paid University contract that includes significant responsibility for research and which is likely to continue for at least two years beyond the submission date of their application.

College-only academic staff with a contract that stipulates significant responsibility for research AND who can demonstrate long-standing faculty research connections are also eligible.

All disciplines with a humanistic approach are eligible; the lead applicant does not need to be in the Humanities Division.  

Selection Criteria

A panel of DiSc steering committee members will assess applications on the following basis:

  • Contribution to achieving the objectives of DiSc (for more on what this means, see below)
  • Articulation of a transformative and innovative proposal for a high-risk / high-gain project
  • Benefits identified to multiple projects and resources, including the creation of new institutional expertise and/or supporting shared infrastructure
  • Quality of the potential research outcomes
  • Potential for developing new or sustaining existing external research partnerships and grant applications
  • Support for innovative work in the application of digital tools to humanistic research, teaching, and outreach which cannot be funded elsewhere
  • Involvement of early-career and fixed term research staff and students
  • Value for money

Eligible expenses

Requests for support may include items such as the following:

  • Teaching buyout (please confirm the costs with your college and faculty)
  • Research support (to be confirmed with the faculty’s Research Facilitator):
    • A doctoral or post-doctoral researcher
    • Micro-internships for student support and engagement with your project
  • Technical support (please contact Alwyn Collinson to discuss technical support):
    • Research Software Engineer, developer or coder support
    • Research Data Management: costs use of the Sustainable Digital Scholarship Service (if this is suitable for your needs)
  • Other:
    • Some digitisation costs
    • Event costs
    • Travel for staff or external visitors/participants

About DiSc and the strategic aims of the fellowships

About DiSc

Digital Scholarship @ Oxford (DiSc) is a 5-year project aiming to deliver transformative change. Funded with £2.4 million from the University’s Strategic Research Fund, it is pursuing transformation through these complementary objectives.

Collaboration and convergence: shared technologies

The leading priority of the DiSc R&D Fellowships scheme is to bring Oxford’s digital projects and resources into mutually beneficial interaction with one another in order to render them both more fruitful and more sustainable. Other funding schemes exist to foster excellence in individual, stand-alone research projects. DiSc funding may be used to nurture collaboration and convergence, systematically exploring opportunities for collaboration between partners in and outside the Humanities Division – including Bodleian Libraries, the University’s museums, the Oxford University Press, the Oxford Internet Institute, and the Oxford e-Research Centre; creating a stable team of experts in digital project design and development available for consultations and collaboration on projects in digital scholarship; and building infrastructure to support multiple research projects, beginning with the Sustainable Digital Scholarship Service.

Such projects may take many different forms. Some will help to build enduring relationships between key research areas, long-term flagship projects, and the rich resources of GLAM institutions or the OUP. Others will experiment with solutions to strategic challenges shared by multiple projects and resources but too large for individual projects to tackle on their own. An alternative approach would be to pilot fresh solutions for projecting the fruits of digital scholarship into the public domain, whether in partnership with heritage organisations, the creative industries, or through other means. In concrete terms, these projects could involve reconciling datasets, building shared tools, facilitating interoperability, experimenting with common problems of analysis or visualisation, scoping out options for technical convergence, or filling gaps in existing provision, amongst many other things. 

Capacity-building: teaching and training

In comparison to digitally enhanced research in the humanities, digitally enhanced teaching and training is severely underfunded. Helping to develop means for transforming the fruits of digital research projects into digital teaching materials would also help fill a gap as it applies to the core agenda of DiSc. The intention is not to fund Oxford post-holders to deliver their individual teaching obligations, instead it is to provide the resources needed for conceptualising and implementing two things: innovative applications of digital technology to teaching the humanities at all levels, and innovative teaching of digital tools and methods to students of the humanities at all levels. Applicants might wish to assemble and support a rich range of teaching and training options for all levels of the university community. The new MSc in Digital Scholarship builds on the success of the Digital Humanities at Oxford Summer School and complement training options provided by IT ServicesBodleian Libraries, and elsewhere.

Preparing an application

Preparing an application

Potential applicants should contact Howard Hotson, (DiSc Director), or Dave de Roure (Chair of the DiSc steering committee) and Alwyn Collinson well in advance of the application, to discuss their proposals and consider how best to tailor them to the DiSc criteria and priorities.

Please book a consultation via 

Application timetable

Faculty call deadline: 22 September 2022

Submission to DiSc by faculty: 30 September 2022

Decisions to faculties/applicants: w/c 17 October 2022

Fellowship start date and duration: from 1 January 2023 for up to 19 months (i.e. to end of July 2024)

Submitting an application

All applications must be submitted electronically via IRAMS: please note that (as per John Fell applications) you must have faculty approval to submit your application. Internal faculty deadlines may apply prior to the timetable deadlines below. If in doubt, please speak to your faculty Head of Administration and Finance.

Application Overview

Please use the Case for Support template to provide the following information:

Project title: Please give a title for the project proposed as part of this fellowship

Fit with Digital Scholarship: Please explain how the fellowship will address the following selection criteria:

  • Contribution to achieving the objectives of DiSc (for more on what this means, see above)
  • Articulation of a transformative and innovative proposal for a high-risk / high-gain project
  • Quality of the potential research outcomes
  • Benefits identified to multiple projects and resources, including how the proposal fits with any faculty plans as well as connections elsewhere in the University, especially GLAM
  • Potential for developing new or sustaining existing external research partnerships and grant applications
  • Involvement of early-career and fixed term research staff and students
  • Value for money

Outputs: Please indicate any legacies or outputs associated with the project/event(s). The Panel should be able to understand how the proposed project outputs will leave a legacy or outputs that contribute to the core objectives of Digital Scholarship @ Oxford: convergence, collaboration and capacity building. Possible outputs include:

  • Reports: strategy documents, discussion papers, guidelines for good practice, research papers about fundamental issues affecting digital scholarship, breaking developments elsewhere or future directions
  • Proof of concept of strategies for tackling major challenges; mockups of potential tools; documentation
  • Workshop series, exploring problems and testing solutions relevant to multiple stakeholders in DiSc;  other events forming part of the InterDiSciplinary programme
  • Resources such as a video, podcast episode, toolkit, interactive, artwork or visualisation that can be promoted broadly by DiSc
  • Blog posts for the DiSc website or in other media, such as The Conversation

Please outline the key milestones.

Budget: Please list all costs and explain their significance to the project, noting all salaries, consultancy rates, SDS charges etc must be costed through your faculty/department research facilitator. Named post-docs to be employed on the project, must provide a one-page CV.

Partial or a full buy-out will be supported only where college and faculty support has been agreed. DiSc expects this normally to be at rate A or rate B on the scale (page 20 of the Provisional Register of Approved Payments 2021-22) but will accept a justification for Rate C based on pedagogic or employment or career development grounds.

Equipment or consultancy over £1,000 must be purchased through your faculty IT support or in the case of consultancy or commission of external work will require two quotes (

ORCID: The DiSc Fellowships require applicants to register for a linked Oxford ORCiD as part of the application process here: and to provide it with their application.

CV: please attach a one-page CV for each applicant on the project and any named post-docs to the Case for Support document.