Behavioural Research UK (BR-UK)

Capability Scoping

BR-UK is conducting a multi-part scoping study to help develop a national network for behavioural research in the UK and a capability building strategy. The primary aim is to describe the field of behavioural research across all four UK nations and determine strengths, gaps, needs, opportunities, and priorities. Find out more about what capability scoping is and how you can help us below.

What is capability scoping?

Behavioural research is crucial for informing policy and practice in areas not limited to but including public health, climate change and sustainability, economic well-being, education, crime and justice, social welfare, governance and digital technology including artificial intelligence. Making advances in these areas, and improving the ways we conduct behavioural research, will depend on large-scale collaboration across disciplinary and sector boundaries, as well as developing more effective links between basic research, applied research, policy and practice.  

Behavioural Research UK (BR-UK) is part of the ESRC effort to facilitate and  build national capability for behavioural research in the UK. One of our first activities is a multi-part scoping study to understand the current landscape of behavioural research, including where there are gaps and opportunities in relation to societal needs, and to establish a national network and a set of strategic priorities for BR-UK’s future work and commissioning fund.  Our capability scoping work includes several phases: mapping organisations and networks; surveying behavioural researchers and research users; conducting interviews and workshops; and co-developing strategic priorities. The focus is across sectors (research, public and voluntary sector organisations, and industry).  The protocols and plans for this work is available on our Open Science Framework page.  

What are we doing?

Our capability scoping study will include:

A documentary review: We will review recent strategies for advancing behavioural and social research from national and devolved governments and research funders. We will summarise how these strategies propose to strengthen behavioural research capability and identify gaps and areas of unmet scientific and stakeholder needs, as well as areas for advancement.  [Protocol on OSF]

Mapping of behavioural research activity: We will gather information from databases, internet searches, stakeholder elicitation and snowballing to create and analyse a public database and map of UK behavioural research activity. [Protocol on OSF]

A cross-sector survey:  We will conduct the first phase of a national survey of behavioural researchers and research users in public, private and third/voluntary sectors to gather wide-ranging views on current capabilities and future needs (see below). [Protocol on OSF]

A study of behavioural research in start-ups and scaleups: we will assess the needs and priorities and identify opportunities for behavioural research in UK start-ups and scale-ups (also below). [Protocol on OSF]

We will also undertake a Delphi+ exercise and provide online workshops to explore and co-develop ways to strengthen behavioural research capability in the UK. 

How can you help?

You don't have to be a 'behavioural researcher' to take help us with our scoping work. We are undertaking two survey's initially that are open to anyone who engages with evidence or research about what influences, characterises, changes or results from people’s individual or collective behaviour. This includes research and non-research roles in public, private and third (voluntary) sectors. It can include fields such as (but not limited to) anthropology, behavioural design, economics, marketing, neuroscience, politics, sociology, and UX/UI. We welcome responses from people who belong to parts of society that are under-represented in the field of behavioural research. 

The two surveys are currently underway, and how you can get involved, are outlined below.  The first focuses across a broad range of disciplines whilst the second is focused specifically on startups and scaleups.