Image credit: Caley Dewhurst/ODI

Scholars and partners welcome: broadening the ambition of the ODI research fellowship scheme

Tue Jul 6, 2021
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Building on the success of the 2020 pilot cohort, we are now welcoming new applications from researchers keen to create more impact by working with the ODI

At the Open Data Institute (ODI), research is key to us working towards our vision of a world where data works for everyone. Advancing knowledge and organising evidence on how data can be collected, accessed, used and shared in ways that create positive impacts and avoid harmful effects is integral to informing, equipping and inspiring practitioners and decision-makers. 

We believe that we can use our own expertise to work towards this goal in a number of ways. While we continue to conduct and share our own high-quality applied research and development, we also must find ways to support others in their research, and help weave a network of knowledge and inquiry. 

The ODI research fellowship scheme sits at the heart of this. Through this scheme, we support scholars researching topics relevant to our domain and mission by providing access to our expertise and our network.

We re-launched it last year with a pilot cohort, keen to support two exciting research projects on the ethics and governance of data in local government planning and higher education. We also saw this pilot as an opportunity to understand whether we could truly add value to the work of the scholars we would support. 

Nine months later, all signs point to yes: our two inaugural fellows are wrapping up their projects, delighted with how the steer and support of the ODI not only meant that their research was more robust and better informed, it was also much more impactful. By connecting our fellows with the broad and diverse networks of ODI staff, associates, partners and members from all sectors and from all over the world, the fellowship created unusual connections and real-world impact.

Building on this early success, we are now delighted to announce that we are opening applications for scholars to join the ODI research fellowship scheme. We learned from the feedback of our fellows and other friendly voices in academia and research, too: rather than arbitrary application deadlines, we are welcoming applications on an ongoing basis. This will allow us to adapt to our fellows’ research timescales, not the other way around. 

You can read more about applying for the scheme here, and complete the application in minutes. 

Our ambition for the fellowship scheme does not stop here. While the current scheme – focused on supporting independent or otherwise funded researchers – is proving impactful, we know that funding remains the primary obstacle to conducting the research and exploration that a healthy data ecosystem needs.

This is why, in the second half of 2021, we intend to explore ways to expand the scope and scale of the fellowship scheme through research grants. We hope this will massively increase the breadth and diversity of projects and people we can support through the scheme. However, this can only work if we can secure the support of ODI partners in philanthropic organisations and private sector companies.

If you are interested in piloting the next steps of this exciting initiative with us, please get in touch at