Special Call for Short-term Empirical Research 2023-24 -- Guidelines

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1. Introduction

The advancement of social science research stands as a paramount objective of the Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR). To fulfill this objective, the Council extends research grants to Indian scholars for the pursuit of research in social sciences. These grants are designed to enable social scientists to engage in pioneering research endeavors across a wide spectrum of social science disciplines, encompassing thematic areas with profound theoretical, conceptual, methodological, and policy implications. The ICSSR supports research projects which are innovative, interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary in nature.

ICSSR is inviting proposals from Indian scholars/researchers/academicians for short-term projects of 6 months duration on selected schemes and policy initiatives of the government. A rigorous assessment of the reach and socio-economic impact of the specific scheme/policy initiative is expected to be carried out. These studies will be based on field work focused on a specific geographical region, which may be an urban, semi-urban or rural area. The selected schemes/policy initiatives for empirical research are as follows:

  1. PM Ujjwala Yojana
  2. PM Awas Yojana
  3. Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana
  4. PM Krishi Sinchai Yojana
  5. PM Fasal Bima Yojana
  6. PM Kisan Samman Nidhi
  7. Year of Millets 2023
  8. Ayushman Bharat
  9. Jan Aushadhi Yojana
  10. Swachh Bharat Abhiyan
  11. Make in India
  12. PM Gati Shakti
  13. Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT)
  14. Atal Pension Yojana
  15. Jan Dhan Yojana
  16. Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana
  17. Stand-Up India
  18. Startup India
  19. Digital India
  20. Atal Innovation Mission
  21. Skill India Mission (PM Kaushal Vikas Yojana)
  22. Data Protection and Localization
  23. Sukanya Samridhi Yojana
  24. Beti Bachao Beti Padhao
  25. New Education Policy 2020
  26. Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act 2015
  27. Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Act 2016
  28. Income Tax Declaration Scheme 2016
  29. Taxation Relaxation and Amendment Act 2020
  30. PM Development Initiative for North East (PM-DevINE)
  31. Special Industry Initiative (SII) for J&K- UDAAN

Proposals to study any of the schemes/policy initiatives listed above in a specified area may be sent individually by a researcher or collectively by a group/team of researchers. The proposal must be based on meticulously evolved hypotheses, comprehensive and clear questionnaire and rigorous methodology. 

Though, individual researchers may also apply, preference will be given to collaborative proposals from group/team of 4-6 each, who may be from a single institution or more than one institution. The aim of encouraging such collaborative research is to ensure that a large area with a significant sample size gets covered while assessing a particular scheme or initiative. The indicative sample size for each individual study would be 400 to 500 and 2,000 to 3,000 for collaborative research studies. The researchers are encouraged to undertake quantitative as well as qualitative research of a scheme in the selected geographical region.

ICSSR encourages several institutions in a region to come together and propose a collaborative study that offers a comprehensive assessment of a particular scheme/initiative over the whole region.

The award amount for individual projects is up to INR 6.00 lakhs and up to INR 30.00 lakhs for collaborative projects. The sanctioned amount would be disbursed in two instalments; 75% at the time of award of the project and the remaining 25% after the completion of the project.

The Project Directors are required to organize a workshop before the submission of the final report to deliberate on the compilation, organization, analyses of data and constructive suggestions proposed on the respective scheme/policy initiative.


2. Types of Study

a. Individual Study: Individual Project Director may choose any one of the above given themes for the research. These research projects will be for a short duration of six months. The indicative sample size for each individual study would be 400 to 500. The Project Directors will be given an amount up to INR 6 lakhs as research grant to carry out the research.

b. Collaborative Study: Researchers may form a team of 4-6 researchers to conduct a collaborative research who may be from a single institution or more than one institution. The objective of encouraging such collaborative research is to ensure that a large area with a significant sample size gets covered while assessing a particular scheme or initiative.

The team of researchers including the Project Coordinator would be termed as Project Director. One among the Project Directors (PD), would act as Project Coordinator of the collaborative study. The Project Coordinator will be responsible for the successful completion of the study. The research grant will be transferred to the PFMS account of the affiliating institution of the Project Coordinator. The indicative sample size for a collaborative study is 2,000 to 3,000 and the award amount is up to INR 30 lakhs.

The Project Director will identify a larger geographical area aiming at a sample size of 2000 to 3000. Each Project Director would select a specific area within this large area and collect the primary data. The extent of the area would be determined by the density of the population. The research group/team will undertake the study to collect/collate data as a whole and analyze the data quantitatively and qualitatively. The team of researcher in collaborative studies shall prepare a common standard questionnaire for the collection of data.


3. Eligibility

3.1 The research scholars affiliated to ICSSR Research Institutes/institutes of national importance as defined by the Ministry of Education/UGC recognized Indian universities / deemed universities under 12 B are eligible to apply. However, the scholars from other registered organisations with established research and academic standing may collaborate with any of the above mentioned institutions for implementation of the study.

3.2 Project Directors should be a regular faculty and must possess a Ph.D. degree with a proven track record of high-quality research and publications.

3.3 Civil servants, officers from Defence services and other professionals with social science perspective having not less than 20 years of regular service and demonstrable research experience through publications of books/research papers/reports/ policy documents etc. may also apply, preferably in collaboration with a faculty in a social science discipline from institutions given in 3.1.


4. How to Apply

4.1 The proposal can be submitted online through our website www.icssr.org for individual as well as collaborative study. The applicants shall submit an online application which includes the research proposal in the given prescribed format. They are also required to submit the hard copies of their application and annexures, duly forwarded by the competent authorities of the affiliating university/college/institute, within 10 days of the last date of online submission.

4.2 Applications will be accepted only in online mode through the ICSSR website. ICSSR will enable the online application form on the date given in the advertisement, however, sample form is provided for preparation of the proposal.

4.3 In case, the hard copy of application is not received, the candidature of applicants shall be treated as withdrawn/canceled.

4.4 Research proposals should either be in English or Hindi (use Unicode to fill application forms in Hindi).

4.5 One applicant can submit only one research proposal and he/she shall not be the part of any other team of collaborative study.

4.6 The collaborative research proposal is to be submitted by the Project Coordinator.


5. Procedure of Awards

5.1 Applications are scrutinised by the ICSSR Screening Committee in respect of eligibility.  Eligible applications are then examined by the Expert Committee (s). Shortlisted applicants may be invited for interaction/presentation at ICSSR (in person or virtually).  The expert committee/s make(s) recommendation for award of studies and also suggest the budget for the recommended studies.

5.2 The recommendations of the Expert Committee(s) are then placed before the Statutory Committee(s) of the ICSSR for their approval.


6. Duration and Value

6.1 The projects will be for a duration of six months. No time extension will be permitted.

6.2 The budget of the individual projects will be up to INR 6 lakhs and up to INR 30 lakhs for collaborative projects. The sanctioned amount will be released in two installments, as indicated in the Sanction Letter. However, in exceptional cases higher budget may be considered depending upon the relevance of the study and its budgetary requirements.

6.3 The study has to be commenced immediately after the award of the project.

6.4 The Project Coordinator/Project Director will propose the budget, subject to the following broad expenditure sub-heads:

S. No.

Heads of Expenditure



Research Staff:

Full time/Part-time/Hired Services

Not exceeding 40% of the total budget.


Travel/Logistics/Boarding, Survey Preparation or Consultancy etc.             

Not exceeding  30%


Workshop to disseminate the outcomes of the project

Up to 15% (not exceeding INR 2.00 lakh for collaborative research) 


Equipment and Study material:
Computer, Printer, Source Material, Books, Journals, Software, Data Sets etc.

Not exceeding 10%



Not exceeding 5%


Institutional Overheads (over and above the total cost of the project)

Affiliating Institutional overheads @ 7.5 % of the approved budget

7.   Remuneration and Emoluments of Project Staff

7.1 Project staff could be engaged by the Project Director on a full/ Part-time basis during the research work and the duration/consolidated monthly emoluments of their employment may be decided by the Project Director within the limits of the sanctioned financial allocation and as per the ICSSR rules.

1)     Research Associate            @ Rs.40,000/- p.m.

(Qualification – Post graduate in social science discipline (55% minimum) with NET /M.Phil/ Ph.D)

2)    Research Assistant              @ Rs.32,000/- p.m.

(Qualification-Ph.D./M.Phil./ Post graduate in social science discipline with minimum 55%)

3)    Field Investigator @ Rs.30,000/-p.m. (not exceeding 3 months)

(Qualification- Post graduate in social science discipline with minimum 55%).

7.2 The Institution may re-appropriate expenditure from one head to another up to 10% of the sanctioned budget with the prior approval of the ICSSR.

7.3 Selection of Research Staff should be done in a competitive mode.

7.4 For all field work related expenses of Project Director and project staff, rules of affiliating institutes/universities shall be followed.

7.5 All equipment and books purchased out of the project fund shall be the property of the affiliating institution. However, ICSSR may ask for books or/and equipment, if, it so requires.

7.6 No publication/presentation in any form related the awarded research shall be made by the researcher or any member of the research team without prior approval of the ICSSR.


8. Joining and Release of Grants

8.1 The Project Director has to join the project immediately after receiving the award letter.  To join, the scholar has to submit an ‘undertaking’, date of commencement, and grant-in-aid bill towards the release of the first instalment. The ICSSR reserves the right to appoint a Monitoring and Advisory Committee for this Special Call.

8.2 The sanctioned grant for the research project will be released in installments as indicated in the Sanction Letter.

8.3 In case of the collaborative studies, the grant will be released to the affiliating institution of the Project Coordinator and he/she would take decision on the distribution of funds among the participating researchers. 

8.4 The Project Coordinator /Project Director is mandatorily required to submit a progress report after three months.

8.5 On completion of the project, the Project Coordinator/Project Director has to submit (a) a book length Final Report in softcopy and 3 hard copies (b) soft and 3 hard copies of Executive Summary of Final Report (c) statement of accounts with utilization certificate in GFR-12A Form for the entire project amount duly signed by the Finance Officer/Registrar /Director of the affiliating Institution (d) list of equipment, books etc. purchased.

8.6 The institutions of which the accounts are not audited by CAG/AG, their utilisation certificate will be signed by the Finance Officer and a Chartered Accountant.

8.7 The second/final installment will be released after receipt of recommendation of the expert for acceptance of the Final Report, verification of all documents and decision on retaining of equipment and books, etc.

8.8 The Overhead Charges to the affiliating institution will be released after the acceptance of the Final Report and verification of documents by the ICSSR.

8.9 In case of delay or failure in submission of the final report, the Project Coordinator /Project Director will be liable to refund the total released amount with a penal interest @ 10% per annum.


9. Monitoring of Research Study

9.1 Research undertaken by a Project Director may be reviewed through the Monitoring and Advisory Committee constituted by the ICSSR and the project may be discontinued/terminated, if research progress is found unsatisfactory or any ICSSR rules are violated.

9.2 The Project Coordinator/Project Director would organize a workshop before submission of the final report. The workshop would deliberate on compilation, organization and analyses of data on the respective scheme/policy initiative.

9.3 ICSSR expects the Project Coordinator/Project Director to submit a final report of high quality which is worth publishing by a reputed publisher. Depending upon the recommendation for publication of Final Report as a book, with suggested modifications or improvements, the ICSSR will have first right to publish under its rules and policy.

9.4 All project related queries will be addressed to the Project Coordinator/Project Director/ Affiliating Institution for their timely reply.

9.5 The ICSSR may, at any time, ask for verification of accounts and other relevant documents related to the Project.

9.6 ICSSR may have Mid-term Appraisal of Research Project through its team of experts.

9.7 ICSSR reserves the right to affiliate a study with any of its Regional Centres or Research Institutes or any other institute of national importance for ensuring quality and convenience in completion of the study.

9.8 In case, the Project Coordinator /Project Director does not submit the periodic / final project report as per the schedule with adequate justification, the scholar may be debarred from availing all future financial assistance from ICSSR and the complete amount released has to be refunded with penal interest.


10.  Other Conditions

10.1 The contingency grant may be utilized for stationery, computer typing related costs, specialised assistance such as data analysis, consultation for field trips etc., related to the research project.

10.2 Retired teachers and government/defence officers can also apply under the scheme however, they are required to affiliate to ICSSR Regional Centres / Research Institutes / institute of national importance / UGC recognized Indian university/deemed university of his/her choice.

10.3 Defaulters of any previous fellowship/project/grant of the ICSSR will not be eligible for consideration until the applicant obtains the clearance from the concerned administrative division.

10.4 There will be a gap of minimum two years between two ICSSR research projects. However, in highly relevant and good proposals, this condition may be exempted by the relevant Committee(s). It is mandatory to mention the Projects undertaken in the application form by the researcher in the past. Concealing of information may lead to cancellation of the project.

10.5 No scholar will be allowed to take up a research project along with any ICSSR fellowship.

10.6 Foreign trips are not permissible within the scheme.  However, the Project Director may undertake data collection outside India in exceptional cases and if warranted by the needs of the proposal. For this he/she is required to apply separately for consideration under the Data Collection Scheme of the ICSSR International Collaboration Division but any rejection there should not have any bearing on the study and cannot be taken as an excuse.

10.7 Request for additional grant in excess of the sanctioned budget will not be considered.

10.8 The Project Coordinator /Project Director shall be personally responsible for timely completion of the Project.

10.9 The Project proposal/final report cannot be submitted for the award of any University degree/diploma or funding by any Institution by any member of the project staff, including the Project Director.

10.10 Purchase of equipment/ assets for the research project is permissible only if it is originally proposed and approved by the ICSSR during the award and does not exceed the permissible amount and follows the rules of the affiliating institution.

10.11 The Project Coordinator /Project Director shall report to the ICSSR, in case he/she makes any changes in the research design at any stage. No major change can be made therein, without the prior approval of the ICSSR.

10.12 Regarding transfer of a project/appointment of substitute Project Director:

a) On the request from a university/institute, the ICSSR may permit the appointment of a substitute Project Coordinator /Project Director in exceptional circumstances.

b) The ICSSR may also appoint a substitute Project Coordinator /Project Director, if it is convinced that the original awardee of the project will not be in a position to carry out the study successfully.

c) The ICSSR may transfer the place of the Project from one affiliating institution to another subject to submission of the following:

  1. Satisfactory progress report (s);
  2. No objection certificate from both previous and the new university/institute;
  3. Audited statement of account and utilization certificate along with unspent balance, if any.

However, no transfer of Project Coordinator/Project Director should be requested in the last three months of the study.

d) Overhead charges will be proportionately shared among the institutes as per the grant released or as may be finally decided by the ICSSR.

e) In case of superannuation of Project Coordinator /Project Director and if the rules of the institution so require the transfer of the project to a serving faculty member may be considered with prior approval of the ICSSR. The credit of the project shall belong to the original submitting Project Coordinator /Project Director.

10.13 The proposals submitted under this Special Call shall not be considered under any other call(s) and require a fresh proposal submission as per the conditions laid down therein.

10.14 The ICSSR reserves the right to reject any application without assigning any reason and will not be responsible for any postal delays/loss.

10.15 Incomplete applications in any respect will not be considered.

10.16 The final authority related to the interpretation of the guidelines or any issue is vested with the ICSSR.

10.17 No queries will be entertained by the ICSSR until the final declaration of results against a Call. Any lobbying for an award will lead to disqualification.

10.18 ICSSR makes positive efforts to encourage less represented sections such as women, people belonging to Educationally Backward Areas/Districts, Minorities, Differently Abled, etc.

10.19 The scholar should not have been subjected to any disciplinary/legal action/proceedings/ financial penalties in his/her career/research career.

10.20 The final report submitted by the scholar will be considered as satisfactory only after final recommendation of acceptance by the expert/experts appointed by the ICSSR.

10.21 The ICSSR reserves all rights to publish the project funded by it, provided the work is recommended for publication by the ICSSR appointed expert/experts.

10.22 The ICSSR reserves the right to change the affiliation if it is found that the affiliating institute is not co-operating with the scholar and it is not facilitating timely completion of the study.

10.23 As per the directions of the Ministry of Education (MoE), the amount of grant sanctioned is to be utilized within the duration of the project. Any amount of the grant remaining unspent shall be refunded to the ICSSR immediately after the expiry of the duration of the project. If the grantee fails to utilize the grant for the purpose for which the same has been sanctioned/or fails to submit the audited statement of expenditure within the stipulated period, the grantee will be required to refund.


11.  Completion of the project

11.1 On completion of the project, the scholar should submit the following:

A Book-length final Report in a publishable form along with an Executive Summary of the report (5000 words). Both documents should be submitted in hard copies (three copies of final report and three copies of summary) and a soft copy (in pen drive).

11.2 If ICSSR approves the publication of the research work, the scholar should acknowledge that the project has been sponsored by the ICSSR, in all publications resulting from the project output (Research Paper, Books, Articles, Reports, etc.) and should submit a copy of the same to the ICSSR during the course of the study or even after its completion.


12. Obligations of the Affiliating Institution

12.1 The affiliating institution is required to give an undertaking in the prescribed format contained in the Application Form to administer and manage the ICSSR grant. It is required to open a dedicated account for fund transfer under PFMS.

12.2 It is also required to provide the requisite research infrastructure to the scholar and maintain proper accounts.

12.3 The affiliating institution will be under obligation to ensure submission of the final report and an Audited Statement of Accounts and Utilization Certificate, (in the prescribed Proforma GFR 12-A) duly certified by the Competent authority of the institution.

12.4 In case of collaborative studies, the affiliating institution of the Project Coordinator will be under obligation to ensure submission of the final report and an Audited Statement of Accounts and Utilization Certificate, (in the prescribed Proforma GFR 12-A) duly certified by the Competent Authority of the institution.

12.5 The affiliating institution shall make suitable arrangements for preservation of data such as filled-in schedules, tabulation sheets, manuscripts, reports, etc. relating to the study. The ICSSR reserves the right to demand raw data, or such parts of the study as it deems fit.