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The Practitioner Research Fund

Apply to the 2023 Practitioner Research Fund.


Category information

This biennial award is open to RTPI members who are working in practice and wish to submit proposals for research they want to undertake in the future.

A judging panel will assess the quality of proposals, and two winners will each receive £5,000 towards the costs of completing and publishing their research, which they will have circa six months to complete.

The RTPI Awards for Research Excellence recognise and promote high quality and impactful spatial planning research from RTPI accredited planning schools and planning practitioners in the UK, the Republic of Ireland and internationally. The Awards are intended to:

  1. Recognise the best spatial planning research from RTPI accredited planning schools and members;
  2. Highlight the implications of academic research for policy and practice;
  3. Recognise the valuable contribution of planning practitioners (in the public and private sectors) to planning research; and
  4. Promote planning research generally.

Being shortlisted or winning these prestigious awards is a clear demonstration of the quality of your work. All shortlisted and winning entrants will be provided with an RTPI Awards for Research Excellence logo, which can be used on your website, email, social media, and promotional materials. We wish you the best of luck.


The Practitioner Research Fund

The Practitioner Research Fund is open to all RTPI members, except those employed by, enrolled at, or affiliated to, an academic institution at the time of submission. Individual members who work in a non-academic research role (for example, in a think tank, charity or research-focused planning consultancy) may apply, but should be aware that proposals will be judged on the likelihood that the funding will enable individuals to carry out research which they would have been otherwise unable to conduct (see point 5 of the judging criteria, below). Collaborative bids, in which multiple eligible individuals come together to bid for one of the two pots of funding, are welcome.  

It is important to note that by submitting an entry to this award, entrants confirm that their employers are fully aware of, and also support, their application. 

Submitted proposals must be for additional work done in the course of normal practice, and the proposed work should take less than six months to complete. The grant could be used for study leave (e.g. allowing an employer to cover an employee’s absence), travel/expenses, materials, etc.) 

If you are unsure about eligibility, or suitable uses of the grant money, please contact the RTPI research team at [email protected] 

Geographical coverage

The submitted research and its potential implications for planning policy and practice can relate to anywhere in the world (focus on UK or Ireland is not required).

The definition of ‘planning research’

We interpret ‘planning research’ broadly. For example, research could primarily have implications for planning education or professional development, rather than practice or policy. Though the awards focus on spatial planning research, we encourage interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research. We welcome non-traditional pieces of research such as applied research, action research or research by design.

For the purposes of the award, ‘research’ is a single piece of research and the actions directly related to its communication and dissemination. For example, a single article, a single chapter in an edited book, a single report, a book, a toolbox, a project, or a plan can all be considered as ‘research’. Wider research programmes edited thematic numbers and books comprised of different contributions, and series or collections are not considered as ‘research’ for the purposes of the award.

Judging criteria

Proposals submitted to the Practitioner Research Fund will be judged across each of the above materials on the following criteria: 

  1. Relevance of topic: The research proposal puts forward an original approach to issues and themes of current concern and relevance to spatial planning  
  2. Understanding of topic: The research proposal demonstrates a strong understanding of the research topic and related fields of enquiry 
  3. Ability to conduct the research to a high standard: The methodology, proposed methods and plan for spending the funding are clearly articulated and rigorous, and the entrant’s CV demonstrates the ability to conduct the research to a high standard 
  4. Likelihood of impact: There is a clear strategy for ensuring that the findings will be impactful, and that they are disseminated effectively to relevant audiences 
  5. The spirit of the Practitioner Research Fund: This fund exists to enable creative, novel, practitioner research which would not happen otherwise. Proposals should make clear how the awarded funding will enable the entrant to carry out research which they would not otherwise have been able to do.  

The final award of funds to the winners of the Practitioner Research Fund will be dependent on the RTPI, the winner, and the paired RTPI planning school agreeing to a final project plan. 

Terms and Conditions

  1. Full submissions must be received by the RTPI by 14 May 2023.
  2. The RTPI reserves the right to share submissions with our member magazine The Planner.
  3. The RTPI reserves the right to share submissions and entry forms with our judging panel.
  4. Submitted material will be retained electronically by the RTPI.
  5. The Royal Town Planning Institute is not liable for any costs you incur submitting this entry.
  6. The decisions of the judging panel are final, and no correspondence will be entered into before or after the event.

[1] For the purposes of the Student Award, all types of membership (excluding Affiliate membership) are considered.