Sigh. Another day, another bad news story. This time it's the British Academy, which is going to drop its popular Small Grants scheme and funding for conferences. This info leaked out as an afterthought in the 'Joint AHRC, BA and ESRC Statement on early and mid career support' . Whilst the three funders struggled to demonstrate their 'joined up thinking on cuts', they succeeded in doing nothing so much as highlighting how little support there'll be for anyone in the future.
The BA cuts are a particular blow to early career researchers. Whilst not huge (you could apply for up to £7.5k), the success rate was phenomenal (up to 75% at one stage), and they provided really useful 'enabling' money. Better still, it was a very simple application form, with the BA not asking for much more than a side of A4 on what you planned to do. You could do a pilot project, or undertake a visit, or set up a collaboration. It was often the first step on the ladder, the stepping stone to greater things.
Many in the Humanities and Social Sciences don't necessarily need large grants or prestigious programmes, and, as has been stated elsewhere on this blog, some great research comes out of this small acorn funding.
The cut doesn't make sense. Given the size of the grants, the BA isn't going to save itself much money. Instead, it will be discouraging those seeking their first grants, stymying those who are just setting out, and snuffing out plenty of good - albeit small - projects.
There'll be more info on the BA website in due course, I'm told, so keep checking there for a better rationale for the move. In the meantime the next round of Small Grants is likely to be their last, so get your skates on if you've been planning to submit.