Griffins Society Visiting Research Fellowships Programme
Tips on making a successful application
Talk it over
If you have an idea for a research project but are not sure if it is suitable or viable, get in touch with The Griffins Fellowship Programme Manager, and talk it over - we welcome informal enquiries from potential applicants. We do not expect you to be professional researchers: if your central idea is interesting, we are happy to offer guidance on how to formulate your thoughts into a research proposal.
Also, talk to colleagues or other people who might be interested to get their perspective on your ideas - they might have some useful comments to make. We also advise you to discuss your application with your employers where relevant (see below).
Don't try and cover too many issues - the most successful applicants are usually those who have focused on a specific issue or idea rather than having too broad a topic.
You only have one year to complete and write up your research so make sure it's managable and not too big. We will help you refine your ideas and advise on how to ensure you complete the project in the given time, but we do like to see that you're being realistic about what you can achieve in a year.
We have developed an advisory timetable which you should take into account when developing your research ideas. Whilst you don't have to stick to the timetable, we do strongly encourage you to use it to structure your research proposal:
Issues to discuss with your employers
As we require a letter of support from applicants’ employers, we have outlined some of the main issues you should discuss with your employers when approaching them about the Fellowship Programme. Not all these issues will be relevant to every applicant and/or employer.
Relevance of your research to your work:
Time off for visits to London:
Time off for research work:
We understand that you are probably not experienced at writing research proposals, so we've included the successful applications from previous years here as a guide to help you write your own. Whilst there is no set format and you are free to individualise the layout and content of your proposal, the following are a useful starting point.
See Fellows' final Research Papers here
I qualified as a Probation Officer in 2002 after completing my Diploma in Probation Studies. I currently work in one of four custodial units in the country that has been newly created to hold females aged under-18 and serving Detention and Training Orders. My role includes the delivery of offending behaviour programmes.
Aim: To identify 'what works' for this specific offender group.
Rationale: The Rivendell Unit at HMP New Hall (which opened December 2005) represents part of a “visionary” new approach towards this particular group of offenders. A central issue is finding the balance between rehabilitation and punishment and what can be most usefully achieved in a custodial setting for this age group. The fundamental aim of my role is to prevent re-offending in the community. I am interested in what could be most effectively included in the offending-behaviour focused work that will be delivered upon a group basis. Much of the available material is based upon wider criteria and I would like to develop existing research, including that of Rebecca Clarke (former Griffins Fellow) which examined '"What Works?" for Women Who Offend', to explore the experiences of the girls and what should be incorporated into programme delivery.
The Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2001 required Prison and Probation to jointly assess and manage sexual and violent offenders. This led to the development of MAPPA, which brought together a range of agencies to improve assessment and management of this group (including health and social services, police and housing). Yet very little is known about the characteristics of those dealt with by MAPPA, and even less about those females in the system. This research will take an unprecedented look at the assessment and management of female offenders within the MAPPA system. The final report will highlight best practice and provide recommendations for future policy and practice of how MAPPA manages female offenders.
Aims and objectives of the research:
To identify the needs and risks posed by women compared to their male counterparts:
1. What are the crimineogenic needs of High and Very High risk female offenders and how does this differ from male offenders?
2. What risks (in respect of nature, level and who to) do High and Very High risk female offenders pose and how does this differ from male offenders?
How are these needs and risks addressed in MAPPA?
3. What are the specific issues (for example; accommodation, health, ensuring compliance) for the management of High/ Very High Risk female offenders?
4. What difficulties/ issues do practitioners face in managing such cases?
5. What are good examples of risk management cases in MAPPA and what can be learnt?
In-depth literature review: including policy and practice papers, Probation and Home Office literature, journal articles and other publications.
Quantitative study: (Questions 1, 2, 3, above)
Qualitative study: (Questions 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, above)
October 2006 November 2006 (2 months): Literature Review
December 2006 March 2007 (4 months): Data Collection
Dissemination of Research:April 2007 August 2007 (5 months): Data Analysis and Write Up
 Individual cases will not be informed of the research due to the nature of the risk posed and the context of the research (that it focuses specifically on the management of high risk cases).
I am a probation officer working in Cumbria, the second largest county in England with a sparse population of just under half a million people. Largely rural, Cumbria has similarities to urban areas, inasmuch as there are problems with drugs and alcohol and anti-social behaviour.
In my work I have noticed that opportunities given to females in prisons, while valuable to those who live in towns and cities, may be of limited use to females who resettle in a rural environment. This made me consider to what extent living in a rural community affects the chances of successful resettlement for female offenders and the nature of the difficulties these women face. I would like to research the provisions that are available to this minority group, to what extent these services are accessible, and how any disadvantages can be overcome. It may be that female offenders in a rural setting require a different kind of support from those who live in the towns and cities, and hopefully such research would highlight this.
The Aims of the Research are:
1) To examine the needs of female offenders who resettle in a rural environment in comparison to those who resettle in an urban environment.
2) To research the agencies that are available and accessible to female offenders in rural areas and establish the services that they offer.
3) To evaluate the agencies and services that are county wide in addition to those that are nationwide.
4) To identify the issues and opportunities which are available to females during their imprisonment and relate these to their future resettlement in a rural environment.
The Proposed Outcomes of the Research are:
1) To establish a profile of female offenders who live in a rural environment in order to highlight their unique needs and difficulties.
2) To make an evaluation of existing service providers and to ascertain the extent to which they are accessible, with the aim of providing increased access if needed.
3) To consider the advantages and strengths of county wide agencies.
4) To match the opportunities offered to females in prison with the needs of those who resettle in a rural environment. If they are relevant, to see how these experiences can be developed to the best advantage.
1) Identify female offenders who are re-settling in the rural community and interview them.
2) Analyse the factors that assist or hinder the resettlement.
3) Contact Probation Officers for additional information.
4) Focus on the opportunities that have arisen during the imprisonment of female offenders and discuss those which were relevant to their resettlement prospects (and those which were not).
5) Establish the agencies that provide special services to communities in rural settings (I know that some special provisions are in place; for example, a mobile police station visits 80 villages across north and east Cumbria on a monthly basis).
6) Target the agencies by providing them with preliminary information about the proposed research project. Enlist the help of these agencies by offering to work alongside them during the research, adhering to their aims and objectives.
October 2006 January 2007
February 2007 April 2007
May 2007 July 2007
August 2007 September 2007
This research would be an investigation to attempt to understand the epistemology behind arts intervention with female offenders. I hope to validate the belief that access to culture for female offenders is a human right and combats social exclusion upon resettlement from custody
Culture has been given a massive role to play in regeneration and urban renewal schemes; arts organisations are urged to become ‘agents of social change’ (Culture and Creativity DCMS 2001). Education and the role of the arts in society changes with different government objectives. Within the offending community it is argued that the arts can raise self-esteem, confidence and creativity, which in turn helps people develop more active, fulfilled and social lives (GLLAM Report 2000). Through my work as an arts practitioner at HMP Askham Grange I have witnessed female offenders commit to emotional and intense arts projects with huge benefits. Women gain transferable life skills and a renewed interest in learning. Artistic intervention at the end of sentence and upon release can act as a catalyst for lifelong learning, a different way to live and re-engage with society.
To test two hypotheses about the relevance of experience in the arts to resettlement:
Questions to be investigated:
· What artistic experiences has been available for female offenders
· How were the women benefiting from exposure to the arts
· What are the lasting effects of the projects
· How did the subject content relate to resettlement issues
· What constitutes ‘good practice’ in this field
· How are the projects being used in through care and making long term changes
· How best can I disseminate the findings of this research and what are the long term implications
This research would be a piece of qualitative research using observations, questionnaires, field notes, semi-structured interviews and possibly action research. Many art interventions involve processes and experiences that are difficult to pin down in terms of what is happening and why. The limitations of the research would not allow for quantative or longitudinal studies.
It has been proposed that there are ‘no objective observations’ (Denzin and Lincoln 24:1998) and I acknowledge that I enter the process from inside an interpretive community; my personal history, biography, gender and social class shape the investigation. I would sustain a critical and objective approach by designing and responding to a specific questionnaire with questions relevant not only to my own projects but all arts experiences, enabling subjects to speak freely.
The research would start with an extensive literature review to bring the reader and myself up to date with current policy on prison reform, art and education in the offending community. Within an historical context this could refer to metaphors of improvement grounded in enlightenment thinking and the civilising rituals of museums and galleries. More recently it is argued that in rethinking what works with offenders that they need to be shown how to use civic institutions (Farrell 2002).
I have an opportunity to present various case studies in my discussion:
The first term would be spent on the literature review and devising a definitive and objective set of questions to investigate. The second term would be spent collecting the data, visiting the projects, carrying out interviews, observing and making fields notes. The final term would be spent analyzing the results and the implications and collating the material for the final report and dissemination.
Department for Culture, Media & Sport, (2001), Culture and Creativity The Next Ten Years. DCMS
Denzin, N. and Lincoln, Y. (eds) (1998), Collecting and Interpreting Qualitative Materials. London:Sage
Farrell (2002) Rethinking What Works with Offenders Londo
Group for Large Local Authority Museums. (2000) Museums and Social Inclusion: The GLAMM Report, Group for Large Local Authority Museums.
Silverman, (2002) ‘The Therapeutic Potential of Museums as Pathways to Inclusion. In:
Sandell, R. (2002), Museums, Society, Inequality. London: Routledge