Research proposals under the scheme Impactful Policy Research in Social Sciences (IMPRESS) and Scheme for Promotion of Academic and Research Collaboration (SPARC) will be invited online by the HRD Ministry. While IMPRESS is a version of IMPRINT in the area of social sciences, SPARC is for joint collaboration in research with foreign countries.

HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar said that there is also a need to give importance to research in social sciences. Two cycles of Impacting Research Innovation and Technology (IMPRINT) have been completed under which 1500 project proposals were received in each cycle. “To encourage research in social sciences, we have launched IMPRESS,” said Javadekar on Thursday after launching the portal for IMPRESS.

He said students go to foreign countries for research. The joint research project will allow foreign faculty to come to India to pursue research and teaching. “To prevent brain drain and increase brain gain, the scheme, SPARC has been launched,” said Javadekar.

Institutions that are eligible for IMPRESS include central and state universities, private universities which are receiving grants from UGC and ICSSR-funded or recognised research institutes. The eligible institutions for SPARC are those which have made it to the top 100 in various categories in National Institutional Ranking Framework.

A sum of Rs 418 crore has been allocated for SPARC for 600 joint research proposals. IIT Kharagpur is the coordinating institute for SPARC. The research project will be spread over a period of two years between 2018-2019 and 2019- 20. A team of eight researchers including faculty members from a foreign university and Indian university and students from a foreign university and Indian university can form a team and complete a research project. Research proposals which are approved will get up to Rs 1 crore.

Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) will be the implementing project agency for IMPRESS. A sum of Rs 414 crore has been sanctioned for IMPRESS. About 1500 research projects will get Rs 20-25 lakh which will include expenditure on travelling. It covers the entire faculty team.

Under SPARC, eligible Indian educational institutions can collaborate in joint research projects with universities which are among the top 500 universities according to QS World University Ranking from 28 selected countries. The scheme will enable a student to do research in laboratories of the world’s best universities for a year. Foreign faculty can also stay in India to pursue teaching and research.

Research proposals for IMPRESS will be invited in four rounds and the process of evaluation will be completed in 90 days. The experts for evaluation for proposals will be persons of eminence. There will be a blind peer review of the research proposals. There will also be a third party evaluation of the projects in March 2021..