ONS Research Excellence Awards 2021. Apply now!

Louise Corti Callum Barnes, ONSLouise Corti and Callum Barnes on the importance of recognising and celebrating impactful research through the ONS Research Excellence Awards.




Each year, the ONS Research Excellence Awards recognise and celebrate work that has produced an outstanding impact in its field. The Office for National Statistics looks to champion innovative research that has delivered public good or informed policy decisions, using our data or data we make available on behalf of others.

Supporting your research journey

We know that researchers invest a substantial amount of human resource in their research endeavours. The research life cycle – from the inkling of an idea, to formulating this into a coherent question, then preparing and modelling data to publishing in a journal or a report being submitted as evidence for Select Committee hearing can be long and arduous; but also incredibly rewarding.

As service providers, we don’t always hear about your successes and the difference your research is making. We aim to support your journey, helping train you to become accredited, help shape your project application so it meets standards for Committee appraisal, answer your service related questions, and respond to your pre-publication and final publication output requests as quickly as we are able.

We also want to showcase and celebrate the fruits of your labour. The ONS Research Excellence Awards are one way we are able to do this.

Not only do they provide you with an opportunity to tell us what great things have happened with your research but they also help expose your work to the various research and data owner and producer communities. Through such knowledge exchanges we help you accelerate the impact of your work.

Further, by increasing our knowledge of outputs and outcomes, we can help provide important feedback to the data owners and governance bodies that have agreed for your research to take place for the public good.

Celebrating our winners

Last year, in 2020, we received 20 exceptional submissions on a variety of subjects, including research that was instrumental in shaping government coronavirus (COVID-19) decision-making and analysis.

The winners were chosen by an independent expert judging panel, with the exception of the People’s Choice award, which was chosen by public vote.

The three 2020 winning entries covered perinatal care, social inequalities and breast cancer research, each project demonstrates the core values of ONS; ambitious, inclusive, sustainable or radical.

We asked our winners what it meant to them winning the Research Excellence Award.

Winner, Research Excellence Award

Dr Gurdeep S. Mannu et al. of the University of Oxford won this award for their research on Invasive breast cancer and breast cancer mortality after ductal carcinoma in situ in women attending for breast screening in England, 1988 to 2014.

I was delighted our work received the 2020 ONS Research Excellence Award. This award recognises the innovative ways ONS data can be used in research to provide valuable insights. This award helped raise awareness of our work and I would strongly encourage entries for the 2021 awards.”

Dr Gurdeep Mannu


Winner, Programme Award (Special recognition):

Sir Richard Blundell et al. at the ESRC Centre for the Microeconomic Analysis of Public Policy (CPP) at the Institute for Fiscal Studies and University College London won this award for their work on informing policies to tackle inequalities, including Intergenerational differences in income and wealth.

“The administrative data revolution has dramatically changed the way we do research in empirical economics. ONS microdata has been invaluable in our research at IFS into understanding a range of inequalities in the UK and I was delighted to receive the 2020 ONS Research Excellence Award for this work. The receipt of the award has enormously enhanced the visibility for our research using administrative data and highlighted the valuable link with ONS.”

Sir Richard Blundell


Winner, People’s Choice Award

Oliver Hugh of the Perinatal Institute won the People’s Choice Award for his research, ‘An investigation into the effect of implementation of the Growth Assessment Protocol (GAP) on stillbirth rates in England’.

The ONS Research Excellence Award was a welcome acknowledgment of our innovative approach to study quality ONS data. Our findings improved our understanding of the factors that contributed to reducing stillbirth rates in England, and the Award helped to broadcast the results to a wider audience. This helped in raising awareness on the effectiveness of stillbirth prevention strategies in the NHS.”

Oliver Hugh


We would also like to celebrate those researchers who were commended and given special recognition for their work.

Commended for the considerable impact on government decision-making in response to the coronavirus pandemic

Fergus Cummings and the Bank of England with the Bank of England’s Interim Financial Stability Report, May 2020.

Commended for the considerable impact on government decision-making in response to the coronavirus pandemic

Heather Bovill, ONS researcher in partnership with the University of Oxford, University of Manchester, Public Health England and Wellcome Trust for their work on the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey.

Commended for collaboration and impact

Lucy Bryant of the Institute of Alcohol Studies (IAS) for her research project, ‘The socioeconomic distribution of alcohol-related violence and anti-social behaviour in England and Wales’.

Special recognition

Emily Murray of University College London for her project, ‘Looked-after Children Grown Up’.


Building on last year’s Research Excellence awards

We worked with our winners to produce case studies, based on the winning entries. We created and posted videos based on each of our three award winners to share their amazing work. We heard from Sir Ian Diamond, Dr. Gurdeep S. Mannu (Oxford University) and Dr. Anbalakan Paramasivam (Cancer Research UK) to learn how new insight on invasive breast cancer and breast cancer mortality after ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) in women will have important implications on policy and national guidelines.

We also run our ONS Research Excellence Series of talks.

Join us on Tuesday 13 July for the first presented by two of our 2020 finalists for their work on The socio-economic distribution of alcohol related violence and anti-social behaviour in England and Wales.

Book now to learn more.


Nominations are now open!

This year we anticipate another round of excellent entries from users of ONS secure data assets, through the ONS Secure Research Service (SRS) or the UK Data Service’s Secure Lab.

We have a great external judging panel lined up, who will formally assess shorted entries around four core criteria:

  • methodology, including peer review and evaluation
  • collaboration
  • communication and presentation of research
  • public benefit and impact

This year we have made some exciting additions to the Awards this year, with two new categories: the Early Career Research Award and the Use of Linked Administrative Data Award.

Nominations close at midnight on Friday 30 July. Apply now!

This year, winners will be celebrated by ONS and the research community at the ONS Research Capability Conference in London on Wednesday 13 October presented by National Statistician, Professor Sir Ian Diamond.

Research Capability 2021 – Celebrating and building excellence – 13th October 2021.


To find out more, visit the ONS website or contact SRS.Dev-Impact@ons.gov.uk
Follow ONSfocus on Twitter.


About the authors

Louise Corti is Head of Impact, Insights and Development for the Integrated Data Programme and Service at the Office or National Statistics.

Her teams focus on measuring and demonstrating outcome and impact from research use of ONS controlled data assets, and capacity building and user engagement activities.

Callum Barnes is Relations Manager for the Integrated Data Programme and Service at the Office for National Statistics.

His team are responsible for engaging with the research community, facilitating two-way communication and producing a series of virtual and live events, such as Research Capability 2021 in London this October.


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