Developing, administering and validating our exams brings us into collaboration with a wide range of different individuals, groups and institutions, including:
- test takers
- educational publishers
- major commercial organisations
- local, regional and national government bodies.
Additionally, we work closely with our own international network of centres, examiners and materials writers.
Working together with all of these groups is important to the development of our exams, but as a not-for-profit organisation we also have a responsibility to contribute to the wider world of education and assessment. A number of our key collaborations are with organisations such as the Council of Europe, ALTE, SurveyLang and English Profile that are involved in the research and further development of international standards and benchmarks for language learning, teaching and assessment.
Cambridge English Language Assessment is one of the key partners in the English Profile programme, which is further developing the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).
English Profile will deliver the CEFR for English – detailed descriptions of what English learners can be expected to know at each CEFR level.
More about English Profile
Every year Cambridge English Language Assessment makes funding available for various research projects to be conducted during the following calendar year.
Educational institutions and suitably qualified researchers are invited to apply for funding to undertake research in relation to the Cambridge English range of examinations and teaching qualifications.
Funded projects are typically supported up to a maximum of UK£15,000.
Areas of interest:
- Test validation
- Contexts of test use
- Test impact
- Learning-oriented assessment
Applying for Round 5 funding
The Call for Proposals is now closed.
Download Call for Proposals
To apply for Round 5, complete the proposal form.
Download the Proposal Form
If you have any questions, consult our FAQs:
Download the FAQs
Key dates for all rounds
Call for proposals: 1 August
Application deadline: 1 October
Read about Round 1 of funded research in Research Notes 47 (PDF 3.9mb).
Read about Round 2 of funded research in Research Notes 52 (PDF 2.2mb).
Educational institutions and suitably qualified individuals are invited to apply for funding to undertake applied research projects in relation to the IELTS (International English Language Testing System). Financial support for individual projects selected will in principle be limited to a maximum of UK£45,000/AUD$70,000.
Key dates for 2013
Research commences: January 2013
Final reports due: December 2013
Click here to find out how to apply
We consider all requests for access to unpublished data and materials very carefully.
Though we try to respond positively, please note that it is sometimes not possible to provide what is requested. Granting access to materials such as live test materials, rating scale instruments, candidates’ test scores or examination scripts raises issues of security and confidentiality; for ethical reasons, we can only release test scores and performance data in very special and controlled circumstances, and subject to data protection legislation and recognised standards for good research practice.
Making a request
To request confidential data, please send us a formal written request which outlines:
- the theoretical background for your study
- the research questions you want to investigate
- exactly what data/material you need from us
- your proposed methodology and analytical approach(es)
- the anticipated outcomes in terms of publications, presentations, etc.
If you are a PhD or Master’s student, we also ask for a letter from your academic supervisor in support of your request. You should send your written request, along with your supervisor’s letter, in the first instance to:
Dr Ardeshir Geranpayeh
Research and Validation Group
Cambridge English Language Assessment
1 Hills Road
Cambridge CB1 2EU
What happens next?
If we approve your request, we will draw up a formal agreement for you to sign. The agreement specifies the terms and conditions under which we will grant you access to and use of any data/materials we provide; it also affirms the right of Cambridge English Language Assessment to see and comment on all papers/reports before publication/presentation in the public domain. We expect researchers to remain in regular contact with us throughout their research and to return any data/materials on completion of their project in line with the signed agreement. We also expect to be kept informed of presentations and publications arising from the research.
Why might my request not be approved?
There are various reasons why we may not be able to approve a request for data/materials:
- we may not have the data you want from us in the form in which you need it (e.g. certain candidate background information)
- we may not be able to provide what is requested according to your time frame or other requirements
- we may feel that the proposed study is not sufficiently well designed to investigate the research questions, especially if they are complex or sensitive.
PhD and Master’s students often ask us to supply them with specific performance and/or score data; sometimes we are able to do this, but on many occasions it is not possible for the reasons explained above. However, as ‘researchers in training’, there is great value in you planning and managing your own data collection activity; it means you can construct a balanced sample with known characteristics, and you can also gather valuable additional background information on the subjects in your study, via questionnaires, focus groups or verbal protocol analysis.
Even if we are not able to provide you with test score and performance data for analysis, we can sometimes provide specimen or retired test materials for you to gather your own score/performance data.
What sort of research does Cambridge English Language Assessment support?
We find it easiest to support research studies that are well designed and that overlap with our own research interests and validation priorities. In recent years, for example, we have been able to provide several PhD students at UK and US universities with audio recordings of performances in Cambridge English Speaking tests so that they could analyse and describe the test takers’ language output.
These studies were not only of interest to the general language testing field in terms of methodologies used and the outcomes observed, but they were also of special interest to Cambridge English Language Assessment within our ongoing process of validating Speaking test design in our examinations.
Find out more – read Research Notes for some examples of funded research.
In Profiling English in China: The Pearl River Delta, David Graddol explores the changing status of the English language in a part of China undergoing rapid economic, social and political transformation.
Breaking new methodological ground, he demonstrates how a study of public discourse – in newspapers, blogs, signs and advertisements in the urban landscape – can be used to monitor the complex changing role that English is now playing in education, employment and evolving social identities. He argues that researchers need to distinguish between different levels of English proficiency more sensitively and illustrates how the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) can be used as a research tool by sociolinguists.
Profiling English in China: The Pearl River Delta is intended as the first of a series of books exploring the changing social, economic and educational contexts in which English is learned and used. The book presents methods of inquiry which will be useful for researchers working in other parts of the world, and will be essential reading for anyone seeking a wider understanding of the role of English in globalisation and economic development.
Download the complete book