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Funding Research

THE SOCIETY for Psychical Research supports research projects undertaken by individuals and by postgraduate students at universities.

Two research areas are covered.  One seeks to produce evidence of – and to understand the nature and causes of – psi: the anomalous mental phenomena known individually as telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition (also called ‘extra-sensory perception’ or ESP), and psychokinesis (PK).

This is done either by surveys and analyses of spontaneous experiences, for instance of precognitive dreams, apparitions and out-of-body episodes, investigation of gifted psychics, and controlled statistical experiments.

Other research seeks to know whether humans survive bodily death, by evaluating apparent evidence of this: for instance in mediumship, apparitions of the dead and reincarnation studies.

The Society runs two funds for these separate purposes.

General Psi Research

A Research Fund supports research in any recognised area of psychical research not directly related to survival.

Applications for grants (normally up to £7,000) are considered annually by the Research Grants Committee. Please download a form and apply by post to Research Grants Committee, SPR, 1 Vernon Mews, London W14 0RL, or by email secretary@spr.ac.uk.  The deadline for the year is June 1. Please include:

  • a description of the proposed research, including its rationale and hypotheses/anticipated outcomes (max 1500 words)
  • a general description of the methodology
  • costing, itemising specific elements
  • a short CV
  • names of two referees

Give full details about any other sources of funding for the project and indicate which aspects this will cover.

Awards are limited to one project per year. A report of the completed research must be received by the Chairperson of the Research Grants Committee before new projects can be considered.  

Survival Research

The Survival Research Fund supports scientific research into the fundamental question of whether some aspect of consciousness or personality survives the death of the body so it is very much a restricted fund.  This is because some of the money in the Fund has been donated by Henry Burton Tate, of Tate & Lyle Sugar Company who had a great interest in the paranormal.  The SPR had to abide by the terms in his will which restricted the money to be used for pursuing a theory of survival after death.

Typical awards are in the order of £3,000 and unlikely to exceed £5,000. Projects must be for scientific research into the question of whether some aspect of consciousness or personality survives the death of the body. The SPR Suvival Research Fund is a restricted fund, much of it donated in the early twentieth century by Henry Burton Tate, of Tate & Lyle Sugar Company, for this specific purpose following the death of his daughter Gwen at an early age.

The fund supports projects that

  • aim to generate new evidence for survival
  • collate, analyse and/or disseminate relevant evidence
  • draw on such evidence for theory development
  • generate theoretical frameworks for relevant theory building.

Examples of relevant research are projects that

  • collate evidence and align disparate strands
  • generate new evidence, for instance through replicating previous approaches or through new work with prominent psychics
  • make use of survival evidence, for instance to build theories or integrate it into current scientific knowledge
  • generate frameworks for theory building
  • stimulate thinking about fruitful approaches
  • disseminate evidence, analysis and results of research

The focus is on the truth or otherwise of survival claims: projects examining psychological or sociological aspects of belief in survival are unlikely to be considered.

Typical awards are in the order of £3,000 and are unlikely to exceed £5,000. The annual submissions deadline is June 1, except for applications for less than £1000, which may be considered at any time.

Proposals should be no more than three pages, outlining the project’s tasks, cost breakdown, outputs, strategic promise and relevance to the aims of the Fund. The proposer should demonstrate familiarity with relevant methods in survival research and place the work in the context of previous research.

Please include a CV and the names of two referees.

Proposals should be sent to Survival Research Committee, 1 Vernon Mews, London W14 0RL  or via email to secretary@spr.ac.uk