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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

Boosting member-led research

Do you have a great idea for a research project but feel daunted by the thought of carrying out a literature search, researching information sources, collecting data and presenting it in a consistent format? You may be interested to know that the Management Board has allocated £50,000 to boost member-led research, which you can apply for through your practice area or member interest group. One of the criteria is that the additional funding should have a material impact on the success of the research, as illustrated by a project the Profession has supported over the last twelve months.

Earlier this year Brian Ridsdale and Adrian Gallop authored a paper Mortality by cause of death and by socio-economic and demographic stratification, which was presented to the International Congress of Actuaries in Cape Town. This paper would never have come to fruition without the help of their research assistant, Timothy Lee, who was funded by an Actuarial Profession research grant. A recent MSc graduate from Heriot- Watt University, Timothy was recruited via an advert circulated last summer to university departments of actuarial science in a process managed by the Profession.

As a graduate actively looking for a job related to mortality investigation, Timothy saw this as a great opportunity to gain experience while applying for a job. Timothy’s input included compiling the bibliography using EndNote software, researching data sources and presenting data graphically in a consistent format. Shortly after the end of his contract with the Profession, Timothy started work as a student actuary but continued to be involved with the project through to completion and gave a presentation on it at his place of work.

Brian Ridsdale said: “Adrian and I were keen to develop our paper but it required a great deal of work following up on demographic, medical and actuarial papers, both nationally and internationally, within a short time-scale. We had to synthesise and re-present findings from a variety of authors in a consistent format, which often required going back to the original source of data. Tim put his university training to very good use and contributed to the whole project, including the structure and content of the paper, by helping to review the literature, obtaining data and commenting on the text. We were delighted that he stayed with us after completing his contract to see the paper finalised.”

Timothy enjoyed his involvement with the project. He commented: “I am very thankful for the grant. It allowed me the opportunity to work with some of the friendliest and most knowledgeable professionals in the field of mortality research. While assisting Brian and Adrian, I attended the conference ‘joining forces on mortality and longevity’, which furthered my knowledge of current issues on mortality research. The experience opened doors to my personal career development and strengthened my interest in mortality research.”

Employing a research assistant is not the only way that a research grant might help. You can find more ideas and further information at www.actuaries.org.uk/ knowledge/research/applying_for_funding. Any bids for funding should be made via your practice area or member interest group (MIG) managers, and should have the support of the relevant practice area executive committee or MIG committee. These will then be submitted to the member support executive committee for consideration — the first time will be in September this year.

If you feel that a research grant might help bring your research to fruition, please contact Ruth Loseby, ruth.loseby@actuaries.org.uk, or your practice area or MIG manager for an initial chat.