English Profile is a collaborative programme, and we encourage research groups, educational establishments and suitably qualified individuals to submit proposals to undertake research projects in relevant areas. English Profile prioritises research which will contribute directly to the creation of a detailed set of Reference Level Descriptions for English for the Common European Framework (Council of Europe, 2001).

English Profile is not a funding body. However, we do encourage English Profile members to apply for funding from other sources, and we can provide limited support for funding bids. We also provide access to our corpora, and support for approved English Profile researchers.

The aim of the English Profile Programme is to specify more precisely, through systematic and empirically-based research, how the Common European Framework (CEF) levels can be operationalised for English, by producing comprehensive Reference Level Descriptions (RLDs). These RLDs will detail the grammar, vocabulary, functions and other language elements necessary to master each of the levels of the CEF, throwing light on what learners of English can and can’t do at each stage, and addressing how well they perform using the linguistic exponents of the language at their disposal. The emerging profile of English will thus provide a clear benchmark for English language learning and use.

Principal areas of interest include (although other relevant areas will also be considered):

1.    Grammar
•    Studies investigating forms and structures considered to characterise communication at any particular level(s) of the CEF.
2.    Discourse
•    Studies investigating the structure of discourse beyond the sentence across different genres.
•    Studies investigating spoken as well as written discourse.
3.    Lexical development
•    Studies investigating acquisition and use of vocabulary, collocation, register, idiom etc.
4.    Notions and functions
•    Studies investigating communicative notions and functions

Areas you will need to cover in your proposal include:

•    How will your research questions contribute to the aims of the English Profile Programme, ie the description of Learner English across the CEF levels?
•    Which of the CEF levels will you investigate and why?
•    Have you already collected the data you need, or do you require specific types of data in terms of L1, particular language items etc?
•    What are the likely timescales involved in your project? 

Access to the English Profile Corpus and the Cambridge Learner Corpus

Approved English Profile researchers will gain access to the Cambridge English Profile Corpus, which is a corpus of general and ESP learner English being collected at schools, universities, private language schools and other learning centers around the world.

Access to the Cambridge Learner Corpus will be provided if a valid reason for this access can be shown as part of a proposal submission. Access to the error-coded version of this corpus will also be possible, but again, a valid reason for this access must be shown as part of a proposal submission. Due to data confidentiality access will always be subject to an appropriate research agreement.

Access to the corpora will be provided via Sketch Engine, which is a fantastic tool for analysing corpus data. Also there are a number of trained corpus linguists at Cambridge University Press who would be happy to offer support to those working on approved English Profile research projects.

Research Ethics and Confidentiality

All applications should follow necessary ethical clearance and confidentiality codes as required by your university, organisation and/or region.

Submission of proposals

Interested researchers and groups should use the Research Proposal Form found at the bottom of this page to structure their proposal, and should then email their proposal to the team at englishprofile AT cambridge.org Proposals should not exceed three pages in length.

There is an expectation that approved research projects will eventually lead to a paper or book-length work, which can be published in the English Profile Journal/Research Library or the English Profile Studies series.

Who will evaluate the proposals?

All research proposals will be evaluated by the English Profile Advisory Committee, comprising representatives from English Profile core partners as well as other academic experts in the fields of applied linguistics and language testing.

What criteria will be used to evaluate proposals?

The following factors will be taken into consideration when evaluating proposals:
•    Relevance and benefit of research questions and planned outcomes to the English Profile Programme.
•    Quality of the research design and selected research methodology.
•    Qualifications and experience of proposed project staff.


Council of Europe (2001) Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Click here to download the Research Proposal Form (pdf), and email your form to englishprofile AT cambridge.org

Cambridge University Press