A collaboration between the British Council and MetaMetrics

We are pleased to announce that we are now accepting proposals to the 2023 Research into Reading Grants scheme, with a deadline of 17 April 2023.

To contact the team or submit an application, please email ARAG@britishcouncil.org

 The British Council Assessment Research Group and MetaMetrics invite applications for research which will contribute to our understanding of the construct of EFL reading comprehension and reading comprehension assessment. 

The Grants are intended to provide a body of validity evidence which can contribute to the validation of the Lexile Framework for Reading and EFL reading assessment instruments, such as the Aptis test system developed by the British Council and other British Council test development projects. The aim of the Grants is to build insights into the interaction between features of text and reading tasks that impact comprehension and can inform teaching, learning and assessment and evaluation. The projects sponsored by the Grants will contribute to improving the application, use and interpretation of these instruments in learning, teaching and evaluation. 

Projects will generally be 12-18 months in duration but, in exceptional circumstances, projects lasting up to 24 months will also be considered.

Reports produced by research teams previously awarded a Research into Reading Grant can be viewed here: www.britishcouncil.org/exam/aptis/research/publications/rirgs

Who can apply?

Suitably qualified individuals who are attached to Educational institutions eligible to receive research grant funding (see below) are invited to apply as Principal Investigators to undertake applied research projects of relevance to the areas of interest outlined below.

Please note that regardless of the geographical location of applicants and regardless of where the actual research will take place, all contracts for research projects issued by the British Council are subject to the laws of England and Wales; this is non-negotiable.

The Principal Investigator must be associated with an educational institution or recognised research organisation, similar in standing to the institutions recognised by UKRI.

Financial support

The Research into Reading Grants support researchers around the world in conducting and disseminating the highest quality research.

The financial support for individual projects will, in principle, be limited to a maximum of £20,000, although it is expected that projects requesting financial support in the region of £13,000 to £18,000 will be most positively considered.

Is access to student or text Lexile measures available? 

Aptis scores and Lexile reading measures for research purposes are available by working with the British Council to administer Aptis. Lexile text measures for research purposes are available by working with MetaMetrics to measure the complexity of the text. For more information on Lexile reading or text measures, visit: www.lexile.com.  

Research proposals that leverage the benefits of reader ability assessment through the Aptis test and text complexity measurement through Lexile, and integrate these, will be prioritised.

Areas of interest for 2023

The Research into Reading Grants support researchers around the world in conducting and disseminating the highest quality research. The areas of particular interest to MetaMetrics and the British Council in 2023 are listed below.

Studies clearly addressing one of these areas will be prioritised. Studies outside these areas which have a strong rationale and a link to either Aptis or the Lexile Framework will also be considered.

Please also find our full call for download at the bottom of this page.


  • Studies investigating the relationship between the use of feedback derived (i.e. Lexile reading measures) from Aptis and the impact on teaching and learning. 
  • Studies on English language progression, including studies on the relationship between age, instruction (e.g. hours of study, method), mode of access and typical gains in reading comprehension ability as measured by Lexile reading measures and Aptis reading scores.
  • Studies investigating the impact of controlled vocabulary on reading comprehension level.


  • Studies investigating the relationship between reading comprehension level as measured by Lexile and Aptis reading scores (i.e. interaction between person and text), growth in reading and the impact on the comprehension level needed for optimal growth.
  • Studies investigating the level of comprehension of reading materials needed to be successful in the global community and in careers. 
  • Studies investigating the similarities and differences between EFL reading contexts and English medium instruction contexts in terms of reading demands, the cognitive processes elicited as a part of typical reading tasks, and interpretation of Lexile measures and EFL reading test scores. 


  • Studies seeking to identify criterial features of reading texts appropriate for commonly recognised international standards (e.g. CEFR).
  • Studies seeking to identify criterial features of reading texts, focussing on local standards and national frameworks within local contexts (e.g. China Standards of English).
  • Studies seeking to identify degrees of reading complexity appropriate to specific professional and training contexts. 
  • Studies examining gaps between student reading comprehension and reading demands of curriculum materials.

Key dates for Research into Reading Grants 2023

March-April 2023

Call for proposals

17 April 2023

Applications close

April-May 2023

Review of proposals

30 June 2023

Notification of decisions to applicants

July-August 2023

Drawing up and signing of contracts

1 September 2023

Project start*

*We are assuming and working towards a project start date of 1 September, however this will be subject to the completion of administrative processes, including the signing of a Research Services contract.

Previous recipients of a Research into Reading Grant


  • Dan Shi and Lixian Jin (Nottingham University, Ningbo China) for their project: Exploring the impact of Lexile measure feedback on reading ability growth in tertiary EAP classrooms


Jason Fan (University of Melbourne), Tan Jin (South China Normal University) and Ivy Chen (University of Melbourne) - Applying the Lexile Framework to evaluate text complexity in the Chinese context: A corpus-based study (completed)

Download here

 Zhao Zhongbao and Fu Qimian (Hunan Institute of Science and Technology) for their investigation into the relationship between reading time, text complexity and reading growth of English foreign language learners in Central China.



Aylin Ünaldi, Bekir Ateş and Cyril Weir (Bogazici University, Bebek-Istanbul, Turkey) for their study: Experts’ judgment of text difficulty and suitability for EAP assessment and its congruence with automatic text analysis indices: a validation study across contexts.


Franz Holzknecht, Elisa Guggenbichler, Matthias Zehentner, Eva Konrad, Benjamin Kremmel (Language Testing Research Group, University of Innsbruck, Austria), Monique Yoder (Michigan State University, USA and LCC International University, Lithuania) - Comparing EMI university reading materials with students’ reading proficiency utilizing Lexile® measures, Aptis test results, student questionnaire responses, and interviews with lecturers (completed)

Download here

Ian Tuersley and Saeede Haghi (The University of Warwick) - An investigation into how various textual features of academic journals can interact with students’ engagement with these texts: A case of novice and non-traditional learners in STEM subjects (completed)

Download here

To contact the team or submit an application, please email ARAG@britishcouncil.org