A collaboration between British Council and Metametrics

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

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. In addition, 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 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.

The call for proposals is expected to open in February 2023.

Who can apply?

Educational institutions and suitably qualified individuals are invited to apply for funding to undertake applied research projects of relevance to the areas of interest outlined below.

Financial support

The financial support for individual projects will, in principle, be limited to a maximum of £15,000, although it is expected that projects requesting financial support in the region of £10,000 to £15,000 will be most positively considered.

Areas of interest for 2022

The research 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 2022 are listed below. This section will be updated again in January 2023 prior to the call for proposals opening.


  • Studies on English language progression, including studies on the relationship between age, instruction (e.g., hours of study, method) and typical gains in reading comprehension ability as measured by Lexile reading measures and Aptis reading scores.
  • 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 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. 


  • Identifying criterial features of reading texts appropriate for different levels of international or national proficiency frameworks or standards (Common European Framework of Reference, China Standards of English, etc.) 


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

Previous grant recipients


  • 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 (The University of Melbourne) & Tan Jin (Sun Yat-sen University)for their project titled,Refitting the Lexile Text Complexity Trajectory in the Chinese Context: A Corpus-Based Study.

 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.


Benjamin Kremmel, Carol Spöttl, Franz Holzknecht and Matthias Zehentner (Language Testing Research Group, University of Innsbruck, Austria) for their project which explored text and task features of university reading materials in relation to Aptis and Lexile scores.

Ian Tuersley and Saeede Haghi (The University of Warwick) for their study which looked at the impact of academic texts readability on students’ comprehension of and engagement with these resources.

 Key dates for Research into Reading Grants 2023

February 2023

Call for proposals

31 March 2023

Applications close

April 2023

Preliminary review of applications

May 2023

Evaluation and selection

June 2023

Notification of decisions to applicants

July-August 2023

Drawing up and signing of contracts

September 2023

Project start

If additional information about the Research into Reading Grants is required, contact the British Council prior to application at arag@britishcouncil.org.