Guidance on “Purdah” for the EU Referendum

The referendum on whether the UK should remain in the EU takes place on Thursday 23 June 2016.

The ESRC – and by extension, ESRC-funded research and researchers  – are bound by certain restrictions prior to these elections.

Please follow this guidance from the ESRC:

  • The ESRC advises against issuing press releases or announcing new research in or about the referendum during this period. Any press releases that are scheduled to be issued during this time should be sent as always to the ESRC press office ( a minimum of two working days (48 hours) before they are planned to be issued. Press releases must not mention the ESRC or include our logo.
  • The ESRC advises against holding launch events or any other event that deals with any of the issues raised by the referendum question during this period. If you have an event already scheduled that you think may impact the referendum please contact the ESRC press office for guidance as soon as possible.
  • Researchers asked to provide expert comment about the referendum or related issues during this period should do so under their university affiliation and not attribute research to the ESRC. This also applies to printed materials such as features in magazines and newsletters which may have been scheduled before the referendum was announced.
  • Researchers scheduled to deliver papers or speak about their research at academic or public conferences relevant to the referendum must not attribute their research to the ESRC.
  • Any ESRC-funded data which relates to voting patterns, or predicts or influences voting behaviour that is currently not in the public domain should not be published during this period. This includes publication in magazines and newsletters, press releases and press announcements and academic conferences.
  • The ESRC advises that any posts to websites and social media platforms are done with due care and attention to the principles above. When writing blogs, posting views or content on websites and public social media sites about referendum related issues, please ensure that they are not attributed to ESRC support or associated with its investment.

If you are asked about the source of your funding or your link to the ESRC then you may still confirm this – it is not a secret. However, this information should only be given in the case of a direct enquiry.

We are aware that this guidance contradicts our usual position that seeks to ensure that ESRC-funded research is always clearly attributed. However, we are bound by purdah and these restrictions will only apply until after the referendum takes place, when things will return to normal. Essentially, what we want you to do is ask the question ‘why now, can this wait?’ If something is not time-critical then it is best left until after the referendum.

If you have any questions during the purdah period please contact Sarah Nichols in the ESRC Communications team.