Research Design Service (RDS)

In an increasingly competitive research environment, securing funding to conduct health and social care research can be difficult and time consuming. The RDS supports researchers to develop and design high quality research proposals for submission to NIHR funding programmes and other open, national, peer reviewed funding competitions for applied health or social care research.

We provide support to health and social care researchers across England on all aspects of developing a grant application including, research design, research methods, identifying funding sources and involving patients and the public. Their advice is confidential and free of charge.


How We Can Help 

RDS advisers in regional centres across England offer a unique breadth of experience and a proven track record in improving funding applications. Their advice is free and confidential.

We offer high quality, responsive, specialist advice and support on research design and methodology, to researchers making funding applications for submission to national, peer-reviewed funding competitions for applied health or social care research.

We could help your team with:

  • designing a study
  • research methods (qualitative and quantitative)
  • identifying suitable sources of funding
  • involving patients and public in research design
  • identifying potential academic, clinical and lay collaborators
  • identifying and refining the research question
  • medical statistics
  • health economics
  • advice on common pitfalls
  • interpreting feedback from funding panels.

Who we can help

We can help you if you are:

  • developing grant applications for applied health or social care research
  • applying for personal fellowships
  • writing applications to national, open, peer-reviewed funding streams.

We support a broad range of people, including:

  • doctors, nurses and allied health professionals
  • patients and service users
  • academics and NHS and social care managers.

Our priority is to support applications to NIHR funding programmes. We also support applications to Research Councils and other open, national, peer-reviewed funding programmes. Find out more about eligibility.

Why choose us


Our research advisers offer a unique breadth of expertise and a proven track record in improving research applications.


We can help you to identify possible gaps in your research team and collaborators who can add value to your research, including health and social care clinicians, policy makers, academic researchers and patients and the public.

Tailored support

We can offer support tailored to the needs of your research team. Advice is available at face-to-face meetings, by telephone or email, at research clinics or as feedback from panel review meetings.


Contact Us

We advise you to contact your regional RDS centre at an early stage in your bid development to discuss your research ideas.