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20/39 TAR Retender - Application Form Guidance Notes



Guidance for using the electronic application form

To access the application form

Use the ‘Apply Now’ button on the funding opportunities page on the NIHR website to access the online application form. This will direct you to the MIS login page. If you already have a username (e-mail address) and password, enter these details or, if you have not yet registered, complete the short registration process. You will then be directed to the confirmation page for the specific call. If this is the correct call, click on the Apply button and this will start the application process. Clicking Cancel will return you to your ‘home page’. Applying for a funding opportunity creates a task called ‘TAR Application’. This task will be available for you to complete until the closing date as indicated on the research call and on your tasklist. The ‘TAR Application’ task can be accessed at any time until you either submit the application (using the Submit button in the application process which will appear once all the validation is complete) or the call closes. Supplementary information can also be found within the specific call’s webpage on the NIHR website.

Saving your form

As you work through the application form, you are asked to save each page. This will save all the information you have submitted so far. You can save the form at any point and leave the application form prior to submission. The save button is always located at the bottom of each page of the application form. Large text areas on the form also have their own save button beside them. The application task will remain on your home page until complete and submitted or the deadline for the application has passed.
It is important to remember to ‘Save’ each section as you go through the form before navigating away from the page.
There is a security time out set on the MIS so that after 60 minutes of inactivity, the user will be logged out of the MIS. It is advisable therefore to save your work at regular intervals using the save button on any page. The MIS will give you a warning that you are due to be timed out 10 minutes before this happens. If this message is displayed, you should close the pop-up screen and save the task that you are carrying out.
There is a left-hand navigation menu in the application form so that you can select specific parts of the form to complete, however you should always ensure that you save any information entered on your page before using this left-hand menu.

To submit an application 

In order to submit an application, you must:
  • Complete all mandatory fields. The final review and submit page of the application provides a final check of the mandatory fields as well as providing reminders about optional entries
  • Provide a detailed project description, including a flow diagram if appropriate (further guidance relating to the detailed project description is available from page 7). This and other required supplementary documents can be uploaded with your electronic form


Instead of requiring signatures (for roles such as Sponsor, Department Head, Financial Director, R&D representative of the Devolved country, NHS facilities Manager etc.) on a paper copy of the application form, you will be asked to provide contact information (including a valid e-mail address) about the required signatories for the application so that they can complete their approvals electronically. You will be able to notify the signatories and invite them via e-mail to register/login to the MIS, accept their role, then subsequently acknowledge that they have seen and support your submitted application. They will be able to see a copy of your completed application via the MIS.
The Evidence Synthesis Programme acknowledges that it may not be possible for you to obtain confirmation from your signatories immediately after submission and so you can submit your application without these approvals. You can check that your signatories have completed the approval process on your MIS task page. It remains your responsibility to obtain these electronic approvals within two weeks of the submission deadline.
It is essential to ensure you accurately complete the signatories’ contact details, specifically their e-mail address as this will be how they will be registered into the MIS and notified of their role in the submission.

Guidance for completing your electronic application form


Application Summary Information

Host Organisation

Please give details of the organisation who will be the contractor if the application is successful. The host organisation must be selected from our current list – you will need to contact the Evidence Synthesis Programme if your organisation is not listed.
Research Title
Research Proposals: Production of Technology Assessment Reviews (TARs) for the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)
Research Type
Select ‘Evidence Synthesis’
Proposed Start Date
Research Duration (months)
End Date
This field will automatically populate once you have saved the research duration information.
Total Research Costs requested (not including NHS support & treatment costs)
Figures automatically pulled through from detailed budget section.
Total NHS support & treatment costs
Figures automatically pulled through from detailed budget section.
Total non-NHS intervention costs
Not applicable

Lead application details


In order to submit your application, the Lead Applicant is required to obtain a free, unique ORCiD ID number and enter this onto their MIS user profile contact information. To register for an ORCiD ID, click the following link:
Specify Role in research
Please explain in addition to your role as Lead Applicant, the role that you will be undertaking in the research, e.g. co-ordination and project management, analysis, methodological input etc.
Lead Applicant’s %FTE Commitment
Please enter a whole number.
Degrees and Professional Qualifications
List your higher and professional qualifications (include subject, awarding body, class and date - these are mandatory items). You will be asked to enter your qualifications separately on the electronic form. Entries from previous applications will be shown as these are stored against the applicant.
Organisation (Affiliated Organisation Form)
You can select or add affiliated organisations as required. One must be your primary organisation
Ensure this is your primary address.
Ensure you add your primary contact phone number.
Ensure you add your primary e-mail address.
Web Address
Please provide your personal university/NHS webpage if you have one.
Are you a member of the public, patient/service user or carer?
If yes, please tell us about your knowledge, skills and experience that are relevant to this application
Not applicable

Lead Applicant Research Background

Publication record

Please provide details of a MAXIMUM of 6 of your most recent publications (in the last ten years) relevant to this application, using Vancouver or Harvard citation format. List one after another with a blank line between each one. Please use DOI reference numbers if needed.
Research Grants Held
This should include research grants held (as a named applicant) currently or in the last five years – as well as any additional previous grants, relevant to this application. Please include who the grant is with and the amount of each grant. If no grants are held please enter N/A (as this is a mandatory field).

Research team

Joint Lead Applicant

If you plan to have two lead applicants, please enter the details of the joint lead here. 
Please add details of all members of the team who will be responsible for the day-to-day management and delivery of the reviews. It is preferable that you provide a Co-Applicant’s organisational e-mail address.
Once you have completed the details for each co-applicant you have to select the option ‘notify’ on the Co-Applicants Instructions page. This will then prompt an e-mail to be sent to each Co-Applicant for them to approve involvement with the project in question. Each Co-Applicant must approve their involvement and complete their CV details before you can submit your completed application form.
The following are required to submit the form:
The Nominated Head of Department
The Sponsor
The Nominated Administrative Authority or Finance Office

Scientific Abstract

Please use this section to demonstrate your understanding of the TAR programme need for this type of research (Limit: 3500 characters).

Plain English summary of research

Please use this section to summarise the following (which may be expanded on in other parts of the application form) (Limit: 3500 characters):

A track record in producing evidence syntheses on a wide range of topics using methodologies spanning the qualitative and quantitative spectrum of research.
Explain specialised technical terms and acronyms and avoid discipline-specific jargon. Further information on writing for public consumption is available from the Plain English Campaign. A free downloadable guide, designed specifically for the Health Sector can be found at:

Justification of cost

Please provide a breakdown of costs associated with undertaking the contract and provide justification for the resources requested. This should include the following costs: staff costs, travel, subsistence and conference fees, equipment (including lease versus purchase costs), consumables, patient and public involvement and any other direct costs.

You should describe the value for money of the research itself – the strength of the research team and contribution of each member etc.

Detailed budget

Payments in respect of contracted work will be based on TAR units which in turn are based on short or long reports. As an indication, one unit is the equivalent to one short report, and 2.67 units are approximately equivalent to one long report. All payments in respect of the work undertaken within the contract agreement will be made according to this ratio. As a guide, short reports (one TAR unit) are paid at £70,000, with long reports costing no more than £186,900 (to include all FEC and overheads).

Applicants are asked to state the number of short reports they wish to carry out per annum. Research teams will be expected to contract for between 8-19 short report equivalents, and it should be noted that short reports will form the majority of the contracted work. Applicants are also asked to comment on their ability to increase capacity for the number of reports over time, if required. 


Detailed project description

Please limit your detailed project description to a maximum of 20 pages.
It is mandatory to submit a detailed project description as part of your application. This is a fuller account of the proposed project than can be provided in the limited space allowed in the Scientific Abstract/Plain English Summary sections of the application form. Whilst we are trying to keep duplication to a minimum, we do accept that there will be a level of duplication between these sections. The applicant should provide concise and succinct information to the questions within the Scientific Abstract/Plain English Summary, which will be held within our database for future reference. Detailed information should be included in the upload of the detailed project information. This must be uploaded before the application form is submitted.
Applicants applying for ESP 20/39 must cover the following areas in their project description:
  • A consideration of the issues raised in this call for proposals
  • A statement of the general approach to be adopted
  • The applicant’s view of the critical success and risk factors
  • A consideration of measures to provide services of higher quality or at lower cost
  • Brief CVs of key people in the application, the roles of these individuals and their level of input
  • Arrangements for strategic management of the work
Any other documents that are uploaded will be accessed at the Commissioning Committee’s discretion.

Research plan

These questions are mandatory; you have a character limit of 5,000 for each question.

Specify the methods and approaches to be used for long and short reports, with reference to the NICE Methods Guide for technology appraisals and the NICE Diagnostic Assessment Programme Manual

You can find links to the NICE guides and manuals within the 20/39 TAR Retender - Supporting Information webpage.

Acknowledgement and conflicts

Conflict checks

Please use this section to declare any conflicts or potential conflicts of interest that you or your co-applicants may have in undertaking this research, including and relevant, non-personal & commercial interest that could be perceived as a conflict of interest.

Review and submit

You will not be able to submit your application until all required validations are complete. Please review the validation status of each item to determine the outstanding requirements and correct accordingly. Validated or completed requirements are marked with a green tick. Items marked for attention in yellow with an exclamation mark (!) are not mandatory for submission. Once all requirements are validated (the checklist should not have a red X against any section), the Submit button will be displayed and you can submit the task.

Please ensure that before you submit your application, you have completed the required fields and saved a version of your form. You must submit your application form, with the uploaded detailed project description, by the stated deadline. We cannot grant any time extensions and the deadline will be strictly observed. You should therefore plan your application carefully. We will not enter into negotiations for extensions. Full proposals must be submitted electronically. Submit your application using the Submit button on the last page of the web form. Please note that the Submit button will not appear unless all necessary sections have been completed, also, warning signs may appear to indicate that you may have omitted some information (although not mandatory).
After pressing Submit, the Lead Applicant will receive some further tasks from the system alerting them that the Signatories are now required to review the completed PDF and confirm their acceptance of the costs. It is the Lead Applicant’s responsibility to ensure these ‘signatures’ have been completed within two weeks of submission, after which time the form will close. The Lead Applicant can monitor these acceptances via the ‘Research Team’ tab.


If, after carefully reading all the guidance notes, you still have difficulties completing your application, please visit review the Frequently Asked Questions section on the commissioning brief supporting information webpage.  If your particular query or problem is not addressed, please send an e-mail to Please be aware that while every effort is made to answer queries, if the query is made very near to the closing date, the Evidence Synthesis Programme may not be able to provide a considered response.