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EME Programme Advanced Fellowships Guidance Notes (REALMS)


Published: 04 April 2023

Version: 1.0 March 2023

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MRC-NIHR funding collaboration

These are the Efficacy and Mechanism (EME) Programme Advanced Fellowship call guidance notes, for applicants submitting a Stage 2 application via the REsearch Awards Lifecycle Management System (REALMS).

The ‘Add New Ticket’ button towards the top of the screen can be used to raise a support ticket if you have any questions relating to the call or completion of the online application form

Please regularly press the 'Save Draft' button, found towards the bottom of the screen to save your progress. 

We would like to draw your attention to the 'Info still required' button at the bottom of the application page. We encourage you to click this well before submitting - it will bring up a list of all the sections that still need completing and any errors the system has detected (if any). These can then be corrected in good time before the submission date. 

Summary information

Contracting organisation

Please give details of the organisation who will be the contractor if the project is funded. Please note that we expect the CI’s contracting organisation (substantive employer) to act as the contractor. Your primary organisation will be shown by default. If this is not the contracting organisation, search for the correct contracting organisation by typing the name of the organisation in the search box. If the organisation you require does not appear in the search box, you can request to ‘Add New Contracting Organisation’. New organisations need to be approved by the REALMS team prior to submission of your application. Please contact us if this request is being made within two weeks of the call close date. Please also bear in mind that:

  • thought must be given to the most appropriate institution to act as the contractor as part of the application process, as changes are unlikely to be agreed once a funding decision has been made
  • the contractor is expected to respond to annual financial reconciliation exercises, provide the final financial reconciliation statement for the project and to provide ad hoc requests for financial information during the lifetime of the project - in the unlikely event that a request is made for the contractor to differ from the CI’s contracting (host) institution, the suggested contractor must be able to fulfil these expectations and to do so in the usual timeframes
  • in the same way, the contractor is expected to respond to any queries relating to Intellectual Property, commercialisation and benefit realisation

If you have any queries, please contact before submitting your application.

Research title (limit: 300 characters)

The project title should state clearly and concisely the proposed research. Any abbreviations should be spelled out in full.

Research type

Select the appropriate research type. If your proposed project includes any element of primary research, please select ‘Primary Research’. If you are carrying out new analysis/synthesis of existing data, select ‘Secondary Research’ or ‘Evidence Synthesis’ as appropriate. If you are not sure which category to select, choose the closest match to your project as this can be adjusted later.

Start month

Note this will be from day 1 of the month, regardless of whether this is a working day or not. Please be realistic about your possible start date taking account of the necessary contracting, and staff recruitment prior to starting your project.

Start year

Please be realistic about your possible start date taking account of the necessary contracting, and staff recruitment prior to starting your project.

Research duration (months)

Ensure you include sufficient time to complete all aspects of the research including applications for regulatory approvals (where required) and the final report.

End date

This field will automatically populate once you have saved the research duration information.

Total research costs

These figures are automatically populated from the detailed budget section.

Total National Health Service (NHS) support costs

These figures are automatically populated from detailed budget section. NHS support costs are the participant care costs which will not continue after the end of the study, and can usually be claimed in connection with NHS and non-NHS research.

Total NHS excess treatment costs

These figures are automatically populated from detailed budget section. NHS excess treatment costs are the additional costs or savings associated with the treatment of the participants during the research. The costs included are the additional costs compared with the current cost of standard care, which would continue to be incurred after the research, should the treatment become standard care in the future.

Information is available on how to assess excess treatment costs.

Total non-NHS Excess Treatment costs

These figures are automatically populated from detailed budget section. Non-NHS excess treatment costs include costs incurred in delivering the treatment, or intervention, which would continue to be incurred after the trial, should the intervention become standard care. The costs included are the additional costs compared with the cost of current standard care. Please note that NIHR have no provision to cover non-NHS excess treatment costs, and it is the responsibility of the applicant to secure these costs if they are needed. Where applicable a letter from the provider of the treatment costs for the purposes of the study should be supplied.

These are similar to NHS excess treatment costs, but they mainly apply to Public Health and Social Care Research. They are unlikely to be applicable to EME.

Further information is available with the AcoRD guidance on how to allocate the costs of your proposal to each of the above categories.

Previous submission

Has this application, or a similar application previously been submitted to this or any other funding body within the last 3 years?

We are keen to know if the application has been submitted to this or another NIHR programme or elsewhere and you must be as open about this as possible. This includes, but is not limited to, any facts that, should they come to light at a future date, would embarrass either the programme or the individual who withheld the fact (e.g. if a member of the team holds a patent or has a financial interest within the research area).

Failure to disclose accurately or fully will be considered by the Programme as academic misconduct and treated accordingly. You should also include in this section information on whether this or a similar application has been submitted to any programme previously, or to any other funder including other NIHR programmes. You should name and provide dates and outcomes of these. Please indicate whether you hold or have ever held an NIHR programme contract, which has been terminated prior to completion, extended in time or in terms of funding.

Select ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to indicate whether this or a similar application has previously been submitted to this or any other funding body.

If 'Yes,' use the ‘Previous Submissions’ button to select any relevant submissions from the list. If a previous submission was made to another funder or is not listed use the ‘+’ button under the Other Previous Submissions section to record the details of that submission.

For more information about resubmission of a research/trainee funding application, or joint funding please contact the appropriate NIHR research funding programme.

NIHR will not accept the same or substantially similar applications to more than one NIHR programme. If 2 similar applications are submitted, once the overlap is identified, the application that is most advanced through the funding process will continue and the second will not be taken further.

Similar applications will only be considered by two programmes concurrently if:

  • the aims and research proposals are substantially different
  • if successful, NIHR would be prepared to fund both proposals
  • the successful delivery of one project is not dependent on the other

Research team

Lead applicant

Information on your name, main and other affiliated organisations and contact details will be automatically populated from your contact profile. Degrees and professional qualifications can be added to your contact profile. Update your contact profile to complete any missing mandatory information or make any updates here – you can do this via the ‘My Profile’ icon on your home page whilst in the application form by first clicking the ‘Update’ button alongside your details in the Research Team section and then clicking on the ‘Update Contact Profile’ button. Your contact profile will need to be validated prior to your application submission. 


Please note, you and your Joint Lead/Co-Applicants are required to obtain a free unique ORCiD ID number and update your REALMS user contact profile with this before you can submit your application - the requirement for an ORCiD ID is mandatory for all applicants except PPI Co-Applicants. However, if a PPI Co-Applicant has an ORCiD account and wishes to add this to their REALMS contact profile they can. By clicking the link ‘Create or connect your ORCiD ID’ within the ‘ORCiD’ section of your user contact profile you will be taken to the ORCiD website where you will need to register or sign in. Once logged in to ORCiD and following acceptance of terms and conditions, you will need to click on the ‘Continue to import your ORCID Data’ button which will update your profile with your ORCiD ID, along with other associated ORCiD data (e.g. any publications and grants you have allowed ORCiD to make visible to the public or trusted parties). Grants and Publications drawn from ORCiD in this way will be available for you to use in populating the relevant sections of  your application.

If additional publications and grants need to be added to an application, and you would like these available to select for other applications, you will need to update your ORCiD account first and then click ‘Re-Import ORCiD Data’ on your REALMS ‘My Profile’.

Equality and diversity reporting system (EDRS)

NIHR is committed to promoting equality, diversity and inclusion in research and asks applicants to provide Equality and Diversity Monitoring Information:

  • age
  • sex
  • ethnicity and race
  • disability

By answering these Equality and Diversity Monitoring Information questions, you will help us to better understand the different groups of people that apply to us for funding and their experiences of the funding process – particularly the groups protected by UK equality legislation. Although it is mandatory to answer these questions, it is possible to select “prefer not to say” as a response. However, the more information you provide, the more effective our monitoring will be. This information will not be used to make decisions about funding.

Research team

The research team section lists any applicants who have been added to this application. Please note, the Joint Lead Applicant, Co-Applicants and administrative contacts are all required to be invited and accept their participation in a Stage 2 application (if not already invited and accepted at Stage 1). The ‘Update’ button can be used to access the Applicant Details Form for each applicant and update the details of each user's involvement in this application. Different types of applicants can be added (e.g. Co-Applicant / Co-Applicant PPI).

Once ORCiD accounts have been linked up, the Lead, Joint Lead and Co-Applicants need to select which publications and grants are relevant for this application within the Applicant Details Form. This form can be found in the Action Items on each person’s home page once the Lead applicant has added them. 

The Applicant Details Form for all applicants must be in Submitted status in order to submit your application.

Research team – lead applicant ‘update’

Click the ‘Update’ button to the right of your Lead Applicant information to add the information regarding your role on the application.

Role (limit: 200 characters)

Specify applicant's role in research - enter the role that you will be undertaking in the research e.g. co-ordination and project management, analysis, methodological input etc.

% Full-time equivalent (FTE) commitment

This refers to the percentage of your time that you will commit to this project.


Select your primary organisation for the purpose of this application. Your main organisation and any other affiliated organisations that you have already added will be listed by default. Select your primary organisation for the purpose of this application. If the correct organisation is not listed, this can be added by using the ‘Update contact profile’ button towards the top of the page and adding a new organisation (to do this click on ‘Other Organisation’ in the left hand selection bar). Department – Select the primary department affiliated with.

Department (limit: 100 characters)

Select your department for the purpose of this application

Application research background

Recent relevant publications

Provide details of a maximum of 6 of your most recent/relevant publications (in the last 10 years) relevant to this application.

To add relevant publications, click on the ‘Open’ button and either select the relevant listed publications pulled in from your ORCiD record, and/or add any other new relevant publications. Once complete click ‘Save selected Publications’.

Research grants held

This should include research grants held (as a named applicant) currently or in the last 5 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.

To add relevant research grants, click on the ‘Open’ button and either select the relevant listed research grant pulled in from your ORCiD record, and/or add any other relevant research grants. Once complete click ‘Save selected Publications’.

For each manually added research grant entry you should state the registration number, name of registry and the DOI of the main related publication. 

Once all information has been entered and saved, click the ‘Complete’ button.

Joint Lead Applicant

Please note for this call we do not expect to support the addition of Joint Lead Applicants.

Select ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to indicate whether this application involves a Joint Lead Applicant, and where appropriate use the envelope icon to add a Joint Lead Applicant to your application and complete the necessary information. Once complete, click the ‘Invite’ button. Once the Joint Lead Applicant has accepted their invitation they will appear in the 'Research Team' list, and their information can be edited as necessary. The Joint Lead Applicant will need to complete their publications and grants information.


Use the ‘Add/Edit Co-Applicants’ button to add a Co-Applicant(s) to your application and complete the necessary information. Once complete click the ‘Invite’ button. Once a Co-Applicant has accepted their invitation they will appear in the 'Research Team' list, and their information can be edited as necessary. Where appropriate Co-Applicants will need to complete their publications and grants information.

Do not include collaborators, who should be mentioned, if necessary, in the 'Detailed Research Plan' (upload document).

Co-Applicants are those individuals with responsibility for the day to day management and delivery of the project. Co-Applicants are considered part of the project team and are expected to share responsibility for its successful delivery. Collaborators normally provide specific expertise on particular aspects of the project but who do not share in the responsibility for the delivery of the project.

Patient and public involvement (PPI) Co-Applicants

We recognise and value the varied perspectives that members of the public, patients, service users and carers bring to a project as applicants and encourage their inclusion where appropriate. They are not required to provide a full curriculum vitae (CV) (i.e. N/A may be appropriate for 'Publication Record and Research Grants held'). PPI Co-Applicants should provide a summary of any relevant knowledge, skills and experience that they will draw upon to contribute to this project. This could include information about:

  • previous or present work (paid or unpaid) with any relevant organisations
  • links with any relevant groups, committees, networks or organisations
  • experience of particular health conditions, treatments, use of services, being a carer - or as a member of a particular community
  • knowledge and experience of research including previous research undertaken
  • knowledge and experience of patient and public involvement including previous involvement activities
  • skills from any other roles that are transferable Relevant qualifications, training and learning

For further information please access the 'Public Co-Applicants in Research' guidance.


Please note that signatories are no longer a requirement of a Stage 2 application submission. However, if your research proposal is recommended for funding you will be required to add the relevant signatories and shortly after receiving your funding recommendation outcome letter as part of the project start-up and contracting process (approximately 2-3 weeks after the funding assessment committee date).

Applicants must follow their host organisation's application review and sign off procedures before submitting an application. Failure to do this may result in any agreement to fund being withdrawn. 

Administrative contact details

This facility allows you to provide an alternative contact(s) who will also have access to the application but will not be able to submit it when complete. The Lead Applicant must submit the completed application and will still receive all emails automatically generated through the system.

If you wish to include an administrative contact, use the envelope icon below to enter the administrative contact's details, and invite them to participate in this application.

Application details

This section contains the scientific abstract and plain English summary.

Scientific abstract (limit: 3,500 characters)

The scientific abstract should be a clear and concise scientific summary of the 'Detailed Research Plan/Methods', with a character limit of 3,500 characters (1 side of A4 maximum). The following is a list of potential elements/headings that might be included depending on the design of the proposed research, the setting and programme being applied to, and whether it is for primary research or secondary research. It will be for researchers to decide the appropriate elements to be included in the scientific abstract, and could include elements outside this list.

  • research question
  • background
  • aims and objectives
  • methods
  • timelines for delivery
  • anticipated impact and dissemination

Applicants may find the guidance on the EQUATOR Network website useful.

Plain English summary of research (limit: 3,500 characters)

A plain English summary is a clear explanation of your research.

Many reviewers use this summary to inform their review of your funding application. They include clinicians, other practitioners and researchers who do not have specialist knowledge of your field, as well as members of the public. If your application for funding is successful, the summary will be used on NIHR and other websites.

A good quality plain English summary providing an easy to read overview of your whole study will help:

  • those carrying out the review (reviewers and funding committee members) to have a better understanding of your research proposal
  • inform others about your research such as members of the public, health and social care professionals, policy makers and the media
  • the research funders to publicise the research that they fund.

If it is felt that your plain English summary is not clear and of a good quality, then you may be required to amend it prior to final funding approval.

When developing a plain English summary, it is helpful to involve:

  • patients
  • carers
  • service users
  • practitioners
  • members of the public


When writing your summary consider including the following information where appropriate:

  • aim(s) of the research
  • background to the research
  • design and methods used
  • patient and public involvement
  • dissemination

The plain English summary is not the same as a scientific abstract - please do not cut and paste this or other sections of your application form to create the plain English summary.

Further guidance on writing a plain English summary is available.

For further support and advice on writing a plain English summary, please contact your local Research Design Service (where applicable).

Changes from first stage (limit: 6,000 characters)

Please list the feedback received at first stage and under separate headings indicate what has changed as a result.

Please describe and explain any additional changes that have been made to this proposal since the Stage 1 application, for example in the light of new research.

Please note, if you are submitting a one step, straight to Stage 2 proposal please ignore this question as it is not applicable to you. If this is the case, please enter ‘not applicable’ in the box.

Patient and public involvement (PPI)

Please describe how patients/service users, carers and the public have been involved in developing this proposal (limit: 3,500 characters)

You should describe who has been involved and why this is appropriate, what role(s) they have they played, and what influence or change has happened as result of their involvement.

Please describe the ways in which patients/service users, carers and the public will be actively involved throughout the proposed research, including any training and support provided (limit: 3,500 characters)

PPI approach, management and support
  • explain why your approach to patient and public involvement is appropriate for this proposal - in your description you will need to say who will be involved and why - please use this opportunity to describe how you plan to manage and coordinate the patient and public involvement activities in your project
  • describe how you will support and enable patients/service users, carers, the public and members of relevant communities to contribute to your research (e.g. access, payments, training)
  • we would also encourage you to outline plans for the capturing, evaluating and reporting the impact of patient and public involvement activities

Patients, carers, service users and the public can be involved in every stage of a research project, from developing a proposal through to dissemination and evaluation. You can find further resources to support the design of your PPI.

PPI lead

The role of the PPI lead can be undertaken by any of the co-applicants within the research team (or a named member of the team), who has the relevant skills, experience and authority to be accountable, represent, manage and embed patient and public involvement in all aspects of the research study/programme. This role should be a budgeted and resourced research team member. View examples of activities a PPI lead might undertake.

A summary of PPI activities

Please provide a summary of the proposed PPI activities embedded throughout the research project lifecycle. Please clearly signpost to other sections of the 'Detailed Research Plan' where the PPI is described further in relation to the relevant project stage, for example:

  • dissemination
  • intervention design
  • data collection
  • analysis

In rare cases where proposals do not involve patients/service users, carers and the public, clear justification must be provided. (limit 3,500 characters) 

Complete/justify as necessary.

Management and governance

Is Clinical Trials Authorisation required? 

Select 'Yes' / 'No' as appropriate.

Does your project require ethics approval? 

Select 'Yes' / 'No' as appropriate.

If yes, has ethics approval already been obtained? 

Select 'Yes' / 'No' as appropriate.

Detailed budget

Organisations for budget

Use the ‘Add Organisations’ and ‘+’ button to select and add the organisations who will be responsible for budget items and add them to your application.

Application budget

This section should provide a breakdown of costs associated with undertaking the research as described in the proposal.

The information entered in this section should provide an analysis of the total funds requested to undertake the research proposed and should be based on current prices. These costs will be used to assess value for money.

  • It is in the best interest to undertake a thorough, realistic and accurate costing. Where an outline/Stage 1 application has been produced and this is the full stage (2) application, the Committee/Panel will pay close attention to any material increase in costs. You must provide a clear and full justification for all costs including NHS costs. You must also ensure that you include all costs including those required to secure good research management.
  • Costs must be provided at current prices. An adjustment for inflation will be made annually thereafter at rates set by the Department of Health and Social Care. Whilst allowances for incremental increases should be included on the form, nationally or locally agreed pay increases should be excluded.
  • Years should be calculated starting from the anticipated start date of the proposed research. For example, if your research is expected to start on 1 June 2020 then its second year starts 1 June 2021.
  • When costs have been entered for year 1, it is possible to copy these costs to subsequent years, and they can then be edited if needed.
  • Further itemisation of costs and methods of calculation may be requested to support the application at a later date.
  • Payments will be made to the contracted organisation only and the contracted organisation will be responsible for passing on any money due to their partner organisation(s).
  • Payments are not able to made in advance of need and, if funded, your payments will be made in accordance with your application budget. Please therefore ensure that your planned costs are included in the budget year in which they are most likely to be incurred.
  • Appropriate sub-contracts must be put in place for any element of the research which is to be paid to another organisation.
  • NHS Support Costs, including costs for Social Care research are funded via Clinical Research Networks. Researchers should contact their local NHS R&D Department initially and, if they are unable to help directly or if there is no local NHS Research and Design Service (R&D) Department, contact the Local Clinical Research Network (LCRN) Senior Manager for advice on NHS Support Costs.
  • Further details about LCRN contacts is available.
  • All applications are expected to have appropriate NHS, higher education institutions (HEIs), commercial and other partner organisation input into the finance section of the application form.
  • Please note that whilst the applicable percentages will be used to calculate the maximum grant payable, the programme reserves the right to award a grant for less than this maximum where it is considered appropriate.

Costs for un-named Co-Applicants

If you need to provide costs for more than one unnamed individual it is important to name them as ‘TBA 1’, ‘TBA 2’ etc. not just ‘TBA’, otherwise their costs will not appear in the PDF version of the form.

Contributions and joint funding

Contributions from other organisations and proposals for joint funding with another organisation can be recorded as such in the ‘Contributions’ tab. If you are considering applying for a joint funding arrangement please get in touch to discuss this.

Information on different types of organisations

Higher education institutions (HEIs)

Higher education institutions (HEIs) should determine the full economic cost (FEC) of their research using the transparent approach to costing (TRAC) methodology. For HEIs, up to 80% of FEC will be paid, provided that TRAC methodology has been used.

NHS bodies and other providers of NHS services in England

For applications where the contractor is an NHS body or provider of NHS services in England, up to 100% of direct costs will be paid.

Other partner organisations

  • if you are a commercial organisation/consultancy, please fill in direct costs and commercial indirect costs - indirect costs should be charged in proportion to the amount of research staff effort requested on the funding application form. Up to 100% of costs will be paid
  • if you are an ‘other partner’ organisation (e.g. charity or NGO), please fill in direct costs and other partner organisations indirect costs - indirect costs should be charged in proportion to the amount of research staff effort requested on the funding application form - up to 100% of costs will be paid

Direct costs

These are costs that are specific to the research, which will be charged as the amount actually spent and can be supported by an audit record. They should comprise:

Posts and salaries

This section presents an overview of salary and associated on-costs for the applicant(s) contributing to the research, including normal salary increments broken down individually.

Please include all members of staff working on the research by clicking ‘add a new staff member’ salaries’ or editing a current one. If there are any applicant(s) whose costs are not being claimed you should still include their details within this section, but don’t include any actual costs. Where applicants are already in receipt of NIHR funding for any part of their salaries (e.g. NIHR Fellowships), these should not be additionally charged to the project. Where applicants are already receiving salaries funded by NIHR, these should be declared in the application by selecting ‘Yes’ in the ‘Other NIHR Salary’ drop-down list - please note that the NIHR will not fund more than 100% of an applicant’s time across multiple NIHR projects/awards and this fact will be checked prior to contracting. If you are unsure about this requirement or have any questions please contact the appropriate NIHR research funding programme.

Support staff (research assistants) can be requested as part of the Fellowship element.  This is usually limited to the equivalent of 1 member of staff for a period of 3 years.  Any requests for support staff over this limit will need to be extremely well justified.  There is also an expectation that the Host Organisation will match any requests for support staff over and above the usual limit.

The Apprenticeship Levy can be included in the salary costs where relevant.

The annual costs of each applicant contributing to the research needs to be calculated by specifying the %FTE and number of months. Use current rates of pay and build in any known annual increments (again at current rates). You will not be able to claim for pay awards retrospectively, once your research is underway.

Please ensure that you check that the ‘Cost Type’ box reflects the organisation which correctly describes the employing organisation for a member of staff (e.g. HEI, NHS, Commercial, Other), as this impacts on the level of funding provided. Staff employed by a Higher Education Institution (HEI) are funded at 80% of cost and staff employed by NHS, commercial or other partner organisation at up to 100% of cost.

Travel, subsistence and dissemination costs

This section includes journey costs, subsistence and dissemination costs, including conference fees. Where applicable, you will need to include the travel and subsistence costs of your Project Advisory Group, Steering Committee and/or Data Monitoring and Ethics Committee. Travel and subsistence costs relating to dissemination should also be included here, as should costs relating to overseas travel.

Journey costs

Enter the total cost of transport for all journeys for destination/purpose. If travel is by car, apply your institution’s mileage rates (however this should not exceed HMRC approved mileage allowance payments, which is 45p per mile for the first 10,000 miles and 25p thereafter). Travel by the most economic means possible is encouraged. NIHR programmes do not usually fund first class travel.


Subsistence covers accommodation (if necessary) and meals associated with the travel, excluding any alcoholic beverages.

Dissemination costs

  • conferences - where national or international conference costs are included, a statement naming the conference or purpose of travel and the benefit to the research must also be made; failure to adequately justify your attendance at a conference, will mean the programme will not fund this cost. For research of up to 5 years, the programme will usually fund up to a maximum of 2 individuals to attend one international conference attendance, or one individual to attend 2 international conferences. For research beyond 5 years, the Programme will usually fund up to a maximum of 2 international conference attendances per 5 year or part of 5-year research period.
  • Open Access Costs - applicants should no longer include open access costs as part of their Stage 2 application Detailed Budget Costs

From 1 of June 2022, all eligible awards contracts issued across NIHR ProgrammesNIHR Personal Awards and NIHR Global Health Research Portfolio will have an Open Access Envelope allocated to them on top of the award value, which is ring-fenced for open access costs of peer reviewed research articles that arise directly from the research funded by the award in question. Open Access funding guidance is available.

Other dissemination Costs

Any large costs should be further detailed with a breakdown of constituent parts or a timescale profile of the costs. Meetings to share best practice, training events and events to disseminate research findings must be run at the lowest possible cost with minimal catering. ‘Conferences’ which are described as such are not eligible for funding.


Essential items of equipment plus maintenance and related costs not included as part of estates should be input in this section. These can be lease or purchase costs. The purchase cost of pieces of equipment, valued up to £5,000 excluding VAT, will be considered.

Pieces of equipment costing more than £5,000 to purchase will usually need to be leased. Where applicants are leasing equipment with a purchase price of more than £5,000, a comparison of leasing versus purchasing costs must be provided in the ‘Justification of Costs’ section.

Items of equipment valued at £250 or more must be itemised separately; however, grouping same type equipment is permitted. Costs of computers are normally restricted to a maximum of £1,000 each to include VAT and any associated software. If the purchasing organisation is unable to reclaim/ recover the VAT on any piece of equipment, then it should be included in the stated cost. A statement of justification must be included, in the relevant ‘Justification of Costs’ section for any purchase above this limit.


This section includes non-reusable items specific to the research. Please itemise and describe the requirements fully (e.g. postage, stationery, photocopying). These items should be research specific, not just general office costs which should be covered by indirect costs.

Patient and public involvement

Please itemise and describe fully the costs associated with Patient and Public Involvement. These are likely to include:

  • individual travel
  • out of pocket expenses
  • payment for time any relevant training and support costs

Costs related to study participants should not be itemised here.

If voluntary, charity or community groups are supporting the research via activities such as facilitating contact with potential participants, contracting research activities or providing advice, an adequate budget must be included to compensate for their time and resources.

For more information on budgeting for involvement, please read the NIHR Payments Guidance for researchers and professionals.

Other direct costs

These are costs, not identified elsewhere, that are specifically attributed to the research. For example, costs associated with the use of research facilities, external consultancy costs, costs associated with inclusivity (which may include, but are not limited to justified translation of research participant material into other relevant languages), computer licensing, recruitment and advertising costs. Please note that for organisations claiming indirect/overhead costs, costs such as recruitment of staff, and general training (e.g. in common IT packages) are costs that should be covered by the indirect costs element of the award being sought and should not appear in this section.

If external consultancy costs are included in this section they must be fully justified in the ‘Justification of Costs’ section. Please specify the hourly rate and the number of hours and note that consultants must not be people who are already employed by the applicant’s institution. If they are, any costs should be entered as direct costs in ‘Posts and Salaries’ section.

Training and development costs as part of the fellowship element will be funded at up to 100%. For the Type of Cost drop down for these items, please select ‘Other’.

Please itemise and describe fully the costs associated with training and development. Please provide estimates if exact costs are not available at the time of application. Any travel and subsistence associated with training and development including overseas research visits should not be included here and should be included in the travel section of the form.  

Training programme, short courses and workshops

 These are costs relating to the applicant’s training and development programme.

 Overseas research visits

Please provide costs for any overseas research visits that the applicant wishes to undertake during the course of the award. The NIHR will consider overseas research visits on an individual basis and reserves the right to limit expenditure.  Overseas visits (excluding conference attendance) are normally restricted to one visit per Fellowship and a maximum duration of 3 months. 

Support post - PhD fees 

NIHR will make an estimated maximum contribution of £4,596 per annum for full-time fellowships, or otherwise £13,788 in total, based on the UKRI indicative fee level for 2022/23.

If an applicant’s PhD costs exceed £4,596 (per annum on a full time basis), it is expected that the applicant’s host institution will cover any excess costs associated with the PhD fees. 

Support post - training and development 

NIHR will make a maximum contribution of £3,000 (including any identified travel and subsistence) towards training and develop costs for the support post.

Indirect costs/overheads

Indirect costs will be charged in proportion to the amount of research staff effort requested on the award. Commercial/Other Partner Organisations should calculate them, using their own cost rates. They comprise:

  • general office and basic laboratory consumables
  • premises costs
  • library services/learning resources
  • typing/secretarial
  • finance, personnel, public relations and departmental services
  • usage costs of major research facilities
  • central and distributed computing
  • charge out rates for shared equipment
  • cost of capital employed

NHS bodies or other providers of NHS services indirect costs

NHS indirect costs cannot be claimed through NIHR/DHSC programme funding. NHS Bodies or other providers of NHS services have been allocated NIHR Research Capability Funding (RCF) to contribute to the cost of hosting NIHR/DHSC-supported research. 

HEI indirect costs

Total HEI indirect costs must be fully justified. HEIs are permitted to claim estate and other indirect costs. These costs are calculated on the basis of TRAC methodology. Proposals from other types of institutions/organisations should leave this section blank.

HEI indirect costs are based on the number of full-time equivalent research staff working on the research and the indirect/estates charges set by an institution. Please note HEI indirect costs cannot be claimed on shared staff costs. Where staff from more than 1 HEI are working on the research there may be different indirect/estates charges for each. Please list each institution on a separate line.

The applicant(s) should consult their HEI Finance Departments for the appropriate figures to include in the estate charges and other indirect cost sections

Other partner organisation indirect costs

Other Partner Organisations can claim indirect costs which are the costs of resources used by the research that are shared by other activities. Please seek advice from your finance department about the appropriate cost for this section.

Other Partner Organisation indirect costs must be fully justified.

NHS support and treatment costs (including excess treatment costs/savings)

The finance section includes a section that asks researchers to provide an estimate of the patient care costs associated with the research (if applicable). An explanation of why these costs are being incurred and the basis on which the estimations have been made should be fully detailed under the relevant ‘Justification of Costs’ section.

The committee/panel will take NHS support and treatment costs into account when considering the value for money of the research. It is important that you consider these costs and discuss them with the NHS bodies or providers of NHS services involved in order to avoid any delay in commencing the research.

Please be aware that the research award does not include NHS support and/or treatment costs.

Please note that as part of the work to address the issues surrounding the way in which excess treatment costs are funded, new arrangements have now been implemented. To underpin the new arrangements, a cost attribution tool has been created by the Health Research Authority (HRA) in partnership with charity funders and research sponsors.

This tool provides a standardised approach across England, ensuring that the attribution of study activities complies with the Department of Health and Social Care Guidance on Attributing the Costs of Health and Social Care Research and Development (AcoRD). As part of their funding applications, researchers are required to complete this new tool, known as a Schedule of Events Cost Attribution Tool (SoECAT) for clinical research, which has been developed from the current HRA Schedule of Events. This tool is designed to capture the different costs associated with clinical research and attribute them accordingly. The totals for excess treatment costs and NHS support costs calculated by using the SoECAT can be entered directly into the application form.

Researchers and/or their study teams and Research Sponsor/Lead NHS Provider (e.g. R&D office/Clinical Trial Unit) are supported by AcoRD Specialists in the Local CRN to verify the accuracy of the SoECAT. For more information please see the Study Support Service webpages.

Under the new arrangements, sign off via the LCRN AcoRD Specialist is required to confirm the study attribution complies with the Department of Health and Social Care AcoRD guidance. This early attribution support will underpin the excess treatment cost management process by providing formal sign off, supporting the role of the research sponsor and lead R&D office or Clinical Trial Unit. Completion of the Schedule of Events Cost Attribution Tool will be required for studies eligible for the NIHR portfolio and the support this provides, which will include access to excess treatment cost payments under the new arrangements. This ETC value, alongside recruitment activity in the NIHR Central Portfolio Management System, will then be utilised to inform the payments to NHS providers.

Please note, social care studies are eligible for Clinical Research Network (CRN) support, it does not just apply to NHS based research, and researchers should speak to the CRN and include support costs where relevant. For the purposes of social care studies ‘treatment costs’ should be interpreted as ‘intervention costs’ and should be included in the proposal when needed.

If a project is to be registered with the NIHR portfolio, a completed Schedule of Events Cost Attribution Tool (SoECAT) is required to be uploaded and submitted as part of the application submission. Please note, most evidence synthesis projects will not be required to submit a SoECAT. 

Please be aware that if your planned project includes the recruitment of participants, your Stage 2 application should be accompanied with the ‘Funder Export’ from the online SoECAT, obtainable via NIHR’s Central Portfolio Management System (CPMS).

Guidance for the use of the SoECAT is embedded within the tool itself but general video guidance around locating the application within CPMS is available.

The research award does not include NHS support and/or treatment costs. These costs, including costs for Social Care research, are funded via NIHR Local Clinical Research Networks. 

More information on the SoECAT is available on the NIHR website, including: 

In order to create a SoECAT, you will need to create an account in CPMS. After creating the account, you will need to access CPMS when logged in in order for this account to be activated. A user guide is available for assistance in creating a CPMS account, please refer to our user guide on NIHR Learn. Once your account has been created and is active, you can proceed. Once your account has been created and is active, you can proceed. 

If you have any queries around registering or logging into your account, please contact

NHS support costs

These are the additional patient care costs associated with the research, which would end once the R&D activity in question has stopped, even if the patient care service involved continues to be provided. These might cover items such as extra patient tests, extra in-patient days and extra nursing attention. Researchers should contact their local NHS R&D Department initially and, if they are unable to help directly or if there is no local NHS R&D Department, contact the Local Clinical Research Network Senior Manager for advice on NHS Support Costs. Further details about LCRN contacts is available.

Excess treatment costs

Please read the following guidance on the funding of excess treatment costs prior to completing your application. 

These are the patient care costs that would continue to be incurred if the patient care service in question continued to be provided after the R&D activity has stopped. In determining excess treatment costs, you must assume that the patient care service being assessed will continue even though there may be no plans for it to do so. Where patient care is being provided which differs from the normal, standard, treatment for that condition (either an experimental treatment or a service in a different location from where it would normally be given), the difference between the total treatment costs and the costs of the “usual standard care" (if any) constitutes excess treatment cost/saving, but is nonetheless part of the treatment cost, not an NHS support or research cost. These costs should be determined in conjunction with your NHS body or provider of NHS services and their commissioners.

Please note that if the patient care intervention under investigation incurs either a higher or lower cost compared to usual care, the excess cost needs to be entered as an 'Excess Treatment Cost'. The excess cost (or saving) is the difference between the total cost of treating the participants outside of the trial via usual care and the total cost of treating all participants during the trial. The value to be entered here should be taken from your completed Schedule of Events Costing Attribution Tool (SoECAT) and can be either a cost or a saving. Please enter savings as a negative value. 

For further information, please see: Attributing the costs of health and social care research and development (AcoRD).

Justification of costs (limit: 8,000 characters)

  • Please provide a breakdown of research costs associated with undertaking the research and provide justification for the resources requested. This should include the following costs: staff costs, travel and subsistence, dissemination costs, equipment (including lease versus purchase costs), consumables, patient and public involvement (PPI) and any other direct costs. For help with estimating PPI costs please see the NIHR Payments Guidance for researchers and professionals.
  • When justifying staff costs you should also provide the % amount of time input of each member of staff and link this to the specific area/work package of the proposed study where this input will be taking place.
  • You should indicate here how this research will potentially benefit the NHS and/ or public health. For example, where appropriate, describe the likely cost savings or benefits in terms of numbers of patients treated, treatment times, service users or carers supported etc.
  • You should describe the value for money of the conduct of the proposed research.
  • Please provide a breakdown of the NHS costs associated with undertaking the research and provide justification for the resources required. If there are no NHS Support or Excess Treatment Costs associated with the research, you must explain why you think this is the case.
  • Please provide a breakdown of any non-NHS intervention excess treatment costs and provide justification for the resources required. Non-NHS intervention excess treatment costs should include costs incurred in delivering the intervention which would continue to be incurred after the trial, should the intervention become standard care. Please note that NIHR have no provision to cover non-NHS intervention excess treatment costs, and it is the responsibility of the applicant to secure these costs if they are needed.


Any additional, non-requested, documents will not be considered by the funding committee during its review. However, there may be other requested documents e.g. cover letter, collaborative documents, dictated by the specification of the call.

To upload a document click on the icon next to the relevant upload type. All required uploads must be added for you to be able to submit your application.

Only the following document types can be uploaded: .doc, .docx & .pdf. If you upload a Word document the system will create a PDF version of it and both versions will be displayed below. Any other document types will need to be converted to PDF format before uploading. If you wish to remove or replace any specific documents all versions of that document will need to be deleted

Attachment 1: Detailed Research Plan

It is mandatory to upload and submit a Detailed Research Plan (DRP), which is a full account of the proposed project. The DRP must also include the Gantt chart described below in Section 7 and may contain relevant diagrams and charts within the 20 A4 pages.


Your detailed research plan should include the following:

  • use Arial font size 11
  • not exceed 20 A4 pages
  • have a header containing your allocated project reference number if known
  • have a footer showing your page numbers
  • be converted to a .PDF version before uploading it
  • include a Gantt chart

Each recommended section of the Detailed Research Plan is not specifically word count limited, which provides applicants with the opportunity to use the 20 pages to provide elaboration in specific sections as required. Broadly, the Detailed Research Plan uploaded document for an intervention trial should follow the following format. For studies of diagnostic or prognostic tests, please modify these headings as appropriate.

Full title of project

Please include the full title of the project.

Summary of Research (abstract)

The scientific abstract should be a clear and concise scientific summary of the Detailed Research Plan/Methods. Applicants may wish to refer back to/or duplicate Section 6 of this form and have the opportunity to expand the information if needed.

The following is a list of potential headings that might be included depending on the design of the proposed research. It will be for researchers to decide the appropriate elements to be included in this summary and could include elements outside this list.

  • research question
  • background
  • aims and objectives
  • methods, including justification of study design
  • timelines for delivery
  • anticipated impact and dissemination

Background and rationale

Provide a clear explanation of the health problem to be addressed, the impact on patients and / or public as well as health and care services, and how this research would fill a demonstrable evidence gap.

For Efficacy studies or Efficacy studies with Mechanism of Action components, please briefly explain:

  • Why is this research needed now?
    • Describe the unmet health need to be addressed
    • Provide the size of the incident or prevalent patient population in the UK
    • Provide context of your proposed research in terms of current practice
    • If relevant, describe any time-limited opportunities
  • What is the knowledge gap this research will address? This section should include a brief literature review of published evidence as well as a review of ongoing research, outlining what is already known and research that is currently underway.
    • Explain how you identified and reviewed all the directly relevant literature - you should outline the methods that you have used to do this review and list databases searched and search terms used. All proposals recommended for funding which involve a clinical trial will be double-checked for potential overlaps using WHO trials before the communication of any funding decision. Consequently, a funding recommendation may not be taken forward if a major overlap is identified at this stage. It is therefore important that applicants highlight any potential overlaps prior to consideration by the funding committee.
    • Give details of other recent or on-going relevant trials or research, both nationally and internationally, and critique their relevance to this study
    • Explain why your proposed research would lead to an improvement in the care of the patient population
  • Describe the evidence that provides proof-of-concept in man for your research. Please ensure you include references on proof of concept in your bibliography. Please see further information regarding proof of concept that is required.

Aims and objectives

Please summarise the aim of the research and research questions / objectives. Please provide:

  • the aim(s) – broad and general statement(s) of intent addressing the overall purpose of your proposed research
  • a clear hypothesis being tested both for the clinical study as well as any mechanistic components, including an indication of how the tests/measurements will confirm or refute these hypotheses - all applications must be hypothesis-driven, i.e. funding will not be available for studies where the main aim is hypothesis generation
  • a strong case for how a better understanding of the mechanisms of action of the intervention will potentially contribute to the future use or development of the technology, future wealth creation and for the ultimate benefit of individual patients or the wider NHS
  • research objectives should be listed - they need to provide a focused indication of what you will do to achieve the aim(s), it may be helpful to divide these, where appropriate, into clinical and mechanistic objectives
  • mechanistic components to studies are strongly encouraged - these must test a clear hypothesis concerning the mechanism of action of an intervention, and contain an indication of how the tests / measurements will confirm or refute this hypothesis, please see examples of EME funded studies with mechanistic components
  • for clinical trials, include a single sentence describing the study including the primary outcome measure
  • the deliverables from the project

Research plan/methods

Research design: Reference should be made to established research techniques. Any adaptations of these for the proposed research should be fully explained and justified. If you are proposing a randomised trial, describe explicitly how participants will be allocated to trial groups, and describe any other methods to protect against bias. State if any pilot study has been carried out using this design and if so, findings must be provided. Also describe any "stopping rules" for parts of, or the entire study.

Study population: Please provide a detailed list of the planned inclusion / exclusion and withdrawal criteria.

Summary of patients/service users/carers/public as research participants: The successful recruitment and retention of study participants is strategically important for the NIHR. If your proposed study involves patients/service users/carers/public as research participants, please use the following bullet points to summarise their characteristics and what would be expected of them throughout the research project lifecycle. The potential burden on study participants can then be understood as well as whether or not the proposed strategies are practical, inclusive and feasible. Please also signpost to where further information on these points can be found in the detailed research plan and application.

Points to cover:

  • inclusion and exclusion criteria to help ensure that certain groups were not being excluded without justification
  • recruitment method and consent process to ensure it is practical and fair
  • type and content of participant information materials
  • overview of research methods to capture data from participants and their frequency e.g. questionnaires/tests/intervention/focus groups/ interviews
  • study participant support to consider how drop-out and issues of participation would be handled/helplines/other access arrangements required
  • methods for sharing study progress and findings with study participants
  • payments, rewards and recognition for study participants.

Guidance for applicants on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion for study participants: 

Every person eligible to take part in research should be offered the same opportunity of taking part in that research regardless of:

All NIHR applications are expected to include information about how this data will be collected. In addition applicants should demonstrate how these factors have been considered and addressed in their proposal, including steps taken to ensure the research sample is representative of the population the study is targeted at. Applicants need to explain who they are planning to recruit to ensure inclusivity of study participants and justify and explain any exclusions, for example by completing an Equality Impact Assessment. Costs associated with inclusivity, which may include, but are not limited to justified translation of research participant material into other relevant languages, would be expected and where appropriate should be included in the detailed budget section under ‘Other Direct Costs’. Additionally, applicants should demonstrate that all potential recruiting locations have been considered and the research is deliverable to those areas.

Please see the NIHR INCLUDE Guidance for more information about how to include under-served groups effectively: 

The NIHR supports the Researcher Development Concordat which recognises the critical role of research and innovation in delivering the UK’s ambitious economic and industrial strategies, and aims to set the gold standard in researcher development and use it as a competitive advantage. NIHR research applicants should understand the concordat and consider this when completing their application.

For further information on promoting equality, diversity and inclusion in research is available. 

Proposed sample size: Specify the number of samples/data sets and the expected accrual rates, and how this links to the power of the study to answer the question. A justification for the assumptions underlying the sample size/power calculations must be provided. These should be in sufficient detail to allow replication by the reviewers.  Where mechanistic components are included, rigorous power calculations are also expected.

Recruitment Strategy: Specify the number of patients and centres and recruitment rates indicating the total patient numbers available from which the trial patient population may be drawn. Detail of the contemporary incidence or prevalence rates for the condition (whichever is relevant) should be given as well as how you have identified these rates, and descriptions of any other trials recruiting the same group of patients. A full clear justification is required for any patient recruitment planned outside of the UK.  Explain how you will recruit and the critical factors that will lead to the optimisation of recruitment.

Statistical Analysis: Clearly state the purpose of any statistical analysis, and do not simply name a statistical test or software package.  The proposed type and frequency of analyses must be stated including the selection of participants to be included in the analyses. Describe any planned interim and sub-group analyses.

Planned interventions: Include both experimental and control interventions. If there are likely to be any problems with compliance or follow up please provide an estimation of the likely loss of analysable data. Clearly justify why this drug / intervention has been chosen over alternatives, and provide a referenced justification for the dosing regimen / treatment schedule.

Proposed outcome measures: Detail both the primary and secondary outcome measures. Again it can be helpful to divide into clinical and mechanistic component where relevant. Validated surrogate markers are acceptable only if evidence in support of the surrogate-to-final end point outcome relationship can be provided.

Assessment and follow up: Please provide details of how/when outcomes/safety will be measured and assessed including:

Assessment of efficacy: Describe the methods and timing for assessing, recording, and analysing of efficacy outcomes.

Proposed deliverables: Detail the deliverables from the study.

Value for money: Provide an explanation of how the project offers value for money.

Applicants may apply for up to £30,000 funding to evaluate alternative ways of managing studies and may complete these as part of their main study. Any Methodological Sub -Study (SWAT) proposed should represent a very minor element of a larger study and must not undermine the delivery of the main study.

At Stage 2 Applicants who intend to do a SWAT must provide a brief description of the SWAT, the methodological approach proposed, expected outcomes, justification for the inclusion of the SWAT and the choice of SWAT intervention in the ‘Detailed Research Plan’. Applicants are also encouraged to review the work of Trial Forge and consider the Trial Forge additional guidance for support with how to write about SWATs within a Stage 1 or Stage 2 research proposal.

Before including a SWAT in an application, applicants should firstly check for overlaps on the Northern Ireland Network for Trials Methodology Research website which provides a register of ongoing current SWATs. If the application is funded the applicants must apply for registration of their SWAT on the Northern Ireland MRC Trials Hub for Methodology Research SWAT/SWAR registry.

The findings of the SWAT must be made publicly available as soon as possible after the SWAT is completed (this may be before the end of the main study). This can be in a standalone peer reviewed publication, but a full description of all SWAT undertaken must also be included in the NIHR Journal Library publication.

Given the available sample size will be set by the main study, many SWATs are likely to be underpowered. All SWATs will therefore need to be designed to include potential for meta-analysis and this must be considered within the dissemination strategy.

Dissemination, outputs and anticipated impact

The purpose of this section is for the applicant to describe the planned outputs of the research, how these will be communicated and to whom, and how the research may lead to short- and longer-term impacts. NIHR understands that the impact of any research may take time to be realised and will likely involve other funders, institutions and sustained efforts in practice. NIHR also recognises it may be difficult to provide definitive answers or guarantees on longer term impacts. However, applicants are invited below to consider various aspects of pathways below and how the likelihood of impact can be maximised. This includes considering what outputs are produced, how these can be best connected to the health and/or social care environment, what efforts and investment are likely to be needed beyond the project, what barriers are likely to be encountered and what impacts the research is seeking to achieve.

  1. What do you intend to produce from your research?
    Please provide brief details of each anticipated output. NB the term ‘outputs’ refers to any tangible product of the research, not just academic publications. Outputs can include but are not limited to: 
    • conference presentation or other workshop events
    • publications (academic or otherwise)
    • guidelines (clinical, service or otherwise)
    • other copyright (e.g. questionnaires, training aids, toolkits, manuals, software, etc.)
    • new or improved design of medical devices or instrumentation
    • new or improved diagnostic
    • trial data that could be used to support a CE mark, market authorisation or equivalent
    • trial data that could be used to shape or influence a healthcare market or government
    • potential new drug or health or social care intervention
  2. How will you inform and engage patients/ service user, carers, NHS, social care organisations and the wider population about your work? Describe who you need to communicate with within this research, and your plans for engaging relevant audiences. For impact, it is unlikely that simply making outputs available will be sufficient. Please consider, and outline the active approach you will take to engaging key parties, or identify the process you will use to identify them and formulate an engagement plan. Further information is available within our NIHR Dissemination guidance: How to disseminate your research: Getting your message heard - and used.
  3. How will your outputs enter our health and care system or society as a whole? Describe the process by which the research will enter the health and/or social care environment, including how your outputs will be acknowledged, selected and introduced for use in the health and care service or wider society. Where possible consider how the work will be able to be adopted and implemented longer term. Please describe the proposed route to market (commercial or non-commercial) for your outputs. Describe who is needed to take it forward and the relationship you currently (or propose to) have with these parties. If your outputs are likely to be commercially exploitable, please include details on how you plan to develop this.
  4. What further funding or support will be required if this research is successful (e.g. from NIHR, other Government departments, charity or industry)? Consider what investment or support may be needed at the end of this project to maximise impact. Not all projects will require this but if so, plans should be linked to the responses in points 2 and 3 above.
  5. What are the possible barriers for further research, development, adoption and implementation? Describe the difficulties which may be faced in generating impact from your research. These may be difficulties you will face yourself, or challenges faced by those in the implementing context (e.g. clinicians).
    • Will the proposed research use data, technology, materials or other inventions that are subject to any form of intellectual property protection (e.g. copyright, design rights, patents) or rights owned by another organisation(s)? If yes, provide brief details including how such third party IP will be accessed (e.g. collaboration agreement, drug supply agreement).
    • What are the key current and future barriers to uptake of any likely output or innovation directly in the health and care service, through commercial exploitation or other means, e.g. potential regulatory hurdles?
    • What are the challenges for getting your research implemented in terms of acceptability, accessibility and feasibility? How will you address these?
  6. What do you think the impact of your research will be and for whom? Describe the impacts you aim to achieve as a direct result of the project and those which are anticipated longer term. Please consider how any smaller, more immediate effects may mature over time into larger scale or more significant effects, and the steps by which this may be achieved. As far as possible, indicate anticipated timescales for these benefits and a quantitative estimate of their scale. Impacts may include, but are not restricted to:
    • patient/service user/carer benefit
    • healthcare/social care staff benefits
    • changes in NHS or care services (including efficiency savings)
    • commercial return (which could contribute to economic growth)
    • public wellbeing.
  7. How will you share with study participants the progress and findings of your research? What strategies will you use to keep your research participants informed of the progress of your project and the findings? Consider the ethical implications of informing study participants and also what the most accessible methods could be, such as newsletters, leaflets, webpages, social media and where relevant different languages and formats. The Health Research Authority provide guidance on the information participants of trials should receive at the end of the study.

Project/research timetable

Project timetable - Provide a detailed project timetable with key deliverables and milestone indicated that assess specific interim achievements which are crucial to fulfilling the stated research objectives. A Gantt diagram must be included as a visual summary of the overall project. 

Applications to this call may include a series of linked stages (usually 2 to 3) with progression to the next stage dependent on the outcome of the previous stage(s). In addition to the main clinical evaluation, typical stages include:

  • Feasibility stage(s) - used to estimate important parameters required to finalise design of the next stage of the study or main clinical evaluation, to further develop an intervention or key component of the treatment pathway or to help select the intervention used later in the study
  • Pilot stage(s) - used to test processes used for the main clinical evaluation when there is a high risk of failure to deliver - trial/Study processes are typically piloted in initial sites with clear targets set to be reviewed at a specific point early in recruitment as part of an ad hoc monitoring milestone

Researchers who wish to submit a staged programme of work must make the progression criteria clear, outline what the stages are and how success would be assessed.  These need to be identified as decision points and clearly shown. These should be based on verifiable achievements, both concise and realistic, as they will be used for project monitoring purposes. These time points should appear on the overall project timeline and Gantt.

The precise type and number of decision points will depend on the size and nature of the project. Recruitment targets will be continuously monitored by EME and should not be listed as decision points except in studies with a feasibility or pilot stage.

Following review of your application the programme may identify one or more of the decision points listed as contractual Stop/Go decision points. These are typically between project stages where there could be good reasons, other than failure to deliver, for a programme of work not to continue to the next stage. (i.e. even if the research progressed according to the agreed schedule, there would still be a requirement to review results of the previous stage to determine whether the next stage should be funded).

In such cases a contractual Stop/Go decision point is inserted into the DH contract, payment schedules are aligned with costs agreed for the preceding stage with payments over and above this figure held until approval from the programme is granted.

NIHR EME Monitoring: Your progress will be regularly monitored, comparing your submitted progress reports against your planned deliverables and milestones checked.  These progress reports will be based on the project timetable and milestones and will occur at approximately six month intervals.  If you are late producing progress reports and a single draft final report of the expected standard for the EME Programme, we reserve the right to withhold payments as per the contract. Applicants should note that the EME Programme monitors the degree to which requested timetables are met, and that having a proven track record in delivering on time may be a consideration when deciding future awards.

If your project requires ethics/regulatory approval, you should allow time for obtaining these approvals and submitting appropriate documents to the EME Programme. Time for the recruitment of staff, the production of the draft report and a draft paper suitable for publication in a peer-reviewed journal should also be included.

Project management

Please demonstrate how you have addressed any “deliverability” issues for your project, including:

  • ensuring sample size is realistic and achievable
  • appropriate recruitment strategy
  • consideration of subject attrition
  • ensuring sufficient resource, expertise and facilities at each site
  • potentially competing studies for recruitment

Please note that it is important that you are aware of your institution’s procurement policies so that if successful, your research can begin within your projected timeframe.

Ethics/regulatory approvals

Outline any ethical and/or other regulatory issues, and arrangements for handling them. Consider when the project requires approval by an ethics committee and/or any other regulatory body. If there is development work that is essential before you intend to apply for ethics and/or other regulatory approvals, state this and make the timescales clear in your plan of investigation and project timetable. The Funding Committee will consider this in detail and consider whether to offer staged funding.

Guidance on the application process for ethical and other approvals can be found on the HRA website. Please note that if your study is led from England and involves the NHS in England you should apply for HRA approval.

If you are using patient information from an existing database, you should check whether the patients have given their consent for their data to be included in that database for research purposes, or if not whether the database is exempt under Section 251 of the NHS Act 2006. Where exemptions are not already in place, approval to use confidential patient information without consent must be requested from the HRA who make decisions with advice from the Confidentiality Advisory Group (CAG).

The programme is interested in taking advantage of the growing utility of routine data (such as HES, GP records etc), and would like investigators, where appropriate, to ask study participants to consent to long term follow up (e.g. beyond the outcomes to be collected in the funded trial) using routinely collected data, and appropriate linkage to allow this data to be best used.

Researchers may find the SPIRIT 2013 statement a useful resource when preparing their protocol for ethics and other approvals.

Project/research expertise

Outline the particular contribution each member of the team will make towards the project and the particular contribution that collaborators are intending to make. In addition, give details of supervision arrangements for junior staff involved, and details of arrangements to retain critical staff or co-applicants who do not have a contract of employment that spans the project period. The EME Programme recommends teams proposing randomised controlled trials to include input from an accredited clinical trials unit, or organisations with equivalent experience.

If commercial partners are involved in the study, a detailed description of the contributions and expectations from all parties must be included.

PPI Lead

There should be a named person with appropriate skills and experience who is responsible for leading the PPI element within the project. This role should be an adequately costed and resourced research team member who is able to manage the PPI plans and related activities. Examples of the activities a PPI lead might undertake.

Success criteria and barriers to proposed work

Please set out the measurements of success you intend to use, the risks to the proposed research and how you intend to mitigate against them.

Please explain any barriers to completion of the study that are not covered elsewhere in this form, and your plans to overcome/avoid them. Describe the deliverables that would indicate a successful project completion.

Attachment 2: CTU support letter (if required/appropriate to the study)

This is not a mandatory upload, however, if appropriate to the study, please supply and upload a Clinical Trials Unit (CTU) letter of support. 

Attachment 3: Flow Diagram

In order to submit a Stage 2 application to the programme you must upload a diagram (single-side of A4), as a separate .PDF file, for submission with your application form. This diagram may be projected at the funding committee meeting to provide funding committee members with a visual summary of the study proposed.

The diagram should illustrate the study design and the flow of participants (if appropriate). If the project consists of more than one work package, consider a diagram that conveys the sequence and timing of research packages as well as how the work packages are linked.

Please ensure diagrams are large and clear enough for them to be projected as a slide at the funding committee meeting.

If proposing an RCT, we advise you refer to the CONSORT statement for guidance. If the commissioning brief requests a pilot or feasibility trial please refer to the CONSORT extension for pilot and feasibility trials. Alternatively, you may also find the EQUATOR Network website useful.

Attachment 4: References (maximum 3 pages of A4)

List all references cited in the full project description, using either the Vancouver or Harvard referencing conventions, and include the DOI of the main related publication.

Attachment 5: Schedule of Events Cost Attribution Tool (SoECAT)

A completed Schedule of Events Cost Attribution Tool (SoECAT) is now required to be uploaded and submitted for projects that are to be registered with the NIHR portfolio. A SoECAT is required by NIHR and NIHR non-commercial partner research funders for studies involving participants under an NHS or Health and Social Care duty of care.

The exception to this is where no participants are being recruited and there is no Excess Treatment Cost or NHS Support Cost support, for example in the case of some stand-alone mechanistic studies. In this case, a SoECAT will not be required. This should be confirmed by an AcoRD Specialist by completing front sheet of the template. Only the front sheet of the SoECAT needs to be completed in these circumstances.

Attachment 6: Fellowship Supporting Information

Please upload this document as a 'Paper in Press' when selecting an upload option.

Applicant Research Background

Please describe your research career to date – 1000 word limit:

Please use this question to describe your research experience and career to date and how this makes you suitable for this award, and to undertake the research being proposed. Please include the following:

  • research you have led or made a significant contribution to (making clear what your role was), the research methods you have experience of, and the impact and outputs of the research you have been involved in (linking to details given in your CV).
  • any other relevant experience such as:
    • supervisory
    • management
    • teaching
    • public engagement and involvement
    • leadership experience
  • other skills and experience which highlights your suitability for the Advanced fellowship, and which demonstrates your potential as a future health or social care research leader.

Impact of Fellowship

Please also describe the impact this fellowship will have on your career, noting a fellowship should provide you with a step change in your career trajectory.  You should also provide some justification for the resources and length of funding you have requested in the context of the impact this will provide.

Mitigating Factors – 500 word limit

Please use this question to detail any mitigating factors you wish to make the Selection Committee aware of when they are reviewing your applications. NIHR wants to know about any circumstances so that they may take them into consideration during the assessment of your application. Mitigating factors may include: 

  • career breaks due to parental leave, or periods of illness
  • reduced time spent undertaking research due to a disability or caring responsibilities - this could include any physical or mental difficulty that may have impacted your research career - these are situations that have a significant impact on your ability to undertake research
  • reduced opportunities to career support, for example mentorship, and limited opportunities to undertake prior research and training

Please also use this section to detail any other factors that may have impacted your research career not listed in the examples provided. The impact on your career to date will be specific to your particular circumstances but could include such impacts as limited opportunities to obtain grant funding, or fewer publications. In general terms, mitigating factors should be significant, and relevant. 

NIHR acknowledges that you may be reluctant, or uncomfortable disclosing relevant information that is sensitive. However, you should bear in mind that that we are unable to take into account factors that you do not disclose. If you would like to discuss your circumstances with a member of the Fellowships team, please contact

Please be assured that information provided by you is sensitive and will be treated confidentially and in line with General Data and Protection Regulations (GDPR). 

Please also use this section to indicate any specific impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on your application.

Training and Development and Research Support - proposed training and development programme – 1000 word limit

Please use this section to detail the training and development you will undertake as part of the Fellowship. This should cover both the training you may need to undertake the research being proposed but also training designed to support your development as a future health\social care research leader.

Training may include, but is not limited to formal courses, training in specialist skills and research methodologies, placements with other research groups or centres, leadership skills, conference attendance and overseas research visits. It is important that the Training and Development Programme is tailored to your specific needs and complements the research being proposed as part of the Fellowship.

For clinical/practice applicants (including social care practitioners), please also use this space to indicate if you will be using the award to undertake clinical/practice sessions. Doctoral Fellowship applicants can request up to 20% be allocated and Advanced Fellowship applicants can request up to 40% be allocated. It should be made clear what percentage of time is being requested and how any clinical time being covered by the Fellowship links to and is complementary to the research being proposed.

It is also possible to undertake a Fellowship less than full time to allow for clinical service/training to take place outside of the Fellowship. In this situation no justification or link to the research is required.

Training and Development and Research Support - research support/supervisor - 250 words per justification of participation

The individuals you list here should be added as a 'Mentor' under the Research Team section of the form. Funding for research support and supervision is available for travel and subsistence only (for the applicant) and does not support any fees the individuals who provide research support or supervision may wish to charge the applicant.

Doctoral applicants should give details of proposed supervisor(s) (up to 4) and the support they will provide. Careful thought should be given to:

  • the experience of your chosen supervisors
  • maintaining contact
  • the potential for difficulties of communication and conflicting opinions and advice when there are more than 2 supervisors.

Details of the numbers of PhD students currently supervised and successfully supervised to completion of PhD must be included here.

Advanced Fellowship applicants should detail individuals providing research support and mentorship. Although we acknowledge that formal supervision may not be appropriate for all Advanced Fellowship applicants, we believe that the applicant will benefit from research support or mentorship. In this context, the research support or mentorship role will encompass providing you with support throughout your Fellowship in both your research endeavours and your overall career development. It is a two-way process that may be challenging for both parties. For this reason, choosing who will provide research support will require a great deal of thought. The individuals who provide research support may or may not be based in your host organisation. They should, however, have a clear understanding of the research process, the demands your chosen area of training and development are likely to place on you, and your particular strengths and weaknesses.

Research support is referred to in the literature as ‘mentorship’ and there are numerous models to be found that could be employed. Clearly describe how the proposed arrangements will support your overall development and provide an initial assessment of the time that will be allocated to the research support process. 

Collaborations – 600 word limit

Explain what collaborations you intend to establish to support your research and, if applicable, your training and development programme. This may involve short visiting placements (e.g., an Overseas Research Visit), or secondments in new (to the applicant) research environments, e.g., clinical trials units or NIHR Biomedical Research Centres.

The NIHR is particularly keen to enhance the cadre of researchers equipped to work at the HEI, NHS, social care and industry interface, translating ideas into new treatments/practice and products from which patients can benefit. Therefore, where appropriate, you should consider any industry collaborations you may wish to establish during the course of your Fellowship. You should include; the training and development the collaboration will provide; the facilities and expertise you will have access to; and how the collaboration will strengthen links between academia, industry and the NHS/social care.

Attachment 7: Host Statement of Support

Host Organisation support statement – 1000 word limit

The statement is completed by the Head of Department and uploaded using a document with the host organisation letterhead. The statement should detail how the organisation(s) are going to support the applicant in partnership to successfully complete their research and the training and development programme. This statement should be tailored specifically to the applicant, their research and training needs, and include how the organisation(s) intend to support the applicant to develop their research career in the long-term.

NIHR see the responsibility for training the next generation of research leaders as a joint enterprise with host organisations. Therefore, information should also be provided on the organisation’s track record of supporting early career researchers, such as evidence of bridging or other support provided to fellows upon completion of an award. For Advanced Fellowships over 3 years in duration there is an expectation of significant additional host organisation support, for example, this could be providing additional research assistant(s)/PhD student(s) to the Fellow if successful.

In addition, the statement should evidence of the host organisation(s) commitment to creating and maintaining an inclusive and supportive research culture, including evidence of commitment to the principles of equality, diversity and inclusion and research integrity.

Statements may wish to refer to the principles and best practice outlined within relevant Charters and Concordats in these areas, such as the Researcher Development Concordat and Advance HE’s Equality Charters. It should be noted that being a signatory to Concordats or holding bronze/silver status from the Equality Charters isn’t a requirement of funding and evidence can be provided through other means.

Host Organisations are expected to comply with the relevant Principles and Obligations for clinical academic training and it is recommended Host Organisations read these documents, where relevant, before completing the statement of support.

For medics and dentists, please refer to UK clinical academic training in medicine and dentistry: principles and obligations March 2018. For all other professions, please refer to UK clinical academic training for nurses, midwives, AHPs and other health and care professionals: principles and obligations

NIHR expects that all commitments made to the applicant within this statement will be honoured for the lifetime of the award.

Attachment 8: Additional EME attachments

The additional EME attachment requirements are as follows:

  • list of abbreviations: required
  • Supporting letter (Tech Transfer Office): required - this is requested to confirm that the TTO or equivalent has reviewed the application and has had input into areas regarding Intellectual Property, it is also requested to confirm their on-going intention to support the proposed research if funded
  • if your study involves a collaborator, they must supply a letter of support - you may also submit supporting letters from others if relevant
  • you may include relevant in-press publications - please provide details of when these were submitted and to which journal

Acknowledgements and conflicts

Potential conflicts

Please declare any conflicts or potential conflicts of interest that you or your co-applicants may have in undertaking this research, including any relevant, non-personal & commercial interest that could be perceived as a conflict of interest. If in doubt, you should err on the side of disclosure.

Agreement to terms and conditions

I have read and understood the terms on which I have been nominated as lead applicant for this proposal along with the associated documentation and accept this role.

list of terms and conditions is available.

Checklist of information to include when submitting a NIHR Stage 2 research application

As a guide, applicants should ensure they have included the below necessary information prior to submitting their application:

  • appropriate and relevant involvement of patients/service user, carers and the public
  • a good quality Plain English Summary
  • a clear description of team member roles and contribution
  • a clear scientific abstract
  • a clear description of the changes from first stage (if applicable)
  • a full and accurate detailed budget breakdown
  • a clear justification of costs/value for money

Document uploads

  • a clear Detailed Research Plan outlining the study design, methods, dissemination etc
  • a CTU letter of support (if applicable, or a justification for why this is not required)
  • a flow diagram illustrating the study design / flow of participants
  • references, maximum 3 pages of A4
  • a completed and approved SoECAT (if applicable, or the just first page confirming this not required)
  • a list of abbreviations
  • a technology transfer office (TTO) or equivalent letter of support
  • letters of support from collaborators/partners (where relevant), for stand-alone Mechanisms of Action studies, please provide a letter of support from the funder and sponsor of the index study if not NIHR, detailing their support and willingness to communicate with NIHR if required
  • fellowships Supporting Information
  • statement of Support from host organisation
  • any Papers In Press (where relevant)