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Health Determinants Research Collaboration (HDRC) Expression of Interest (EoI) guidance notes


Guidance notes for applicants submitting an HDRC EoI 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.

In some parts this form will refer to ‘research’ as it is generally used for funding research projects. However, for this scheme the form is being used for applying for research infrastructure funding. It is important that the guidance under each section is read and taken into consideration along with the HDRC specification document. When accessing the application form you may see some additional guidance associate with the plain English summary and the research plan. Please ignore this guidance and refer back to the HDRC specific guidance.

Summary information

Contracting organisation

Please give details of the organisation who will be the contractor (the local authority organisation who will sign and hold the contract for the HDRC) if the HDRC is funded. 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 a new contracting organisation.

Research title (Limit: 300 characters)

The HDRC title should include the locality. Any abbreviations should be spelled out in full.

Research type

Please select ‘Primary Research’.

Start month

Note this will be from the first of the month regardless of whether this is a working day or not. Please put 1st July, this may change but can be amended later in the process.

Start year

Please put 2022.

Research duration (months)

This opportunity is for a 60 month (5 year) contract.

End date

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

Estimated research costs

Enter the total amount of research costs requested. The total that can be requested is up to £5 Million over the course of 60 months (5 years). At the next stage of the HDRCapplication process a financial plan will be requested. This should provide a breakdown of the research infrastructure costs that will be incurred by the HDRC in carrying out the proposed work plan.

For more detail on what can be included within the costs please consult the AcoRD guidance, with reference to Research Costs. Please note: NHS Treatment Costs and NHS Support Costs are not applicable to this funding scheme so you will not need to read those sections. If questions remain after consulting AcoRD please email and we will discuss queries with our finance department.

We strongly recommend that applicants familiarise themselves with these definitions, and with reference to Research costs consult:

• AcoRD Annex A: List of common research activities attributed to the Research Costs, NHS Treatment Costs and NHS Support Costs

Information for different types of organisations

Local authority and other non-NHS organisations

Up to 100% of direct research costs incurred will be funded, based on costs identified through ‘Attributing the costs of health and social care Research and Development’ (AcoRD).
HDRC funding can cover legitimate and reasonable, local authority indirect costs within the local authority (for example, premises, HR, finance). The NIHR reserves the right to set limits on indirect costs charged.

Existing local authority employee time can be bought back.

Higher education institutions (HEIs)

Any direct and indirect research costs attributable to higher education institutions (HEIs) should be entered at 100% but will be paid at 80% of Full Economic Cost (FeC).

NHS organisations

Up to 100% of direct research costs incurred by NHS organisations will be funded, based on Research costs identified through ‘Attributing the costs of health and social care Research and Development’ (AcoRD).

Eligible costs

Direct costs

Direct costs are those eligible research infrastructure costs that will be incurred by the local authority/university partnership in carrying out the proposed work programme for the HDRC. These may include salaries, equipment, travel, consumables, and other direct costs.

Indirect costs

Indirect costs are similar to overheads, they will be attributable to items which support the HDRC but are not directly incurred as part the work of the HDRC. The HDRC funding scheme will fund legitimate and reasonable indirect costs for local authorities. These may include a proportion of the costs of accommodation in the organisation, used for the HDRCs work, and an appropriate proportion of HR, payroll, and finance costs.

For HEIs, Indirect costs are usually included as part of the calculation of FeC, and like direct costs should be included at 100% but will be funded at 80%.Commercial/Other member organisations’ indirect costs , as described above, can be included.

All indirect costs need to demonstrate value for money. The NIHR reserves the right to set limits on indirect costs charged.

Ineligible costs

The funding is not intended to meet local authority intervention/ imitative costs associated with the research programme of the HDRC.

Estimated NHS support costs

Please put 0. There should not be any NHS support costs.

Estimated NHS Excess Treatment costs

Please put 0. There should not be any NHS Excess Treatment costs.

Estimated non-NHS Excess treatment (intervention) costs

Please put 0. There should not be any non-NHS Excess Treatment (intervention) costs.

Research team

Lead applicant background details

Lead applicant is the person leading the HDRC application. This could be the eventual HDRC Director if this has been decided. If not yet decided we expect the lead applicant to be a in a senior position such as Director of Public Health.

Information on your name, degrees and professional qualifications, affiliated organisations and contact details will be automatically populated from your contact profile. Update your contact profile to complete any missing information or make any updates here.


Please note: In order to be a lead applicant for the NIHR there is a need to create your unique research identification. This is easily done through ORCiD. You (and joint lead applicant – if included) 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. By clicking the link ‘Create or connect your ORCiD ID’ within the ‘ORCID’ section of your user 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 T&Cs, you will need to click on the ‘Continue to import your ORCID Data’ button which will update your profile with your ORCiD ID number and other associated data (e.g. publications and grants) which can be used to populate your application. The ORCiD ID number is a mandatory requirement.

Equality and diversity monitoring information

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, and 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

By research team we mean the team that has developed this HDRC application. Further down the form there will be an opportunity to describe the HDRC delivery team and structure.

The table will update automatically as joint lead applicants and co-applicants are added. Use the update button to enter the following information:

  • Role (Limit 200 characters) – Explain the role that the individual has taken in the development of the HDRC application.
  • Commitment – Please put 0% FTE in this section. Staffing commitments for the HDRC will asked for at the next application stage.
  • Organisation – their employing organisation and any other affiliated organisations. Select their 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 and adding a new Affiliated organisation (to do this click on ‘Affiliated Organisation’ in the left hand selection bar. Department – Select the primary department affiliated with.

Joint lead applicant

Where appropriate use the envelope button to add and then invite a Joint Lead applicant to your application. Once the Joint Lead Applicant has accepted their invitation they will appear in the Team table. Use the Update button to enter the information regarding their role on the project, %FTE, Organisation.


Use the ‘Add / Edit Co-Applicants' button to add any co-applicants and provide the necessary information, including contact details, organisation, role and commitment (%FTE). You should consult with co-applicants before adding them to the application. Do not include collaborators, who should be mentioned (if necessary) in the Research Plan section of the on-line application form.

We encourage the inclusion of public co-applicants where appropriate, for an HDRC this could be a democratically elected member of the local authority that has been involved in the development of the application.

Add administrative contact

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.
Use the envelope icon below to enter the administrative contact's details and invite them to participate in this application. 

Application details

In some parts this form will refer to ‘research’ as it is generally used for funding research projects. However, for this scheme the form is being used for applying for research infrastructure funding. It is important that the guidance under each section is read and taken into consideration along with the HDRC specification document.

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

The importance of a plain English summary

A good quality plain English summary provides an easy-to-read overview of what you are hoping to achieve that can be understood by a lay audience. It is helpful to involve members of the public in developing a plain English summary.


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

  • Description of your approach to setting up an HDRC
  • Aim(s) and objectives of the HDRC
  • Background

Further guidance on writing in plain English is available online at NIHR Make it clear.

Research plan (Limit: 20,000 characters)

Using the questions for consideration below and the HDRC specification document, please use this section to clearly explain your HDRC approach. As this is the main part of your application which will be considered by the reviewing committee, you should ensure that the information is accurate, succinct and clearly laid out.

1. Background and context

  • Describe the local context and current research environment.
  • What Research & Development functions and capacity already exist?
  • What barriers and challenges to being research active exist locally and what will be the impact on health research and development of the HDRC?

2. Describe your approach to developing an HDRC (Project plan)

Using the HDRC Specification Document as support, please provide a clear explanation of your approach to developing an HDRC. Questions to consider and address in this section include:

  • HDRC structure and resources: What structure will the HDRC take? You may wish to include an organagram as an upload.
  • Aims and objectives: What aims and objectives will it set out to achieve?  How will the HDRC achieve its aims and objectives?
  • HDRC management: please state how and by whom the HDRC will be managed, referring to the roles of specific applicants as appropriate.
  • Governance: What governance structures will be put in place?
  • Wider determinants of Health: How will the HDRC be able to focus on the full range of the wider determinants of health? What strategies will be employed.
  • Health inequalities: How will the HDRC address health inequalities. Although the HDRC expression of interest is not recruiting participants into research, all NIHR applications are still expected to include information about how inequalities and EDI will be addressed within their application.
  • Barriers to overcome: What barriers will need to be addressed?
  • Local needs: How will the HDRC identify and meet local research and development needs?
  • Success measures: How will you measure success? What will success look like?
  • What partners and collaborators will be involved? Please detail who your collaborators are and how they have aided the development of the proposal. Where possible letters of support from collaborators are available these should be added as an upload. It is important that you identify all partners and collaborators who are relevant to your EoI and how they will be involved in the HDRC.
  • Collaborations, Culture and Partnerships: What collaborations and partnerships will the HDRC aim to generate/ strengthen?
  • Capacity building: What research capacity building functions will the HDRC undertake?
  • Leadership: How will the HDRC develop and lead a research culture and influence leaders?
  • Timescale and milestones: please provide a clear indication of the implementation timescale and dates by which key milestones should be achieved. A Gantt chart to support this section can be uploaded.
  • Public involvement: the NIHR expects the active involvement of the public and other key stakeholders. Please describe the public involvement strategy for the HDRC and the future research undertaken by the HDRC.
  • Dissemination, knowledge exchange and impact: Dissemination of the impact of the HDRC to key stakeholders, the public and end users will be a key function of an HDRC. We acknowledge that defining impact can be challenging and pathways to impact are complex with many steps beyond your control. We therefore define impact broadly as the contribution, effect on, or benefit that excellent research makes to the functions of the local authority, to knowledge, people, health and health inequalities, the NHS, health and care services, society, the economy and policy. We wish to understand the ways in which the proposed HDRC will change culture, activity, attitudes, awareness, behaviour, capacity, opportunity, performance, decision-making, practice or processes. Impact can also result from new understanding that benefits individuals, population, organisations, communities, constituencies or the nation.


Attachment 1: Gantt chart/ organogram diagram

You may wish to upload a Gantt chart and/or organogram to explain your approach (single-side of A4), as separate .PDF file, for submission with your application form. Please limit this to one Gantt chat and one organogram.

Attachment 2: references

One single-side A4 page, listing references used throughout your EoI via a PDF upload. Please use either the Vancouver or Harvard referencing conventions and include the DOI of the main related publication.

Attachment 3: letters of support

Please upload any letters of support from collaborators or partners. Assurance that the Expression of Interest has the support of the contracting local authority. This should be at least a letter from the Director of Public Health and also an elected member (either leader of the council or the health portfolio holder or the chair of the Health and Wellbeing Board). Please also include any other letters of support, as necessary.  

Attachment 4 Logic Model

You may find it useful to upload a logic model to help explain your approach and demonstrate intended impact. This is not an essential upload.

Acknowledgement 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 and 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.
A list of terms and conditions can be found here: Terms and Conditions

Checklist of information to include when submitting a NIHR stage 1 research application

Applicants should ensure they have included the necessary information prior to submitting their application:

  • A good quality plain English summary
  • A clear explanation of your approach and work plan
  • A clear demonstration of how your EoI addresses the criteria within the specification document
  • Clear aim(s) and objectives
  • A clear description of the team submitting the application and the future HDRC staffing structure
  • Appropriate and relevant involvement of patients/service user, carers and the public
  • A flow Gantt chat and /or organagram (document upload)
  • One single-side A4 page of references, using either the Vancouver or Harvard referencing conventions (document upload)
  • Letters of support (document upload)