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HEE/NIHR Advanced Clinical and Practitioner Academic Fellowship Round 4 Guidance Notes


Published: 07 September 2023

Version: Final

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These Applicant Guidance Notes are published to accompany the NHS England (NHSE)/NIHR ICA Programme Round 4 Advanced Clinical and Practitioner Academic Fellowship (ACAF) Scheme Competition, describe the means by which applications to the scheme should be submitted, and details how they will be assessed. Applicants must ensure they have read this guidance before submitting an application. Applicants are advised to refer to this guidance when completing each section of the application form.

The NHSE/NIHR Integrated Clinical Academic (ICA) Programme 

The ICA Programme provides research training awards for registered health and care professionals (excluding doctors and dentists) who wish to develop practitioner academic careers; combining continued practice and professional development with research and research leadership.

The ICA Programme comprises five schemes, tailored to support the practitioner academic leaders of the future:

  • NHSE Internship Scheme
  • NHSE Bridging scheme
  • NHSE/NIHR Pre-doctoral Clinical and Practitioner Academic Fellowship (PCAF) Scheme
  • NHSE/NIHR Doctoral Clinical and Practitioner Academic Fellowship (DCAF) Scheme
  • NHSE/NIHR Advanced Clinical and Practitioner Academic Fellowship (ACAF) Scheme.

NHSE/NIHR Advanced Clinical and Practitioner Academic Fellowship

The ACAF scheme supports post-doctoral researchers to develop their academic career whilst developing their health or care career. The scheme is open to post-doctoral researchers from the health and care professions (excluding doctors and dentists) who are committed to a clinical academic or practitioner academic career.

Whilst the scope of what an ACAF can be used for is broad, you are asked to indicate which of the following uses of an ACAF best describes your application:

  • For individuals who have recently completed or soon to be awarded a PhD but haven’t yet established themselves as an independent researcher.

  • For individuals either starting to establish themselves as an independent researcher, or who are already established as an independent researcher but are not yet recognised as an international leader in their field.

  • For individuals looking to transition into applied health or social care research from a basic science or non-health/care research background.

  • For those individuals who are seeking to re-establish their research career following a significant career break.

The ACAF scheme provides salaried time to undertake both a funded research project and a funded programme of academic training and development. Fellowships are between 2 and 5 years Whole Time Equivalent (WTE) in duration and may be taken up on a part-time basis between 50% and 100% WTE (Annex C). Between 20% and 40% of the award time must also be dedicated to Professional Practice Development, which will be funded through the Fellowship.

The ACAF has been designed to be flexible to meet the needs of individual applicants, however this means that careful thought is needed as to the amount of support and duration of fellowship being requested. Requests should be justified and evidence based, and demonstrate the desired impact the fellowship will have on the applicant’s career trajectory.

Individuals are eligible to be awarded up to two ACAFs sequentially, not normally totalling more than 8 years WTE of funding.

ACAFs are available to start between October 2024 and March 2025.

Clinical Academics and Practitioner Academics

The term “Practitioner Academic” is used in these Applicant Guidance Notes (and in the application form) to encompass both those developing a clinical academic career (a career combining the development of a research career and continued development of a clinical career) and those eligible individuals developing a career combining research and other practice or policy roles.

The terms “Practice”, “Practitioner” and “Professional Practice” are used in these Applicant Guidance Notes (and in the application form) to mean the undertaking of a role or activity that contributes to the maintenance of an applicant’s registration with one of the ICA Programme eligible regulatory bodies' (listed below).

NIHR Postdoctoral Opportunities

There are a number of postdoctoral awards available through the NIHR, a brief summary of these awards is below:

Advanced Fellowship (AF)

Supports individuals undertaking research in any scientific discipline or sector that can demonstrate a contribution to improving health and/or care.

Population Health Career Scientist Award (PHCSA)

Supports senior academics that are undertaking research delivered outside of NHS settings which aims to address the wider determinants of health.

Efficacy and Mechanism Evaluation (EME) and Advanced Fellowship (EME-AF)

Supports individuals that are conducting a large clinical study.  Successful applicants will receive salary and research training and development through the Advanced Fellowship and research project funding through the NIHR EME programme.

Advanced Clinical and Practitioner Academic Fellowship (ACAF)
Supports health and care professionals (excluding doctors and dentists and including individuals registered with UK Public Health Register) who are developing practitioner academic careers (undertaking health or care research whilst progressing their clinical or practice career).

Advanced Local Authority Fellowship (ALAF)
Supports individuals in local authority settings who are developing practitioner academic careers (undertaking health or care research whilst progressing their practice career).

Applicants are advised to consider carefully which postdoctoral award would best support their needs and are welcome to contact NIHR to discuss the postdoctoral opportunities further to support this decision.

Eligibility Criteria

Health and care professionals (excluding doctors and dentists) wishing to apply to the NHSE/NIHR ICA Programme schemes must hold registration with one of the following regulatory bodies or have plans in place to hold the required registration by the proposed award start date:

Academy for Healthcare Science
General Chiropractic Council
General Dental Council
General Medical Council
General Optical Council
General Osteopathic Council
General Pharmaceutical Council
Health and Care Professions Council
Nursing and Midwifery Council
Social Work England
UK Public Health Register

Applicants cannot not hold GMC registration as a doctor or GDC registration as a dentist, or propose to hold such registration over the period of the award

Applicants must be proposing substantive employment for the hours and duration of the Fellowship with either the host or partner organisation, which must be an English health and/or care provider that is providing publicly funded or third sector funded services, or a recognised English Higher Education Institution

Applicants must have a relevant PhD (research doctorate) or have submitted their thesis by the application deadline.

Applicants whose doctorate has not yet been awarded must have been awarded their doctorate and have provided official evidence of this to NIHR, by Friday 19th April 2024 (further details below)

Candidates holding Professional Doctorates will be assessed for eligibility on an individual basis and must contact NIHR prior to starting an application (further details below)

Applicants must be proposing a programme of research that is within the NIHR Remit

Applicants must be proposing to spend between 20-40% of the award time undertaking professional practice development

Applicants must not already hold a Chair at the point of application

Applicants that have held awards that are predecessors of the current programme, ie ICA CL or ICA SCL schemes, may apply for an ICA ACAF. The CL or SCL award time will not count towards the 8 years total of funding you can apply for under the ACAF scheme

Applicants who have submitted an unsuccessful application to a previous ICA ACAF, ICA CL or ICA SCL competition round can re-apply on one further occasion. It is not permissible, however, to apply to the same scheme within 12 months of making an initial application.

Applicants that have applied unsuccessfully twice will normally not be able to re-apply for a period of 3 years. This is to take account of the fact that the applicant, in terms of both their CV and experience, will have hopefully developed significantly in this timeframe.

Applications deemed fundable but which fall below the funding cut off will not be counted towards the maximum of 2 application attempts.

We would not normally expect award holders to receive more than 8 years of funding in total through the ICA ACAF and/or the NIHR Advanced Fellowship.

All applicants must be able to demonstrate, through both their previous research and professional practice experience, their commitment to a practitioner academic career and that they have the potential and are on a trajectory to develop as a practitioner academic leader in their field. 

Competitive applicants will clearly evidence research output commensurate with previous experience and / or career stage and how the award would impact their practitioner academic leadership trajectory. 

Professional Practice Development

ACAF applicants must be proposing to spend between 20-40% of the award time undertaking professional practice development.  

Given the diversity of the research and practice areas that ACAF applicants may be developing their careers in, NIHR is flexible with regard to activities that can be supported through the professional practice development time.  Any activities undertaken, however, should develop the award holder as a clinical academic or practitioner academic and the proposed activities must be detailed in the application as well as details of how the activities will develop them as a Practitioner Academic/ Clinical Academic.  

If appropriate for the applicant, professional practice development can include professional practice training, which can be funded through the Fellowship’s Training and Development programme.

Applicants would not be expected to request a part-time award in order to continue to work in a clinical or practice role outside of the award time.

The professional practice commitments within the Fellowship must be to publicly funded or third sector funded health and/or care services.

Hosting Arrangements

The ACAF is a personal research training award.  As such, Fellowship proposals are written and submitted directly by the prospective award holder. The NIHR cannot, however, contract with the Fellow directly and, therefore, all personal award applications must be supported by a suitable Host Organisation.  

Suitable Host Organisations:

  • A recognised HEI based in England
  • an NHS body based in England
  • an English provider of publicly funded health and/or social care services
  • a provider of third sector publicly funded health and/or social care services (for example, a commissioned social enterprise, local authority or hospice)

Whilst all applicants will require the support of an English Higher Education Institute (HEI) and an English provider of health or care services, one organisation must be identified as the as the organisation that will host the applicant’s Fellowship – referred to as the ‘Host Organisation’. This may or may not be the applicant’s current employer.

  • If the Host Organisation is the HEI, the Partner Organisation must be the provider of health or care services.
  • If the Host Organisation is the provider of health or care services, the Partner Organisation must be the HEI.

The Host Organisation must be capable of fulfilling the role of research sponsor as set out in the UK Policy Framework for Health & Social Care Research. Further guidance on the roles and responsibilities of a research sponsor can be found on the Health Research Authority’s (HRA) website.

Where the applicant is undertaking a clinical/practitioner academic role (i.e. combining research/research training with a clinical/practice role) then the organisation at which they undertake their clinical/practice time must be included as a Partner Organisation if they are not already the Host Organisation.

The applicant can propose to be employed by either the Host Organisation or Partner Organisation.  This means, for example, if an applicant is currently working in a clinical/practice setting e.g. NHS Trust, and the proposed Host Organisation is a HEI, then the applicant can choose to continue to be employed by the NHS Trust or move employment to the HEI.  In either case there should be an honorary contract in place for the duration of the award with whichever organisation is not the substantive employer. 

The decision on where to host a personal award and the subsequent employer for the duration of the award is down to the applicant in discussion with their supervisors, line managers and mentors.  The decision should be made based on what is best for the applicant, their career development and the research and training they are proposing to undertake.

Further information for applicants not yet awarded a doctorate

Applicants who have submitted their thesis at the point of application, must have successfully obtained their doctorate, and provided official evidence of this (in the form of an official award confirmation letter from the awarding body) to the NIHR by 1pm on Friday 19th April 2024. We define an obtained doctorate as the following:

  • Thesis submitted
  • Viva attended (if applicable)
  • Corrections accepted
  • Confirmation letter from the awarding body (University etc.) that the doctorate has been awarded.

You do not need to wait for graduation.

If the appropriate notification is not received by NIHR prior to 19th April 2024, the applicant will automatically lose their eligibility and will be withdrawn from the selection process.

Eligibility Criteria for Holders of Professional Doctorates

Candidates holding Professional Doctorates will be assessed for eligibility on an individual basis following receipt of information regarding their Professional doctorate from the awarding HEI.  

Prospective applicants who hold a Professional Doctorate must contact NIHR before starting an application.  For details regarding the information required, please contact

NIHR Remit for Personal Awards

Research supported through an NIHR Fellowship must be within the following remit: 

  1. The overall remit of the NIHR is early translational (experimental medicine), clinical and applied health research, and social care research.
  2. A clear and plausible path to patient /service user, carer or public benefit must be demonstrable.
  3. NIHR does not support basic research or work involving animals or their tissue.
  4. If the work involves biomarkers:
  • Research that tests whether application of new knowledge can improve treatment or patient outcomes, and has obvious direct potential benefit, is within remit; this might include application of known biomarkers, or other prognostic factors, to refine and test novel therapeutic strategies 
  • Research that aims only to elucidate mechanisms underpinning disease, or identify risk factors for disease or prognosis (including search for biomarkers) is out of remit.

5. The NIHR is also prepared to support high quality Educational Research (defined broadly as education for health and care providers) and methodological research. It is expected that the research will have the potential to have practical application and the potential impact on patients/service users, carers and the public must be made clear.

Queries Regarding Eligibility for the ACAF Scheme

Prospective applicants to the ACAF who are unsure of their eligibility should contact the NIHR at before embarking on the application process.

NIHR Themed Calls & Highlight Notices

Reducing compound pressures on the NHS and social care

NIHR want to generate high-quality research evidence into the evaluation of health and care interventions and services to reduce compound pressures on the NHS and social care. This cross-programme call for research supports the recently published Department of Health and Social Care Areas of Research Interest which calls for high quality evidence to support those who plan, commission, manage, deliver and use services across the health, public health and social care sector.

We welcome applications for both new primary research studies to establish the effectiveness of new, promising or existing interventions, and implementation science, evidence synthesis and policy research to support the translation of effective interventions into policy and practice. We anticipate that a range of projects in size and scope will be commissioned and that where possible, will be able to report meaningful intermediate data early in the contract period. Further details are available on the Reducing compound pressures on the NHS and social care page. 

Motor neurone disease highlight notice: This NIHR highlight notice invites proposals for Motor Neurone Disease research to address important health and social care questions. (NB: Please cross reference the types of research invited with the NIHR Remit for Personal Awards)

Brain Tumours Highlight Notice: This highlight notice indicates the continuing interest of NIHR in receiving research proposals in this area, and it encourages collaborative applications that demonstrate how they build on recent initiatives and investment in the area made by the NIHR, the Medical Research Council (MRC) and other research funders.

Sustainability themed call

We have issued a cross-programme call for research into the evaluation of interventions or services to support the delivery of a more sustainable UK health and care system, including mitigating the effects of climate change on health and care delivery. See our information about participating programmes, dates, the specification document and how to apply.

Details previous calls can be found on the NIHR themed calls page.

Charity Partnerships

The NIHR has partnered with a number of charitable organisations to offer jointly funded awards.

For Round 4 of the ICA ACAF scheme we are offering a partnership with Moorfields Eye Charity.

Moorfields Eye Charity

Research Area: 

Moorfields Eye Charity is interested in funding research in eye health, vision research, ophthalmic related service improvement, education or clinical practice. Please note: applicants will normally be hosted by either the Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust or its main HEI partner (University College London).  If hosted by another institution a direct collaboration with and benefit to Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust must be demonstrated in order to be eligible to apply for a Partnership Fellowship.

Name: Martin Cordiner
Role: Interim Head of Grants Management
Tel: 0207 566 2565 

Applying for a Partnership Fellowship

The application process for these awards is the same as for a standard NHSE/NIHR Fellowship and successful applicants will become members of the NIHR Academy in the same way as successful applicants to a standard award. This is in addition to any additional benefits that come from being funded by the charity partner.

The submission procedure and deadline for awards jointly funded by the NIHR and a Charity Partner is the same as the standard NHSE/NIHR ACAF application.

Please indicate in the ‘Application Summary Information’ Section and under the sub-heading “Partnership Fellowship” the name of the Charity you are applying to for the jointly funded award.

Any jointly funded awards will be offered at the same funding level as any other ICA ACAF and under standard NIHR terms and conditions except where additional terms and conditions are specified by the joint funder.

Review of Partnership awards will follow the same process as for standard ICA ACAFs, with all applications being considered alongside each other. This means that in the situation where there are more fundable applications to a Partnership award than there are awards available, the remaining fundable applications will be considered as standard ACAFs.

We would encourage all applicants interested in applying for an award funded through an NIHR Charity Partnership to contact the NIHR in the first instance to discuss their application and answer any questions. Applicants should take note of the specific eligibility criteria for the charity; as well as the NHSE/NIHR ICA ACAF eligibility requirements detailed in this document. We would also encourage interested applicants to contact the charity partner to discuss their research area of interest further. All queries about the application process should be directed to the NIHR.

Please note; if you are applying for an award that is jointly funded by an NIHR Charity Partner, your information (including your NIHR application form and subsequent progress/annual reports) will be shared with the charitable organisation you have chosen to partner with as part of the review process and ongoing monitoring of the award.

Assessment Criteria

Applications are assessed by the Selection Committee using the following criteria:

When assessing the applicant

  • The quality and relevance of the applicant’s research experience and achievements to the undertaking of the research described within the application
  • High quality outputs from previous research experience and training relative to career stage and background
  • The relevance of the applicant’s recent and overall professional experience to the development of a practitioner academic career in the proposed area
  • On a trajectory to become a future health/social care practitioner academic  leader:

    • For doctoral and early career post-doctoral applicants or those  seeking to re-establish their research career - evidence of commitment to a career as a practitioner academic 
    • For more experienced post-doctoral applicants; evidence of independence or starting to establish independence as a researcher, including establishing collaborations and building research capacity.

When assessing the proposed research programme

  • The suitability of the proposed research programme to the level of award and scope of funding
  • The quality of the research design and its suitability to answer the research question being proposed
  • The potential of the project to benefit patients/service users, carers, the public or health and/or care services
  • The extent to which the involvement of patients/service users, carers and the public is appropriate and meaningful
  • The quality, scope and relevance of the review of existing evidence
  • The quality of the plain English summary
  • The capacity of the proposed project to serve as a vehicle for academic and professional development
  • The amount of support requested (both financial and duration of the Fellowship) is justified and evidence based.

When assessing the proposed host site(s)

  • The extent to which the statement of support is tailored to the applicant and demonstrates a partnership of the Host and Partner Organisations to support the applicant's Practitioner Academic career development
  • Evidence of the host organisations’ 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
  • Evidence of the Host Organisations’ support and commitment to early career researchers
  • The track record of the academic department in the research area being proposed.

When assessing the training programme

  • The suitability of the proposed training to the needs of the project
  • The extent to which the proposed practice activities will support the development of the applicant as a practitioner academic
  • The extent to which the training and development plan will support the practitioner academic career aspirations of the applicant

When assessing the Fellowship Support

  • The suitability and experience of the proposed academic support team, and their appropriateness to the development of the applicant’s practitioner academic career
  • The suitability and experience of the proposed practice support team, and their appropriateness to the development of the applicant’s practitioner academic career.


In addition to assessing the above, the Selection Committee will also take the appropriateness and value for money of the funds requested into consideration.

The NIHR strongly recommends that you remain mindful of these assessment criteria when developing your application.

Following completion of an ACAF, individuals will be expected to show evidence of:

  • Completion of the research proposed in the application, which should be within the NIHR Remit
  • Completion of the training and development programme proposed in the application
  • Increased research skills in existing and new areas
  • Increased professional experience and influence
  • Increased independence as a researcher
  • Publications arising from the research programme
  • Increased generic skills, for example, management and leadership skills
  • A step-change in their trajectory to becoming a practitioner academic leader in their field of research.

Evidence of the above will be sought by the NIHR through annual and final report monitoring.

Start Dates

Available start dates for successful Round 4 applicants are:

  • 1st October 2024
  • 1st November 2024
  • 1st December 2024
  • 1st January 2025
  • 1st February 2025
  • 1st March 2025

Fellowships cannot be deferred without the consent of the NIHR.

Part Time Options

Applicants can select the WTE they wish to hold the fellowship at between 50% and 100%. Applicants for ACAFs, which are between 2 and 5 years WTE, will need to select the number of WTE years and % WTE requested, and the total duration of the award will be automatically calculated in months (Annex C).

When considering the length of ACAF, both in terms of WTE and the length of the award, careful thought should be given to the following:

  • Clear justification for the total WTE requested (between 2 and 5 years), in terms of what the funding will enable you to do (both research and training) and more importantly what the impact of this will be on your career.
  • How the fellowship will be managed over the total duration of the award, taking into account, especially for longer awards; how the research and training programme will adapt to advances in the field, and also how suitable management and governance arrangements will be maintained over the whole duration of the award.

Scope of Funding

An ACAF can fund:

  • the costs of an approved research project
  • the cost of an approved personal training and development programme, which includes professional development
  • the award holder’s salary costs for the Fellowship
  • The cost of approved shared and support staff

The costs that will be met by an award differ slightly depending on the type of Host Organisation that is chosen by the applicant. These costs are summarised in the Table 1.

Table 1: Summary of Fellowship Costs

Fellowship Costs

Higher Education Institutions (Proportion funded)

NHS and Other Organisations (Proportion funded)

Salary Costs



Travel, subsistence and Conference fees


(with the exception of conference related costs, which are paid at 100%)




Patient and Public Involvement

Patent and Legal

Sub contracts

Other direct Costs



Training and Development

(but not any travel or subsistence which should appear in “Travel, subsistence and conference fees”)



HEI indirect costs



Commercial Indirect Costs



Other partner Organisation indirect costs




Application Procedure and Selection Process

The NIHR uses an adapted version of the NIHR Standard Application Form (SAF). The deadline for submission of applications to the Round 4 competition is Wednesday 15th November 2023 at 1pm.

By this deadline, the application must have been submitted (including all supporting documents) and approved by all the signatories.  No additional supporting documents will be accepted after the deadline and signatories will not be able to approve an application once the deadline has passed.  Please see ‘The Application Process’ below for further details.

The NIHR can advise on eligibility and remit enquiries, as well as answer queries you may have when completing the application form but cannot comment on the design and/or methodology of specific research projects. Please contact the Research Support Service (RSS) for help and advice with research design and methodology.

All applications for ACAFs undergo an initial screen for eligibility and compatibility with the NIHR remit. Following this, applications are reviewed by the selection committee before a decision is made as to which applications are to proceed to the next stage. This is peer review by external experts, and if successful at this stage will proceed to an interview by the selection committee.

If you are successful in being selected for interview, you will be invited to be interviewed by the selection committee. You will be asked to give a 5-minute presentation to the selection committee that will be followed by 20-35 minutes of questions depending on the level of award.

Applicants will be informed of the outcome of their application by email when all required processes are complete. 

Awards will be made following open competition. The selection process and subsequent management of the Fellowships will be managed by the NIHR.

Please note:

  • All documents must be submitted in English
  • Fellowships cannot be deferred without the consent of the NIHR
  • If applicants are successful in being awarded an NIHR Fellowship while simultaneously being involved in another NIHR research training award competition, they will be asked to decide which programme they would like to continue with and will be withdrawn from the other
  • Research projects undertaken as part of an NIHR Fellowship may be included on the NIHR Portfolio.

Rules on re-applications

Unsuccessful applicants will only be able apply to the same fellowship on one further occasion and not to the same scheme within 12 months of making the first application.

However, there the following exceptions apply:

  • You are able to apply for a 2nd ACAF after being successful with the first. You will have 2 opportunities to apply for a 2nd ACAF even if you weren’t successful the first time with your 1st ACAF.
  • After a period of 3 years has passed you will be able to apply again for the same Fellowship, if you have previously had 2 unsuccessful applications. This is to take account of the fact that both you, in terms of your CV and experience, and the proposed research will have developed significantly in this timeframe.
  • Applications deemed fundable but which fall below the funding cut off will not be counted towards the maximum of two application attempts.  

Table 2: Competition Timetable

Competition Stage

Key Date

Competition Opens

Friday 15th September 2023

Competition Closes

Wednesday 15th November 2023

Deadline for submission of evidence that doctorate has been awarded

(ACAF applicants not awarded doctorate at time of submission only)

Friday 19th April 2024

Interviews for shortlisted applicants 

Wednesday 12th and Thursday 13th June 2024

Start dates of awards

1st October 2024 

1st November 2024 

1st December 2024 

1st January 2025 

1st February 2025 or 

1st March 2025


All applications must be submitted via the ARAMIS Award Management System.   

Before an application can be started, prospective applicants are required to register on the online award management system (  Applicants will be asked to supply a valid email address and to complete some basic information.  Once this has been submitted, applicants will receive an email confirming their registration and a temporary password.  Applicants should follow the instructions in the email to log on to the system.

Once signed into the system, applicants can update various details and apply for any open competitions. 

Applications can be started via selecting ‘My Applications’ and ‘New Application’. The application form for the scheme of interest can then be selected from the list provided. 

After answering all of the eligibility questions, applicants will be able to start completing the online form.  Applicants must ensure they have read all of the available guidance text including this document as well as any online instructions thoroughly before completing the form.

Completing and Submitting the Application

Applicants are required to complete all of the mandatory sections of the form and to enter under the ‘Participants and Signatories’ section the names and contact details of those individuals fulfilling Participant and Signatory roles (see below).

Once the applicant has completed their sections of the form and the Participants and Signatories have made their contributions, the applicant is required to ‘Submit’ the application to the Signatories for final sign off before the closing date.

Applicants can only ‘Submit’ an application for final sign off by the Signatories when:

  • All mandatory sections of the application form are complete
  • All Participants and Signatories have agreed to be a part of the application and have completed their relevant sections
  • Applicants have completed the declaration information.

It is highly recommended that applicants complete their application well in advance of the deadline to allow the Participants and Signatories enough time to complete the relevant sections and declarations.  Participants and Signatories who are required to complete part of the application form can do so at any time once they have agreed to be part of the application.

Participants and Signatories

Applicants are required to supply the names and email addresses (if not already registered on the award management system) of the individuals who will be undertaking Participant and Signatory roles as part of the application. Participants and Signatories must agree to be part of the application before it is submitted.

Participants and Signatories are required to review the declaration for their role before confirming participation. By confirming participation, Participants and Signatories are acknowledging their involvement and input into an application and agree to be involved in it.  Applicants must ensure that all Participants and Signatories are happy for their application to be submitted before submitting it on the online system.

Please note it is often the case that one or more of the Participants are also named as Signatories.

Required Participants 

  • Research Support: Applicants are required to enter details of at least 1 (and up to 3) individuals who will provide research support (mentorship) during the Fellowship.  The individual(s) acting as the applicant’s Research Support/ Mentor must confirm that they have read the application and the Applicant Guidance Notes and are willing to act as the applicant’s mentor for research and career development and agree to abide by the conditions under which an award may be granted.
  • Practice Support: Applicants are required to enter details of at least 1 (and up to 3) individuals who will provide professional practice Support/ Mentorship during the Fellowship.  The individual(s) acting as the applicant’s Practice Support/ Mentor(s) must confirm that they have read the application and the Applicant Guidance Notes and are willing to provide professional and career development support to the applicant and agree to abide by the conditions under which an award may be granted.
  • Host Organisation Administrative Authority or Finance Officer: The Administrative Authority or Finance Officer for the Host Organisation must confirm that they will ensure the accuracy of the financial details of the application and that the Host Organisation is prepared to carry out this research at the stated costs and to administer the award if made. The detailed budget section of the application form will be editable by the finance participant once they have agreed participation.

Required Signatories 

  • Heads of Department:  Applicants are required to enter the details of the relevant Head of Departments at both the lead health/ care organisation and the lead academic organisations (the Host Organisation and the Partner Organisation).  In agreeing to participate in this application, the Heads of Department of the Host Organisation and the Partner Organisation in which this award will be based are confirming that they support the application and that, if funded, the research and training will be supported and administrated in the named organisations and that the applicant for whom they are responsible will undertake the work.

The Heads of Department are required to provide a joint statement of support via the ‘Training & Development and Research Support’ section of the application form, which will be accessible to them once they have confirmed participation.  

In addition to agreeing participation, Signatories are required to sign off the application following submission of the application before the closing date (see below).

Application Submission

Once the application is ready (see list of required steps above), applicants are able to submit the application for final signatory approval. Upon submission by the applicant, the individuals added in the signatory roles will be prompted to sign back into the system and approve the finalised application.

The application will not be complete until all of the required signatories have approved the final version of the form submitted by the applicant. Only when the last signatory presses the ‘Approve’ button will the completed application be submitted to the NIHR.

Annex A illustrates the submission process for the application form in the form of a flow diagram. 

Please note all of the steps described here, including signatory approval of the submitted application, must take place before the deadline of 1:00pm on Wednesday 15th November 2023. No extensions will be given and no exceptions will be made to allow for completion of the form.

Should you require assistance in completing the online form, please contact the NIHR:

Tel: 0113 532 8444

Application Outcomes

Applicants will be notified of the outcome of their application via email as soon as the funding decision is finalised.  It can take up to 6 weeks following the interviews for application outcomes to be issued.  Applicants are advised to take this into account when considering which start date to opt for.

Further guidance for submitting applications via the online application system is available below (“Completing the Application Form”).  Applicants are advised to refer to this guidance when completing each section of the application form.

Completing the Application Form

Application Summary Information

  • Host Organisation

Please give details of the organisation that will be the contractor if the project is funded. 

Please note that we require the applicant’s proposed host organisation to act as the contractor.

The contractor must be a recognised Higher Education Institution (HEI) based in England, an NHS body based in England or any other English provider of publicly or third sector funded health and/or social care (for example, a commissioned social enterprise, local authority or hospice).

The Host Organisation must be capable of fulfilling the role of research sponsor as set out in the UK Policy Framework for Health & Social Care Research. Further guidance on the roles and responsibilities of a research sponsor can be found on the Health Research Authority’s (HRA) website.

Please also bear in mind that:

  • The contractor is expected to respond to annual financial reconciliation exercises, provide the final financial reconciliation statement for the project and to provide responses to ad hoc requests for financial information during the lifetime of the project. 

  • In the same way, the contractor is expected to respond to any queries relating to Intellectual Property, commercialisation and benefit realisation. 

If the name of your host organisation does not appear in the pre-populated list, please email  

  • Partner Organisation

Please give details of the partner organisation who will be supporting this application.

If the Host Organisation is the supporting HEI, the Partner Organisation must be the health or care organisation.

If the Host Organisation is the health or care organisation, the Partner Organisation must be the HEI.

  • Application Type

Please list Partnership Fellowship

If applying for a charity partnership fellowship, please select the relevant charity from the list. Otherwise please select N/A from the list.

  • Advanced Fellowship application type

Please select the option that best describes your career stage.

  • Research Title

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

(Word limit: 300)

  • Research Type

Select the appropriate research type. If you are not sure which category to select, choose the closest match to your project as this can be adjusted later.  

NIHR definitions of these terms can be found in the NIHR glossary.

  • Proposed Start Date

Possible start dates for the ACAF are:

1st October 2024

1st November 2024

1st December 2024

1st January 2025

1st February 2025

1st March 2025

Please note - this should be from the 1st 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 Fellowship.

Do you wish to hold an ACAF for the full time equivalent of 2, 3, 4 or 5 years?

  • WTE of Award

Awards can only be undertaken at the duration and WTE options given.  

Please select the duration of award between 2 and 5 years WTE.  Please also select whether you wish to hold the Fellowship on a full time basis, or part-time basis at 50% WTE or above. 

When considering the proposed award structure, both in terms of WTE and the length of the award, careful thought should be given to the following:

  • Clear justification for the total WTE requested (between 2 and 5 years), in terms of what the funding will enable you to do (both research and training) and more importantly what the impact of this will be on your career

  • How the fellowship will be managed over the total duration of the award, taking into account, especially for longer awards; how the research and training programme will adapt to advances in the field, and also how suitable management and governance arrangements will be maintained over the whole duration of the award.

  • Duration (Months)

This is automatically populated based on the number of years and the WTE % selected for the Fellowship.

  • Professional Practice Development

Please confirm the % of award time you propose to undertake Professional Practice Development (between 20% and 40%).

  • Applicant CV

Please note - some of the responses to these questions are automatically pulled through from information entered in the ’Manage My Details’ page.

The ‘Publication Record’ section of the form is automatically populated from publications added into the “My Research Outputs” page of your ARAMIS account.

  • Professional Bodies

Please ensure that you have provided details of your current registration with one of the ICA Approved Regulatory Bodies to enable confirmation of eligibility.

  • Degrees and Professional Qualifications

Please provide the full details of any completed higher degree(s) and, where relevant, the full details of any higher degree(s) you are currently undertaking.

  • Present and Previous Positions

When entering details of your current and previous positions please indicate at what percentage (WTE) in each post you were undertaking research. For example, if you were a Clinical Lecturer and undertook research for 2.5 days a week and clinical work for 2.5 days per week; please enter 50% for that position. If you have worked part time at 60%, and undertook research for half of that time, please enter 30% for that position.  

  • Research Grants Held

Details of all relevant grants obtained in the last five years should be provided, including personal research training awards or fellowships, plus any additional previous grants relevant to this application. Please indicate clearly any co-applicants and provide brief details of the nature and full extent of your involvement (e.g. project design, project management, day to day running, data collection, data analysis, writing papers for publication, etc.).

Please also include in the ‘Role in Research Grant’ box for each entry: registration number and name of registry and the DOI of the main related publication. Where the study is still ongoing or final results have not yet been published, please provide an estimated publication date. This is in line with the NIHR policy on clinical trial registration and disclosure of results.

It is recognised that the outputs in terms of grants and publications will vary depending on your experience, profession and level of award being applied for. Linking to and using the response to the Applicant Research Background section you should highlight the impact of outputs listed under “Research Grants Held” and make the case for why your experience and outputs make you suitable for the award being applied for.

Please note - your research grant record must be completed within the application form and not via the CV section on ARAMIS.

  • Publication Record

The publication record is automatically populated from the information added to the “Research Outputs” section of your ARAMIS account.  To update, please “save and close” your application, return to the “home” screen and select “Research Outputs” from the left-hand menu.

Once publications have been added, the Lead Applicant name can be edited to show in bold within application forms via the “Assign Grant Contacts” option.

To ensure publications display correctly, with all of the required information, applicants are strongly advised to use the “import” function and import their publications from Europe PMC.

If it is not possible to import a publication from Europe PMC, details can be added in manually.  

To add research outputs manually:

  • Go to “My Research Outputs”
  • “New”
  • Provide the title of the publication as a minimum
  • Save
  • Update further information using the left-hand menu.  Include as a minimum:

People (co-authors)

Journal name, volume and issue

If using this function, applicants are strongly advised to check the Adobe PDF version of their form prior to submission to ensure the formatting of these publication details.

Please do not include abstracts, conference proceedings or articles in preparation.  If relevant, details of these may be included in the ‘Applicant Research Background’ section.  

Details of articles which are in press and have been accepted as final by the publisher may be included. 

Only publications relevant to your application should be included

  • Relevant Prizes, Awards and other Academic Distinctions

Please provide details of any awards or distinctions that would be relevant to your application including details of what the award was for.

  • ORCiD

NIHR is an ORCID member and encourages all researchers to obtain this persistent digital identifier that distinguishes you from every other researcher. 

You must include an ORCID ID in your application. Without it, your application will not be validated and you will not be able to submit. 

Applicant Research Background

  • Professional Background

Select the one option that best describes your professional group. This will determine any options that appear below for your professional background.

This should be the profession for which you hold registration with one of the ICA Programme Eligible Regulatory Bodies (or will do by the proposed award date).

  • Please Describe your Research Career to Date

Please use this question to describe your research and professional practice 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, or leadership experience;

  • Relevant experience that demonstrates a commitment to a practitioner academic career and the potential to develop as a practitioner academic leader.

  • Other skills and experience, which highlights your suitability for the award you are applying for and which demonstrates your potential as a future health and/or social care research leader.

  • Impact of Award

Please describe the impact this award 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.

 (Word limit: 1000)

Title of Research Degree

  • Date Awarded

If not awarded, date of submission

  • Please answer these questions regarding your doctorate.

Applicants for an ACAF must have been awarded a research doctorate (PhD) in health and/or social care related research at the time of application OR have submitted their doctoral thesis (leading to the award of a PhD or Professional doctorate) for examination.

If you have not yet been awarded your doctorate

You are required to submit evidence of the award of your doctorate to the NIHR in the form of an official letter from the awarding body no later than Friday 19th April 2024. Please see “Eligibility Requirements for the ACAF Scheme” for further details.

Holders of Professional doctorates must have had their eligibility for this scheme confirmed by the NIHR, following receipt of evidence from their host HEI, prior to making an application.

For details regarding the information required, please contact

  • Has this application, or a similar application, previously been submitted to this or any other funding body?

Select ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to indicate whether this or a similar application has previously been submitted to this or any other funding body. This must include any previous submissions for an NIHR research training award, even if the proposed research has changed.

Please detail the title of any previous submission(s), the funding body and scheme, the outcome and the date this is due if a decision is pending. If the application was unsuccessful, please indicate why and detail how this application differs from previous submission(s) and how any feedback received has been used to inform this application.

(Word limit: 500)

Contextual Factors

Please use this question to detail any contextual factors you wish to make the Selection Committee aware of. NIHR wants to know about any circumstances so that they may take them into consideration during the assessment of your application. contextual 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 e.g. mentorship, and limited opportunities to undertake prior research and training. 
  • Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on your research career
  • 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 we are unable to take into account factors that you do not disclose. 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).

(Word Limit: 500)

  • Plain English Summary of Research

The importance of a plain English summary 

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 and 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 the 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 panel 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. 

It is helpful to involve patients/carers/service users/practitioners/members of the public in developing a plain English summary. 


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 in plain English is available in the plain English summaries guidance

For further support and advice on writing a plain English summary, please contact your local NIHR Research Support Service. 

  • Scientific Abstract

The scientific abstract should be a clear and concise scientific summary of the Detailed Research Plan / Methods.

  • 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 evidence synthesis. It will be for researchers to decide the appropriate elements to be included in the scientific abstract and could include elements outside this list. Applicants may find the guidance on the EQUATOR Network website
  • Background
  • Aims and objectives
  • Methods
  • Timelines for delivery
  • Anticipated impact and dissemination

Word Limit:  500

  • Detailed Research Plan

Using all of the headings (in the order presented) and guidance below, please use this section to clearly explain your proposed research.  As this is the main part of your application detailing your proposal, which will be considered by the Selection Committee, you should ensure that the information is accurate, succinct and clearly laid out.

The NIHR expects appropriate and relevant involvement of service users, carers, the public and other key stakeholders in the development and conduct of the research it supports.

Information and resources to assist prospective applicants can be found on the 'I want to help with research’ and Briefing notes for researchers’ pages.

In addition, the NIHR has contributed to a Toolkit for Increasing Participation of Black Asian & Minority Ethnic Groups in Health & Social Care Research, and has produced a further resource on Public Involvement in Social Care Research.

The NIHR Learning for Involvement website also serves as a repository of useful information and resources.

In this section it is important that you identify all stakeholders who are relevant to your research proposal.   For each stakeholder group you need to be clear about how they benefit from your proposed research and, where appropriate, how they have been involved in the development of the application, as well as the plans for their involvement in the proposed research.

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:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Marriage and civil partnership
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Ethnicity – Please see the toolkit for increasing participation of BAME groups in health and care research produced by The Centre for Ethnic Health Research.
  • Religion or belief
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation
  • Geographical location
  • Socioeconomic status

Access to health or social care

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. 

If the research you are proposing includes a clinical trial, feasibility study or pilot study, or if your area of research is related to clinical trials, you are strongly encouraged to read the NIHR Clinical Trials Guide for Trainees before starting an application.

Word limit: 5000 

  • What is the problem being addressed?

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

  • Why is this research important in terms of improving the health and/or wellbeing of the public and/or to patients and health and care services?

It is essential that you clearly identify the health and/or care need your research meets or contributes to. Please outline the anticipated value or contribution the study will provide.

  • Review of existing evidence - how does the existing literature support this proposal?

Explain why this research is needed now, both in terms of time and relevance. We will only fund primary research where the proposed research is informed by a review of the existing evidence.

Doctoral applicants and early career post-doctoral applicants can propose to undertake a systematic review as part of the award, provided it is well justified.

  • What is the research question / aims and objectives?

Please summarise the research question / key aims and objectives.

  • Project Plan

Provide an expert description of the project plan of investigation plus any additional points required to support statements made in the previous sections, and include any key references required to justify the points made (e.g. in the use of particular outcome measures or methods of analysis). You should include where applicable; study design, justification of sample size, selection and exclusion criteria, methods of data collection and analysis, and justification for your choice of methodology.

  • Dissemination, Outputs and anticipated Impact

Please describe what the outputs of the research might be, how these will be disseminated and what impact there might be.  Please consider the following questions when completing this section:

  • What do you intend to produce from your research?  
  • How will you inform and engage patients/service users, carers, NHS, social care and the wider population about your work?  
  • How will your outputs enter our health and care system or society as a whole?
  • What do you think the impact of your research will be and for whom?  

In describing the anticipated impact of the expected outputs on the health and care of patients, the public, and on health and care services, please consider; patient benefit; changes in NHS service (including efficiency savings); and commercial return (which could contribute to economic growth). 

  • Project Management

Please outline the processes that will be put in place to ensure the research described will be well managed. This should complement your research timetable upload (please see the ‘Uploads’ section of the form and the guidance below).

  • Ethics

Outline any ethical and/or other regulatory issues, and arrangements for handling them. If there are no plans to obtain ethical review, this must be clearly justified. (Note that work outlined in your application/protocol must adhere to the Research Governance Framework).

Further guidance on the approval process is available from the Health Research Authority (HRA).  The MRC and the HRA have designed a tool to help you decide whether you need ethical approval.  However, if you are unsure whether your research requires ethical approval please contact the HRA directly and they will be able to advise. 

  • Success Criteria

Please set out the measurements of success you intend to use and also the key risks to delivering this research and what contingencies you will put in place to deal with them. This section should identify appropriate actions that would reduce or eliminate each risk or its impact.

  • Patient and Public Involvement

Please describe how patients/service users, carers and the public have been involved in developing this proposal

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

(Word Limit: 350)

  • Please describe the ways in which patients/ service users and the public will be actively involved in the proposed research, including any training and support provided

Find more help through NIHR Learning for Involvement, including guidance on how patients/ service users and public can be involved, and procedures and values necessary to support this involvement

Patients/service users and public can be involved in every stage of a research project, from developing a proposal through to dissemination and evaluation. 

In your description you will need to say who will be involved and why.

Explain why your approach to public and patient involvement is appropriate for this proposal.

Describe how you will support and enable patient and public involvement in your research (e.g. payments, training).

(Word Limit:  350)

  • If it is considered not appropriate and meaningful to actively involve patients/services users, carers and the public in your proposed research, please justify why

Complete/justify as necessary.

(Word Limit: 350)

  • Training and Development and Research Support

Proposed Training and Development Programme

Please use this section to detail the training and development you will undertake as part of the award. 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 and/or social care research leader and professional development activities you will undertake.

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 award.

(Word limit: 1000)

  • Research Support

Please enter the details of up to 3 individuals (and a minimum of 1 individual) who will have oversight and give direction to the proposed research and support academic development.

Although we acknowledge that formal supervision may not be appropriate for post-doctoral Fellowship applicants, we believe that you will benefit from research advice/mentorship. In this context, the research advice/mentorship role will encompass providing you with support throughout your award 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 advice will require a great deal of thought.

The individuals who provide research advice 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 Advice 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 advice process.

Funding for research support is available for travel and subsistence only (for the applicant) and does not support any fees the individuals who provide research advice or supervision may wish to charge the applicant.

The individuals you list here must also be added in the ‘Participants and Signatories’ section of the application form.

Please note - the individuals identified here will specifically provide research mentorship and should not be a career mentor, such as those you may subsequently wish to arrange through the ICA Mentorship Scheme should you be successful in gaining a Fellowship.

(Word Limit: 250)

  • Practice Support

Please enter the details of up to 3 individuals (and a minimum of 1 individual) who will provide you with professional practice advice/mentorship during your Fellowship.

As well as supporting the development of your relevant professional skills, it would be advantageous for this individual to be able to support and advise you on your broader professional development appropriate to your career stage.

The support detailed here is referred to in the literature as ‘mentorship’ and there are numerous models to be found that could be employed.

Please note - funding for professional practice advice/mentorship is available for the lead applicant’s travel and subsistence only and does not support any fees the mentor may wish to charge the applicant.

The individuals you list here must also be added in the ‘Participants and Signatories’ section of the application form.

Please note - the individuals described above will specifically provide professional practice mentorship and should not be a career mentor such as you may subsequently wish to arrange through the ICA Mentorship Scheme should you be successful in gaining a Fellowship.

(Word Limit: 250)

  • Collaborations

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 university/NHS/industry interface, translating ideas into new treatments 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 award. 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.

(Word limit: 600)

  • Host Organisations Statement of Support

The statement is completed jointly by the Heads of Department of the Host Organisation and the Partner Organisation and should detail how the organisations are going to support the applicant in partnership to successfully complete the proposed Fellowship.

 This section cannot be edited but can be viewed by the applicant.

The Heads of department will be able to access this section of the form once they have confirmed participation. Invitations to participate are sent by the applicant via the 'Participants and Signatories' section of the form. 

This statement should be tailored specifically to the applicant, their research and training needs.  A commitment is expected from both organisations to work in partnership to support the practitioner academic career of the applicant.  

Both organisations are also expected to show a commitment towards the objectives of this scheme. For example, applicants should not be expected to undertake such teaching or administrative duties that would erode the time available to undertake a high-quality research programme. Similarly, the professional practice commitment expected of the applicant must adequately support the professional development proposed.

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 awardees upon completion of an award and how they will facilitate a sustainable wider practitioner academic career infrastructure for non-medical health and care professionals.

In addition, the statement should also describe the host organisation’s approach to creating and maintaining an inclusive and supportive research culture for all.  The statement should provide evidence of how the organisation values and supports equality, diversity and inclusion as well as acknowledging the organisation’s responsibilities with respect to 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. 

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

(Word limit:  1000)

  • Finance

Guidance for the completion of the finance section is available in the next section of the Applicant Guidance Notes.

  • Uploads

To support your research plan you are able to upload the following documents in the ‘uploads’ section of the form:

  • References

A4 page listing all references cited in the application.

  • Figures/table

1 A4 page of figures/tables may be included to supplement your research plan.

  • Research timetable

1 A4 page detailing specific milestone and deliverables.

  • CTU letter of support

Where you are working with a CTU, please include a supporting letter.

  • SoECAT

Applications proposing the recruitment of participants may be required to append a completed SoECAT.

Please attach the completed SoECAT, or justification as to why it is not required, via the 'uploads' section of this form.

The SoECAT form needs to be signed off by an AcoRD specialist even where there are no excess treatment costs.The SoECAT form must be uploaded even where there are no excess treatment costs.

There is further Guidance for the completion of the form in these Applicant Guidance Notes.

The SoECAT form can be uploaded in Excel format

  • Participants and Signatories

A number of participants and signatories are required to be added to your application and, where applicable, to complete sections of it. Details of the required individuals are provided on the online application form along with details of how they should added. The flow diagram in Annex A goes through the actions required of participants, signatories and the applicant.

  • Acknowledgement, Review and Submit
  • Conflict Checks

Please declare any conflicts or potential conflicts of interest that you may have in undertaking this Fellowship, including any relevant, non-personal and commercial interest that could be perceived as a conflict of interest.

(Word limit: 300)

  • Agreement to Terms and Conditions

Please click the check box to confirm that you agree to the Terms and Conditions of submission as detailed on the application form.

  • Checklist of information to include when submitting a NIHR research application

Applicants should use the list below to check that they have included the necessary information prior to submitting their application:

  • A good quality Plain English Summary 
  • A clear explanation of the problem being addressed 
  • A clear demonstration of the need and importance of the research
  • A review of existing literature (primary research)
  • A clear research question / aim(s) and objectives
  • A clear project plan summarising the study design and methods
  • Appropriate and relevant involvement of patients and the public.
  • A clear, appropriate and relevant plan for dissemination
  • A single A4 page of references (document upload). 

Finance Guidance 

Detailed Budget

  • Justification of Costs

  • Please provide a breakdown of the costs associated with undertaking the Fellowship 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 payment 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, social care and/ or public health.  For example, where appropriate, describe the likely cost savings or benefits in terms of numbers of patients/service users/carers supported or treated, treatment times 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 costs and provide justification for the resources required.  Non-NHS intervention costs should include costs incurred in delivering the intervention that would continue to be incurred after the trial, should the intervention become standard care
  • NIHR Personal awards are not project or programme grants; therefore, extensions to the duration of awards to allow for completion of research and/or training and development are not permitted.  This does not affect suspensions of awards to allow for periods of maternity, paternity, adoption or sickness leave.

  • Detailed Budget Breakdown

The finance section should provide a breakdown of costs associated with undertaking the Fellowship as described in the proposal. 

General Information

  • The information entered in this section should provide an analysis of the total funds requested to undertake the Fellowship 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 Selection Committee 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 Fellowship.  For example, if your Fellowship is expected to start on 01 June 2024 then its second year starts 01 June 2025
  • 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)
  • Appropriate sub-contracts must be put in place for any element of the Fellowship that is to be paid to another organisation
  • NHS Support Costs 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 R&D Department, contact their Local Clinical Research Network.
  • All applications are expected to have appropriate NHS, HEI, commercial and other partner organisation input into the finance section of the application form
  • There is no need to individually itemise costs where the total is below £1,000.


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.

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. 

Other Partner Organisations

If you are another 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 Fellowship, which will be charged as the amount actually spent and can be supported by an audit record.  They should comprise: 

I) Details of Posts and Salaries  

This section presents an overview of salary costs for the applicant and other support/shared staff contributing to the research, including normal salary increments broken down individually.  

The Applicant 

Please state the proposed salary point and scale at the start of the Fellowship.  Please note immediate promotion to a higher grade as a result of securing a Fellowship will not be funded. Please do not include any Clinical Excellence or Discretion/Merit awards or discretionary points. NIHR agrees to fund consultant salaries at a full-time rate equivalent to 10 Programmed Activities per week.

Support Staff 

Support staff (research assistants) can be requested as part of an ACAF application.  This is usually limited to the equivalent of 1 member of staff for a period of 3 years. Typically this post will be taken by a research assistant who may be undertaking a PhD supervised by the Lead Applicant.  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.

Please include all members of staff working on the Fellowship by clicking ‘add staff details’ or editing a current one.  Where applicants are already receiving salaries funded by NIHR, these should be declared in the application.

The Apprenticeship Levy can be included in the salary costs from 1st April 2017 where relevant.

II) Salary costs  

This section specifies the annual costs of the applicant and other staff contributing to the Fellowship.  You should now allocate the individual staff member costs to each year of the Fellowship, allowing for increments.  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 note the salary figures need to be calculated using the current annual costs, %WTE and number of months.  If the Fellowship lasts for several years and an individual’s involvement varies over the course, it may be necessary to explain fully in the justification of costs section the %WTE and months per year for an individual staff member.

It is important to double check that the %WTE, total months and yearly costs information are consistent with the information presented in ‘Details of Posts and Salaries’ (‘Details of Posts and Salaries’ should show the full current staff costs independent of % WTE etc., whereas the yearly costs in ‘Salary Costs’ depend on % WTE etc.).

Please ensure that you check the ‘Type of Cost’ box that describes the employing organisation for a member of staff 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.

Please note that this section also includes ‘Shared Staff Costs’, which is located under directly allocated costs in some other funders’ applications. These are costs of an institution’s research resources that can be charged to the research on the basis of estimated use, rather than actual costs. These may include: IT technicians, laboratory staff, and costs of pooled staff efforts. HEI indirect costs cannot be claimed on these shared costs.

The NIHR reserves the right to question any costs deemed excessive, and will not fund: 

  • Contributions for individuals providing research support (previously referred to as mentors), supervisors and/or other collaborators involved in the research
  • Administrative or secretarial support
  • Whole or significant percentages of support posts over and above those permitted by the scheme
  • Technical or research support staff whose costs are funded through institutional indirect costs (HEIs only)

III) Travel, Subsistence and Dissemination costs

This section includes journey costs, subsistence and dissemination costs, including conference fees and open access publication costs.  Where applicable, you will need to include the travel and subsistence costs of your Project Advisory Group, Steering Committee and/or Data Monitoring & Ethics Committee.  Travel and subsistence costs relating to dissemination should also be included here, as should costs relating to overseas travel.  Where applicable, you will need to include the travel and subsistence costs relating to meetings with individuals providing research support. Please note that mentors’ (including supervisors and individuals named as providing research support) expenses will not be funded.

If a cost relates to travel, subsistence or fees for a conference please select ‘conference’.  Costs relating to conference attendance will be funded at up to 100% for all host organisation types. Conference costs do not need to be individually itemised for each conference.  The justification box should detail the conferences the costs will cover.

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.

Travel costs incurred as an ICA Programme Mentee 

Should your application be successful, you will be entitled to career mentorship through the ICA Mentorship Scheme. If you wish to take advantage of this opportunity, please include the cost of attending mentorship sessions.


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

Conference Fees

There is a limit on the amount that can be spent on conference related costs (including all related travel and subsistence as well as conference fees) depending on the level you are applying for. These are as follows:

ACAF: up to £2,000 per year WTE of funding

Dissemination costs (in addition to conference 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.

IV) Equipment  

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 verses 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 £1000 each excluding VAT and a statement of justification must be included, in the relevant ‘Justification of Costs’ section for any purchase above this limit.  

Equipment must exclude VAT, but if your organisation is unable to reclaim/recover the VAT on a piece of equipment, you should check the box ‘VAT cannot be reclaimed’. 

You will need to seek expert advice from the organisation purchasing the equipment regarding its VAT status. If you check the ‘VAT cannot be reclaimed’ column, VAT at 20% will automatically be calculated into the overall cost of that item.

V) Consumables

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.

VI) Patient and Public Involvement

Please itemise and describe fully the costs associated with patient/service user, carer and public involvement.  These are likely to include individual travel, out of pocket expenses, payment for time and 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, hosting research activities, or providing advice, an adequate budget must be included to compensate for their time and resources.

For help with estimating PPI costs please see the NIHR payment guidance for researchers and professionals.

VII) Other Direct Costs

These are costs, not identified elsewhere, that are specifically attributed to the Fellowship. 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 the ‘Details of Posts and Salaries’ and ‘Annual Costs of Posts’ sections.

Open Access Costs

Applicants should no longer include open access costs as part of their application. From the 1st of June 2022 all eligible awards contracts issued across NIHR Programmes, NIHR 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. Further guidance will be available in due course.

Note on CTU costs in Personal Training Awards

Costs claimed should be for the additional support from the CTU for the necessary expertise that the trainee cannot provide themselves.  For example, part time support from a trial manager, database manager, and statistician are all costs that could potentially be included.  The level of support and input from the CTU will likely vary depending on the level of award and experience of the applicant.  For example, doctoral applicants will be expected to be undertaking the majority of the day-to-day tasks involved in running a trial, with oversight from a more senior member of CTU staff (though specialist input in database programming may be needed).  For more senior post-doctoral awards it may be more appropriate for other members of staff to be undertaking some of the day-to-day tasks.  This also very much depends on the experience and expertise of the applicant and the applicant’s training needs and should be agreed with the CTU before submitting an application.  These costs should all be agreed with the CTU and budgeted for.  

Staff costs should be detailed under the ‘other direct costs’ section.  Staff costs should include basic salary and on-costs for each member of staff involved and it should be made clear within the justification section what role each member of staff has within the context of the personal award application and the time they will spend on the award.  

Please note that because NHSE/NIHR ICA Fellowships and other research training awards are personal awards and not project or programme grants, we can’t fund whole or significant portions of posts other than that of the applicant themselves and their support staff member (where applicable).  

We would not normally expect the time commitment of any individual costed into the application other than the applicant or member of support staff to exceed 0.3 WTE. In total we wouldn’t normally expect the total WTE of all staff costed into the application to support clinical trial activities to exceed 1 WTE (excluding the applicant and support staff member) for more junior awards (doctoral and early post-doctoral level awards) and 2 WTEs for more senior awards (this includes any shared staff also costed into the application).

The level of additional staff input will obviously depend on the type and scope of the trial and the experience of the applicant.  Full justification should be provided for all staff costs requested.  Overheads (estates and indirect costs) can be included for CTU staff costed into the application.  The justification section should split out the overheads from the salary costs and overheads shouldn’t exceed 40% of the total CTU staff cost.  

Any costs must be realistic in order to deliver the trial but must also represent value for money.  Applicants can also include non-staff costs for the CTU for example; randomisation service, and license fees for l data management software. 

VIII) Training and Development

All costs in this section will be funded at up to 100% for HEI, NHS and Commercial/Other Partner organisations. 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

Where relevant, NIHR will cover individual HEI’s published PhD fees at the institution’s standard UK/home rate for all applicants. 

There is no longer a cap on the funding NIHR will provide for fees (previously this was up to the UKRI indicative fee level).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.

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 one HEI are working on the research there may be different indirect/estates charges for each one.  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.

Commercial/Other Partner Organisation Indirect Costs

Commercial/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.

Total Commercial/Other Partner Organisation indirect costs must be fully justified.

  1. Indirect Costs

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 SUPPORT AND TREATMENT COSTS (incl. 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 Selection Committee 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.  NHS Support Costs will be funded via the Clinical Research Networks.  NHS Treatment Costs, including any Excess Treatment Costs/Savings, will be met by the NHS through normal patient care commissioning arrangements.

A representative of the NHS body or provider of NHS services - incurring any NHS Support and Treatment Costs - must sign off the application. The ‘Declarations and Signatures’ page is intended to ensure that the aforementioned organisation is satisfied that all NHS Support and Treatment Costs in the application are correct and is prepared to meet these costs.

Please note - as part of the work to address the issues surrounding the way in which Excess Treatment Costs are funded, new arrangements are now being implemented as part of a pilot.

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.

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.

A completed Schedule of Events Cost Attribution Tool (SoECAT) is now required to be uploaded and submitted as part of the application submission for all applications. The SoECAT must be signed off by an AcoRD Specialist even where there are no excess treatment costs. 

I) 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.  Applicants 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 their Local Clinical Research Network (LCRN) for advice on NHS Support Costs.

II) NHS Treatment Costs

Please read the 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 NHS 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 if the patient care intervention under investigation is in addition to usual care there is no need to complete the ‘Usual Treatment Costs’ section however this will need to be justified in the relevant ‘Justification of Costs’ section. If the patient care intervention under investigation either wholly or partially replaces usual care, the ‘Usual Treatment Costs’ section must be completed.

For further information, please see the guidance on attributing the costs of health and social care research and development (AcoRD).

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. Further information can be found on the NIHR website.

  • Summary of Costs

NIHR programmes currently fund HEIs at a maximum of 80% of full economic cost, NHS bodies and other providers of NHS services in England at 100% and commercial/other partner organisations at 100%.

Please note that whilst these 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.

Additional Supporting Information

Plagiarism in NIHR funding applications

NIHR expects all content within applications for funding to be original material of the applicant's own work, with the exception of sections that other participants are required to complete.  Whilst we anticipate and expect that applicants will get help and advice from various sources when putting together an application, including on occasion input from those previously awarded funding, care must be taken to ensure this does not lead to plagiarism of either published work or other previous applications.  If an allegation of plagiarism is raised against an application this will be investigated in accordance with the NIHR’s policy on plagiarism, a copy of which is available on request from

NIHR Privacy Policy

Our purpose for collecting information is to communicate with you about your application and have the necessary information to evaluate you for a grant. The data we collect here is collected in the public interest. Information provided here may be subject to Freedom of Information requests.  

The NIHR is part of the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC), National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR). The contracting agent for the NIHR Academy is the Leeds Teaching Hospital Trust (LTHT). The DHSC is the Data Controller and LTHT is the Data Processor under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) EC 2016/679. DHSC NIHR respects the privacy of individuals who share their data and processes it in a manner that meets the requirements of GDPR. The DHSC Data Protection Officer can be contacted by email.

The NIHR privacy policy includes further information including ways we may use your data, our contact details and details on your individual rights regarding how your data is used. Your data may be shared across the NIHR, including with other coordinating centres, to allow the application to be managed and for statistical analysis, and with external grant reviewers as part of the process for managing the allocation of a grant. Information collected from you will not be shared outside the EEA without your consent. 

This notice is under constant review and will be updated and / or revised based on that review as appropriate.

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 we fund and their experiences of being funded – 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.

International Standard Registered Clinical/soCial sTudy Number (ISRCTN)
All primary research studies need to be assigned an ISRCTN. You can view the ISRCTN website at: ​ ​​. Please note that the remit of this database has been widened to include all primary research projects, even those that are not randomised controlled trials.

Requirements for systematic reviews to be registered with PROSPERO

Applicants undertaking systematic reviews should note the commitment of NIHR to publication in the database. PROSPERO was developed by the NIHR’s Centre for Reviews and Dissemination (CRD), and is the first online facility to register systematic reviews for research about health and social care from all around the world. Access is completely free and open to the public. PROSPERO registration is a condition of NIHR funding for eligible systematic reviews.

UK Biobank

UK Biobank is a major national health resource, and a registered charity in its own right, with the aim of improving the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of serious and life-threatening illnesses – including cancer, heart diseases, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis, eye disorders, depression and forms of dementia. UK Biobank recruited 500,000 people aged between 40-69 years in 2006-2010 from across the country to take part in this project. They have undergone measures, provided blood, urine and saliva samples for future analysis as well as detailed information about themselves. The health of members of this large cohort will be followed over the coming years and the participants have consented to be approached about health research.

Applicants are encouraged to consider whether Biobank may be able to provide suitable data for their study. We do not want to discourage establishment of new collections of participants and their data where this is necessary to address the research questions under consideration, our aim is to avoid applications for funding to set up Biobank-like cohorts where the use of Biobank would prevent wasteful duplication of Biobank-like activities.

NIHR Carbon Reduction Guidelines

Researchers applying for NIHR funding are asked to consider the carbon footprint of their research and take steps to reduce carbon emissions where appropriate. Advice on how to do this can be obtained from the NIHR Carbon Reduction Guidelines.

Transparency Agenda
In line with the government’s transparency agenda, any contract resulting from this tender may be published in its entirety to the general public. Further information on the transparency agenda is available on the website.

Clinical Trials Unit (CTU) support

Applicants thinking of including a clinical trial, feasibility or pilot study as part of their application, or are undertaking a research and/or training related to clinical trials are encouraged to consider working with a CTU where appropriate.  Further guidance for awardees and applicants is available in the NIHR Clinical Trials Guide for Trainees.  This includes guidance on how to go about approaching a suitable CTU to support your application.

MRC/NIHR Complex Intervention Guidance

Where appropriate applicants are encouraged to read the MRC/NIHR complex interventions guidance.

NIHR Research Support Service 

The NIHR provides support for prospective applicants to make high quality applications for research funding from the NIHR and from other national research funders. Assistance is primarily focused around refinement of research questions, research design and methodological support. Complementing the advice applicants receive from supervisors and/or mentors. The research support services can also assist prospective applicants to understand the scope of the NIHR’s various funding streams and to develop patient and public involvement (PPI) strategies. The Research Support Services may be able to support applicants with small grants to work up PPI plans with, for example, patient groups.

For applicants seeking support prior to 1st October 2023, please contact the NIHR Research Design Service (RDS). The RDS has regional offices and links with local networks. Find further information regarding support that the RDS can provide and contact information for each regional office. 

From 1st October 2023, the Research Design Service will be replaced by the new Research Support Service (RSS). You can find out more about this service.  The RSS will be based on best match to research need or specialism rather than location.

Applicants seeking research support after 1st October 2023 should contact the RSS.

Involvement of service users, carers, the public and other key stakeholders in the development and conduct of the research

The NIHR expects appropriate and relevant involvement of service users, carers, the public and other key stakeholders in the development and conduct of the research it supports.

Information and resources to assist prospective applicants can be found on the NIHR website (a detailed definition of public involvement in research, and briefing notes for researchers on how to involve the public).

In addition, the NIHR has contributed to a Toolkit for Increasing Participation of Black Asian & Minority Ethnic Groups in Health & Social Care Research, and has produced a further resource on Public Involvement in Social Care Research

The NIHR Learning for Involvement website also serves as a repository of useful information and resources dedicated to learning and development for public involvement in health and social care research.

Applicants may wish consider seeking input from elected members at their associated local authorities, these individuals being representatives for their communities by definition.

CRN support

The NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN) supports researchers and the life sciences industry in planning, setting up and delivering high quality research to the agreed timelines and study recruitment target, for the benefit of the NHS and its patients in England. 

In partnership with your local R&D office, we encourage you to involve your local CRN team in discussions as early as possible when planning your study to fully benefit from the support the NIHR CRN offers as outlined in their Study Support Service.

Ethics / Regulatory Approvals

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).

NOTE: NIHR 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.

Contractual Arrangements

Financial support under an NIHR Fellowship is subject to a contract between the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and the host organisation.

Once funding for a Fellowship has been discussed and agreed, NIHR will confirm the financial arrangements with the host organisation.  NIHR will provide the host organisation with a contract setting out the details of these arrangements.

Government procurement transparency regulations require publication of details of all contracts made with the DHSC on their Website. Confidential information including research proposals (Plain English Summaries will be published), detailed finance information, bank details, and departmental staff names (other than the award holder’s name) will be removed from the published versions

Freedom of Information Act

The NIHR manages the NHSE/NIHR ICA Programme on behalf of the DHSC. As such, the findings of researchers funded by the programme are incorporated into the Department of Health and Social Care Freedom of Information Publication Scheme

Global Talent Visa

ACAF award holders requiring a visa to work in the UK are eligible to apply for a Global Talent visa under the fast-track process of endorsement. Other visa categories are available.

The Global Talent visa is designed for people who are recognised as leaders and potential leaders in their field. People who are awarded an NHSE/NIHR Advanced Clinical and Practitioner Academic Fellowship meet the criteria for the ‘exceptional promise’ category for potential research leaders.

Should you wish to apply for this visa, you should select the ‘Fast Track consideration’ option on the Home Office endorsement application form and use your award letter as evidence of your Advanced Fellowship. It is recommended that you arrange your visa in plenty of time before the start date of your award.

Further details can be found at GOV.UK and The Royal Society.

Guidance and Advice 

Please read these Applicant Guidance Notes carefully.  If you require any further information, advice or guidance please contact: 

Phone: 0113 532 8444

Annex A: Application Form Submission Flow Diagram

This flow diagram shows the steps for submitting an application. The applicant starts the application and adds participant and signatory details. The participants and signatories can then log in and confirm their participation and signatories can complete the sections of the form as directed. The applicant can continue entering data and completes all relevant sections of the form (step 3). The applicant then presses the ‘Submit’ button. Once the applicant submits, signatories will receive automated emails to approve the application. However, automated ‘out of office’ replies to these emails will not be relayed to the applicant. Once all signatories have approved the application, it is automatically submitted to NIHR for consideration. Rejection of the application by any individual at this stage will return the application to step 3.

Annex B: NIHR Remit frequently asked questions (FAQs)

The following FAQs are designed to help applicants decide whether the research they are proposing as part of a Fellowship or other research training application falls within the remit of the NIHR. 

If you are proposing a programme of work as part of an application (particularly relevant for more senior awards), it may be that certain elements of the programme would be outside the remit of NIHR if considered in isolation. If this is the case it is important that you make clear in your application that the research overall fits within the remit of NIHR and also why any elements which could be considered out of remit are necessary to include. It is also important to note that any elements of the research which are considered out of remit will not be funded by NIHR should your application be successful. This includes any work involving animals or their tissue, which NIHR does not fund under any circumstances. Applications that include a programme of work where the majority of the work is out of remit but with a small study within NIHR remit added on, will not be considered. 

If you have queries over whether the research you are proposing as part of a research training application falls within the NIHR remit, you are strongly advised to speak to a Senior Programme Manager for the award you are applying for before submitting an application. 

  • Do you fund the evaluation of education and/or training schemes? 

Yes. Proposed studies should be within the overall remit of the NIHR and outcomes measured should be health and/or social care related, or there should be good evidence for a link between the outcome measured and a health/ social care outcome.

  • Do you fund the development and/or evaluation of decision aids for patients? 

The development or updating of a decision aid will be considered as part of a larger project or programme. 

  • Do you fund the development of interventions, devices, technologies or services?

The development or adaptation of interventions can be considered as part of a larger project or programme of work. We will not fund standalone developmental studies. 

  • Do you fund the development and/or evaluation of outcome measures, questionnaires or surveys (e.g. Patient Reported Experience/Outcome Measures)?

The development, adaptation or updating of outcome measures questionnaires or surveys can be considered as part of a larger project or programme of work.

  • Do you fund the development, evaluation and/or validation of models (e.g. risk factor models, health economic models etc.)?

Yes – we will consider funding the development of models where there is a case for service need or patient/public benefit. There should also be an evaluation or validation aspect to the study. 

  • Do you fund research requiring observational/applied epidemiological methods? 

We fund research according to the potential for patient/public benefit rather than according to specific methodologies. We therefore fund research using a wide range of study designs including observational and applied epidemiological methods. Any study that uses observational and applied epidemiological methods should be an evaluation of an intervention itself, or have a clear, credible and articulated trajectory to further research within NIHR remits. An applied epidemiological component can also be considered as part of a larger project or programme of work. 

  • Do you fund research into workforce? 

Yes. Proposed studies should be within the overall remit of the NIHR and should concern the impact on health and well-being, whether of patients, the public, or of the workforce itself. 

  • Do you fund research into patient and public involvement in research? 

Yes. Proposed studies would need to demonstrate the potential for practical application and make clear the potential impact on patients and/or the public.

  • How does NIHR define the early translational (experimental medicine) research that it is interested in funding? 

NIHR is interested in funding translational research that involves investigation undertaken in humans which can show a trajectory to benefiting patients. Proposals must show a clear link to improving disease outcomes and/or improvements in health. This could include proof of concept studies in humans and phase 1 clinical trials. Research that is aimed only at furthering understanding of the underlying biology and physiology of disease, including research into disease mechanisms is not within remit.


Annex C: ACAF Duration Options

Full Time Equivalent in Years


Award Duration in months

Award Duration in Years

Full Time Equivalent in Years


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Full Time Equivalent in Years


Award Duration in months

Award Duration in Years

Full Time Equivalent in Years


Award Duration in months

Award Duration in Years