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HSDR Workforce Research Partnerships - Stage 1 guidance notes


Published: 19 April 2023

Version: 1.0 - April 2023

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These are the Health and Social Care Delivery Research (HSDR) Programme, guidance notes for applicants submitting a Stage 1 application to the 23/68 HSDR Workforce Research Partnership call via the REsearch Awards Lifecycle Management System (REALMS).

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

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

Summary information

Contracting organisation

Please give details of the organisation who will be the contractor if the project is funded. Your primary organisation will be shown by default. If this is not the contracting organisation search for the correct contracting organisation by typing the name of the organisation in the search box. If the organisation you require does not appear in the search box, you can request to add a new contracting organisation’.

Research title (limit: 300 characters)

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

Research type

Select Primary Research.

Start month

For this call, the start date is expected to be 1st March or April 2024. Note this will be from first of the month regardless of whether this is a working day or not.

Start year

Please enter 2024.

Research duration (months)

This will be 60 months for this call.

End date

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

Estimated research costs

Enter the total amount of research costs requested (not including NHS or non-NHS Support and Treatment costs). Please ensure that any costs attributable to higher education institutions (HEIs) are included here at 80% of the full economic cost, which is the rate at which these costs will be awarded. The maximum value of any contract awarded from this call is £5 million.

Estimated NHS support costs

We suggest that £0 is entered here - any costs required will be managed during the contract.

(NHS support costs are the participant care costs which will not continue after the end of the study and can usually be claimed in connection with NHS and non-NHS research.)

Estimated NHS excess treatment costs

We suggest that £0 is entered here - any costs required will be managed during the contract.

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

Estimated non-NHS excess treatment costs

We suggest that £0 is entered here - any costs required will be managed during the contract.

Non-NHS excess treatment costs include costs incurred in delivering the treatment, or intervention, which would continue to be incurred after the trial, should the intervention become standard care.

Research team

Lead applicant research background details

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


Please note, you (and joint lead applicant – if included) are required to obtain a free unique ORCiD ID number and update your REALMS user contact profile with this before you can submit your application. By clicking the link ‘Create or connect your ORCiD ID’ within the ‘ORCID’ section of your user profile you will be taken to the ORCiD website where you will need to register or sign in. Once logged in to ORCiD and following acceptance of terms and conditions, you will need to click on the ‘Continue to import your ORCID Data’ button which will update your profile with your ORCiD ID number and other associated data (for example publications and grants) which can be used to populate your application. The ORCiD ID number is a mandatory requirement.

Diversity Data monitoring information

NIHR is committed to promoting inclusion in research and asks applicants to provide diversity monitoring information based on the 9 protected characteristics of the Equality Act 2010 (age, sex, ethnicity and race, disability, religion and belief, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation) plus socio-economic status. Collecting this data will help us to become a truly inclusive research funder, which is a key theme of our Research Inclusion strategy. We want to know more about the people who are involved in every stage of our research funding process and the data will help us to identify groups and communities who are currently underrepresented in research, and help us improve the way we work with these people in future. Although it is mandatory to answer these questions, it is possible to select “prefer not to say” as a response. However, the more information you provide, the more effective our monitoring will be. This information will not be used to make decisions about funding.

Research team

The research team table will update automatically as Joint Lead applicants and Co-Applicants are added. Use the update button to enter the following information:

  • role (limit 200 characters) – explain the role that the applicants will be undertaking in the research, e.g workforce expertise, project management, analysis, methodological input etc
  • commitment – percentage of the applicant’s time that will be committed to this project (%FTE)
  • organisation – your main organisation and any other affiliated organisations that you have already added will be listed by default - select your primary organisation for the purpose of this application - if the correct organisation is not listed, this can be added by using the ‘Update contact profile’ button and adding a new organisation (to do this click on ‘Other Organisation’ in the left hand selection bar
  • department – select the primary department affiliated with

Joint Lead applicant

Where appropriate use the envelope button to add and then invite a Joint Lead applicant to your application.

The Programme would like to support capacity building in this area of research. Therefore, the usual opportunity for development through mentorship for less experienced joint lead applicants is available for this call, and career development opportunities will arise from the potential to lead individual evaluations under the contract. Robust mentorship plans and resourcing should be included for supporting less-experienced colleagues.

Once the Joint Lead applicant has accepted their invitation, they will appear in the Research Team table. Use the Update button to enter the information regarding their role on the project, %FTE, Organisation.


Use the ‘Add / Edit Co-Applicants' button to add any Co-Applicants and provide the necessary information, including contact details, organisation, role and commitment (%FTE). You should consult with Co-Applicants before adding them to the application.

Co-Applicants are those individuals with responsibility for the day-to-day management and delivery of the project. Co-Applicants are considered part of the project team and are expected to share responsibility for its successful delivery. For these Workforce Research Partnerships, the list of Co-Applicants will provide convincing evidence of your reach and networks into the services you are planning to work with, and effect practice change. This is essential to demonstrate likelihood of successful delivery of your research. You can also include other stakeholders as Collaborators – these should be described in the Research Team section of the Research Plan (see below). Collaborators normally provide specific expertise on particular aspects of the project but do not share the responsibility for delivery of the project.

We encourage the inclusion of public co-applicants where appropriate. For further information please access the 'Public Co-Applicants in Research' guidance. For this research, the main community for involvement will be members of the workforce and therefore it is recommended that the majority of involvement focusses on NHS and social care staff as relevant, with proportionate input from service users and the public.

PPI lead

For this award, this role will be the Community Inclusion and Engagement (CIE) lead. The role of the CIE lead can be undertaken by any of the Co-Applicants within the research team (or a named member of the team), who has the relevant skills, experience and authority to be accountable, represent, manage and embed NHS/Social Care workforce staff involvement in all aspects of the research study, and also patient and public involvement if included. This role should be a budgeted and resourced research team member.

Add administrative contact

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

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

Application details

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

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 health and care services practitioners and researchers who do not have specialist knowledge of your field as well as members of the public. If your application for funding is successful, the summary will be used on NIHR and other websites.

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

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

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

It is helpful to involve non-research colleagues such as staff/patients/carers/service users/practitioners and 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
  • stakeholder engagement - including staff employed as part of the NHS and/or Social Care workforce, the full range of professionals responsible for organising and managing this workforce, and the people who use the services provided by this workforce
  • dissemination

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

Further guidance on writing a plain English summary is available.

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

Research plan (limit: 20,000 characters)

In this section you should outline how your proposal meets meets the requirements set out in the call for Workforce Research Partnerships. Please number your responses in your application as indicated.

  1. Please state whether any of the posts within the research team will be badged as NIHR Academy posts. This will entail demonstrating that the designated postholder will have been through open competition as part of the normal recruitment processes employed to appoint the research team if you are successful. The post-holder will be linked to the NIHR Academy.
  2. Please provide an overall description of the workforce issue which the partnership is most likely to focus on. As far as is possible at this stage, please describe the scope of the research the partnership plans to address during the lifetime of the contract
  3. Please provide brief details of how the partnership’s research team will meet the following criteria, with relevant examples of previous work/experience where possible:
    • multidisciplinary - a partnership of both research expertise and real-world workforce knowledge; its initial research team composition and plans to develop this through further stakeholder and researcher engagement during the early months of the contract
    • existing links with national and local stakeholder groups - relevant to the focus of the partnership’s research (e.g. professional bodies, regulators, trade unions, health and care providers, international workforce organisations, and management networks)
    • relevant expertise in stakeholder engagement and co-production to enable the delivery of useful and inclusive workforce research
    • leadership and project management skills - to ensure the timely delivery of a range of different types of research activity, often concurrently
    • communication skills - for the production of tailored outputs for a range of stakeholder audiences and dissemination to these
    • collaboration - within a community of practice and expertise formed across the partnerships funded through this call. (One partnership may wish to lead this community – please indicate this within your application if so)
  4. An initial plan of the general approach to be adopted to meet the requirements of each phase of the contract:
    • 0-18 months: scoping with NHS and social care stakeholders (commissioners, service providers and staff groups) to plan and initiate a range of research which addresses key areas of uncertainty, knowledge gaps, and workforce innovations in the partnership’s chosen area of workforce. Initial workplans should include one or two ambitious large-scale studies; these should focus on at least one `bottom-up’ innovation or workforce initiative, either identified or developed ready for evaluation. In addition, plans should also include a number of scoping projects as well as more worked-up research studies aligned with the expertise of the team. A knowledge mobilisation plan should be developed for the planned research and a communications strategy developed for the dissemination of tailored outputs to key audiences
    • 18-24 months: research activity fully underway; refine/develop the workplan based on early findings
    • 24 months: review point with the HSDR programme to assess progress to date and discuss future plans. Funding may be halted at this point if the partnership has not been able to deliver on its initial aims
    • 24-36 months: continued research activity – may include testing innovations which have arisen via this award or from other sectors. Additional topics for research may be referred from national bodies to the partnership by the funder. Initial outputs should be produced on findings to date.
    • 36 months: contractual review point of progress to date, to determine whether progress has been satisfactory and therefore whether funding will be continued for the remainder of the contract
    • 36-60 months: provided funding is approved for the remainder of the contract, research to continue. Tailored outputs to stakeholders to be delivered throughout this period, with a final synopsis produced for the HSDR Journal at the end of the contract


Applicants should only include uploads specified in the call details/commissioning brief:

Attachment 1: One-page CVs

One-page CVs for the Lead, Joint Lead, and 2 Co-Applicants - please use the 'collaborator letter of support' upload type for these. The roles of these individuals and their level of input must also be stated on each CV. A range of academic and service applicants should be included.

Please upload each CV as a PDF file.

Attachment 2: references

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

Acknowledgements and conflicts

Potential conflicts

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

Agreement to terms and conditions

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

A list of terms and conditions (.PDF) is available.