ICA PCAF Round 3 Applicant Guidance 2020
Applicant Guidance Notes
HEE/NIHR ICA Programme
Pre-doctoral Clinical Academic Fellowship
Round 3 2020
Health Education England (HEE) and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) are pleased to announce the launch of the third HEE/NIHR Integrated Clinical Academic (ICA) Programme Pre-doctoral Clinical Academic Fellowship (PCAF) scheme competition.
This document provides full details of the ICA PCAF scheme, describes the means by which applications for HEE/NIHR ICA PCAFs should be submitted, and details how they will be assessed.
Background to the HEE/NIHR Integrated Clinical Academic (ICA) Programme
HEE is committed to supporting the delivery of high quality healthcare by ensuring that the workforce has the right skills, values and behaviours, and by ensuring that the right numbers of staff are available at the right time and in the right place. HEE will achieve this by focussing on outcomes, using financial levers and leadership influence to help drive real improvements in workforce planning, education and training.
The Government is committed to building on Britain’s status as a world leader in clinical research and the life sciences, to better understand how diseases are diagnosed and treated, and to revolutionise our approach to treatment to improve health – whilst giving the sector the support it needs to realise ideas and help drive growth in the UK economy.
HEE will contribute to realising the potential of research and innovation in healthcare, and transforming the NHS, by continuing to develop a workforce that embraces research and innovation and supporting clinical academic careers for health professionals.
HEE, NIHR and other stakeholders meet regularly to set the strategic direction and landscape for delivery of HEE’s Research and Innovation Strategy and Clinical Academic Careers Framework.
The HEE/NIHR ICA Programme
The ICA Programme, managed by the NIHR and funded by HEE, provides research training awards for registered non-medical health and social care professionals who wish to develop clinical academic careers, combining continued clinical practice and clinical development with clinical research and research leadership.
Applicants should note that the term “clinical” is used in these Guidance Notes and in the application form to mean the practice that you undertake in your stated ICA Eligible profession and not necessarily to a patient facing or hospital-based role.
The ICA Programme comprises five schemes, tailored to support the clinical academic leaders of the future:
- HEE Internship Scheme
- HEE/NIHR Pre-doctoral Clinical Academic Fellowship (PCAF) Scheme
- HEE/NIHR Clinical Doctoral Research Fellowship (CDRF) Scheme
- HEE/NIHR Clinical Lectureship (CL) Scheme
- HEE/NIHR Senior Clinical Lectureship (SCL) Scheme
Applicants to the HEE/NIHR ICA Programme schemes must belong to one of the ICA Programme Eligible Professions and hold registration with the listed professional body/council for that profession by the proposed award start date (see below).
HEE/NIHR ICA Programme Eligible Professions
Applicants to the HEE/NIHR ICA Programme schemes must belong to one of the following professions and hold registration with the listed professional body/council for that profession by the proposed award start date:
Regulator with which applicants must hold registration/register
Art Therapists (art, music and drama)
Hearing Aid Dispensers
Operating Department Practitioners
Orthoptist and Prosthetist
Radiographer (diagnostic and therapeutic)
Speech and Language Therapist
Health and Care Professions Council
General Chiropractic Council
Professionals that work in one of the following broad areas of practice, which together cover over 45 different professional specialisms: Life Sciences/Clinical Laboratory Sciences; Physiological Sciences; Clinical Bioinformatics; Physical Sciences (incorporating Medical Physics) and Clinical Engineering. These include clinical scientists, biomedical scientists, clinical physiologists and clinical technologists.
Health and Care Professions Council or Academy for Healthcare Science register:
Non-Medical Public Health Specialty Trainees, Specialists and Consultants
Specialty Trainees: Faculty of Public Health
Specialists and Consultants: The UK Public Health Register
Nurse and Midwife:
Nursing and Midwifery Council
Optometrist and Dispensing Optician
General Optical Council
General Osteopathic Council
General Pharmaceutical Council
Social Work England
Wider Dental Team Professions:
General Dental Council
The range of professions that are eligible for support through the ICA Programme are determined by HEE. Prospective applicants holding NMC or HCPC registrations but not listed above should contact the NIHR to discuss their eligibility further firstname.lastname@example.org.
The HEE/NIHR Pre-doctoral Clinical Academic Fellowship Scheme
The HEE/NIHR ICA Pre-doctoral Clinical Academic Fellowship (PCAF) scheme supports early career researchers from the ICA Eligible Professions, who are committed to a clinical academic career, to become competitive applicants for a peer-reviewed doctoral level research training fellowship.
The PCAF scheme offers salaried time to prepare an application for a competitive, peer reviewed doctoral level research training fellowship and funding for personalised programmes of academic training that equip awardees with the skills and experience to access doctoral level funding.
Applicants for a PCAF may:
- have little formal academic training/research experience
- have completed some Masters level training
- have completed a Masters level qualification
- require Masters level training/ a full Masters
All applicants must be able to demonstrate, through their previous clinical and academic experience, their commitment to a career that combines continued clinical practice and clinical development with clinical research and research leadership. Competitive candidates will articulate in their application how they will ensure the continuation of their clinical career development (the career in their stated profession) while undertaking the award.
The PCAF Award Structure
Two distinct funding offers are available through the PCAF scheme, allowing applicants to choose the level of support most appropriate to their individual requirements.
1) Funding to support the submission of a doctoral fellowship application and to undertake a programme of academic training at Masters level.
Scope of Funding
- Salary costs to cover the time undertaking the Fellowship (including the employer's contribution to National Insurance and Superannuation)
- Up to £5,000 towards Masters level training* and associated travel and subsistence
- Up to £1,000 for conference/meeting fees and associated travel and subsistence
- Supervision and Mentorship costs up to £1,000
* If applicants are proposing the completion of a full Masters degree as part of their training and development, it is possible to request a supplement to cover the Masters course fee if over and above the £5,000 limit. A full justification for the additional costs must be provided.
Award Uptake Options
- Full time for 12 months (5 days per week)
- Part-time over 24 months (2.5 days per week, 0.5 WTE)
- Part-time over 30 months (2 days per week, 0.4 WTE)
2) Funding to support submission of a doctoral fellowship application and to undertake a small amount of academic training at Masters level (PCAF Bridge).
Scope of Funding
- salary costs to cover the time undertaking the Fellowship (including the employer's contribution to National Insurance and Superannuation)
- up to £400 for formal courses and associated travel and subsistence
- up to £500 for conference / meeting fees and associated travel and subsistence
- supervision and mentorship costs up to £500
Award Uptake Options
- 4 days per week for 6 months (0.8 WTE)
- 2 days per week for 12 months (0.4 WTE)
Please note - in these guidance notes, “PCAF” refers to both funding options (PCAF and PCAF Bridge) unless otherwise specified.
Eligibility Requirements for the Pre-doctoral Clinical Academic Fellowship Scheme
- Applicants must belong to one of the ICA Programme Eligible Professions listed in this document and hold registration with the listed professional body/council for that profession by the proposed award start date.
- Applicants must have at least one-year’s clinical practice experience in their stated profession at the point of application.
- Applicants must hold a contract of employment with a provider of health and/or social care services at the point of application*. This organisation must provide at least 50% of its services free at the point of delivery and the applicant must be spending at least 50% of their current role delivering health and/or social care services that are free at the point of delivery.
- Applicants must be intending to continue working in their stated profession over the course of PCAF (if awarded), either through clinical skills development time included in the award (please see “Clinical Skills Development” below) or through continuation of their professional practice outside of the award time.
- Prospective applicants must not have registered for, or have completed, a PhD in a relevant subject area or have registered for an MPhil with the expectation that this will progress to a PhD.
Prospective applicants who have completed either a Masters, an MPhil or an academic training position, and wish to use the Fellowship to develop a proposal for a Doctoral Fellowship are eligible to apply, providing that the additional research training is justified and appropriate (please see “the PCAF Training and Development Programme” details below).
- Applicants who have previously held an HEE/NIHR Masters in Clinical Research Studentship are eligible for the “PCAF Bridge” only.
- Applicants who have submitted an unsuccessful application to a previous PCAF competition round can re-apply on one further occasion. This does not include applications made to the Round 1 competition.
Applicants that have previously had 2 unsuccessful applications will normally be able to apply again for the same scheme after a period of 3 years has passed. This is to take account of the fact that you, in terms of both your CV and experience, will have hopefully developed significantly in this timeframe.
Please note - applications deemed fundable but which fall below the funding cut off will not be counted towards the maximum of 2 application attempts.
Only one application to the HEE/NIHR ICA Programme is permitted per year. Multiple applications for one scheme or applications at more than one level (e.g. PCAF/CDRF) will not be accepted.
*Fixed term contracts are acceptable, however, honorary contracts or bank work cannot be accepted.
Prospective applicants unsure of their eligibility should contact the NIHR at email@example.com before embarking on the application process.
Start Dates for Round 3 PCAF Awards
If awarded, Fellowships must start on one of the following dates:
1st September 2020
1st October 2020
1st November 2020
1st December 2020
1st January 2021
1st February 2021
1st March 2021
Fellowships cannot be deferred without the consent of the NIHR.
Important Areas for Consideration when Developing a PCAF Application
Choosing the Appropriate PCAF Option
The amount of previous formal academic training and research experience an applicant has undertaken to date should be the primary factor in determining which PCAF funding option (“standard” PCAF or PCAF Bridge) is the most appropriate. Applicants who already have research experience and/or research training at a sufficient level to prepare them to undertake a PhD (research doctorate) but who require the time and support to develop a competitive doctoral level application, would be advised to choose the PCAF Bridge option.
Applicants who have undertaken limited formal academic training to date and who need to undertake a full Masters or a number of Masters level module may be better suited to the “standard” PCAF. Applicants that have previously completed a Masters qualification are advised to review the level of academic training and research experience that this qualification provided. If there was a large research component to the course, further academic training may not be necessary at this level. Holding a Masters level qualification per se, however, does not preclude undertaking a “standard” PCAF if further academic training is required.
All applicants are advised to discuss their previous academic training and experience with their proposed academic supervisor(s) and to discuss with them the training required through the PCAF and, therefore, the most appropriate option. Please see below for further guidance regarding the Training and Development Programme proposed in a PCAF application.
Applicants are also advised to consider the timelines for their doctoral level submission. Completion of a PCAF should not inadvertently delay the progression of any awardee’s clinical academic career.
Area of Research Interest
Candidates are required to identify in their application their research area of interest. At the pre-doctoral fellowship level, applicants are not expected to have a fully developed PhD proposal (this will be an output of the award), however, applicants do need to have a clear idea of the research area in which they will be developing their clinical academic career (and therefore their doctoral fellowship proposal). The research area will inform the proposed training plan and the proposed supervisory team and should align with the applicant’s clinical work.
If the applicant’s current clinical work does not align with their area of research interest, the applicant will need to clearly demonstrate how they will work towards such alignment to support a competitive doctoral fellowship application.
In addition to the funding available through the two PCAF options (described above), applicants should note the following:
- The Fellowship does not include, or pay for, any research costs or full economic costing
- Extensions to the duration of awards to allow for completion of training and development are not permitted. This does not affect suspensions of awards to allow for periods of maternity, paternity, adoption or sickness leave
- The payments awarded through a PCAF are made to and managed by the Host Organisation. Please see “Host Organisation role and responsibilities” below
- The costs requested in the finance section of the application form will form the basis of the Fellowship funding should the application be successful. All costs requested should be ‘value for money’ and will be assessed by the NIHR and members of the PCAF Selection Committee. The NIHR reserves the right to reject any costs that it considers unreasonable or insufficiently justified
- Additional funds cannot be requested if the application is successful therefore it is essential that the detailed budget is correctly costed in the application
- Employment or activities undertaken in the time outside of the PCAF are at the awardee’s own discretion and are not funded by the award
An “Administrative Authority or Finance Officer” is required to “sign off” the application (please see Participants and Signatories” below) and the individual that you add into this role in your application will be able to access and to edit the “Detailed Budget” section of the form. Applicants are advised to work with their finance officer to complete the ‘detailed budget’ section of the application form. Applicants should ensure that a copy of these Applicant Guidance Notes are available to the Finance Officer in question.
The PCAF Training and Development Programme
At the end of a PCAF award, Fellows should be in a position to make a competitive application for a PhD Fellowship. When developing the academic training programme, it is advisable for applicants to consider their previous formal academic training experience and their previous research experience and to identify the areas in which they would currently be less competitive if submitting a doctoral fellowship application.
The proposed training must be tailored around the applicant’s demonstrable training needs. A justification of how the proposed training will support the applicant’s development as a clinical academic and as a competitive doctoral fellowship applicant must be provided.
The training may include, but is not limited to:
- formal courses (including Masters modules)
- training in specialist skills and research methodologies
- placements with other research groups or centres
- leadership training
- conference attendance
- research visits
- patient and public involvement
- dissemination of relevant research undertaken by the applicant
- clinical development
Completion of a full Masters degree can be proposed as part of the training and development Programme if necessary for the applicant’s academics training. Full justification must be provided.
Please note - applicants that do not hold a degree will need to undertake a full Masters if they wish to be eligible for an NIHR managed doctoral level fellowship.
It is also possible to incorporate research activities into the training and development programme in order to build research experience, although applicants should be mindful that the award itself does not fund research costs.
Clinical Skills Development
Aspiring clinical academics need to develop both their skills in their stated profession (clinical skills) and their academic skills to enable them to become a future clinical academic leader. PCAF award holders may wish to continue to develop their clinical skills through their current professional role, outside of the award time, which they are welcome to detail in their application. In addition, however, all applicants can request paid clinical skills development time as part of the award. Up to 20% clinical skills development time can be requested.
If applicants request clinical development time through the PCAF, they must be able to demonstrate how they will develop their skills as a clinician over the period of the Fellowship, taking into consideration their current skill set. The clinical development plan must be demonstrably appropriate to the applicant’s level of clinical seniority and support their development as a clinical academic. Senior clinicians may choose to propose activities that will ensure the maintenance rather than the development of their clinical skills.
Given that the scheme supports aspiring clinical academics, it is expected that any applicants that will not be continuing in their professional role outside of the Fellowship time would request clinical development time. A justification would be expected if these applicants do not propose any clinical skills development time as part of the PCAF.
Supervision and Mentorship
PCAF applicants are required to identify specific individuals in their application who have the appropriate experience to undertake the following roles:
- Primary Academic Supervisor
The primary academic supervisor will support the award holder to develop their doctoral fellowship proposal and to undertake the training proposed in their application.
Careful consideration should be given to the choice of primary academic supervisor and a clear justification for the individual proposed should be provided in the application.
Areas to consider:
- Availability of the supervisor/time commitment required from the supervisor
- Fit of the supervisor’s expertise with the stated area of research that the applicant is developing their research career within
- Record of conversion of Masters to PhD students
The Primary Academic Supervisor must hold a position at the named academic organisation (see below).
- Academic Supervisor
Applicants can propose one additional supervisor if appropriate to the academic training/doctoral application development proposed. If an additional supervisor is proposed this must also be fully justified.
- Clinical Academic Career Mentor
Applicants must identify a clinical academic who will provide clinical academic career mentorship over the course of the award. This individual does not need to be employed by one of the organisations named (the Host or Partner Organisation) in the application and does not have to be from the same professional background as the applicant.
Mentors should be academically senior to the applicant and be able to go beyond the academic guidance afforded by the named supervisor(s), using their unique sector knowledge and experience to support the awardee through any challenges encountered during the development of their clinical academic career including:
- navigating between the academic and clinical sectors
- balancing time between their clinical and training roles in this award
Given that support is already being provided from the named supervisor(s), it is not expected that the same individual will be named in both a supervisor and clinical academic career mentor role. The Primary Academic Supervisor should, however, support the applicant to identify a suitable mentor.
Applicants are required to provide details of two referees who will be able to comment on their suitability for an HEE/NIHR PCAF. The referees must be individuals that can evidence the academic potential of the applicant, who have experience of them in a research capacity.
Referees must not be fulfilling a Supervisor or Clinical Academic Career Mentor role in the application.
Each referee is required to complete a reference as part of the application form. The reference must be completed before the application can be submitted. Applicants will not be able to view the references, however, they will be able to check whether a reference has been completed via the “validation summary” section of the application form.
The references are used by the PCAF Selection Committee to support their assessment of the suitability and commitment of the applicant to a career as a clinical academic.
Please note – applicants are advised to approach prospective referees early in the application process to ensure that their referees have sufficient time to write a thorough reference and to submit it using the online application system, before the application needs to be submitted.
The Host Organisation and Partner Organisation
The PCAF is a NIHR 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 applicants require the support of a Host Organisation.
Any organisation wishing to host a PCAF must be able to provide the applicant with a contract of employment for the duration of the award. The Host Organisation may or may not be the applicant’s current employer.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) will enter into a Fellowship contract with the host organisation. Government procurement transparency regulations require the publication of all contracts made with the DHSC to be made available on the DHSC website. Confidential information including research proposals, detailed finance information, bank details, and departmental staff names (other than the award holder’s name) will be removed from the published versions.
Examples of the contracts are available to download from the NIHR website.
The Host Organisation for a PCAF can be either a clinical organisation or an academic organisation (see below).
PCAF award holders, who are developing clinical academic careers, require support from both an academic and a clinical organisation, and applicants are required to identify both an academic and a clinical organisation that will work together to support both their Fellowship and their developing clinical academic career.
One of these organisations will be identified in the application as the Host Organisation for the award; the other organisation should be identified as the Partner Organisation. Please note - if the clinical host organisation is not the host organisation, the applicant may need to arrange an honorary contract with the clinical organisation for the duration of the award if they are proposing to undertake clinical skills development as part of the award.
Clinical Organisation - the named clinical organisation for a PCAF must be an NHS body based in England or any other English provider of health and/or social care services that is providing at least 50% of its services free at the point of delivery (for example, a commissioned social enterprise or local authority). This is the organisation at which the applicant would undertake their clinical skills development or continued clinical practice outside of the award time.
It is the clinical organisation’s responsibility to ensure that the awardee will be released from their clinical responsibilities for the duration of the award with no shortfall in service provision and that the support is in place to enable the proposed clinical skills development.
Academic Organisation - the named academic organisation for a PCAF must be a recognised HEI based in England at which the proposed primary academic supervisor holds a position.
The Host Organisation and Partner Organisation are expected to show a commitment towards the objectives of the scheme. Both organisations must ensure that the award holder is not be expected to undertake any additional roles or clinical work that would erode the time available to undertake the approved training and development as detailed in the PCAF application.
As part of the application review, the PCAF Selection Committee will assess the support that the Host Organisations and Partner Organisation can provide to the applicant to develop their clinical academic career (see the PCAF Assessment Criteria listed below). Applicants are advised to consider these assessment criteria when identifying suitable organisations to support their PCAF.
Host and Partner Organisation Statement of Support
The Heads of Department at the Host Organisation and the Partner Organisation are required to submit a joint ‘Statement of Support’. This statement should detail how the clinical and academic organisations are going to support the applicant, in partnership, to successfully complete their training and development programme as detailed in the PCAF application. This statement should be tailored specifically to the applicant and their training needs, and include how the organisations intend to support the applicant to develop their clinical academic career in the long-term.
In addition, the academic organisation is required to detail the conversion rate of Masters to PhD students at the institution including details of progression of clinical academics.
The Head of Department at the Clinical Organisation is required to detail the plans in place to support the continuation of the applicant’s clinical role over both the course of and following the completion of any subsequent award.
The Head of Department for both the Host Organisation and the Partner Organisation should contribute to the statement. This section can only be accessed by the Heads of Department once they have agreed participation and cannot be accessed, but can be viewed, by the applicant.
Please note - The Host Organisation Statement of Support is a key element of the assessment process and applicants are advised to discuss the statement with their heads of department well in advance of the competition deadline.
Expectations on Completion of a PCAF
At the end of a PCAF award, Fellows should be able to demonstrate development as a clinical academic and be in a position to make a competitive application for a peer-reviewed PhD Fellowship. Evidence of the following will be sought by the NIHR through report monitoring:
- Completion of the Training and Development Programme as detailed in the application
- Preparation of an application for a competitive, peer-reviewed doctoral level research training fellowship
- Increased research skills
- Development of research interests
- Development of clinical academic networks
The NIHR is partnering with a number of charitable organisations to offer jointly funded NIHR Charity Partnership Fellowships. Partnership Fellowships offer award holders the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of an NIHR training award (including NIHR Academy membership) as well as the additional benefits that funding through the named charity can offer (such as engagement with charity patient groups and increased exposure of research outcomes and outputs).
Two Charities will offer Partnership Fellowships through the Round 3 PCAF Competition:
- Moorfields Eye Charity
- Pancreatic Cancer UK
Applying for a Partnership Fellowship
If an applicant is interested in applying for a jointly funded Partnership Fellowship, they should contact the charity to discuss the fit of their area of research interest with the charity’s research area of interest and the support that the charity could offer. The contact details and areas of research interest for the charities offering PCAF Round 3 Partnership Fellowships are provided below. In addition, you are advised to consider any specific eligibility criteria for the relevant charity (in addition to the standard eligibility criteria for the PCAF scheme stated above).
When completing the application form, please use the “Application Type” question in the Applicant Summary Information section of the application form to indicate:
i) if you would like to apply for a Partnership Fellowship and
ii) the charity of interest (if applicable)
The rest of the application and assessment process (including the application deadline) is identical for potential Partnership Fellowship applicants and non-Partnership Fellowship applicants, and all applications will be considered alongside each other. Any applications proposing a Partnership Fellowship will be ranked with all the non-partnership Fellowship applications.
Any application that is ranked highly enough to receive funding will be funded regardless of whether a proposed Partnership Fellowship is available (e.g. if there are more fundable applications to a Partnership Fellowship than there are Partnership Fellowships available with that specific charity or the charity does not consider the application to be a fit with their research area).
Any jointly funded fellowships will be offered at the same funding level as any other PCAF awards and under standard NIHR terms and conditions except where additional terms and conditions are specified by the joint funder.
Please note; if you are applying for an NIHR Charity Partnership Fellowship, your information (including your NIHR application form and, if funded, any 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 any subsequent award.
The following Charities are partnering with the NIHR and Health Education England for the Round 3 PCAF Competition:
1) Moorfields Eye Charity
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.
Number of awards available: 2
Name: Ailish Murray
Role: Director of Grants and Research
Tel: 0207 566 2632
2) Pancreatic Cancer UK
Pancreatic Cancer UK is interested in funding individuals who would like to develop a research career focussed on improving the diagnostic, treatment or supportive care pathways for patients with pancreatic cancer.
Number of awards available: 1
Name: Anna Lakey
Role: Research Manager at Pancreatic Cancer UK
Tel: 0203 871 9995
The PCAF Round 3 Application Process
Awards will be made following open competition. The selection process and subsequent administration of the Fellowships will be managed by the NIHR.
All applications must be submitted via the NIHR Academy online Award Management System, (aramis.nihr.ac.uk/login).
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 including their CV (in ‘Manage my 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.
Please note – there are three pre-doctoral Fellowship competitions open concurrently (the In-Practice Fellowship, the NIHR Pre-doctoral Fellowship and this HEE/NIHR Pre-doctoral Clinical Academic Fellowship). Please ensure that you are applying for the correct scheme.
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.
The Application Form
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).
Please note: Extensive Guidance is provided at the end of this document (“Completing the Application Form”) to support the completion of each section of the application form. Applicants should ensure they are referring to the relevant guidance when completing each question on the form.
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
- References have been submitted
- Applicants have completed the declaration information
Individuals undertaking certain Participant and Signatory roles are required to complete certain sections of the application form. It is strongly recommended that applicants complete their application well in advance of the deadline to allow these individuals 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. Both 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. Annex B provides further Guidance for Signatories and Participants.
- Primary Academic Supervisor: The individual acting as Primary Academic Supervisor must confirm that they have read the application and the guidance notes and are willing to act as the applicant’s primary supervisor and agree to abide by the conditions under which an award may be granted.
- Supervisor: If applicants wish to nominate an additional academic supervisor, this individual must confirm that they have read the application and the guidance notes and are willing to act as a supervisor and agree to abide by the conditions under which an award may be granted.
- Mentor: The individual acting as the applicant’s clinical academic career mentor must confirm that they have read the application and the guidance notes and are willing to act as the applicant’s clinical academic career mentor and agree to abide by the conditions under which an award may be granted.
- Clinical Support: The Clinical Support participant is confirming that, if an award is made, the applicant will be released from their clinical responsibilities for the duration of the award and that the applicant will have the required contract and support to undertake the clinical development detailed in the application (if applicable). They must confirm that they support this application and that they understand the conditions under which a Pre-doctoral Clinical Academic Fellowship may be awarded.
- Research Contract Officer: A Research Contract Officer at the Host Organisation must confirm that they have read the guidance notes for the relevant NIHR scheme and the standard NIHR contract and confirm that the Host Organisation would be willing to accept an award according to the published terms and conditions of the NIHR standard contract.
- Referees: Applicants are required to provide details of two referees who will be able to comment on their suitability for an HEE/NIHR PCAF. Referees must not be fulfilling an Academic Supervisor or clinical academic career mentor role in the application.
Each referee is required to complete a reference as part of the application form. The reference must be completed before the application can be submitted. Applicants will not be able to view the references; however, they will be able to check whether a reference has been completed via the validation summary.
- Heads of Department: In agreeing to participate in this application, the Heads of Department of the clinical and academic organisations in which this award will be based must confirm that they support the application and that, if funded, the academic training programme will be supported and administered in the named organisations and that the applicant for whom they are responsible will undertake this work.
- Administrative Authority or Finance Officer: The Administrative Authority or Finance Officer of the Host Organisation is required to complete the finance section of the form in conjunction with the lead applicant. The Administrative Authority or Finance Officer must confirm, via the declaration, that they will ensure the accuracy of the financial details of the application and that the employing host organisation is prepared to host this award at the stated costs and to administer the award, if made.
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 Thursday 26th March 2020. 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 telephone the NIHR on 0113 532 8444, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Assessment of Applications
Following the submission deadline, the NIHR will check applications for completeness and eligibility, and distribute eligible applications to the members of the PCAF Selection Committee.
The selection committee will assess all eligible applications using the Assessment Criteria below.
ICA PCAF Assessment Criteria:
- the quality and appropriateness of the academic training (including doctoral level fellowship application development);
- the provision of a strong academic environment;
- the appropriateness of the proposed academic supervision;
- the appropriateness of the proposed clinical academic career mentorship;
- the suitability and commitment of the applicant to a career as a clinical academic;
- the appropriateness of the award to the experience and trajectory of the applicant;
- the arrangements for ensuring protected time for the applicant to undertake the academic training proposed coupled with ensuring the continuation of clinical service/ clinical development (as applicable)
- demonstrable track record of the host Academic Higher Education Institute (HEI) Department in training clinicians who have gone on to develop academic careers.
In addition the References will be used by the PCAF Selection Committee to support their assessment of the application and the suitability and commitment of the applicant to a career as a clinical academic.
30th January 2020
26th March 2020
Funding Recommendation Meeting
10th and 11th June 2020
Start dates for awards
1st September 2020
1st October 2020
1st November 2020
1st December 2020
1st January 2021
1st February 2021 or
1st March 2021
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 Funding Recommendation Meeting for application outcomes to be issued. Applicants are advised to take this into account when considering which start date to opt for.
Feedback will be sent to applicants after the funding decisions have been made.
Further guidance for submitting the application on the online application system is available below.
Completing the Application Form
1. Application Summary Information
- 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.
Proposed Start Date
PCAF Award Type
- PCAF Bridge
WTE of Award
2. Applicant CV
Degrees and Professional Qualifications
Present and previous positions
Research Grants Held
Relevant Prizes, Awards and other Academic Distinctions
3. Applicant Research Background
Please describe your research career to date
- research projects that you have led or made a significant contribution to (making clear what your role was)
- the research methods you have experience of
- 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 or leadership experience
- experience of patient and public involvement activities in clinical research
- clinical experience to date relevant to your development as a clinical academic in your chosen area of research
- Other skills and experience that highlight your suitability for the Fellowship you are applying for and that demonstrate your potential as a future health/social care research leader.
Has this application, or a similar application, been previously submitted to this or any other funding body?
Current and Previous NIHR awards
4. Training and Development and Research Support
Proposed training and development programme
- full Masters course*
- formal courses (including Masters modules)
- training in specialist skills and research methodologies
- placements with other research groups or centres
- leadership training
- conference attendance
- research visits
- patient and public involvement
- dissemination of relevant research
- research experience**
- clinical development
- Other training and development
- preparation of an application for a competitive, peer-reviewed doctoral level research training fellowship
Primary Academic Supervisor
Host Organisations support statement
7. Participants and Signatories
8. Acknowledge, review and submit
Agreement to terms and conditions
This section must be completed by the Applicant in conjunction with the Research Support Office or Finance Office at the Host Organisation (the organisation that authorised the application and which, in the event of an award being made, will employ the Applicant).
Applicants must make a copy of these Applicant Guidance Notes available to the Finance Officer in question.
The funding requested in the finance section will form the basis of the Fellowship should the application be successful.
All costs provided should be ‘value for money’ and will be assessed by the NIHR and members of the PCAF Selection Committee. The NIHR reserves the right to reject any costs that it considers unreasonable or not fully justified.
Applications for an ICA PCAF award can request:
salary costs to cover the time undertaking the Fellowship
salary costs to cover the time undertaking the Fellowship
Training and Development
up to £5,000 towards Masters level training and associated travel and subsistence
up to £400 for formal courses and associated travel and subsistence
Conference/ meeting fees and associated travel and subsistence
up to £1,000
up to £500
Supervision and Mentorship
up to £1,000
up to £500
The Fellowship does not include, or pay for, any research costs or full economic costing.
Justification of costs
Detailed Budget Breakdown
- The information entered in this section should provide an analysis of the total funds requested to undertake the proposed 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. You must provide a clear and full justification for all costs including NHS costs. You must also ensure that you include all costs required.
- Costs must be provided at current prices. An adjustment for inflation will be made annually thereafter at rates set by DHSC. 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 2020 then its second year starts 01 June 2021.
- 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.
- All applications are expected to have appropriate NHS, HEI, commercial and other partner organisation input into the finance section of the application form
Details of Post and Salaries
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 Academy’s policy on plagiarism, a copy of which is available on request from email@example.com.
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 might be subject to Freedom of Information requests.
The NIHR Academy is part of the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC), National Institute for Health 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 at: firstname.lastname@example.org
This notice is under constant review and will be updated and / or revised based on that review as appropriate.
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 www.isrctn.org. 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.
There is no registration fee for NIHR funded 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. Link to PROSPERO website: http://www.crd.york.ac.uk/prospero/.
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.
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.
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 trainees and applicants is available in the NIHR Clinical Trials Guide for Trainees (https://www.nihr.ac.uk/documents/clinical-trials-guide/20595). This includes guidance on how to go about approaching a suitable CTU to support your application.
MRC Complex Intervention Guidance
Where appropriate applicants are encouraged to read the MRC complex interventions guidance available here: https://www.mrc.ac.uk/documents/pdf/complex-interventions-guidance/.
INVOLVE is funded by the National Institute for Health Research, to support active public involvement in NHS, public health and social care research.
As a national advisory group, its role is to bring together expertise, insight and experience in the field of public involvement in research, with the aim of advancing it as an essential part of the process by which research is identified, prioritised, designed, conducted and disseminated.
INVOLVE can support prospective applicants and existing awardees to incorporate effective patient and public involvement into their work. Support includes; help with calculating appropriate costs for involving service users and the public, help with developing potential strategies for involvement, case studies of involvement activities including the impact they have had, and help with writing plain English summaries.
Full details of the support INVOLVE can provide and contact information is available via the INVOLVE website: www.invo.org.uk.
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 social care and patients/service/users/careers 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. To find out more about how you can apply for this additional support to help deliver your study, please visit www.supportmystudy.nihr.ac.uk.
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. Social care research falls within the remit and terms of the HRA.
If you are using patient information from an existing database, you should check whether the patients/service users 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.
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.
The host organisation will be expected to issue the individual with an employment contract commensurate with their experience and seniority.
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 Academy manages the HEE/NIHR ICA Programme on behalf of HEE and the DHSC. As such, the findings of researchers funded by the programme are incorporated in to the Department of Health and Social Care Freedom of Information Publication Scheme.
Equal Opportunities and Diversity
NIHR and DHSC have a duty as a public body to promote equality of opportunity. All applicants will be contacted shortly after the closure date by NIHR Equality Monitoring.
Monitoring ensures that all applications to NIHR Programmes are treated equally in terms of gender, ethnicity and/or disability.
The information you share with the monitoring system:
- will be stored separately from your application
- only be used for the purpose of monitoring equal opportunities
- be kept securely and in confidence
Annex A: PCAF Submission Flow Diagram
Annex B: Further Guidance for Signatories and Participants
Guidance for Participants
Applicants will supply your name and email address (if not already registered on the award management system), identifying you as the individual who will be undertaking a specific participant role. The required participants and their roles in the Fellowship are described in these Applicant Guidance Notes.
You will receive an email from email@example.com confirming that you have been added in a participant role (please check your Junk Mail folder if you haven’t received the e-mail).
To confirm your participation in the application:
- Log into the NIHR Academy award management system (aramis.nihr.ac.uk). A link to the award management system will also be included in the email.
- Click on “My Co-applications” from the left-hand side menu
- Select the relevant application.
- You can then confirm or reject your participation in the application:
Individuals in referee participant roles will now be able to access the referee forms. Please see below for further information.
Guidance for Referees
Referees are required to confirm participation in the application (see “Guidance for Participants” above).
Once you have confirmed participation, you will be able to complete your online reference form by clicking the “Edit” button within the “Edit the Participant Form” box.
This will take you to the Reference form which has 4 textboxes to complete. Once all of the mandatory sections of the form have been completed please click the “save and close” button.
This will take you to the following screen. The form can be submitted by selecting “Submit” from the “submit your partcipant form” box.
Guidance for Signatories
Applicants will supply your name and email address (if not already registered on the award management system), identifying you as the individual who will be undertaking a specific signatory role. The required signatories and their roles in the Fellowship are described above.
You will receive an email from firstname.lastname@example.org confirming you have been added in a signatory role. To confirm your participation in the application:
- Log into the NIHR Academy award management system: aramis.nihr.ac.uk. A link to the award management system will also be included in the email.
- Click on “My Approvals” from the left-hand side menu
- Click on the status (Confirmation Required) for the relevant application. You will then be given the option to confirm or reject participation in the application process:
If you are a Head of Department Signatory, you will now be able to add the mandatory statement of support within the “Training and Development and Research support” section of the form.
If you are an “Administrative Authority or Finance Officer”, you will now be able to edit the “Detailed Budget” section of the form.
This is done by clicking on the “Edit” button from the “edit the application” box.
Signatories will be notified by email when the Lead Applicant has submitted their completed application form for approval. When you receive this email, please log back into the system and return to the ‘My Approvals’ section, where you will see the following screen:
Click on the “Awaiting Signatory Approval’ status and you will be taken to the following screen:
Signatories can view a PDF of the application form via the View/Print option and approve or reject the application. If the signatory chooses to approve the application, then they will be taken to the following screen:
Please complete all sections and click ‘Approve’.
When the final signatory has completed their approval, the application is complete and has been submitted to NIHR Academy and the application status will change to ‘Submitted’.
Annex C: Common questions
Yes. Research costs are not available through a PCAF but the award provides time to strengthen areas of research experience and/or research training to support submission of a competitive doctoral level application.
2) Is a PCAF expected to include a research project or can it just focus on developing research skills and undertaking research training?
3) The working time equivalent (WTEs) available for a PCAF award uptake do not match the number of hours I am currently employed for
- Proposed award uptake will be for more hours than currently contracted
If the proposed Host Organisation will be the applicant’s current employer but the proposed award uptake will be for more hours than currently contracted, this is fine as long as the Host Organisation will offer the applicant a contract of employment for the hours and duration of the PCAF, if awarded.
Applicants will need to discuss with their Host Organisation any changes to their current employment contract that would be required to take up the award and are advised to ensure that they and their managers are clear as to employment arrangements both during the award and when they have completed the award.
- Proposed award uptake will be for less hours than currently contracted
If the Host Organisation will be the applicant’s current employer but the proposed award uptake will be for less hours than currently contracted, this is also fine as long as the Host Organisation will offer the applicant a contract of employment for the hours and duration of the PCAF, if awarded.
If the applicant will be employed by the Host Organisation for a greater number of hours than they will be undertaking the PCAF, this does not need to be detailed in the application. If, however, applicants will be undertaking activities outside of the award time that will support their clinical academic career they are welcome to include details of this in their application.
Applicants are advised to discuss with their Host Organisation any changes to their current employment contract required to take up the award and are advised to ensure that they and their managers are clear as to the hours of employment both during the award and when they have completed the award.
Applicants are advised to develop the proposed training and development programme with support from their proposed academic supervisor(s). This should take into consideration previous formal academic training and research experience.
Applicants are asked to provide a statement of their Research Area of Interest (the area of clinical research in which you would like to develop your clinical academic career) and the methodologies this research may involve. This will assist the Selection Committee when assessing the proposed training and supervision. The majority of this section, however, should be used to describe previous research experience and academic training and this should be referred back to when describing the proposed training and development programme.