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NIHR Academy Infrastructure Visiting Speaker Award (IVSA): Pilot Evaluation Summary Background




The IVSA scheme was proposed by an NIHR Academy Member in a BRC, and was launched in November 2017. It gives early career NIHR Infrastructure Academy Members the opportunity to present their work in a different part of the Infrastructure. Up to £500 is available per award, to cover travel costs, subsistence and refreshments.


The scheme is for early career researchers within a part of the NIHR Infrastructure with a remit to build research capacity, i.e. Biomedical Research Centres (BRCs), Collaborations for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRCs), the Patient Safety Translational Research Centres (PSTRCs) or those at the NIHR School for Primary Care Research (SPCR), NIHR School for Public Health Research (SPHR) or NIHR School for Social Care Research (SSCR).


The scheme aims to foster networking and collaboration and impact the training experience and future career of early career researchers who are NIHR Infrastructure Academy members, so they can benefit from the experience of communicating and debating their work, and from being part of something larger than their own local environment.

It also aims to help the BRCs, CLAHRCs, PSTRCs, SPCR, SPHR and SSCR to work with, collaborate and generate synergies with other parts of the NIHR. More information about the scheme is provided here.

Application and Review Process

Eligible NIHR Academy Members apply using a short online form which is assessed by the NIHR Academy Infrastructure and Capacity Building Structures team on the extent to which the award will enable the professional and personal development of the applicant.


Who was awarded?

11 eligible applications were received and approved. 55% (n=6) applicants were PhD students (all of whom held masters degrees) and the remaining 5 were post-doctoral research fellows.

Most awardees (n=8) were based in BRCs, 2 were based in a CLAHRC and 1 was from an NIHR School (SPCR). Of the 8 people applying from BRCs, 7 went to another BRC and 1 went to a CLAHRC. We also had 2 from CLAHRCs going to CLAHRCs and one from the SCPR going to the SPHR.

36% of awardees (n=4) were basic scientists (1 physicist, 1 translational and 2 geneticists). There were also 2 ‘other’ research scientists (not specified). The 3 AHPs were all physiotherapists and the 2 OHPs were a psychologist and a counsellor.

How much did they spend?

The awardees spent £2010.30 in total (range £39.68 to £348.25, with an average spend of £182.75).

What did they say?

Feedback has been grouped into the following themes:

Networking and collaboration: 'a great opportunity for early-mid career researchers to disseminate their work to a wider audience and build external connections.'

Presentation and communication skills: 'a great experience in terms of training on presentation skills and dissemination.'

Confidence: 'increased my confidence in presenting in front of an unknown/external audience.'

Future research: 'this has expanded my horizons for possible work/research areas in the future.'

Future career: 'discussed ideas for a future fellowship with a senior investigator in a related field.'

What next?

The results of this evaluation suggest that the scheme has been successful and should continue. We have used the feedback to make a number of recommendations (detailed in the full version of the evaluation). These included adjusting the maximum amount available to ensure that more people can benefit, refining the data collected, and using the results of this evaluation to promote the scheme more widely.