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NIHR Artificial Intelligence for Multiple Long-Term Conditions (AIM): Guidance for Applicants (RESEARCH COLLABORATIONS ONLY)



Please note that the following guidance documentation and the template for this call have been updated to reflect what is shown on our Research Management System

This document provides guidance on completing an application for stage 1 of funding for the RESEARCH COLLABORATION call only.

Section 1: Application Summary Information

Host Organisation 

Provide details of the organisation who will be the contractor if the programme is funded.  

If you have any queries, please contact the AIM Team via the online form before submitting your application. Please ensure that you provide a contactable phone number and a member of the team will get back to you.

Research Title 

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

Research Type

Select the appropriate research type. If your proposed programme includes any element of primary research, please select ‘Primary Research’. If you are carrying out new analysis of existing data, select ‘Secondary Research’. If you are not sure which category to select, choose the closest match to your project as this can be adjusted later.

Proposed Start Date

Note this should be from 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 project. 

Research Duration (months)

Ensure you include sufficient time to complete all aspects of the research including applications for regulatory approvals (where required) and the final report. 

End Date

This field will automatically populate once you have entered the start date and research duration information. 

Estimated Research Costs 

Enter the total amount of research costs requested (not including NHS Support & Treatment costs).

Estimated NHS Support & Treatment costs or external (not NHS) intervention costs

Enter the total amount of NHS support and treatment costs associated with this proposal.


Section 2: Lead Applicant CV

Complete your name, contact details and other requested information.


Section 3: Lead Applicant Research Background

Publication record

Provide details of a MAXIMUM of 6 of your most recent / relevant publications (in the last 10 years) relevant to this application (using Vancouver or Harvard citation format). Please use DOI reference numbers if needed.

Grant record

Please select research grants held (as a named applicant) CURRENTLY or IN THE LAST 5 YEARS – as well as any additional previous grants, relevant to this application, stating who the grant is with and the amount of each grant. If no grants are held please enter N/A (as this is a mandatory field).

Has this application been previously submitted to this or any other funding body? 

Select ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ from the drop down box to indicate whether this or a similar application has previously been submitted to this or any other funding body.  For more information about resubmission of a research/ trainee funding application, or joint funding please contact the appropriate NIHR research funding programme. 

Applications submitted to other NIHR programmes

Where this application or a similar one has been submitted to this or another NIHR programme or elsewhere please click the ‘Add’ button and complete the necessary information. 

We are keen to know if the application has been submitted elsewhere and you must be as open about this as possible. This includes, but is not limited to, any facts that, should they come to light at a future date, would embarrass either the programme or the individual who withheld the fact (e.g. if a member of the team holds a patent or has a financial interest within the research area).  

Failure to disclose accurately or fully will be considered by the programme as academic misconduct and treated accordingly. You should also include in this section information on whether this or a similar application has been submitted to any programme previously, or to any other funder including other NIHR programmes. You should name, and provide dates and outcomes of these. Please indicate whether you hold or have ever held an NIHR programme contract which has been terminated prior to completion, extended in time or in terms of funding. 


Section 4: The Research Team

Specify your (lead applicant) role in this research

Explain in addition to your role as Lead Applicant, the role that you will be undertaking in the research, e.g. coordination and project management, analysis, methodological input etc. 


Commitment: This refers to the percentage of your time that you will commit to this project.

Joint Lead Applicant

Where appropriate and justified it is acceptable for the application to be led by joint Lead Applicants. Where this applies, please complete your name, contact details and other requested information.

Justification for Joint Lead Applicant

Justification should be given to demonstrate why more than one person would be required to lead this research and how this brings added value to the application.

Relevant expertise and experience of joint Lead Applicant

Please summarise the proposed Joint Lead Applicant’s relevant expertise and track record in health or social care research, in terms of skills and experience, previous publications, grant funding and impact on health service or social care provision.

Specify role in research

Please provide a brief overview of your role in the proposed research. You have the opportunity to elaborate upon this further in the ‘Research Plan’ section.


Commitment: This refers to the percentage of your time that you will commit to this project.

NOTE: For application/contracting purposes, the joint lead applicant will be counted as a co-applicant.


Add details of all co-applicants and their specific role in the programme. Do not include collaborators, who should be mentioned (if necessary) in the Research Plan section of the form.

We encourage the inclusion of public co-applicants, where appropriate. Please include a clear description of their role and the reasons why a public co-applicant is joining the team. For further information please access the 'Public Co-Applicants in Research' guidance.

Co-applicants are those individuals with responsibility for the day to day management and delivery of the project and can include patients, carers and service users. Co-applicants, including public co-applicants, are considered part of the project team and are expected to share responsibility for its successful delivery. In contrast, collaborators normally provide specific expertise on particular aspects of the project but do not share in the responsibility for the delivery of the project.

PPI Lead

There should be a named person with appropriate skills and experience who is responsible for leading the PPI element within the project. This role should be an adequately costed and resourced research team member who is able to manage the PPI plans and related activities. Examples of the activities a PPI lead might undertake can be found here.


Section 5: Plain English Summary of Research

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, 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 National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and other websites. 

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

  1. those carrying out the review (reviewers and board and panel members) to have a better understanding of your research proposal
  2. inform others about your research such as members of the public, health and social care professionals, policy makers and the media
  3. 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 and members of the public in developing a plain English summary. 


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

  1. aim(s) of the research
  2. background to the research
  3. design and methods used
  4. patient and public involvement
  5. 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 online at NIHR Make it clear.

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


Section 6: Research Plan

Using all of the headings in the order presented below, please use this section to clearly explain your proposed research. Schematics, tables, illustrations, graphs, and other types of graphics can be embedded to clarify the research plan but they should not clutter the central narrative. Images do not count towards the overall word count but inclusion of them to overcome word limits is not permitted. Images may only be included within the 'Research Plan.' Images included in other sections will be removed from the application and not seen by reviewers.

As this is the main part of your application which will be considered by the reviewing panel, you should ensure that the information is accurate, succinct, clearly laid out and provides sufficient methodological detail. The overall amount of information that you can provide at this stage is limited 4000 words.

The NIHR expects appropriate and relevant involvement of patients/service users, carers and the public and other key stakeholders in the research it supports. It is essential to set out your plans to involve patients/service users, carers and the public in the Stage 1 application. Your patient/service user, carer and public involvement plans will be assessed by the funding committee including patient/service users, carers and public members.

Information and resources to assist you can be found on the INVOLVE website (a detailed definition of patient and public involvement in research, briefing notes for researchers on how to involve patients/service users, carers and the public and an involvement cost calculator and budgeting guide).

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.

  • What is the problem being addressed?

Provide a clear explanation of the problem to be addressed, its scale and the limitations in current practice, e.g. identifying new disease clusters in a well-defined population, or exploring trajectories of multiple long term conditions clusters.

  • Why is this problem important and how does it address the aims of this research call?

Explain how your proposed research addresses the requirements outlined in the research brief. It is essential that you clearly identify how your research is likely to contribute and add value to current understanding of multiple long term conditions and the benefits you envisage the project to lead to. Please outline the likely trajectory towards benefit realisation. 

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

Briefly describe:

  • Past and current research that justifies the proposed research and shows that it will add distinct value to what is already known, or in progress
  • Work undertaken previously by the research team which has led to the proposed programme, including for example review of existing evidence, or any pilot or feasibility studies.

Applicants should be aware of ongoing research in this area and comment on any other research which might be deemed to overlap with the contents of the proposal.

  • What is the research question / aims and objectives

Summarise the research questions / key aims and objectives of your research.  Please provide a clear pathway to implementation for the health and care system and outlining how the proposed knowledge and data generated will lead to patient benefit.

  • Team experience and expertise

Describe the skills, experience and expertise of the proposed multi-disciplinary team that makes it well placed to carry out the work, outlining any existing strategic collaboration and any additional expertise you might need to draw in and to grow capability. 

Explain how you envisage contributing towards building capacity and capability in this area, and what unique offering this group could make available to other award holders in the AIM initiative. The NIHR will look favourably at opportunities to maximise synergies and to share learning and expertise across funded collaborations.

Include any information about data sources to be used to complete the research, explaining benefits and suitability. If data sources are not yet available, outline the expected challenges in accessing and handling these sources, and the team’s experience in managing such circumstances. 

  • Project Plan

The project plan should cover the following elements:

Research plan and methodology

Provide an expert summary of the plan of investigation, including for example key milestones/deliverables, methods (with adequate justifications), approach to patient and public involvement proportionate to the investment, plus any additional points required to support statements made in the previous sections. Please describe clearly how each of the research aims and questions will be addressed by the methodology. Include any key references required to justify the point made (e.g. in the use of a particular outcome measure or method of analysis).

Management arrangements and collaborations

Describe how your project will be managed and governed. Indicate how the research team will be organised, including building capacity and capability in junior researchers and any relevant collaborations that are in place. Please also indicate how the research team might draw on further expertise available in the NIHR and the wider research community, and other successful groups. Clearly outline the main risks and challenges (including, for example, data access or linkage), as well as mitigating actions, in delivering the proposed work, drawing analogies with past experience where appropriate.

Plans for stakeholders engagement, dissemination and impact

Provide details of the full range of potential audiences for your research, and a reasoned approach to engagement and dissemination, paying particular attention to the needs of the target audience and how these will be met. Describe who you need to communicate with and your plans for engaging relevant audiences, including data accessibility. It is expected that all data generated or curated within this funded programme are made accessible to the broad scientific community. Plans for making data widely available for future research should be outlined.


Section 7: Indicative costs

AIM Research Collaboration funding is between £2.5–5m for up to 36 months (for wave 1). Costing can include up to 80% full economic costing (FEC) but should exclude VAT. Provide indicative costs for undertaking the research and supporting activities (e.g. PPI, dissemination), along with a high level justification for the resources required. This will be used by the Committee in their assessment of value for money.


Section 8: Uploads


One single-side A4 page, listing references used throughout your proposal.


If required, an additional supporting (single side of A4) document can be submitted with your application form (e.g., a flow diagram illustrating the study design and the flow of participants, gantt chart, diagrams, pictures etc.). If submitting a flow diagram, applicants should also describe complex interventions and controls as accurately and fully as possible within their diagram. If proposing an RCT, we advise you refer to the CONSORT statement and website for guidance. Alternatively, you may find the EQUATOR Network website useful. The PDF file should be submitted along with your application form. 


Section 9: Administrative contact details

Please provide the details of an administrative lead as a secondary point of contact for any queries relating to the application, should it be supported. 

NOTE: This person does not need to be a co-applicant.


Section 10: Research and Development office contact details

Please provide the contact details and job title of a person in the R&D office so that we are able to notify them of the outcome of this application including any associated feedback. 

NOTE: Please note this person does not need to be included as a co-applicant.


Section 11: Acknowledge, review and submit

Conflict checks 

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 & commercial interest that could be perceived as a conflict of interest.


As lead applicant, please tick the box to confirm that the information entered into the application form is correct and that you take responsibility for overall management and delivery of the research.

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

Applicants should click the check boxes to indicate that they have included the necessary information prior to submitting their application.


A good quality Plain English Summary (Make It Clear)


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


A clear description of team member roles and contribution


Appropriate and relevant involvement of patients/service users, carers and the public


A single A4 page of references (document upload), mandatory