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NIHR Local Authority Short Placement Award for Research Collaboration Applicant Guidance Notes Round 1 (Pilot)

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Published: 28 September 2021

Version: 1.0 (Sept 21)

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Introduction

The NIHR is pleased to announce the launch of the NIHR Local Authority Short Placement Award for Research Collaboration (LA SPARC) Scheme. This is a pilot scheme designed to support short placements for individuals to move between practice and NIHR in order to enhance their careers by developing their skills, knowledge and expertise to work at the interface between local authorities and academia.

This document provides full details of this pilot scheme, describes the means by which applications to the LA SPARC scheme should be submitted (please note; all LA SPARC applications must be submitted via the online NIHR Academy Research Awards Management System) and details how they will be assessed.

Background

The NIHR Academy is responsible for the development and coordination of NIHR academic training, career development and research capacity development. At the NIHR Academy and across NIHR we are passionate about people and developing careers in research. It is therefore extremely important to us to strengthen research capacity in and in partnership with local authorities/local authority commissioned services.

In order to address 21st century public health and care challenges, it is crucial to develop, support and inspire the next generation of researchers and joint practitioner academics from a wide range of professional backgrounds, disciplines and skill sets.

In particular the NIHR Academy want to attract and inspire people to consider and develop careers combining academic research with practice. As such, we have recently secured funds to develop a pilot programme of fellowship schemes (the NIHR Local Authority Academic Fellowship Programme) and short placement awards (LA SPARC). These schemes will support local authorities, local authority commissioned services and non-profit organisations (such as a charity) that provide services on behalf of a local authorities to become more research active at the same time as enhancing awardee’s careers.

The importance of building research capacity in and in partnership with Local Authorities and supporting practitioner academic careers

A growing body of evidence indicates that research active organisations deliver better services and outputs than those that are not. The research questions formulated by practitioner academics (individuals that divide their time between university affiliated research and practice or policy roles) are informed by experience and the reality of the practice or policy roles they undertake. As active researchers in fields of relevance to their own continued practice, practitioner academics are also well positioned to critically appraise and utilise research findings in the development of evidence based practice and service redesign. As such, practitioner academics are uniquely placed to make invaluable contributions to the development and maintenance of optimum and adaptive services.

It is extremely important therefore to have effective partnerships and co-produced research; to ensure that the questions addressed are relevant and meaningful, provide actionable evidence and are better able to inform public health/social care practice and policy.

The NIHR Local Authority Short Placement Award for Research Collaboration (LA SPARC) Scheme

The NIHR LA SPARC scheme supports individuals working in Local Authority settings and NIHR Academy members to design and apply for funds to undertake short placements allowing them to move between NIHR and Local Authority settings in either direction. The main aim of the award is to allow individuals to develop skills and capabilities to co-create research that is more meaningful and better connected with practice; with the intention that this will lead to enhanced partnerships and collaborations between the NIHR and local authorities.

Individuals can apply to LA SPARC for up to £15,000 to undertake a bespoke short placement. Applications are light-touch and will be assessed in open competition.

The scheme supports:

  • Individuals based in a local authority setting who would like to undertake a short placement in a part of the NIHR. This may appeal to those who are interested in enhancing their careers, in experiencing research from a different perspective or in taking the next step in developing a practice academic career (please see ‘Scope of Award’ for further details on possible placement locations).
  • NIHR Academy members in the NIHR Infrastructure, HPRUs or an NIHR School who would like to undertake a short placement in a Local Authority setting. NIHR Academy members can be pre-doctoral/masters students, PhD or early career post-doctoral researchers. This may appeal to individuals who want to work alongside service commissioners and providers to hear the issues and challenges being faced at the local level, to share knowledge and experience to shape their future research or to develop possible collaborations and joint ways of working (please see ‘Scope of the Award’ for further details on possible placement locations).

Funding could include; salary support (for individuals coming from local authority settings only), as well as funding to cover; travel, accommodation, subsistence in order to travel and undertake the placement. This funding can also be used to fund any specific short training courses, as well as any relevant placement outputs (e.g. an infographic, informative video etc.). Please see ‘Scope of Funding’ for further details and the ‘Detailed Budget Section’.

The design and development of a short placement/taster opportunity should emphasise co-production and partnership, so it is important for applicants to the scheme to think about what they contribute or offer to the placement host during their placement and how the two parties might want to work together in the future.

The design and development of an LA SPARC placement must be focussed around early translational, clinical and applied research that pertain to health, public health and/or social care, and that would meet the NIHR remit for personal awards.

Following completion of a LA SPARC award/placement, the awardee is expected to be able to show evidence of:

  • Completion of the placement and activities proposed in the application, which should lie within the NIHR remit;
  • Development of new research or technical skills or enhancement of the applicants career/current and futures roles; including taking next step in developing a practitioner-academic career (if applicable)
  • Increased professional skills;
  • Publications/presentations/posters/infographics arising from the LA SPARC placement/award (if applicable);
  • Establishment/involvement in mutually beneficially collaborative relationships and increased networks between NIHR and local authority settings.

Evidence of the above will be sought by the NIHR Academy through the LA SPARC final report.

Eligibility Criteria

The eligibility criteria for the two types of potential applicants are detailed below:

1. Individuals based in a local authority setting in England

To be eligible to apply, individuals should satisfy all of the bullet points below:-

  • Hold a minimum level of qualification at degree level (BSc/BA) or equivalent
  • Hold a contract of employment in England with either a:
    • local authority;
    • provider of local authority commissioned services (including those based in the NHS);
    • non-profit organisation (such as a charity) that provides services on behalf of a local authority, or that otherwise supports a local authority in meeting its objectives

Or

  • be a Public Health Specialty Trainee based in England
  • The placement must be focused around early translational (experimental medicine), clinical and applied research that pertains to health, public health and/or social care, and that would meet the NIHR remit for personal awards.

2. NIHR Academy members based in England

To be eligible to apply; individuals must be NIHR Academy members based within a part of NIHR Infrastructure, NIHR HPRU or an NIHR School and should satisfy all of the bullet points below:

  • Be undertaking a formal training/career development award (pre-doctoral training award holders/Masters students, PhD or early career post-doctoral researchers), which should meet all of the following criteria: be competitive, include a formal training plan and have a defined end point (such as an application for further funding).
  • Receive at least 25% funding from the NIHR for salary/stipend over the lifetime of the individual’s award (For Applied Research Collaborations (ARCs) and Health Protection Research Units (HPRUs) funding can be from NIHR or from an official collaborating partner).
  • Be hosted in a setting with a remit for research capacity development (This includes: NIHR Biomedical Research Centres (BRCs), Patient Safety Translational Research Centres (PSTRCs), Applied Research Collaborations (ARCs), Health Protection Research Units (HPRUs), School for Public Health Research (SPHR), School for Social Care Research (SSCR) and School for Primary Care Research (SPCR)).
  • Do not already hold an NIHR Academy Fellowship or NIHR Clinical Lectureship
  • The placement must be focused around early translational (experimental medicine), clinical and applied research that pertains to health, public health and/or social care, and that would meet the NIHR remit for personal awards

At formal pre-doctoral training award/masters students level the selection committee will be looking to ensure whatever is proposed adds to their current Masters and future career prospects, and that this doesn’t detract from their current studies.

Prospective applicants unsure of their eligibility should contact their Senior Manager/Head of Service (for applicants based in a local authority setting) or NIHR Academic Career Development (ACD) Lead (for NIHR Academy Members using the Find your Academic Career Development Lead (ACD Lead) list in first instance. Prospective applicants unsure of their eligibility are also encouraged to contact the NIHR Academy Infrastructure and Capacity Building Structures Team via e-mail: academy-awards@nihr.ac.uk before embarking on the application process.

Scope of Award

The NIHR LA SPARC allows eligible individuals working in Local Authority settings and NIHR Academy members to undertake short placements to move between NIHR and Local Authorities in either direction.

Awardees will remain registered/employed at their ‘Employing Organisation’ (substantive employer) who will continue to support their salary/stipend/fees for the duration of the NIHR LA SPARC award/placement and the ‘Placement Host’ (where individuals will undertake their placement location) will provide supervision and training in collaboration with the Employing Organisation for the duration of the LA SPARC award/placement.

Please note; we expect the applicants ‘Employing Organisation’ (substantive employer) will act as the ‘contractor’ (which will administer any award).

Finally, all NIHR LA SPARC awards/placements must be completed between April 2022 and the end of February 2023.

Identification of Potential Placement Host and Supervisor

1. Individuals based within a Local Authority Setting in England looking to undertake a placement in a part of the NIHR

There are lots of different parts of the NIHR that potential applicants may wish to undertake a placement in, some of which are listed below. Each of these parts has a specific area of focus, with a wide range of facilities, expertise, and hosts a number of academics.

1a) Identification of Potential Placement Host/Location

Potential applicants might want to explore spending a short period of time with a researcher or research team in one of the following:

A part of NIHR Infrastructure, HPRUs or an NIHR School

The NIHR funds Applied Research Collaborations (ARCs) to support applied health and care research that responds to, and meets, the needs of local populations and local health and care systems. These 15 local partnerships between NHS providers, universities, charities, local authorities, Academic Health Science Networks and other organisations also undertake implementation research to increase the rate at which research findings are implemented into day-to-day practice.

The ARCs undertake research on a number of areas of need highlighted by the NIHR Futures of Health report, including: the challenges of an ageing society; multi-morbidity; and the increasing demands placed on our health and care system.

The NIHR funds Health Protection Research Units (HPRUs); research partnerships between universities and Public Health England (PHE). The 15 NIHR Health Protection Research Units (HPRUs) act as centres of excellence in multidisciplinary health protection research in England; funding high quality research that enhances the ability of PHE to use innovative techniques to protect the public’s health and minimise the health impact of emergencies.

The NIHR funds 3 Patient Safety Translational Research Centres (PSTRCs) aiming to turn patient safety discoveries into practice.

NIHR’s 20 Biomedical Research Centres (BRCs) are collaborations between world-leading universities and NHS organisations that bring together academics and clinicians to translate lab-based scientific breakthroughs into potential new treatments, diagnostics and medical technologies. The centres undertake research in research themes across a range of disease and therapeutic areas.

  • NIHR Schools

The NIHR has established three national research schools:

NIHR SPCR – School for Primary Care Research (1 centre, 9 partner sites)
NIHR SPHR – School for Public Health Research (1 centre, 8 partner sites)
NIHR SSCR – School for Social Care Research (1 centre, 7 partner sites)

A part of the ‘Wider NIHR’

Individuals may also wish to undertake a placement with a researcher or research team working in another part of the NIHR that has specific remit and focus; for example:-

1b) Helpful Resources/Documents Available to Potential Applicants

NIHR Research Design Service (RDS) – Sign-posting and advice and support available to individuals interested in applying for a LA SPARC award/placement

NIHR Research Design Service (RDS) advisors can talk with you via a confidential and free pre-arranged face-to-face meeting, over the phone or via e-mail about your LA SPARC application/placement. You might have already thought about potential placement ideas, but need some advice and sign-posting support regarding potential NIHR sites that you may wish to consider undertaking your placement in, or you might be quite overwhelmed and aren’t sure where to start! That’s fine as well!

Further information regarding the NIHR Research Design Service, their advisors and the advice and support they are able to provide individuals interested in applying for a LA SPARC award/placement can be found in Annex A. This includes details as to how to make contact and arrange a chat.

NIHR SPARC - Where can I go? Guide. This guide details some of the different centres and sites across the NIHR (note this is not an exhaustive list) and provides more information on the research they are involved in, their facilities and expertise. This guide also highlights where NIHR already has a close relationship with local authorities/third sector and includes some of the relevant areas of work that they undertake together.

NIHR Incubator for Social Care

The NIHR Incubator for Social Care has been established to help build capacity for research within adult social care; developing a supportive and high-profile community of individuals and organisations in adult social care with an interest in research.
Through a variety of means, the Incubator provides opportunities to learn about adult social care, related research and the opportunities that exist for developing research knowledge, skills, networks and projects in the sector.

The Incubator aims to stimulate, inspire and support those with an interest in the field of adult social care to pursue research and practitioner-researcher careers by:

  • enhancing the opportunities for those pursuing, or wanting to pursue, academic careers in the field
  • better provision of, and sign-posting to career support activities
  • building a community to offer support and share best practice.

NIHR Incubator for Public Health

The Public Health Incubator aims to stimulate and inspire those working in the public health academic/practice field to pursue academic research careers; and to enhance the opportunities for those pursuing academic careers through better sign-posting to funding opportunities and career support activities.

The Public Health Incubator has been created to raise awareness and enhance the opportunities for those pursuing, or wanting to pursue, academic careers in public health. This includes better provision of, and sign-posting to, training and career development initiatives and showcasing public health research and careers.
In addition the Incubator is engaging with local authorities and relevant sectors, in order to help support researchers wishing to navigate and span the academic and practice worlds.

1c) Identification of Potential Host Placement Supervisor

Potential applicants looking to apply to the LA SPARC scheme and undertake a placement in the NIHR will need to:

  1. Get in touch with their Senior Manager/Head of Service or Department at their earliest opportunity to discuss their individual research/training/career development needs and potential placement ideas (including potential duration/length of the placement) and seek their permission and support.
  2. Look over the NIHR SPARC - Where can I go? Guide, perhaps get in touch with the NIHR Research Design Service advisors to arrange to have a chat about potential options (please see Annex A for further information) and explore parts of NIHR that you might like to undertake a placement in. Potential applicants can undertake a placement anywhere across the NIHR; as long as there is mutual support and agreement between the applicants ‘Employing Organisation’ and ‘Placement Host Institution.
  3. Once applicants have identified a potential ‘Placement Host Institution’ within a part of the NIHR; they will need to get in touch (with support from their line manager) with the NIHR organisation’s ‘Academic Career Development’ (ACD) Lead using the Find your Academic Career Development Lead (ACD Lead) list to discuss potential placement ideas, potential activities/training applicants may wish to undertake and the potential placement length/duration of the award. Please do not be put off by the term ‘Academic Career Development’; these are welcoming individuals who are interested in personal and professional development; they are here to help!
  4. Applicants will also need to identify a ‘Placement Host Institution Supervisor’ at the organisation they wish to undertake their placement with and work together with this individual to develop and agree a placement that meets their individual needs and career development.

Please note; applicants must have discussed and sought agreement/permission from the Placement Host Institution before submitting an application. Applicants are responsible for liaising with their Line Manager/Head of Department and Placement Host Supervisor and agreeing the scope of the placement prior to submitting an application.

Please bear in mind that all placements should be a partnership, so it is important to think about what applicants can contribute or offer to the placement host during the placement and how you might want to work together in the future.

2. NIHR Academy members based within NIHR Infrastructure or an NIHR School looking to undertake a placement in a Local Authority setting

2a) Identification of Potential Placement Host/Location

NIHR Academy members based in England who wish to undertake a placement/taster opportunity in a local authority setting may wish to consider the following potential locations:-

  • A local authority public health/social care team
  • A local authority department (e.g housing, education, transport and planning, sport and culture etc).
  • A provider of local authority commissioned services

2b) Helpful Resources/Documents Available to Potential Applicants

NIHR Research Design Service (RDS) – Sign-posting and advice and support available to individuals interested in applying for a LA SPARC award/placement

NIHR Research Design Service (RDS) advisors can talk with you via a confidential and free pre-arranged face-to-face meeting, over the phone or via e-mail about your LA SPARC application/placement. You might have already thought about potential placement ideas, but need some advice and sign-posting support regarding potential Local Authority settings that you may wish to consider undertaking your placement in, or you might be quite overwhelmed and aren’t sure where to start! That’s fine as well!

Further information regarding the NIHR Research Design Service, their advisors and the advice and support they are able to provide individuals interested in applying for a LA SPARC award/placement can be found in Annex A. This includes details as to how to make contact and arrange a chat.

NIHR SPARC - Where can I go? Guide

In addition to what NIHR sites offer, this guide also highlights where NIHR already has a close relationship with local authorities/third sector and includes some of the relevant areas of work that they undertake together.

NIHR School for Public Health Research - Practice Placement Case Studies and Helpful Resources

The NIHR School for Public Health Research (SPHR) resources include a number of case studies/short videos highlighting some of their fellow’s practice placements. These include how they secured a practice placement in a local authority and some top tips and helpful resources.

Public Health Research programme - Phinder Service

The Public Health Research Programme - Phinder service is a portal that connects public health practice and research. Their aim is to capture new and forthcoming UK interventions that have the potential to impact on population health and bring them to the attention of public health researchers, by encouraging and enabling more research into issues that are a high priority for public health policy and practice.

Association of Directors of Public Health (ADPH)

The Association of Directors of Public Health (ADPH) is the representative body for Directors of Public Health (DsPH) in the UK with the aim of maximising the effectiveness and impact of DsPH as Public Health leaders.

ADPH seeks to improve and protect the health of the population through collating and presenting the views of DsPH; advising on public health policy and legislation; facilitating a support network for DsPH; identifying their development needs; and supporting the development of comprehensive, equitable public health policies.

Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS)

ADASS is a charity, a leading, independent voice of adult social care in England, who works to promote higher standards of social care services and influence policies and decision-makers to transform the lives of people needing and providing care.

The membership is drawn from serving directors of adult social care employed by local authorities and their direct report.

2c) Identification of Potential Host Placement Supervisor

Potential applicants looking to undertake a short placement in a local authority will need to:

  1. Get in touch with their ‘Primary Supervisor’ and NIHR Academic Career Development (ACD) Lead at their earliest opportunity Lead (using the Find your Academic Career Development Lead (ACD Lead) list) at their earliest opportunity to discuss their individual research/training/career development needs and potential placement ideas (including potential duration/length of the placement) and seek their permission and support.
  2. Consider getting in touch with the NIHR Research Design Service advisors to arrange to have a chat about potential options (please see Annex A for further information).
  3. Once applicants have identified a potential ‘Placement Host’; they will need to get in touch (with support from their ‘Primary Supervisor or ACD Lead) with the Local Authority/Local Authority Commissioned Service to discuss potential placement ideas, potential activities/training applicants may wish to undertake and the potential placement length/duration of the award.
  4. Potential applicants can undertake a placement in any local authority setting in England as long as there is mutual support and agreement between the applicants ‘Employing Organisation’ and ‘Placement Host Institution’.
  5. Applicants will also need to identify a ‘Placement Host Institution Supervisor’ at the organisation they wish to undertake their placement with and work together with this individual to develop and agree a placement that meets their individual needs and career development.

Please note; you must have discussed and sought agreement/permission from the Placement Host Institution before you submit an application. You will be responsible for liaising with your Line Manager/Head of Department and Placement Host Supervisor and agreeing the scope of the placement prior to submitting an application.

Please bear in mind; that all placements should be a partnership, so it is important to think about what you can contribute or offer to the placement host during the placement and how you might want to work together in the future.

Types of placements and activities that could be supported by a LA SPARC award

It is important to note that the placement should be bespoke to the individual applying; designed to meet their needs, skills and personal and professional development and should be co-created with the Placement Host (where the applicant will be undertaking their placement).

1. Individuals based within a Local Authority setting in England looking to design and undertake a placement in a part of the NIHR

The placement should enable individuals to gain an insight into the work of a particular academic or research team in a part of the NIHR, and to experience research from a different perspective. In doing this, individuals may gain an insight into academic research and how they might further develop a practice academic career. Importantly, individuals will have the opportunity to share some of the knowledge and experience they have, which will add to the work being undertaken by the research team/NIHR.

For example individuals may wish to consider undertaking a placement to:

  • Spend time with a cutting edge group of academics and researchers who are focused on improving the evidence base in practice. Being embedded in an established research group or a particular research project in a part of the NIHR (e.g NIHR School for Social Care Research, NIHR ARC etc.) for a short period of time would allow the applicant to experience research from a different perspective and gain an insight into academic research and how they might develop a practice academic career.
  • Spend time with a research team in a part of the NIHR, find out about academic research and the research they are involved in, meet with potential supervisors and mentors that might help support a future fellowship application (e.g to support an application for funding for a pre-doctoral/Masters qualification like the NIHR Pre-doctoral Local Authority Fellowship (PLAF), discuss potential research project ideas and areas of research interest and perhaps undertake a relevant short course (e.g qualitative research methods, implementation science training, PPI training etc.).
  • Spend time in an NIHR Health Protection Research Unit, NIHR Statistics Group, NIHR Applied Research Collaboration etc. to explore innovative ways of using data and different research approaches that would enable further development of the applicant’s career, skills and knowledge. This opportunity could also allow exploration of possible collaborations and partnership working for future benefit of their employing organisation and the residents and communities they serve.
  • Act as a ‘research champion’ for their local authority/local authority commissioned service setting by spending some time in different parts of the NIHR (NIHR School for Public Health, NIHR Applied Research Collaborations, NIHR Policy Research Units etc.) to find out more about the research they are involved with, discuss mutual areas of interest, what skills and expertise they/their organisation can offer and start to develop potential research collaborations/networks and ideas for co-produced research.

Please note that placements are not limited to the types of activities described above. Applicants are encouraged to fully explore and maximise the wide range of facilities, expertise and opportunities available to them across the NIHR for their personal and professional development, and develop a placement that is bespoke to their individual training needs, background, skills/experiences, as well as their proposed career trajectory.

2. NIHR Academy members (based within a part of NIHR Infrastructure, an HPRU or NIHR Schools) looking to design and undertake a placement in a Local Authority setting

The placement should enable NIHR Academy members to hear the issues and challenges being faced in a practice setting (e.g a local authority public health/social care team, local authority department or local authority commissioned service); sharing knowledge and experience to support them in developing partnerships and collaborations for co-creating meaningful research.

NIHR Academy members may wish to consider undertaking a placement to:

  • Gain insight into public health/social care practice, working alongside service commissioners and providers in a local authority public health/social care team and hearing first-hand the issues and challenges being faced at the local level. This could facilitate a better understanding of how the council and its partners work to deliver public health/social care, their priorities/demands, available data sources, responsibilities and ways of working.
  • Get embedded within a particular department (e.g housing, education, transport and planning, sport and culture) in a Local Authority/Local Authority Commissioned service setting and explore common areas of interest. This could be an opportunity to share skills, knowledge and expertise (e.g explore the role geographical information systems (GIS) can play in designing and delivering healthy, accessible and sustainable cities).
  • Gain insight and understanding into strategic commissioning, and the opportunities and challenges of implementing research in fast moving and politically led environments. This could be an opportunity to share research findings that may be of interest to a local authority setting and work with council colleagues on this. This could also offer insight into practical considerations for communicating research findings; taking the often complex and nuanced findings of research and turning them into clear, actionable recommendations that are relevant to policy makers, commissioners and service providers.

Please note that placements are not limited to the types of activities described above. Applicants are encouraged to fully explore and maximise the opportunities available to them for their personal and professional development, and develop a placement that is bespoke to their individual training needs, background, skills/experiences, as well as their proposed career trajectory.

Award Length/Duration

We recognise the need to adopt a flexible approach to placements, especially given the pressures local authorities are facing at the moment.

There is no minimum or maximum duration for the placement/taster opportunity; placements may range from 2/3 weeks to 2/3 months and this period can be broken up to allow flexibility for both the individual undertaking the placement and the organisation where the placement will be ‘hosted’/based with a supervisor. For example, applicants might want to do one day every three weeks over a five month period. It’s up to the applicant/individual, their line manager and ‘Placement Host’ (where the individual will be undertaking their placement) to agree the best fit for everyone.

Please note; applicants undertaking pre-doctoral training award and Masters students must ensure that whatever duration/length of placement is proposed adds to their current Masters and future career prospects, and doesn’t detract from their current studies.

Start Dates

LA SPARC awards/placements must start on the first of the month between 1st April 2022 and 1st February 2023 and must be completed before the end of February 2023.

Scope of Funding

Applicants can apply for awards of up to £15,000 per individual.

Funding can include:

  • salary support for the applicant (for individuals coming from local authority settings only) that would allow Local Authority settings to consider ‘releasing’ a member of staff to undertake a short placement in a part of the NIHR
  • funding to cover; travel, accommodation and subsistence in order to undertake the short placement.
  • funding for any specific training courses (e.g qualitative research methods course, implementation science training, PPI training etc.).
  • funding for the production of relevant placement outputs (e.g. an infographic, informative video etc.).
  • supervisory fees (only applicable for local authority/local authority commissioned service staff time to act as a ‘Placement Host Supervisor’) to support an NIHR Academy member undertaking a placement in a Local Authority setting

Applicants must remain registered/employed at their ‘Employing Organisation’ (substantive employer) who will continue to support their salary/stipend/fees for the duration of the LA SPARC award/placement. The aim of the award is to cover the incidental expenses of working from another institution for a short period of time.

Please note; travel and subsistence rates should be in accordance with the applicants ‘Employing Organisation’ (substantive employer) ‘Travel and Expenses Policy’ approved rates’. All costs provided should represent value for money and will be assessed by the NIHR and members of the LA SPARC Selection Committee. The NIHR reserves the right to reject any costs that it considers unreasonable or insufficiently justified.

Research costs, open access fees and conference fees will not be covered by this award and would be expected to be funded by the applicants Employing Organisation if required.

Application Procedure and Selection Process

  • Applicants are responsible for liaising with their NIHR Academic Career Development Lead (see NIHR Academic Career Development Leads - NIHR Academy members only) or Senior Manger/Head of Service (Local Authority applicants only) to ensure that they are eligible to apply for an NIHR LA SPARC award prior to submitting an application. The NIHR Academy Infrastructure and Capacity Building Structures Team (via academy-awards@nihr.ac.uk) can advise on eligibility and remit enquiries, and answer queries any party has when completing the application form.
  • Applicants are responsible for liaising with their Academic Career Development Lead (see NIHR Academic Career Development Leads – NIHR Academy members only) or Senior Manger/Head of Service (Local Authority applicants only); as well as their agreed ‘Placement Host Institution’/potential placement institution and agreeing the scope of the placement prior to submitting an application.
  • All applications will undergo an initial screen for eligibility and remit.
  • Following this, applications are reviewed by the Selection Committee in advance of a Selection Committee meeting where decisions on which applications to recommend for funding are made.
  • The Selection Committee will make recommendations for funding that will be considered by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) Science, Research and Evidence (SRE) Directorate.
  • Once confirmed, the funding decisions will then be communicated to applicants.
  • Applicants will be informed of the outcome of their application by email when all required processes are complete.
  • The selection process and subsequent management of the LA SPARC awards will be managed by the NIHR Academy.
  • All documents must be submitted in English.
  • If applicants are successful in being awarded a LA SPARC award while simultaneously being involved in another NIHR research training award competition, they will be asked to decide which programme they would like to continue with and will be withdrawn from the other.

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 NIHR LA SPARC Selection Committee.

The selection committee will assess all eligible applications using the Assessment Criteria below; all of which will have equal weighting:

LA SPARC Assessment Criteria

  • the potential for the applicant to enhance their:
    a) current research studies;
    b) current and future roles; or
    c) next step in developing a practitioner-academic career
  • the impact the placement will have on the applicant’s personal and professional development and career trajectory;
  • the quality and appropriateness of the proposed placement plan/activities and the extent to which the placement will provide a high-quality and stimulating experience;
  • the extent to which the placement has been co-created and starts to shape meaningful collaborations/partnerships between NIHR/academia and local authority settings;
  • the provision of academic supervision and support at both the applicants ‘Employing Organisation’ and the ‘Placement Host’

In addition, ‘Statements of Support’ (please see the ‘Completing the Application Form’ section of the Guidance Notes for further details) will also be used by the NIHR SPARC Selection Committee to support their overall assessment of the application and support available to the applicant during their placement and beyond.

Application Deadlines and Competition Timetable

Your application must have been submitted by the deadline and any signatories must have approved your application by this time using the Academy Research Awards Management Information System (ARAMIS) online application system.

All components of your application must be submitted by the deadline. No additional supporting documents will be accepted after the deadline.

Please give yourself sufficient time to obtain your signatory’s approval before the deadline. No exceptions will be made.

See the below timetable for dates of the selection process.

Timetable

NIHR LA SPARC Pilot Round 1 Competition launch: Tuesday 28th September 2021
Deadline for applications: Thursday 25th November 2021 at 1pm
NIHR LA SPARC Selection Committee Funding Recommendation Meeting: February 2022
Inform applicants of outcome: End of March 2022
LA SPARC Placements to take place: Between 1st April 2022 – 28th February 2023

Award Management

A short LA SPARC ‘Letter of Contract’ will be put in place with the applicants ‘Employing Organisation’ (the 'Contractor') and the Department for Health and Social Care (the 'Authority'). The contract will outline that NIHR will reimburse up to the awarded amount to the applicant’s 'Employing Organisation' after the placement is complete.

The applicants ‘Employing Organisation’ (substantive employer) will act as the ‘Contractor’ (which will administer any award).

Successful applicants will:

  • notify the NIHR Academy when the placement has come to an end;
  • submit a written report within 2 months of the completion of the placement or by the 1st of March 2023 (whichever is soonest), in a form provided by the NIHR Academy, detailing the placement, achievements, impacts and outputs.

The applicants ‘Employing Organisation’ ('Contractor') will:

  • within 2 months of the completion of the placement or by the end of February 2023 (whichever is soonest) submit an invoice to the NIHR Academy for incidental expenses incurred during the placement, up to the limit of the amount awarded.
  • Confirm sight and approval of all supporting documentation (i.e. receipts) for expenses incurred and that the costs incurred are as described in the LA SPARC application form and approved by the Selection Committee. The NIHR Academy reserves the right to request copies of supporting documentation.

Registering, Completing and Submitting a LA SPARC Application

Awards will be made following a short, light touch, open competition. The selection process and subsequent administration of the LA SPARC award/placement will be managed by the NIHR Infrastructure and Capacity Building Structures Team.

All applications must be submitted via the NIHR Academy online Award Management System. This section outlines step by step how to register, complete and submit an NIHR SPARC application via ARAMIS.

Registering

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 publication record (in ‘My Research Outputs’) (if applicable) and apply for any open competitions.

Once registered on the system; to start an application you will need to go to ‘My Applications’ and select ‘New Application’. You should then select ‘LA SPARC’ from the list provided.

Please note – there are two NIHR SPARC competitions open concurrently (the NIHR Short Placement Award for Research Collaboration (NIHR SPARC) and this Local Authority Short Placement Award for Research Collaboration (LA SPARC). 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.

Completing and submitting 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: In addition to the above guidance, information to support the completion of each section of the application form is provided at the end of this document (“Completing 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
  • Applicants have completed the declaration information.

Individuals undertaking particular 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.

Required Participants

  • Primary Supervisor: The individual acting as Primary Supervisor must confirm that they have read the application and the guidance notes and are willing to provide support to the named applicant for the programme of activities as detailed in this application and agree to abide by the conditions under which an award may be granted. In addition, you also confirm that the applicant will be eligible for the duration of the award, to live and work in the UK. (NIHR Academy member applicants only)
  • Authorised Contract Signatory: An Authorised Contract Signatory at the applicants Employing Organisation must confirm that they have read the guidance notes for the relevant NIHR Programme and are authorised to sign an LA SPARC award Contract Letter on behalf of the Employing Organisation
  • Placement Host Supervisor: Applicants are required to identify a Placement Host Supervisor. The Placement Host Supervisor must confirm they have read the guidance notes, and that they agree to 'host' and support the applicant for the duration of the placement and support the applicants programme of activities as detailed in this application.

Required Signatories

  • Academic Career Development Lead (ACD Lead): The individual acting as the applicants NIHR ACD Lead must confirm they have read the application and guidance notes and agree that the applicant will benefit from the placement if they meet the objectives described in the placement plan and that the opportunity will complement the research training they are currently undertaking (NIHR Academy member applicants only)
  • Local Authority Senior Manager: The individual acting as the applicants Senior Manager (Line Manager/Head of Service/Head of Department) must confirm they have read the guidance notes and that they are willing to provide support to the named applicant for the programme of activities as detailed in this application. In addition, they must also confirm that the applicant will be eligible for the duration of the award, to live and work in the UK and agree to abide by the conditions under which a short placement may be granted. They must confirm that the applicant will benefit from the placement if they meet the objectives described in the placement plan and that the opportunity will enhance the applicant’s current and future roles/career development (Local Authority setting applicants; including Public Health Specialty Trainees only)

Application Submission

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

The application will not be complete until the required signatory (Academic Career Development Lead – for NIHR Academy member applicants or the Local Authority Senior Manager – for applicants employed/working in a local authority setting/Public Health Specialty Trainees) has approved the final version of the form submitted by the applicant. Only when this 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 25th November 2021. No extensions will be given and no exceptions will be made to allow for completion of the form.

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

Tel: 0113 532 8430 Email: academy-awards@nihr.ac.uk 

Application Outcomes

Applicants will be notified of the outcome of their application via email as soon as the funding decision is finalised. It can take up to 4 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

Applicant Summary Information

Please ensure that the following Information is detailed within this section:

Type of LA SPARC award

Please select from the drop-down options whether you are a ‘NIHR Academy Member’ (based within a part of NIHR Infrastructure, HPRU or NIHR School) or a ‘Local Authority applicant’ (which includes applicants working in local authority/local authority commissioned service settings and Public Health Specialty Trainees based in England) applying for a LA SPARC award/placement.

If applicant is based within a Local Authority Setting in England:

  • Applicants Local Authority Senior Manager (at ‘Employing Organisation’/substantive employer)
  • Local Authority Senior Manager E-mail Address
  • Applicants Employing Organisation
  • Placement Host Institution. Please select from the drop-down options which part of NIHR Infrastructure (BRCs, ARCS, PSTRCs), HPRU, NIHR School your placement will be based/hosted. If you wish to undertake your placement in a part of the ‘Wider NIHR’ (this includes NIHR Policy Research Units, NIHR ECMC etc), please select this option.

If you wish to undertake your placement in a part of the ‘Wider NIHR’ please detail which part in the box provided (NIHR Policy Research Units, NIHR Programme Grants etc)

If applicant is an NIHR Academy Member:

  • Part of NIHR Infrastructure, HPRU or NIHR School to which applicant is based/funded (Please select from the drop-down option. This includes: NIHR Biomedical Research Centres (BRCs), Patient Safety Translational Research Centres (PSTRCs), Applied Research Collaborations (ARCs), Health Protection Research Units (HPRUs), School for Public Health Research (SPHR), School for Social Care Research (SSCR) and School for Primary Care Research (SPCR).)
  • Applicants Employing Organisation
  • Applicants NIHR Academic Career Development Lead (ACD Lead) at Employing Organisation. Please provide the name and e-mail address of your ACD Lead (Find your Academic Career Development Lead)
  • Placement Host Institution. Please detail the name of local authority setting where your placement will be based/hosted.

Applicants must remain registered/employed at their ‘Employing Organisation’ (substantive employer) who will continue to support their salary/stipend/fees for the duration of the LA SPARC award/placement. The applicants Employing Organisation ('Contractor') will:

  • within 2 months of the completion of the placement or by the end of February 2023 (whichever is soonest) submit an invoice to the NIHR Academy for incidental expenses incurred during the placement, up to the limit of the amount awarded.
  • confirm sight and approval of all supporting documentation (i.e. receipts) for expenses incurred and that the costs incurred are as described in the Award application and approved by the Selection Committee. The NIHR Academy reserves the right to request copies of supporting documentation.

2. Applicant CV

Please note: some of the responses to these questions are automatically imported/pulled through from information entered in the ‘Manage My Details’ page of your ARAMIS account.

The Publication Record section of the form is automatically populated from publications added into the ‘My Research Outputs’ page of your ARAMIS account. Please note; we do not expect LA applicants or NIHR Academy members at pre-doctoral/masters level to have been involved in any publications/papers.

Please note: you must ensure that this section contains any information necessary to determine eligibility for the scheme (please refer to the eligibility criteria) or your application may be rejected

Professional Bodies

Please provide details of any current registration you hold with a professional body.

Degrees and Professional Qualifications

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

Please ensure that your degree classification is included, if applicable.

Present and previous positions

Please detail your current and previous positions.

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

Local Authority applicants or NIHR Academy member applicants who have just completed or are completing their undergraduate degree don’t necessarily need to complete any details here, although details of any relevant experience, such as placements, can be included.

Research Grants Held

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

Please note; it is not expected that local authority applicants or NIHR Academy members at pre-doctoral/masters level will have been involved in grants at this stage in their career (especially local authority applicants), but please detail any such achievements here.

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

Publication Record

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

When publications have been added, the applicant’s name can be edited to show in bold within application forms via the ‘Assign Grant Contacts’ option.

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

Do include relevant abstracts, conference proceedings and articles (peer-reviewed or otherwise) that have been published.

Do not include publications, abstracts, conference proceedings or articles in preparation. If relevant, details of these may be included in the ‘Applicant Experience’ section. Details of articles which are in press and have been accepted as final by the publisher may be included.

Please note; we do not expect LA applicants or NIHR Academy members at pre-doctoral/masters level to have been involved in any publications/papers.

Only publications relevant to your application should be included.

Relevant Prizes, Awards and other Academic Distinctions

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

Examples may include travel bursaries for a conference, presentation prizes, innovation awards etc.

ORCID

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

NIHR Academy Members Only – If NIHR Academy members hold an ORCHID iD; please include an ORCID ID in the application. For more information and to register go to the ORCID website.

3. Applicant Details

Applicant Details

Please enter your full name, including title, job title, highest level of qualification (and current level of study for NIHR Academy Members)

Professional Background

Select the one option that best describes your professional background. This will determine any options that appear below for your profession, if applicable.

Applicants Employing Organisation - Primary Supervisor or Senior Manager Details

If applicant is based in a Local Authority setting:

Please include the name and contact details of your Line Manager/Senior Manager at your ‘Employing Organisation’ (substantive employer) 

If applicant is an NIHR Academy member:

Please include the name and contact details of your Primary Supervisor. Please note; we appreciate not all NIHR Academy members at pre-doctoral/masters level will have a Primary Supervisor and as such, ask applicants to detail their Masters Course Tutor here.

Local Authority Senior Manager Statement of Support (Additional Statement of Support for LA Applicants only)

For Local Authority Applicants Only - For individuals based within local authority settings (including Public Health Specialty Trainees based in England), we would like to see an additional ‘Statement of Support’. This statement must be written and added by the applicants Senior Manager/Head of Service or Department in their Employing Organisation, and should detail how their Senior Manager/Head of Department and their organisation will support the applicant during their placement and beyond. The applicants Senior Manager/Head of Service should be able to comment on their suitability for a LA SPARC placement/award and be able to evidence the potential of the applicant, their career trajectory and their commitment to developing a practitioner-academic career or enhancing their future role/career.

This statement should be specific and tailored to the applicant and their career development, research and training needs, and describe how the organisation intends to support the applicant during their placement and beyond in developing their practitioner academic career/support the continuation of the applicant’s professional role in the long-term.

The NIHR views Senior Managers/Heads of Department and their Organisations as key contributors to the training and career development of our next generation of leaders/practitioner academics. Therefore, information should also be provided that pertains to the organisations’ track record of, and approaches to, supporting employees in their personal and professional career development/trajectory.

This section can only be accessed by the Local Authority Senior Manager/Head of Service once they have agreed participation. The statement of support must be completed before the application can be submitted. Applicants will not be able to view this statement of support; however, they will be able to check whether the statement has been completed via the ‘Validation Summary’ section of the application form.

Please note – applicants are advised to approach their Senior Manager/Head of Service early in the application process to ensure that they have sufficient time to write a thorough statement of support and to submit it using the online application system, before the application needs to be submitted.

(Word Limit: 300)

4. Applicant Experience

Overview of research experience and/or career and experience to date

If applicant is based in a Local Authority setting:

Please use this question to give an overview of your professional career and experience to date; including any relevant research experience (if applicable). You may wish to consider highlighting:

  • any relevant research, audit, evaluation, or policy experience
  • other relevant experience such as supervisory, management, teaching, public engagement or leadership experience;
  • any experience of service user and public involvement and engagement activities in health/social care research;
  • professional experience relevant to your development as a practitioner academic in your chosen field;
  • any additional relevant skills and experience

If applicant is an NIHR Academy member:-

Please use this question to give an overview of your research experience to date. You may wish to consider highlighting:

  • research projects that you have led or made a significant contribution to (making clear what your role was);
  • research experience, area of research interest and 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 relevant research, audit, evaluation, or policy experience; highlighting any relevant collaborations/joint research you have been involved with local authorities/local authority commissioned services/third sector
  • any experience of service user and public involvement and engagement activities in health/public health and/or social care research;
  • any additional relevant skills and experience

(Word Limit: 300)

5. Proposed Placement Details

Placement Host Institution Supervisor

Please provide the name, job title and contact details of the person who will supervise you during the placement at the ‘Placement Host Institution’ (where you will undertake your placement).

Proposed Placement Title

Please provide a brief placement title that summarises your placement

Proposed Placement Start Date

Please select a placement start date from the pre-populated options. Please note all placements must be completed before the end of February 2023

Proposed Placement Duration/Length

Please detail the proposed length/duration of your placement.

We recognise the need to adopt a flexible approach to placements, especially given the pressures local authorities are facing at the moment.

There is no minimum or maximum duration for the placement/taster opportunity; placements may range from 2/3 weeks to 2/3 months and this period can be broken up to allow flexibility for both the individual undertaking the placement and the organisation where the placement will be ‘hosted’/based with a supervisor. For example, applicants might want to do one day every three weeks over a five month period. It’s up to the applicant/individual, their line manager and ‘Placement Host’ (where the individual will be undertaking their placement) to agree the best fit for everyone.

The placement period can be broken up to allow flexibility but must be completed by the end of February 2023.

Please note; if applicant is an NIHR Academy member (undertaking a pre-doctoral training award/master student); applicants must ensure that whatever duration/length of placement is proposed adds to their current Masters and future career prospects, and doesn’t detract from their current studies.

Proposed Placement Plan

Please provide a clear outline of the plan for your proposed placement and the order of activities planned (you may wish to upload a Placement Gantt Chart to highlight the activities and order these will take place during your placement. Please see Uploads section) and explain why it is important for your career at this stage. As this is the main part of your application you should ensure that the information is accurate, succinct and clearly laid out.

It is also important to explain why you have chosen the particular ‘Placement Host Institution’ (part of NIHR or local authority setting) that you wish to work with during the placement (for example, due to particular experts, area of interest, expertise, facilities, equipment or teams).

Please use this section to detail any specific training and development you will undertake as part of the placement; you may wish to consider the following:

  • formal courses (including Masters modules)
  • training in specialist skills and research methodologies
  • leadership training
  • public involvement and engagement
  • preparation of an application for a competitive, Pre-doctoral Local Authority Fellowship or NIHR Doctoral Local Authority Fellowship (local authority applicants only)

The placement programme should provide training/research/mentoring or other experiences that are not currently available in your NIHR Infrastructure/HPRU/School training environment or local authority setting.

If you are planning to undertake a face-to-face placement that involves travel; please also outline your plan for a virtual alternative, in case travel is not permitted at the time of your award/placement.

If applicant is based in a Local Authority setting:

The placement should enable individuals to gain an insight into the work of a particular academic or research team in a part of the NIHR, and to experience research from a different perspective. In doing this, individuals may gain an insight into academic research and how they might further develop a practice-academic career. Importantly, individuals will have the opportunity to share some of the knowledge and experience they have, which will add to the work being undertaken by the research team/NIHR.

Some of the types of placement and placement activities that could be supported by an LA SPARC award are detailed in the ‘Scope of Award’ section of the Guidanace Notes.

Please note the placements are not limited to these types of activities. Applicants are encouraged to fully explore and maximise the opportunities available to them for their personal and professional development, and develop a placement that is bespoke to their individual training needs, background, skills/experiences, as well as their proposed career trajectory.

If applicant is an NIHR Academy member:

The placement should enable NIHR Academy members to hear the issues and challenges being faced in a practice setting (e.g a local authority public health/social care team, local authority department or local authority commissioned service); sharing knowledge and experience to support them in developing partnerships and collaborations for co-creating meaningful research.

Some of the types of placement and placement activities that could be supported by an LA SPARC award are detailed in the ‘Scope of Award’ section of the Guidanace Notes.

Please note the placements are not limited to these types of activities. Applicants are encouraged to fully explore and maximise the opportunities available to them for their personal and professional development, and develop a placement that is bespoke to their individual training needs, background, skills/experiences, as well as their proposed career trajectory.

(Word Limit: 800)

Please outline: a) the likely benefits and impact on your research, training and career and b) how you will know whether it has been a successful placement

Please outline: a) the likely benefits and impact on your research, training and career and b) how you will know whether it has been a successful placement.

(Word Limit: 350)

Placement Host Institution Supervisor Statement of Support

This statement must be written and added by the ‘Placement Host Institution Supervisor’ (the agreed supervisor based with the Institution/Organisation the applicant will be hosted/undertake their placement) and should detail how the ‘Placement Supervisor’ and ‘Placement Host Institution’ are going to support the applicant to successfully complete their placement, training and activities outlined in the placement plan.

This statement should be tailored specifically to the applicant, their research, training and career development needs; as well as future collaborations/joint working.

This section can only be accessed by the Placement Host Institution Supervisor once they have agreed participation and cannot be accessed (but can be viewed), by the applicant.

Please note - The Placement Host Institution Statement of Support is part of the LA SPARC assessment process/criteria and applicants and ‘Placement Host Institution Supervisors’ are advised to discuss the statement in advance of the competition deadline.

(Word Limit: 300)

6. Uploads

To support your ‘Proposed Placement Plan’ you may wish to upload the following document in the ‘Uploads Section’ of the form:-

Placement Gannt Chart: One page (readable when printed on a single side of A4) showing when the placement activities/specific milestone and deliverables will take place during the proposed placement duration/LA SPARC award timescale.

7. Budget

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

8. Participants and Signatories

A number of participants and signatories are required to be added to your application and, where applicable, to complete sections of it.

Details of the required individuals are provided in the Applicant Guidance Notes and on the online application form along with details of how they should be added. The flow diagram in Annex B describes the actions required of participants, signatories and the applicant.

9. Acknowledge, review and submit

Conflict checks

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

Agreement to terms and conditions

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

Finance Guidance

The Detailed Budget section of the application form must be completed by the applicant in conjunction with the Research Support Office or Finance Office at the applicants Employing organisation (the organisation that, in the event of an award being made, will submit an invoice on behalf of the applicant for the expenses incurred during the placement).

The funding requested in the finance section will form the basis of the LA SPARC award/placement should the application be successful.

This LA SPARC award does not include, or pay for, any research costs, open access fees, conference fees or full economic costing (which would be expected to be funded by the applicants Employing Organisation if appropriate).

Applications for a LA SPARC can request:

Type of CostNIHR Academy Members looking to undertake a placement in a local authority settingIndividuals based within a Local Authority setting in England looking to undertake a placement in a part of the NIHR
Salary Support N/A Only applicable to local authority setting applicants; in order to allow the Local Authority setting to consider ‘releasing’ a member of staff to undertake a short placement in a part of the NIHR
Travel, Accommodation and Subsistence Costs if applicable Yes Yes
Training Course Fees Yes Yes
Relevant Placement Output Costs (e.g production of an infographic or short video etc.) Yes Yes
Placement Host Supervision Costs Supervisory fees (for local authority/local authority commissioned service staff time to act as a ‘Placement Host Supervisor’ only) for an NIHR Academy member undertaking a placement in a LA/LA Commissioned setting. N/A

Detailed Budget

Justification of costs

Please provide a breakdown of the costs associated with undertaking the LA SPARC placement as described in the application and provide justification for the resources requested.
All costs provided should be ‘value for money’ and will be assessed by the NIHR and members of the NIHRSPARC Selection Committee. The NIHR reserves the right to reject any costs that it considers unreasonable or insufficiently justified.

Detailed Budget Breakdown

General Information

  • The information entered in this section should provide an analysis of the total funds requested to undertake the proposed LA SPARC placement and will be used to assess value for money. Funding of up to £15,000 can be applied for to cover the incidental expenses of working from another institution for a short period of time.
  • Applicants must remain registered/employed at their ‘Employing Organisation’ (substantive employer) who will continue to support their salary/stipend/fees for the duration of the LA SPARC award/placement.
  • It is in your best interest to undertake a thorough, realistic and accurate costing. You must provide a clear and full justification for all costs. You must also ensure that you include all costs required.
  • Costs must be provided at current prices. Please note; travel and subsistence rates should be in accordance with the applicants ‘Employing Organisation’ (substantive employer) Institutional ‘Travel and Expenses Policy’ approved rates’.
  • 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 applicants Employing Organisation (substantive employer) only and the applicants Employing Organisation will be responsible for passing on any money due to other parties.
  • It is expected that the finance section of a LA SPARC application form has received appropriate input from the supporting organisations.
  • Suspensions of awards to allow for periods of maternity, paternity, adoption or sickness leave are supported.

Other Direct Costs

This section must provide a clear breakdown and full justification of all funds requested. Please note the award is for a maximum of £15,000. These are costs that are specific to the LA SPARC placement, which will be charged as the amount actually spent and can be supported by an audit record (receipts).

For each item/cost being requested please:

  • Select ‘Add Other Direct Cost’
  • Please detail the cost being requested (i.e ‘Travel’, ‘Qualitative Research Methods Training Course Fee’, ‘Subsistence’ etc. in the ‘Description’ box.
  • Please select ‘Other’ for the ‘Type of Cost’
  • Please outline a brief reason for the cost/item being requested within the “Justification of Cost” box.
  • Finally, please enter the total cost for the item being requested in the ‘Year 1’ box.

Where applicable, applicants can include travel, accommodation and subsistence costs that will be incurred by the applicant in travelling and undertaking the short placement and any other relevant costs detailed below.

Costs can include:

Salary support for the applicant

For individuals coming from local authority settings only, this would allow the local authority setting to consider ‘releasing’ a member of staff to undertake a short placement in a part of the NIHR.

Journey Costs

Enter the total cost of transport for all journeys. If travel is by car, apply your institution’s mileage rates (however, this should not exceed HMRC approved mileage allowance payments, which is 45p per mile for the first 10,000 miles and 25p thereafter).
Travel by the most economic means possible is encouraged; please note NIHR LA SPARC awards do not fund first class travel.

Accommodation

Enter the total cost of accommodation costs (if necessary) to cover any accommodation required to undertake the LA SPARC placement. Please note; subsistence rates should be in accordance with the applicants ‘Employing Organisation’ (substantive employer) ‘Travel and Expenses Policy’ approved rates’. All costs provided should represent value for money

Subsistence

Enter the total cost of subsistence costs to cover all meals required (if applicable) whilst undertaking the LA SPARC placement (excluding any alcoholic beverages). Please note; subsistence rates should be in accordance with the applicants ‘Employing Organisation’ (substantive employer) ‘Travel and Expenses Policy’ approved rates’. All costs provided should represent value for money

Training Course Fees

Please itemise the training courses (e.g qualitative research methods course, implementation science training, PPI training etc.) being requested (if applicable) and describe fully the costs associated with training and development and the training provider (i.e University of Manchester). Please provide estimates if exact costs are not available at the time of application.

Costs of relevant placement outputs

E.g. production of an infographic, informative video etc.

Supervisory fees

For local authority/local authority commissioned service staff time to act as a ‘Placement Host Supervisor’ only. Please note, only NIHR Academy members undertaking a placement in a LA/LA Commissioned setting are able to include this cost.

Please note; research costs, open access fees, conference fees will not be covered by this award and would be expected to be funded by the Employing Organisation if appropriate.

Additional Supporting Information

NIHR Research Design Service

The NIHR Research Design Service (RDS) supports prospective applicants to make high quality applications for research funding from the NIHR and from other national research funders. Assistance is primarily focused around refinement of research questions, research design and methodological support. Complementing the advice applicants receive from supervisors and/or mentors. The RDS also assists prospective applicants to understand the scope of the NIHR’s various funding streams and to develop public involvement and engagement strategies. This includes involvement of service users, carers and/or practitioners in social care. The RDS may be able to support applicants with small grants to work up public involvement and engagement plans with, for example, service user groups.

The RDS has regional offices and links with local networks. Further information regarding support that the RDS can provide and contact information for each regional office is available via the NIHR website. Please also see Annex A below for further information regarding specific RDS Advice and Support available to individuals looking to apply for a LA SPARC award/placement.

Public Involvement

The NIHR expects the active involvement of patients and the public in the research it supports, including research undertaken as part of an individual training award. NIHR recognise that the nature and extent of active patient and public involvement is likely to vary depending on the context of each study or award. The term involvement refers to an active partnership between patients, members of the public and researchers in the research process. This can include, for example, involvement in the choice of research topics, assisting in the design, advising on the research project or in carrying out the research.

Further information and resources can be found in Make a strong application on the NIHR website. This includes a detailed definition of patient and public involvement in researchbriefing notes for researchers on how to involve patients and the public and payment guidance. The NIHR Research Design Service provide advice on developing research applications including involving patients and the public and the James Lind Alliance has a step-by-step guide on involvement in research identification and priority setting.

MRC Complex Intervention Guidance

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

Ethics / Regulatory Approvals

Guidance on the application process for ethical and other approvals should be sought from the supporting university in the first instance, but can be found on the HRA website. Please note that if your study is led from England and involves the NHS in England you should apply for HRA approval.

If you are using service user information from an existing database, you should check whether the 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 service user 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.

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 academy-awards@nihr.ac.uk.

NIHR Privacy Policy

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

The NIHR Academy is part of the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC), 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 data_protection@dhsc.gov.uk)

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

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. 

Existing data resources

The UK Data Service provides a unified point of access to an extensive range of high quality social and economic data, including UK census data, government funded surveys, longitudinal studies, international macro-data, qualitative data and business micro-data.

NIHR Carbon Reduction Guidelines

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

Transparency Agenda

In line with the government’s transparency agenda, any contract resulting from this tender may be published in its entirety to the general public. Further information on the transparency agenda is in the Procurement and contracting transparency requirements: guidance

Contractual Arrangements

Financial support under a LA SPARC placement is subject to a letter of contract between the Department of Health and Social Care (the 'Authority') and the applicants Employing Organisation (the 'Contractor').

Once funding for LA SPARC placement has been discussed and agreed, NIHR will confirm the financial arrangements with the applicants Employing Organisation (substantive employer). NIHR will provide the applicants Employing Organisation (substantive employer) with a letter of contract setting out the details of these arrangements.

Freedom of Information Act

The NIHR Academy manages the NIHR SPARC scheme on behalf of 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 is committed to promoting equality, diversity and inclusion in research and asks applicants to provide Equality and Diversity Monitoring Information (age, sex, ethnicity and race, and disability). By answering these Equality and Diversity Monitoring Information questions, you will help us to better understand the different groups of people that apply to us for funding and their experiences of the funding process – particularly the groups protected by UK equality legislation. Although it is mandatory to answer these questions, it is possible to select “prefer not to say” as a response. However, the more information you provide, the more effective our monitoring will be. This information will not be used to make decisions about funding.

Guidance and Advice

Please read these Guidance Notes carefully. If you require any further information, advice or guidance please contact the NIHR Academy Infrastructure and Capacity Building Structures Team:
Phone: 0113 532 8430 Email: academy-awards@nihr.ac.uk 

Annex A: Advice and support with your LA SPARC application

NIHR Research Design Service (RDS)

The NIHR Research Design Service (RDS) provides free and confidential responsive, specialist advice and support to individuals looking to apply/develop funding applications for applied health, public health and social care research. The national Research Design Service network operates from 10 regional centres across England and individuals are able to locate their local RDS Office via the website. RDS advisers offer a unique breadth of expertise and are able to provide tailored support and advice to individuals.

How RDS is supporting public health and social care research and practitioner-academics

RDS advisers have the understanding, knowledge and skills in public health and social care research, working in collaboration with other parts of the NIHR and the wider public health/social care community to support researchers and those individuals interested in public health/social care research.

Advice and support available to potential LA SPARC applicants

RDS advisors can talk with you via a pre-arranged face-to-face meeting, over the phone or via e-mail about your LA SPARC application/placement. You might have already thought about potential placement ideas, but need some advice and sign-posting support regarding potential NIHR sites/Local Authority settings that you may wish to consider undertaking your placement in, or you might be quite overwhelmed and aren’t sure where to start! That’s fine as well!

RDS advisors can help you identify and connect with the right academics/senior researchers in the NIHR (e.g NIHR Schools, ARCs, NIHR Policy Research Units etc.) that you might like to consider undertaking a placement in or potential local authority settings that you might like to based in, to start to develop a placement that is bespoke to you and your needs/career development. They can also talk to you about your research ideas/areas of interest/needs, provide advice regarding research methodologies and get you thinking about how to make your next move along the practitioner-academic pathway and potential options available. Ultimately how to get the best out of your LA SPARC award/placement!

How do I get in touch with RDS advisors to start a conversation/have a chat?

To make the most of the RDS and support available to you and to put you in contact with the right RDS advisor in your region, advisors will need to be able to understand and appreciate the type of placement/taster opportunity you may wish to undertake; to ensure their sign-posting support and advice will guide you towards placement opportunities relevant to your research/career background.

Therefore, along with your name and contact details, can we please ask that you clearly and concisely include the following information and send this via e-mail to icbs@nihr.ac.uk:

  • Where are you based/employed
  • Professional background and brief overview of career to date
  • Research area of interest
  • Brief outline of your skill set and areas of expertise
  • Brief outline of the potential skills/experience you would like to gain from a LA SPARC placement

Please note in order for RDS advisors to review your response and to connect you to right advisor to arrange a mutually convenient call/meeting, you will need to provide the above information via e-mail (quoting ‘LA SPARC application - RDS Advice’ in the subject heading) at least 4 weeks prior to the LA SPARC Competition Closing Date.

Annex B: Application Submission Process Flow Diagram

 

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