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NIHR Population Health Career Scientist Award (PHCSA) Guidance Notes Round 4

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Published: 19 March 2024

Version: Round 4

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NIHR Population Health Career Scientist Award (PHCSA) guidance notes Round 4

Introduction

The National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) is launching the 4th round of the Population Health Career Scientist Awards (PHCSA), funded by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).

The NIHR PHCSA is a UK-wide initiative that wishes to develop and enhance research expertise in the most important areas affecting population health by supporting the next generation of independent public health research leaders. The initiative will support independent researchers who are emerging as future leaders in research focused on the wider determinants of health.

The PHCSA will support senior researchers to make the next step to Reader/Professor level in their host institutions within the NIHR’s remit. There is a desire to attract applicants representing the wide range of disciplines which undertake research in areas which impact the determinants of health (eg. environmental science, mathematics, architecture, engineering, geography, education, social sciences, social policy, arts).

These guidance notes provide information for individuals and their host organisations submitting an application to the PHCSA. In addition to the PHCSA, there are a number of awards available through the NIHR.

NIHR Fellowship Schemes supporting Public Health and Local Government

The following is a summary of each of the NIHR Fellowship schemes in the area of public health. They will be of particular interest to public health researchers and people working in, or closely with, local government.

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

  • aimed at: Applicants at undergraduate degree level who work in local authority settings; NIHR Academy members
  • guidance notes and contact details: Please visit the NIHR Academy page to access more up-to-date guidance notes and full eligibility criteria
  • summary: 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
  • approximate timelines: Runs annually. Open for applications Autumn 2024, deadline Winter 2024 

Local Authority Academic Fellowship Programme: Pre-Doctoral Local Authority Fellowship (PLAF) Scheme

  • aimed at: Applicants who aspire to undertake a future PhD and currently work in a local authority or non-profit organisation that provides services on behalf of the local authority
  • guidance notes and contact details: Please visit the NIHR Academy page to access more up-to-date guidance notes and full eligibility criteria
  • summary: Supports aspiring practitioner academics (excluding doctors and dentists) from local authority settings to become competitive applicants for a doctoral fellowship
  • approximate timelines: Runs annually. Open for applications January 2024, deadline March 2024

Local Authority Academic Fellowship Programme: Doctoral Local Authority Fellowship (DLAF) Scheme

  • aimed at: Applicants with a First Class or Upper Second Class Bachelor’s degree or Master's degree who work in a local authority or non-profit organisation that provides services on behalf of the local authority 
  • guidance notes and contact details: Please visit the NIHR Academy page to access more up-to-date guidance notes and full eligibility criteria
  • summary: Supports individuals based within local authorities or non-profit organisations undertake fully funded PhDs
  • approximate timelines: Runs annually. Open for applications September 2024, deadline November 2024

Advanced Local Authority Fellowship (ALAF)

  • aimed at: Applicants with a doctorate in local authority settings 
  • guidance notes and contact details: Please visit the NIHR Academy page to access more up-to-date guidance notes and full eligibility criteria
  • summary: Supports individuals in local authority settings who are developing practitioner academic careers - undertaking health or care research whilst progressing their practice career
  • approximate timelines: Runs annually. Open for applications March 2024, deadline May 2024

Advanced Clinical and Practitioner Academic Fellowship (ACAF)

  • aimed at: Health and care professionals with a PhD 
  • guidance notes and contact details: Please visit the NIHR Academy page to access more up-to-date guidance notes and full eligibility criteria
  • summary: Supports health and care professionals (excluding doctors and dentists and including individuals on the UK Public Health Register) who are developing practitioner academic careers - undertaking health or care research whilst progressing their clinical or practice career
  • approximate timelines: Opens bi-annually. Application rounds launch in March and September 

Advanced Fellowship (AF)

  • aimed at: Applicants with a PhD from any professional background 
  • guidance notes and contact details: Please visit the NIHR Academy page to access more up-to-date guidance notes and full eligibility criteria
  • summary: Supports individuals undertaking research in any scientific discipline or sector that can demonstrate a contribution to improving health and/or care
  • approximate timelines: Runs bi-annually. Open for applications in April and October. Deadlines in July and January respectively 

Population Health Career Scientist Award (PHCSA)

  • aimed at: Senior researchers who are relatively close (within 2-3 years) to Reader/Professor level
  • guidance notes and contact details: Please read the guidance notes on this page for full eligibility criteria, alongside the specification document
  • summary: Supports senior academics who are undertaking research delivered outside of NHS settings which aims to address the wider determinants of health
  • approximate timelines: Runs annually. Open for applications April 2024, deadline July 2024.

Population Health Career Scientist Award (PHCSA)

The PHCSA forms part of a series of initiatives and investment by NIHR to enable local government to become more research-active and help answer the most important research questions facing policymakers and services at local and national levels.

In growing recognition of the need to tackle wider preventable risk factors and determinants of health, there is an expectation that the research supported through this award will be of importance and relevance to local government, ideally with explicit support from local government colleagues.

Award uptake

Awards are between two and five years Whole Time Equivalent (WTE) in duration and may be taken up on a part-time basis between 50% and 100% WTE (Annex D). The Population Health Career Scientist Award has been designed to be flexible to meet the needs of individual applicants, however this means that careful thought is needed as to the amount of support and duration of fellowship being requested. Requests should be justified and evidence based, and demonstrate the desired impact the award will have on the applicant’s career trajectory.

Part time options

Applicants can select the WTE they wish to hold the fellowship at between 50% and 100%. Applicants for Population Health Career Scientist Awards, which are between two and five years WTE, will need to select the number of WTE years and % WTE requested, and the total duration of the award will be automatically calculated in months (Annex D).
When considering the length of the PHCSA, both in terms of WTE and the length of the award, careful thought should be given to the following:

  • clear justification for the total WTE requested (between two and five years), in terms of what the funding will enable you to do (both research and training) and more importantly what the impact of this will be on your career
  • how the award will be managed over the total duration, taking into account, especially for longer awards; how the research and training programme will adapt to advances in the field, and also how suitable management and governance arrangements will be maintained over the whole duration of the award

Eligibility criteria

Applicants for an NIHR Population Health Career Scientist Award must meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • proposed host organisation must be an English or equivalent devolved nation HEI, NHS body, social care organisation or other provider of health and/or care services
  • applicants must hold a relevant PhD
  • if the applicant imminently expects, or a process has been started, to progress to a Professorial position, then it is unlikely they will be eligible for this award and may wish to consider another NIHR Fellowship option. It is the applicants' responsibility to inform the PHCSA team if their professional situation changes or develops over the course of the application timeline
  • individuals who are already Professor level and wishing to transition to another subject area will not be eligible for the PHCSA

Please note that only applicants with research PhDs are eligible. Professional doctorates are not accepted. Please speak to NIHR should you have any queries about your eligibility. The scheme is UK-wide. Potential applicants from Wales, Northern Ireland or Scotland do not need to complete an authorised declaration from the Devolved Administrations (unlike the NIHR Advanced Fellowship).

Clinical or practice time

Applicants who are active clinicians (defined as being either a registered doctor, dentist or other registered health or care professionals eligible to apply for the Integrated Clinical Academic programme) or social workers, are able to request up to 40% of their time to be dedicated to clinical service/development/practice, which will be covered by the Fellowship. In this situation it should be made clear within the application how any clinical/practice time being covered by the PHCSA links to and is complementary to the research being proposed. It is also possible to undertake an Award less than full time to allow for clinical/practice service/training to take place outside of the Award. In this situation no justification or link to the research is required.

Assessment criteria remit for the Population Health Career Scientist Award

Please read the NIHR Population Health Career Scientist Award Specification Document for further details about the remit of the award.

Applications for the Population Health Career Scientist Awards are assessed on the following criteria:

Person

  • relevant previous research experience and/or training suitable for undertaking the research described within the application
  • high quality outputs from previous research experience and training relative to career stage and background
  • on a trajectory to become a Reader/Professor level

Project

  • relevance of research to patients/service users, carers, the public and health and/or care services
  • suitability and standard of methodology and research design to answer research question being proposed
  • likely impact of the research to patients/service users, carers, the public and health and/or care services
  • appropriate and meaningful patient/service users, carers and public involvement
  • quality and scope of review of existing evidence
  • quality of plain English summary
  • the amount of support requested (both financial and duration of the Fellowship) is justified and evidence based

Place

  • suitability and experience of research support and mentoring team
  • standard and level of host organisation’s support and commitment to the applicant, including evidence of supporting other early career researchers
  • track record of Host Department(s) in the research area being proposed
  • evidence of the host organisation(s) commitment to creating and maintaining an inclusive and supportive research culture, including evidence of commitment to the principles of equality, diversity and inclusion and research integrity

Training

  • quality and relevance of the academic training and development plan proposed
  • the suitability of the proposed training to the needs of the project
  • the extent to which the proposed practice activities will support the development of the applicant as a (practitioner) academic
  • the extent to which the training and development plan will support the career aspirations of the applicant

Scope of Funding

All applications must propose a host organisation that will be the contractor if the award is funded. The host organisation must be capable of fulfilling the role of research sponsor as set out in the UK Policy Framework for Health & Social Care Research. Further guidance on the roles and responsibilities of a research sponsor can be found on the Health Research Authority’s (HRA) website. Applicants may choose to be employed by the proposed host organisation or to be employed by another suitable organisation (as detailed below) for the duration of the award. If the applicant will be employed by an organisation that is not the host organisation, the employing organisation must be named as a partner organisation in the application and the applicant must ensure they will hold an honorary contract for the duration of the award with the proposed host organisation. Suitable host and partner organisations:

  • a recognised HEI based in the UK
  • an NHS body based in the UK
  • a UK provider of publicly funded health and/or social care services
  • a provider of third sector publicly funded health and/or social care services (for example, a commissioned social enterprise, local authority or hospice)

The decision on where to host a personal award and the subsequent employer for the duration of the award is down to the applicant in discussion with their supervisors, line managers and mentors. The decision should be made based on what is best for the applicant, their career development and the research and training they are proposing to undertake.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) will enter a contract with the host. Government procurement transparency regulations require the publication of all contracts made with the DHSC to be made available on the DHSC website. Confidential information including research proposals (excluding the Plain English Summary, which will be published), detailed finance information, bank details, and departmental staff names (other than the award holder’s name) will be removed from the published versions.

NIHR Fellowships are individual training awards which will offer funding towards the salary costs of the individual, and the costs of an appropriate research project and training and development programme.

The costs that will be met by the Fellowship awards differ slightly depending on the type of host employer that is chosen by the applicant (i.e. HEI, NHS or Other). These costs are summarised in Table 1 below.

For non-clinical/practice applicants, the Fellowship does not include or pay for any activities other than the research and research-related training proposed in a successful application.

Summary of PHCSA Costs 

Award costs

Higher Education Institutions (% proportion funded)

NHS/other organisations (% proportion funded)

Salary costs

80

100

Travel, subsistence and conference fees

80 (with the exception of conference related costs, which are paid at 100%)

100

Equipment

80

100

Consumables

80

100

Patient and public involvement

80

100

Other direct costs

80

100

Patent and legal

80

100

Sub contracts

80

100

Training and development (but not any travel or subsistence which should appear in Travel, subsistence and conference fees)

100

100

HEI indirect costs

80

n/a

Commercial indirect costs

n/a

n/a

Other partner organisation indirect costs

n/a

n/a

Application procedure and selection process

Application deadlines and timetable

Your application must have been submitted by the deadline and the signatory 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, including supporting documents for the Uploads section, must be submitted by the deadline.

Timetable

Applicants are asked to keep the interview dates available to attend an interview virtually. Please note these dates are subject to change.

  • 16 April 2024: Population Health Career Scientist Awards opens for applications
  • 11 July 2024: Population Health Career Scientist Awards deadline for submission of online application
  • 10-11 December 2024: Interviews held virtually

Awards start on 1st of month: 1 April - 1 September 2025

Rules on re-applications

Unsuccessful applicants will only be able apply to the same fellowship on one further occasion and not to the same scheme within 12 months of making the first application. There are some exceptions to this which are explained in Annex B.

Application procedure

  • The NIHR uses an adapted version of the NIHR Standard Application Form (SAF). The application form needs to be submitted by the published deadline.
  • The NIHR can advise on eligibility and remit enquiries, as well as answer queries you may have when completing the application form but cannot comment on the design and/or methodology of specific research projects. Please contact the Research Support Service Specialist Centre for Public Health for help and advice with research design and methodology
  • All applications for a Population Health Career Scientist Award undergo an initial screen for eligibility and compatibility with the NIHR remit. Following this, applications are reviewed by the selection committee before a decision is made as to which applications are to proceed to the next stage. This is peer review by external experts, and if successful at this stage will proceed to an interview by the selection committee.
  • If you are successful in being selected for interview, you will be invited to be interviewed virtually by the funding committee.
  • The committee will make recommendations for funding that will be considered by the Department of Health and Social Care. 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 Award will be managed by the NIHR
  • All documents must be submitted in English.
  • Awards cannot be deferred unless for statutory reasons.
  • If applicants are successful in being awarded an NIHR PHCSA 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.
  • Research projects undertaken as part of a NIHR PHCSA award may be included on the NIHR Portfolio

Registering, completing and submitting the application

Registering

All Fellowship applications must be completed and submitted via the online application system.

Before you can start an application, you will be required to register on the system. You will be asked to supply a valid email address and to complete some basic information. Once this has been submitted you will receive an email confirming your registration and a temporary password. You should follow the instructions in the email to log onto the system.

Once signed into the system you will be able to update various details including your CV (in ‘manage my details’) and apply for any open applications. To start an application, you will need to go to ‘My Applications’ and select ‘New Application’.

Please indicate in the ‘Application Summary Information’ section that you are applying for the Population Health Career Scientist Award by selecting this option from the ‘Application Type’ dropdown box. After answering all the eligibility questions, you will be able to start completing the online form. Please make sure you read all available guidance text including this document as well as any online instructions thoroughly whilst you are completing the form.

Completing and submitting the form

Applicant

You will need to complete all of the mandatory sections of the form and enter under the ‘Participants and Signatory’ section the names and contact details of participants and the signatory. Once all other parties have made their contribution, you will be required to ‘Submit’ the application to the signatory for final sign off before the closing date. Please note that you will need to read and be aware of the roles of participants and the signatory as described in these guidance notes.

You will only be able to press the ‘Submit’ button, which will send the application for final sign off by the signatory when:

  • all mandatory sections of the application form are complete
  • all participants have agreed to be part of your application
  • the signatory has agreed to their role
  • the Head of Department has completed the ‘Host Organisation Support Statement’

Please note; when completing the application form, you are advised to validate your application as you go. You will find a Validation Summary button in the left-hand menu. This section will detail any points within your application that are either incomplete or incorrect. Failing to validate your answers may result in you being unable to submit your application by the required deadline.

Participants

You are required to supply the names and email addresses (if not already registered on the ARAMIS application system) of the individuals who will be undertaking ‘participant’ roles as part of your application. Everyone named in this section will be acting as a ‘participant’ to your application and will need to agree to be part of this application. Participants are required to review the declaration for the role before confirming participation as part of the one-click ‘confirm’ process.

By confirming participation, participants are acknowledging their involvement and input into this application and agree to be involved in it before it is submitted. You must ensure all participants are happy for your application to be submitted before submitting it on the online system. Details of the individual who will be required to approve your application after submission (the signatory) should be entered in the ‘Participants & Signatory' section. Please note it is often the case that one of the participants named in this section is also named in the ‘Participants and Signatory’ section of the form.

Required Participants (as applicable to the proposal)

  • devolved administration: For clarity, if applying from a devolved nation, it is not necessary to complete this when applying for the PHCSA
  • research support (advanced): The individual(s) providing Research Support (mentorship) must confirm that they have read the application and the guidance notes and are willing to act as your mentor for research and career development and agree to abide by the conditions under which an award may be granted
  • host organisation administrative authority or finance officer: The Administrative Authority or Finance Officer for the employing host must confirm that they will ensure the accuracy of the financial details of the application and that the host organisation is prepared to carry out this research at the stated costs and to administer the award if made

Participants must confirm their participation on your application before you will be able to press the submit button. They will have no further action to take in the submission process. It is recommended that you contact your participants as early as possible to ensure they understand any action they must take before you can submit the application.

Signatory

You are required to supply the name and email address (if not already registered on the ARAMIS application system) of the individual who will be ‘signing off’ your application. Once their contact details have been entered, the signatory will be invited to log into the system and confirm their participation.

The signatory will be required to agree to the role being asked of them in the application before the application is submitted by the applicant, and then approve the final version of the application after it has been submitted via the online system, i.e., the signatory must have agreed to participate and complete their sections before the applicant is able to press the submit button and send the application for signatory approval. The signatory must approve the application AFTER the applicant has selected the submit option but BEFORE the application submission deadline. Please see the 'Application Submission Process Flow Diagram’ (Annex C) for further information. The signatory approval will result in the application being submitted to the NIHR. All parties (applicant, participants and signatory) will be notified of this via an automated system generated email.

NIHR will not accept any applications unless fully approved by your signatory prior to the 1pm deadline. No exceptions will be made.

Required Signatory
  • Head of Department or Senior Manager: You will be required to include the Head of Department from your Host Organisation. The Head of Department from the host organisation (in which this award will be based) must confirm that they support this application and that, if funded, the research and training will be supported and administered in the named organisation and that the applicant for whom they are responsible will undertake this work. As such, the Head of Department will be required to complete questions in the ‘Training & Development and Research Support’ section of the application.

Once the application is ready (see list of required steps under the ‘applicant’ heading above), you will be able to ‘Submit’ the application for final sign off by the signatory. At this point, the signatory will be prompted to log back into the system and approve the finalised application. The application will not be submitted to the NIHR for consideration until all the required signatory has approved the final version. When the signatory presses the approve button, the application will be submitted to NIHR.

Please note that all of the steps described here need to take place before the deadline of 1:00 pm on 11 July 2024. No exceptions will be made.

Completing the application form guidance

Application summary information

Host organisation

Please give details of the organisation who will be the contractor if the project is funded.
Please note that we expect the applicant’s proposed host organisation (substantive employer) to act as the contractor.
Please also bear in mind that:

  • the contractor is expected to respond to annual financial reconciliation exercises, provide the final financial reconciliation statement for the project and to provide ad hoc requests for financial information during the lifetime of the project
  • in the same way, the contractor is expected to respond to any queries relating to intellectual property, commercialisation and benefit realisation

If the name of your host organisation does not appear in the pre-populated list, please contact us.

Should you require any assistance in completing the online form, please contact academy-awards@nihr.ac.uk. If you have questions about remit and eligibility please contact phr@nihr.ac.uk.

Partner organisation

Please give details of the partner organisation who will be supporting this application.

Research title – 300 word limit

The project 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 you are not sure which category to select, choose the closest match to your project as this can be adjusted later. NIHR definitions of these terms can be found in the NIHR glossary

Proposed start date

Please note this should be from the 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.

WTE of award

Awards can only be undertaken with the WTE options given.

Please select whether you wish to hold the award on a full-time basis, or part-time basis at 50% WTE or above. Please also select the duration of award between two and five years WTE.

For non-clinical applicants the award does not include or pay for any activities other than the research and research-related training proposed in a successful application. All other activities must be undertaken outside the percentage time declared as the basis of the Fellowship.

You should indicate in the training and development section of the application if you are requesting time for clinical sessions to be covered by the award.

Applicant CV

Please note some of the responses to these questions are automatically pulled through from information you have entered in the ’Manage My Details’ or ‘Research Outputs’ page.

The ‘Publication Record’ section of the form is automatically populated from publications added into the “My Research Outputs” page of your ARAMIS account.

Degrees and professional qualifications

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

Present and previous positions

When entering details of your current and previous positions please indicate at what percentage (WTE) in each post you were undertaking research. For example, if you were a Clinical Lecturer and undertook research for 2.5 days a week and clinical/practice 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.

Research grants held

Details of all relevant grants obtained in the last five years should be provided, including personal research training awards or Fellowships, plus any additional previous grants 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 also include in the ‘Role in Research Grant’ box for each entry: registration number and name of registry and the DOI of the main related publication. Where the study is still ongoing or final results have not yet been published, please provide an estimated publication date. This is in line with the NIHR policy on clinical trial registration and disclosure of results.

It is recognised that the outputs in terms of grants and publications will vary depending on your experience, profession and level of award being applied for. Linking to and using the response to the Applicant Research Background section you should highlight the impact of outputs listed under research grants and make the case for why your experience and outputs make you suitable for the fellowship being applied for.

Please note that 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 Lead Applicant 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 not include abstracts, conference proceedings or articles in preparation. If relevant, details of these may be included in the ‘Applicant Research Background’ section. Details of articles which are in press and have been accepted as final by the publisher may be included. Depending on professional background and expertise, applicants are not necessarily expected to have an extensive list of publications.

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.

ORCiD

The NIHR is an ORCID member and encourages all researchers to obtain this persistent digital identifier that distinguishes you from every other researcher. You must include an ORCID ID in your application. Without it, your application will not be validated and you will not be able to submit. For more information and to register please see the ORCID ID website.

Applicant research background

Professional background

Select the one option which best describes your professional group. This will determine the options that appear below for your professional background.

Please describe your research career to date – 1000 word limit

Please use this question to describe your research experience and career to date and how this makes you suitable for this award, and to undertake the research being proposed. Please include the following:

  • research you have led or made a significant contribution to (making clear what your role was), the research methods you have experience of, and the impact and outputs of the research you have been involved in (linking to details given in your CV)
  • any other relevant experience such as supervisory, management, teaching, public engagement and involvement, or leadership experience
  • other skills and experience which highlights your suitability for the Population Health Career Scientist Award , and which demonstrates your potential as a future health or social care research leader

Impact of award

Please describe the impact this award will have on your career, noting a fellowship should provide you with a step change in your career trajectory. You should also provide some justification for the resources and length of funding you have requested in the context of the impact this will provide.

Has this application been previously submitted to this or any other funding body? – 500 word limit

Select ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to indicate whether this or a similar application has previously been submitted to this or any other funding body. This must include any previous submissions for an NIHR research training award, even if the proposed research has changed. Please detail the title of any previous submission(s), the funding body and scheme, the outcome and the date this is due if a decision is pending. If the application was unsuccessful, please indicate why and detail how this application differs from previous submission(s) and how any feedback received has been used to inform this application.

Contextual factors - 500 word limit

Please use this question to detail any contextual factors you wish to make the Selection Committee aware of. NIHR wants to know about any circumstances so that they may take them into consideration during the assessment of your application. Contextual factors may include:

  • career breaks due to parental leave, or periods of illness.
  • reduced time spent undertaking research due to a disability or caring responsibilities. This could include any physical or mental difficulty that may have impacted your research career. These are situations that have a significant impact on your ability to undertake research.
  • reduced opportunities to career support e.g. mentorship, and limited opportunities to undertake prior research and training.
  • impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on your research career.

Please also use this section to detail any other factors that may have impacted your research career not listed in the examples provided. The impact on your career to date will be specific to your particular circumstances but could include such impacts as limited opportunities to obtain grant funding, or fewer publications. In general terms, mitigating factors should be significant, and relevant.

NIHR acknowledges that you may be reluctant, or uncomfortable disclosing relevant information that is sensitive. However, you should bear in mind that we are unable to take into account factors that you do not disclose. Please be assured that information provided by you is sensitive and will be treated confidentially and in line with General Data and Protection Regulations (GDPR).

Plain English summary of research

The importance of a plain English summary – 600 word limit

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, 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 the NIHR and other websites.

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

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

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

It is helpful to involve patients/service users/carers/members of the public in developing a plain English summary.

Content

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

  • aim(s) of the research
  • background to the research
  • design and methods used
  • patient/service user, carer and public involvement
  • 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.

NIHR's website offers further guidance on writing in plain English.

For further support and advice on writing a plain English summary, please contact the Research Support Service Specialist Centre for Public Health.

Scientific abstract- 500 word limit

The scientific abstract should be a clear and concise scientific summary of the Detailed Research Plan.

The following is a list of potential elements/headings that might be included depending on the design of the proposed research, the setting and programme being applied to, and whether it is for primary research or evidence synthesis. It will be for researchers to decide the appropriate elements to be included in the scientific abstract and could include elements outside this list. Applicants may find the guidance on the EQUATOR Network website useful.

  • research question
  • background
  • aims and objectives
  • methods
  • timelines for delivery
  • anticipated impact and dissemination

Detailed research plan – 5000 word limit

Using all of the headings (in the order presented) and guidance below, please use this section to clearly explain your proposed research. As this is the main part of your application detailing your proposal which will be considered by the reviewing selection committee you should ensure that the information is accurate, succinct and clearly laid out.

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 and the public in this application. Your patient/service user, carer and public involvement plans will be assessed by the funding committee including patients/service users, carers and public members.

Information and resources to assist you can be found on the following links (briefing notes for researchers on how to involve the public and an guidance on payments and reimbursement).

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.

If the research you are proposing includes a clinical trial, feasibility study or pilot study, or if your area of research is related to clinical trials, you are strongly encouraged to read the NIHR Clinical Trials Guide for Trainees before starting an application.

Guidance for applicants on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion for study participants:

Every person eligible to take part in research should be offered the same opportunity of taking part in that research regardless of:

Applicants should demonstrate how these factors have been considered and addressed in their proposal, including steps taken to ensure the research sample is representative of the population the study is targeted at. Applicants need to explain who they are planning to recruit to ensure inclusivity of study participants and justify and explain any exclusions, for example by completing an Equality Impact Assessment. Costs associated with inclusivity, which may include, but are not limited to justified translation of research participant material into other relevant languages, would be expected and where appropriate should be included in the detailed budget section under ‘Other Direct Costs’. Additionally, applicants should demonstrate that all potential recruiting locations have been considered and the research is deliverable to those areas.

Please see the NIHR INCLUDE Guidance for more information about how to include under-served groups effectively.

The NIHR supports the Researcher Development Concordat which recognises the critical role of research and innovation in delivering the UK’s ambitious economic and industrial strategies, and aims to set the gold standard in researcher development and use it as a competitive advantage. NIHR research applicants should understand the concordat and consider this when completing their application. See Promoting equality, diversity and inclusion in research for helpful links.

What is the problem being addressed?

  • Provide a clear explanation of the health or care problem to be addressed, the impact on patients/service users, carers as well as health and care services, and how this research would fill a demonstrable evidence gap.
  • Why is this research important in terms of improving the health and/or wellbeing of the public and/or to patients/service users, carers and health and care services?
  • It is essential that you clearly identify the health and care need your research meets or contributes to. Please outline the anticipated value or contribution the study will provide.
  • Review of existing evidence - How does the existing literature support this proposal?
  • Explain why this research is needed now, both in terms of time and relevance. We will only fund primary research where the proposed research is informed by a review of the existing evidence.

What is the research question / aims and objectives?

Please summarise the research question / key aims and objectives.

Project plan

Provide an expert description of the project plan of investigation plus any additional points required to support statements made in the previous sections, and include any key references required to justify the points made (e.g., in the use of particular outcome measures or methods of analysis). You should include where applicable; study design, justification of sample size, selection and exclusion criteria, methods of data collection and analysis, and justification for your choice of methodology.

  • Summary of patients/service users/carers/public as research participants: The successful recruitment and retention of study participants is strategically important for the NIHR. If your proposed study involves patients/service users/carers/public as research participants, please use the following bullet points to summarise their characteristics and what would be expected of them throughout the research project lifecycle. The potential burden on study participants can then be understood as well as whether or not the proposed strategies are practical, inclusive and feasible. Please also signpost to where further information on these points can be found in the detailed research plan and application
    Points to cover:
    • inclusion and exclusion criteria to help ensure that certain groups were not being excluded without justification
    • recruitment method and consent process to ensure it is practical and fair
    • type and content of participant information materials
    • overview of research methods to capture data from participants and their frequency e.g., questionnaires/tests/intervention/focus groups/ interviews
    • study participant support to consider how drop-out and issues of participation would be handled/helplines/ other access arrangements required
    • methods for sharing study progress and findings with study participants
    • payments, rewards and recognition for study participants.
  • Setting/context: Please describe the health or social care service setting or context in which the study will take place (such as the organisation or service type,).

Dissemination, outputs and anticipated impact

The purpose of this section is for the applicant to describe what the outputs of the research might be, how these will be disseminated and what impact there might be. Please consider the following questions when completing this section:

  • what do you intend to produce from your research?
  • how will you inform and engage patients/service users, carers, NHS, social care and the wider population about your work?
  • how will your outputs enter our health and care system or society as a whole?
  • what do you think the impact of your research will be and for whom?

In describing the anticipated impact of the expected outputs on the health and care of patients/service users, carers, the public, and on health and care services, please consider; patient/service users, carer benefit; changes in NHS and/or care service (including efficiency savings); commercial return (which could contribute to economic growth).

Project management

Please outline the processes that will be put in place to ensure the research described will be well managed. This should complement your research timetable upload (see ‘10. Uploads’ below).

Ethics

Outline any ethical and/or other regulatory issues, and arrangements for handling them. If there are no plans to obtain ethical review, this must be clearly justified. (Note that work outlined in your application/protocol must adhere to the Research Governance Framework).Further guidance on the approval process is available from the Health Research Authority (HRA). The MRC and the HRA have also designed a tool to help you decide whether you need ethical approval. However, if you are unsure whether your research requires ethical approval, please contact the HRA directly and they will be able to advise.

Success criteria

Please set out the measurements of success you intend to use and also the key risks to delivering this research and what contingencies you will put in place to deal with them. This section should identify appropriate actions that would reduce or eliminate each risk or its impact.

Patient and Public Involvement

Please describe how patients/service users, carers and the public have been involved in developing this proposal – 350 word limit

You should describe who has been involved and why this is appropriate, what role(s) they have they played and what influence or change has happened as result of their involvement.

Please describe the ways in which patients/service users, carers and the public will be actively involved the proposed research, including any training and support provided – 350 word limit

Patients, carers, service users and the public can be involved in every stage of a research project, from developing a proposal through to dissemination and evaluation. You can find further resources to support the design of your PPI and read the briefing notes for researchers public involvement for more information.

Explain why your approach to patient and public involvement is appropriate for this proposal. In your description you will need to say who will be involved and why.

Please use this opportunity to describe how you plan to manage and coordinate the patient and public involvement activities in your project.

Describe how you will support and enable patients/service users, carers, the public and members of relevant communities to contribute to your research (e.g. access, payments, training).

We would also encourage you to outline plans for the capturing, evaluating and reporting the impact of patient and public involvement activities.

If it is considered not appropriate and meaningful to actively involve patients/services users, carers and the public in your proposed research, please justify why - 350 word limit

In rare cases where proposals do NOT involve patients/service users, carers and the public, clear justification must be provided.

Training and development and research support

Proposed training and development programme – 1000 word limit

Please use this section to detail the training and development you will undertake as part of the award. This should cover both the training you may need to undertake the research being proposed but also training designed to support your development as a future health\social care research leader.

Training may include, but is not limited to formal courses, training in specialist skills and research methodologies, placements with other research groups or centres, leadership skills, conference attendance and overseas research visits. It is important that the Training and Development Programme is tailored to your specific needs and complements the research being proposed as part of the award.

It is possible to undertake a Award less than full time to allow for clinical service/training to take place outside of the Award. In this situation no justification or link to the research is required.

Research support - 250 words per justification of participation

The individuals you list here are required to complete the ‘Participants and Signatory’ section of the application form. Funding for research support is available for travel and subsistence only (for the applicant) and does not support any fees the individuals who provide research support may wish to charge the applicant.

Applicants should detail individuals providing research support and mentorship. Although we acknowledge that formal supervision may not be appropriate for all Population Health Career Scientist Award applicants, we believe that the applicant will benefit from research support or mentorship. In this context, the research support or mentorship role will encompass providing you with support throughout your award in both your research endeavours and your overall career development. It is a two-way process that may be challenging for both parties. For this reason, choosing who will provide research support will require a great deal of thought. The individuals who provide research support may or may not be based in your host organisation. They should, however, have a clear understanding of the research process, the demands your chosen area of training and development are likely to place on you, and your particular strengths and weaknesses.

Research support is referred to in the literature as ‘mentorship’ and there are numerous models to be found that could be employed. Clearly describe how the proposed arrangements will support your overall development and provide an initial assessment of the time that will be allocated to the research support process.

Collaborations – 600 word limit

Explain what collaborations you intend to establish to support your research and, if applicable, your training and development programme. This may involve short visiting placements (e.g., an Overseas Research Visit), or secondments in new (to the applicant) research environments, e.g., clinical trials units or NIHR Biomedical Research Centres.

You should include; the training and development the collaboration will provide; the facilities and expertise you will have access to; and how the collaboration will strengthen links between academia, industry and policy/practice.

Host organisation support statement – 1000 word limit

The statement is completed by the Head of Department and should detail how the organisation(s) are going to support the applicant in partnership to successfully complete their research and the training and development programme. This statement should be tailored specifically to the applicant, their research and training needs, and include how the organisation(s) intend to support the applicant to develop their research career in the long-term.

NIHR see the responsibility for training the next generation of research leaders as a joint enterprise with host organisations. Therefore, information should also be provided on the organisation’s track record of supporting early career researchers, such as evidence of bridging or other support provided to fellows upon completion of an award. For the Population Health Career Scientist Award there is an expectation of significant additional host organisation support, for example, this could be providing additional research assistant(s) / PhD student(s) to the candidate if successful.
In addition, the statement should show/provide evidence of the host organisation(s) commitment to creating and maintaining an inclusive and supportive research culture, including evidence of commitment to the principles of equality, diversity and inclusion and research integrity.

Statements may wish to refer to the principles and best practice outlined within relevant Charters and Concordats in these areas, such as the Researcher Development Concordat and Advance HE’s Equality Charters. It should be noted that being a signatory to Concordats or holding bronze/silver status from the Equality Charters isn’t a requirement of funding and evidence can be provided through other means.

Host organisations are expected to comply with the relevant Principles and Obligations for clinical academic training and it is recommended Host Organisations read these documents, where relevant, before completing the statement of support.

For medics and dentists: https://www.nihr.ac.uk/documents/clinical-principles-and-obligations-march-2018/22067

For all other professions: https://www.nihr.ac.uk/documents/uk-clinical-academic-training-for-nurses-midwives-and-other-professionals-allied-to-medicine-principles-and-obligations/27109

NIHR expects that all commitments made to the applicant within this statement will be honoured for the lifetime of the award.

Detailed budget

The budget for a Population Health Career Scientist Award is in the region of up to £1,000,000 over the course of the award (applicants will be able to select the WTE you wish to hold the fellowship at between 50% and 100%. For PHCSA this will be between 2 and 5 years WTE). Any total requested that is substantially over £1,000,000 is likely to be queried by the committee. The applicant should ensure that the costings are extremely well justified and demonstrated to be proportionate to the proposal's planned activities.

Justification of costs

  • Please provide a breakdown of research costs associated with undertaking the research and provide justification for the resources requested. This should include the following costs: staff costs, travel and subsistence, dissemination costs, equipment (including lease versus purchase costs), consumables, patient/service users, carers and public involvement (PPI) and any other direct costs. Please see the payment guidance for researchers and professionals for help with estimating PPI costs.
  • When justifying staff costs you should also provide the % amount of time input of each member of staff and link this to the specific area/work package of the proposed study where this input will be taking place.
  • You should indicate here how this research will potentially benefit the NHS, social care and/ or public health. For example, where appropriate, describe the likely cost savings or benefits in terms of numbers of patients/service users/carers supported or treated, treatment times etc.
  • You should describe the value for money of the conduct of the proposed research.
  • Please provide a breakdown of the NHS costs associated with undertaking the research and provide justification for the resources required. If there are no NHS Support or Excess Treatment Costs associated with the research, you must explain why you think this is the case.
  • Please provide a breakdown of any non-NHS intervention costs and provide justification for the resources required. Non-NHS intervention costs should include costs incurred in delivering the intervention which would continue to be incurred after the trial, should the intervention become standard care.
  • NIHR Population Health Career Scientist Awards are not project or programme grants; therefore, extensions to the duration of awards to allow for completion of research and/or training and development are not permitted. This doesn't affect suspensions of awards to allow for periods of maternity, paternity, adoption or sickness leave.

Detailed budget breakdown

The finance section should provide a breakdown of costs associated with undertaking the research as described in the proposal.

General information

  • The information entered in this section should provide an analysis of the total funds requested to undertake the research proposed and should be based on current prices. These costs will be used to assess value for money.
  • It is in the best interest to undertake a thorough, realistic and accurate costing. You must provide a clear and full justification for all costs including NHS/social care costs. You must also ensure that you include all costs including those required to secure good research management.
  • Costs must be provided at current prices. An adjustment for inflation will be made annually thereafter at rates set by DHSC. Whilst allowances for incremental increases should be included on the form, nationally or locally agreed pay increases should be excluded.
  • Years should be calculated starting from the anticipated start date of the proposed research. For example, if your research is expected to start on 01 April 2025 then its second year starts 01 April 2026.
  • Further itemisation of costs and methods of calculation may be requested to support the application at a later date.
  • Payments will be made to the contracted organisation only and the contracted organisation will be responsible for passing on any money due to their partner organisation(s).
  • Appropriate sub-contracts must be put in place for any element of the research which is to be paid to another organisation.
  • NHS Support Costs, including costs for social care research, are funded via Clinical Research Networks. Researchers should contact their local NHS R&D Department initially and, if they are unable to help directly or if there is no local NHS R&D Department, contact their Local Clinical Research Network. Please read the CRN support page for further details about CRN contacts. 
  • All applications are expected to have appropriate HEI, NHS, social care, commercial and other partner organisations input into the finance section of the application form.
  • There is no need to individually itemise costs where the total is below £1,000.

Information on different types of organisations

Higher Education Institutions (HEIs)

Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) should determine the Full Economic Cost (FEC) of their research using the Transparent Approach to Costing (TRAC) methodology. For HEIs, up to 80% of FEC will be paid, provided that TRAC methodology has been used.

NHS bodies and other providers of NHS or social care services in England

For applications where the contractor is an NHS body or provider of NHS or social care services in England, up to 100% of direct costs will be paid.
If you are a commercial organisation/consultancy, please fill in direct costs and commercial indirect costs. Indirect costs should be charged in proportion to the amount of research staff effort requested on the funding application form. Up to 100% of costs will be paid.

Other partner organisations

If you are another partner organisation (e.g., charity or non-governmental organisation [NGO]), please fill in direct costs and other partner organisations indirect costs. Indirect costs should be charged in proportion to the amount of research staff effort requested on the funding application form. Up to 100% of costs will be paid.

Direct costs

These are costs that are specific to the research, which will be charged as the amount actually spent and can be supported by an audit record. They should comprise:

Details of posts and salaries

This section presents an overview of salary costs for the applicant and other support/shared staff contributing to the research, including normal salary increments broken down individually.

The applicant

Please state the proposed salary point and scale at the start of the award. Please note immediate promotion to a higher grade as a result of securing a fellowship will not be funded. Please do not include any Clinical Excellence or Discretion/Merit awards or discretionary points. NIHR agrees to fund consultant salaries at a full-time rate equivalent to 10 Programmed Activities per week.

Support staff

Support staff (research assistants) can be requested as part of a Population Health Career Scientist Award application. This is usually limited to the equivalent of one member of staff for a period of three years.  Any requests for support staff over this limit will need to be extremely well justified.  There is also an expectation that the host organisation will match any requests for support staff over and above the usual limit.

Please include all members of staff working on the research by clicking ‘add staff details’ or editing a current one. Where applicants are already receiving salaries funded by NIHR, these should be declared in the application.

The Apprenticeship Levy can be included in the salary costs where relevant.

Salary costs

This section specifies the annual costs of the applicant and other staff contributing to the research.  You should now allocate the individual staff member costs to each year of the research, allowing for increments. Use current rates of pay (basic salary, geographical allowance and on-costs; any additional allowances being received for other activities within your current pay are ineligible) and build in any known annual increments (again at current rates). You will not be able to claim for pay awards retrospectively, once your research is underway.

Please note the salary figures need to be calculated using the current annual costs (basic salary, geographical allowance and on-costs), % WTE and number of months. If the research lasts for several years and an individual’s involvement varies over the course, it may be necessary to explain fully in the justification of costs section the % WTE and months per year for an individual staff member.

It is important to double check that the % WTE, total months and yearly costs information are consistent with the information presented in ‘Details of Posts and Salaries’ (‘Details of Posts and Salaries’ should show the full current staff costs independent of % WTE etc, whereas the yearly costs in ‘Salary Costs’ depend on % WTE etc).

Please ensure that you check the ‘Type of Cost’ box which describes the employing organisation for a member of staff as this impacts the level of funding provided. Staff employed by a HEI are funded at 80% of cost and staff employed by NHS, social care, commercial or other partner organisation at up to 100% of cost.

Please note that this section also includes ‘Shared Staff Costs’ which is located under directly allocated costs in some other funders’ applications. These are costs of an institution’s research resources which can be charged to the research on the basis of estimated use, rather than actual costs. These may include IT technicians, laboratory staff, and costs of pooled staff efforts. HEI indirect costs cannot be claimed on these shared costs.

The NIHR reserves the right to question any costs deemed excessive, and will not fund:

  1. Contributions for individuals providing research support (previously referred to as mentors), supervisors and/or other collaborators involved in the research
  2. Administrative or secretarial support
  3. Whole or significant percentages of support posts over and above those permitted by the scheme
  4. Technical or research support staff whose costs are funded through institutional indirect costs (HEIs only)

Travel, subsistence and dissemination costs

This section includes journey costs, subsistence and dissemination costs, including conference fees. Where applicable, you will need to include the travel and subsistence costs of your Project Advisory Group, Steering Committee and/or Data Monitoring & Ethics Committee. Travel and subsistence costs relating to dissemination should also be included here, as should costs relating to overseas travel. Where applicable, you will need to include the travel and subsistence costs relating to meetings with individuals providing research support. Please note that mentors’ (including supervisors and individuals named as providing research support) expenses will not be funded.

If a cost relates to travel, subsistence or fees for a conference please select ‘conference’. Costs relating to conference attendance will be funded at up to 100% for all employing/host organisation types. Conference costs don’t need to be individually itemised for each conference. The justification box should detail the conferences the costs will cover.

Journey costs

Enter the total cost of transport for all journeys for destination/purpose. 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. NIHR programmes do not usually fund first class travel.

Subsistence

Subsistence covers accommodation (if necessary) and meals associated with the travel, excluding any alcoholic beverages.

Conference fees

Conference related costs (including all related travel and subsistence as well as conference fees) cannot exceed £2,000 per each full time equivalent year of funding.

Dissemination costs (in addition to conference costs)

Any large costs should be further detailed with a breakdown of constituent parts or a timescale profile of the costs. Meetings to share best practice, training events and events to disseminate research findings must be run at the lowest possible cost with minimal catering. ‘Conferences’ which are described as such are not eligible for funding.

Equipment

Essential items of equipment plus maintenance and related costs not included as part of estates should be input in this section. These can be lease or purchase costs. The purchase cost of pieces of equipment, valued up to £5,000 excluding VAT, will be considered.

Pieces of equipment costing more than £5,000 to purchase will usually need to be leased. Where applicants are leasing equipment with a purchase price of more than £5,000, a comparison of leasing verses purchasing costs must be provided in the ‘Justification of Costs’ section.

Items of equipment valued at £250 or more must be itemised separately; however grouping same type equipment is permitted. Costs of computers are normally restricted to a maximum of £1000 each excluding VAT and a statement of justification must be included, in the relevant ‘Justification of Costs’ section for any purchase above this limit.

Equipment must exclude VAT, but if your organisation is unable to reclaim/recover the VAT on a piece of equipment, you should check the box ‘VAT cannot be reclaimed’.

You will need to seek expert advice from the organisation purchasing the equipment regarding its VAT status. If you check the ‘VAT cannot be reclaimed’ column, VAT at 20% will automatically be calculated into the overall cost of that item.

Consumables

This section includes non-reusable items specific to the research. Please itemise and describe the requirements fully (e.g., postage, stationery, photocopying). These items should be research specific, not just general office costs which should be covered by indirect costs.

Patient/service User, carer and public involvement

Please itemise and describe fully the costs associated with patient/service user, carer and public involvement. These are likely to include individual travel, out of pocket expenses, payment for time and any relevant training and support costs. Costs related to study participants should not be itemised here.

If voluntary, charity, or community groups are supporting the research via activities such as facilitating contact with potential participants, hosting research activities, or providing advice, an adequate budget must be included to compensate for their time and resources.  

INVOLVE have produced a number of useful payment-related resources.

Other direct costs

These are costs, not identified elsewhere, that are specifically attributed to the research. For example, costs associated with the use of research facilities, external consultancy costs, computer licensing, recruitment and advertising costs. Please note that for organisations claiming indirect/overhead costs, costs such as recruitment of staff, and general training (e.g., in common IT packages) are costs that should be covered by the indirect costs element of the award being sought and should not appear in this section.

Applicants should no longer include open access costs as part of their application. From the 1 June 2022, all eligible awards contracts issued across NIHR Programmes, NIHR Personal Awards and NIHR Global Health Research Portfolio will have an Open Access Envelope allocated to them on top of the award value, which is ring-fenced for open access costs of peer reviewed research articles that arise directly from the research funded by the award in question. Please see the guidance for Open Access Publication funding for further details.

External Consultancy costs must be fully justified in the ‘Justification of Costs’ section. Please specify the hourly rate and the number of hours and note that consultants must not be people who are already employed by the applicant’s institution. If they are, any costs should be entered as direct costs in the ‘Details of Posts and Salaries’ and ‘Annual Costs of Posts’ sections.

Note on CTU costs in Personal Training Awards

Costs claimed should be for the additional support from the CTU for the necessary expertise that the trainee cannot provide themselves. For example, part time support from a trial manager, database manager, and statistician are all costs that could potentially be included. The level of support and input from the CTU will likely vary depending on the level of fellowship and experience of the applicant. For postdoctoral awards, it may be more appropriate for other members of staff to be undertaking some of the day-to-day tasks. This also very much depends on the experience and expertise of the applicant and the applicant’s training needs and should be agreed with the CTU before submitting an application. These costs should all be agreed with the CTU and budgeted for. Staff costs should be detailed under the ‘other direct costs’ section. Staff costs should include basic salary and on-costs for each member of staff involved and it should be made clear within the justification section what role each member of staff has within the context of the personal award application and the time they will spend on the award. Please note that because NIHR Fellowships and other research training awards are personal awards and not project or programme grants we can’t fund whole or significant portions of posts other than that of the applicant themselves and their support staff member (where applicable). We would not normally expect the time commitment of any individual costed into the application other than the applicant or member of support staff to exceed 0.3 WTE. In total we wouldn’t normally expect the total WTE of all staff costed into the application to support clinical trial activities to exceed 1 WTE (excluding the applicant and support staff member) for early postdoctoral level awards and more junior awards (doctoral and early post-doctoral level awards) and 2 WTEs for more senior awards (this includes any shared staff also costed into the application).The level of additional staff input will obviously depend on the type and scope of the trial and the experience of the applicant. Full justification should be provided for all staff costs requested. Overheads (estates and indirect costs) can be included for CTU staff costed into the application. The justification section should split out the overheads from the salary costs and overheads shouldn’t exceed 40% of the total CTU staff cost.

Any costs must be realistic in order to deliver the trial but must also represent value for money. Applicants can also include non-staff costs for the CTU for example; randomisation service, and license fees for l data management software

Training and development

All costs in this section will be funded at up to 100% for HEI, NHS, social care and commercial/other partner organisations. Please itemise and describe fully the costs associated with training and development. Please provide estimates if exact costs are not available at the time of application. Any travel and subsistence associated with training and development including overseas research visits should not be included here and should be included in the travel section of the form.   

Training programme, short courses and workshops

These are costs relating to the applicant’s training and development programme. 

Overseas research visits

Please provide costs for any overseas research visits that the applicant wishes to undertake during the course of the award. The NIHR Academy Executive will consider overseas research visits on an individual basis and reserves the right to limit expenditure.  Overseas visits (excluding conference attendance) are normally restricted to one visit per Fellowship and a maximum duration of 3 months. 

Support post – PhD fees

Where relevant, NIHR will cover individual HEI’s published PhD fees at the institution’s standard UK/home rate.

Support post – training and development

NIHR will make a maximum contribution of £3,000 (including any identified travel and subsistence) towards training and development costs for the support post. 

Indirect costs/overheads

HEI Indirect Costs

Total HEI indirect costs must be fully justified. HEIs are permitted to claim estate and other indirect costs. These costs are calculated on the basis of TRAC methodology. Proposals from other types of institutions/organisations should leave this section blank.

HEI indirect costs are based on the number of full-time equivalent research staff working on the research and the indirect/estates charges set by an institution. Please note HEI indirect costs cannot be claimed on shared staff costs. Where staff from more than one HEI are working on the research there may be different indirect/estates charges for each one. Please list each institution on a separate line.
The applicant(s) should consult their HEI Finance Departments for the appropriate figures to include in the estate charges and other indirect cost sections.
Please note HEI indirect costs cannot be claimed on staff who will be working on the award (including the lead applicant) but who will be employed by an NHS, social care, commercial or other partner organisation.

Commercial/other partner organisation indirect costs

Commercial/other partner organisations can claim indirect costs which are the costs of resources used by the research that are shared by other activities. Please seek advice from your finance department about the appropriate cost for this section.

Total commercial/other partner organisation indirect costs must be fully justified.

Indirect costs

Indirect costs will be charged in proportion to the amount of research staff effort requested on the award. Commercial/other partner organisations should calculate them, using their own cost rates.

They comprise:

  • General office and basic laboratory consumables
  • Premises costs
  • Library services/learning resources
  • Typing/secretarial
  • Finance, personnel, public relations and departmental services
  • Usage costs of major research facilities
  • Central and distributed computing
  • Charge out rates for shared equipment
  • Cost of capital employed

NHS support and treatment costs (incl. Excess treatment costs/savings)

The finance section includes a section that asks researchers to provide an estimate of the patient care costs associated with the research (if applicable). An explanation of why these costs are being incurred and the basis on which the estimations have been made should be fully detailed under the relevant ‘Justification of Costs’ section.

The selection committee will take NHS Support and Treatment Costs into account when considering the value for money of the research. It is important that you consider these costs and discuss them with the NHS bodies or providers of NHS services involved in order to avoid any delay in commencing the research.

Please be aware that the research award does NOT include NHS Support and/or Treatment Costs. NHS Support Costs will be funded via the Clinical Research Networks. Social care research is also eligible for CRN support. NHS Treatment Costs, including any Excess Treatment Costs/Savings, will be met by the NHS through normal patient care commissioning arrangements.

Please note that as part of the work to address the issues surrounding the way in which Excess Treatment Costs are funded, new arrangements are now being implemented. To underpin the new arrangements, a cost attribution tool has been created by the Health Research Authority (HRA) in partnership with charity funders and research sponsors. This tool provides a standardised approach across England, ensuring that the attribution of study activities complies with the Department of Health and Social Care Guidance on Attributing the Costs of Health and Social Care Research and Development (AcoRD). As part of their funding applications, researchers are required to complete this tool, known as a Schedule of Events Cost Attribution Tool (SoECAT) for clinical research. This tool is designed to capture the different costs associated with clinical research and attribute them accordingly. The totals for excess treatment costs and NHS support costs calculated by using the SoECAT can be entered directly into the application form.

Researchers and/or their study teams and Research Sponsor/ Lead NHS Provider (e.g., R&D office/ Clinical Trial Unit) are supported by AcoRD Specialists in the Local CRN to verify the accuracy of the SoECAT. Under the new arrangements, sign off via the LCRN AcoRD Specialist is required to confirm the study attribution complies with the Department of Health and Social Care AcoRD guidance. This early attribution support will underpin the excess treatment cost management process by providing formal sign off, supporting the role of the research sponsor and lead R&D office or Clinical Trial Unit. Completion of the Schedule of Events Cost Attribution Tool will be required for studies eligible for the NIHR portfolio and the support this provides, which will include access to excess treatment cost payments under the new arrangements. This ETC value, alongside recruitment activity in the NIHR Central Portfolio Management System, will then be utilised to inform the payments to NHS providers.

Please be aware that if your planned project includes the recruitment of participants, your application should be accompanied with the Funder Export from the online SoECAT, obtainable via the NIHR Central Portfolio Management System (CPMS).

In order to create a SoECAT, you will need to create an account in CPMS. After creating the account, you will need to login to CPMS to activate this account. If any assistance is required in creating the account, please refer to the CPMS user guide. Once your account has been created and is active, you can proceed. Guidance for the completion of the SoECAT by the applicant is present in the online tool to assist at each page and stage of the application process and further details can be found on the Online SoECAT Guidance page.

There is also an Online SoECAT Guidance Module which includes video tutorials and linked resources (an NIHR Learn account is required to access and enrol onto the module) and a helpful Study Representative – Online SoECAT Top Tips infographic.

Please note that completion of the SoECAT may not be necessary when applying for funding to support: programmes with no specific research study protocol, infrastructure, where the grant is to be used for direct employment of a member of staff or purchase of an asset, and data or diagnostic reviews where recruitment data is not collected. Such applications should be submitted with supporting documentation to explain why a SoECAT was not submitted in this instance.

Information on costing your application for can be found on our 'I need help costing my research' webpage.

I) NHS and social care support costs

These are the additional patient/service user/carer care costs associated with the research, which would end once the R&D activity in question has stopped, even if the service involved continues to be provided. These might cover items such as extra patient tests, extra in-patient days and extra nursing attention. Applicants should contact their local NHS R&D Department initially and, if they are unable to help directly or if there is no local NHS R&D Department, contact their Local Clinical Research Network (LCRN) for advice on NHS support costs.

II) NHS treatment costs

Please read the guidance on the funding of excess treatment costs prior to completing your application.
These are the patient care costs that would continue to be incurred if the patient care service in question continued to be provided after the R&D activity has stopped. In determining NHS Treatment costs, you must assume that the patient care service being assessed will continue even though there may be no plans for it to do so. Where patient care is being provided which differs from the normal, standard, treatment for that condition (either an experimental treatment or a service in a different location from where it would normally be given), the difference between the total Treatment Costs and the costs of the “usual standard care” (if any) constitutes Excess Treatment Cost/Saving, but is nonetheless part of the Treatment Cost, not an NHS Support or Research Cost. These costs should be determined in conjunction with your NHS body or provider of NHS services and their commissioners.
Please note if the patient care intervention under investigation is in addition to usual care there is no need to complete the ‘Usual Treatment Costs’ section however this will need to be justified in the relevant ‘Justification of Costs’ section. If the patient care intervention under investigation either wholly or partially replaces usual care, the ‘Usual Treatment Costs’ section must be completed.
Please note: social care studies are eligible for Clinical Research Network (CRN) support, it does not just apply to NHS-based research, and researchers should speak to the CRN and include support costs where relevant. For the purposes of social care studies ‘treatment costs’ should be interpreted as ‘intervention costs’ and should be included in the proposal when needed. Further information is available on our costing webpage.

For further information, please see:

Attributing the costs of health and social care research and development (AcoRD)

Summary of costs

NIHR programmes currently fund HEIs at a maximum of 80% of full economic cost, NHS bodies, social care organisations and other providers of health and care services in England 100% and commercial/other partner organisations at 100%.

Please note that whilst these percentages will be used to calculate the maximum grant payable, the programme reserves the right to award a grant for less than this maximum where it is considered appropriate.

Uploads

To support your research plan, you are able to upload the following documents in the ‘uploads’ section of the form:

  • References: 1 A4 page listing all references cited in the application
  • Figures/table: 1 A4 page of figures/tables to supplement the research plan
  • Research timetable: 1 A4 page detailing specific milestone and deliverables
  • CTU letter of support: Where you are working with a CTU please include a supporting letter

SoECAT form: All applications must upload a completed SoECAT form that has been signed off by an AcoRD Specialist. The SoECAT form must be uploaded even where there are no excess treatment costs or NIHS involvement. There is further Guidance for the completion of the form in these Applicant Guidance Notes.The SoECAT form can be uploaded in Excel format.

Participants and signatory

A number of participants and a signatory are required to be added to your application and, where applicable, to complete sections of it. Details of the required individuals are provided on the online application form along with details of how they should added. The flow diagram in Annex C goes through the actions required of participants, signatory and the applicant.

Acknowledge, review and submit

Conflict checks - 300 word limit

Please declare any conflicts or potential conflicts of interest that you may have in undertaking this research, including any relevant, non-personal & commercial interest that could be perceived as a conflict of interest.
Agreement to terms and conditions

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

Checklist of information to include when submitting a NIHR research application

Applicants should use the list below to check that they have included the necessary information prior to submitting their application.

Additional supporting information

Plagiarism in NIHR funding applications

NIHR expects all content within applications for funding to be original material of the applicant's own work, with the exception of sections that other participants are required to complete. Whilst we anticipate and expect that applicants will get help and advice from various sources when putting together an application, including on occasion input from those previously awarded funding, care must be taken to ensure this does not lead to plagiarism of either published work or other previous applications. If an allegation of plagiarism is raised against an application this will be investigated in accordance with the NIHR Academy Executive’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 a grant. 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 Executive is part of the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC), National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR). The contracting agent for the NIHR Academy Executive 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@dh.gsi.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.

Diversity Monitoring Information

NIHR is committed to promoting equality, diversity and inclusion in research and asks applicants to provide Diversity Monitoring Information. By answering these Diversity Monitoring Information questions, you will help us to better understand the different groups of people that we fund and their experiences of being funded – 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.

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 https://www.nihr.ac.uk/documents/the-nihr-carbon-reduction-guidelines/21685

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.

NIHR Research Support Service Centre for Public Health

The NIHR RSS Specialist Centre for Public Health aims to support the generation of high quality research evidence needed to inform decisions about which interventions have the greatest likelihood of improving population health and reducing health inequalities.

The Specialist Centre for Public Health is hosted jointly by the RSS Hubs delivered by Newcastle University and Partners and University of Southampton and Partners. They are working together to create a single access point for your research support requests.

Please see the NIHR Research Support Service centre for Public Health for further information.

Ethics/regulatory approvals

Guidance on the application process for ethical and other approvals can be found on the HRA website. Please note that if your study is led from England and involves the NHS in England you should apply for HRA approval. Social care research falls within the remit and terms of the HRA.

If you are using patient/service user/carer information from an existing database, you should check whether they 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 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.

Contractual arrangements

Financial support under an NIHR Award is subject to a contract between the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and the host organisation.

Once funding for an award has been discussed and agreed, NIHR will confirm the financial arrangements with the host organisation. NIHR will provide the host organisation with a contract setting out the details of these arrangements.

The host organisation will be expected to issue the individual with an employment contract commensurate with their experience and seniority.

Government procurement transparency regulations require publication of details of all contracts made with the DHSC on their Website. Confidential information including research proposals (Plain English Summaries will be published), detailed finance information, bank details, and departmental staff names (other than the award holder’s name) will be removed from the published versions.

Freedom of Information Act

The NIHR manages the NIHR Fellowship Programme 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.

Guidance and advice

Please read these Guidance Notes carefully. If you require any further information, advice or guidance please contact us.

Annex A: NIHR remit frequently asked questions (FAQs):

The following FAQs are designed to help applicants decide whether their proposal falls within the remit of the NIHR. Please bear in mind that in PHCSA applications, the research project proposal does not stand alone, but is part of a package of elements expected to provide an excellent training experience that will allow the successful applicant to take their skills and experiences to a still higher level. Therefore, along with the research proposal, NIHR selection committees will assess the abilities, academic trajectory, existing experience, commitment to a career in health or care research, ambition and aspirations of the applicant, the standards in the research training environment, and the plans for explicit training in research methods. The research proposal provides a framework for research experience so has to be of high quality, but a good research proposal will not be supported if other elements are weak.

If you are proposing a programme of work as part of an application (particularly relevant for more senior awards) it maybe that certain elements of the programme would be outside the remit of NIHR if considered in isolation. If this is the case, it is important that you make clear in your application that the research overall fits within the remit of NIHR and also why any elements which could be considered out of remit are necessary to include. It is also important to note that any elements of the research which are considered out of remit will not be funded by NIHR should your application be successful. This includes any work involving animals or their tissue, which NIHR does not fund under any circumstances. Applications which include a programme of work where the majority of the work is out of remit, but with a small study within NIHR remit added on, will not be considered.

If you have queries over whether the research you are proposing as part of a research training application falls within the NIHR remit you are strongly advised to speak to the Research Support Service Specialist Centre for Public Health.

Q. Do you fund the evaluation of education and/or training schemes?
A. Yes. Proposed studies should be within the remit of the NIHR, and the outcomes measured should be health related, or there should be good evidence for a link between the outcome measured and a health outcome.

Q. Do you fund the development and/or evaluation of decision aids for patients/service users or carers?
A. The development or updating of a decision aid will be considered as part of a larger project or programme.

Q. Do you fund the development of interventions, devices, technologies or services?
A. The development or adaptation of interventions can be considered as part of a larger project or programme of work.

Q. Do you fund the development and/or evaluation of outcome measures, questionnaires or surveys (e.g., Patient Reported Experience/Outcome Measures)?
A. The development, adaptation or updating of outcome measures questionnaires or surveys can be considered as part of a larger project or programme of work.

Q. Do you fund the development, evaluation and/or validation of models (e.g., risk factor models, health or social care economic models etc.)?
A. Yes. We will consider funding the development of models where there is a case for service need or patient/service user/carer/public benefit. There should also be an evaluation or validation aspect to the study.

Q. Do you fund research requiring observational/applied epidemiological methods?
A. We fund research according to the potential for patient/service user/carer/public benefit rather than according to specific methodologies. We therefore fund research using a wide range of study designs including observational and applied epidemiological methods. Any study that uses observational and applied epidemiological methods should be an evaluation of an intervention itself, or have a clear, credible and articulated trajectory to further research within NIHR programme remits. An applied epidemiological component can also be considered as part of a larger project or programme of work.

Q. Do you fund research into workforce?
A. Yes. Proposed studies should be within the remit of the NIHR and should concern the impact on health and well-being, whether of patients/service users, carers, the public, or of the workforce itself.

Q. Do you fund research into patient/service user, carer and public involvement in research?
A. Yes. Proposed studies would need to demonstrate the potential for practical application and make clear the potential impact on patients/service users, carers and/or the public.

Annex B: Population Health Career Scientist Award frequently asked questions (FAQs):

Q. Can clinical/practice applicants include clinical/practice/ service and/or development as part of the activities covered by the Population Health Career Scientist Award?
A. The PHCSA will include the option for clinical/practice applicants to include between up to 40% clinical/practice time that will be covered by the Fellowship. It will also be possible to undertake the Fellowship at less than 100% WTE which can accommodate clinical/practice work paid for from another source. 

Q. When it states applicants can propose between 50% and 100% WTE for the time they will spend undertaking their fellowship, does this mean applicants can select any percentage option between 50 and 100% WTE?
A. Yes. Applicants will be able to state the WTE they would like to undertake the award at provided it is no less than 50% WTE. Award length will change depending on the WTE proposed. For this award, between 2 and 5 years WTE can be supported.

Q. Will there be the option to request funding for a support post as part of the Population Health Career Scientist Award and will this be restricted depending on the experience of the applicant?
A. Yes, there will be the option to request funding for a support post and no there won’t be a restriction on this depending on the postdoctoral experience of the applicant. As with all aspects of the application, the justification for the support requested will be assessed as part of the review process.

Q. Will there be any restrictions on the number of times I can apply for a Population Health Career Scientist Award?
A. It will normally only be possible to apply to the same Award a maximum of two times. However, there will be the following exceptions:
a. Normally after a period of 3 years has passed you will be able to apply again for the same Award, if you have previously had 2 unsuccessful applications. This is to take account of the fact that both you, in terms of your CV and experience, and the proposed research will have hopefully developed significantly in this timeframe.
c. Applications deemed fundable but which fall below the funding cut off will not be counted towards the maximum of two application attempts.

Q. When you say the majority of funding is ‘response mode’ what does this mean?
A. When we say response mode, we mean there won’t be any prioritisation for any one specific area of research over another. In response mode anyone who meets the eligibility criteria for a scheme is able to apply, and funding decisions are made based upon those deemed fundable by the selection committees and the ranking of fundable applications.

Q. Can I apply for 2 different levels of NIHR Fellowship or Awards at the same time? E.g., Pre-doctoral and Doctoral Fellowships?
A. No, you will need to decide which fellowship you are going to apply to. If you would like to discuss this further in relation to your personal circumstances, please get in touch with the NIHR using the details provided above.

Annex D: Population Health Career Scientist Award duration options

Full Time Equivalent in Years

WTE

Award Duration in months

Award Duration in Years

Full Time Equivalent in Years

WTE

Award Duration in months

Award Duration in Years

2

1

24.00

2.00

3

1

36.00

3.00

2

0.95

25.26

2.11

3

0.95

37.89

3.16

2

0.9

26.67

2.22

3

0.9

40.00

3.33

2

0.85

28.24

2.35

3

0.85

42.35

3.53

2

0.8

30.00

2.50

3

0.8

45.00

3.75

2

0.75

32.00

2.67

3

0.75

48.00

4.00

2

0.7

34.29

2.86

3

0.7

51.43

4.29

2

0.65

36.92

3.08

3

0.65

55.38

4.62

2

0.6

40.00

3.33

3

0.6

60.00

5.00

2

0.55

43.64

3.64

3

0.55

65.45

5.45

2

0.5

48.00

4.00

3

0.5

72.00

6.00

Full Time Equivalent in Years

WTE

Award Duration in months

Award Duration in Years

Full Time Equivalent in Years

WTE

Award Duration in months

Award Duration in Years

4

1

48.00

4.00

5

1

60.00

5.00

4

0.95

50.53

4.21

5

0.95

63.16

5.26

4

0.9

53.33

4.44

5

0.9

66.67

5.56

4

0.85

56.47

4.71

5

0.85

70.59

5.88

4

0.8

60.00

5.00

5

0.8

75.00

6.25

4

0.75

64.00

5.33

5

0.75

80.00

6.67

4

0.7

68.57

5.71

5

0.7

85.71

7.14

4

0.65

73.85

6.15

5

0.65

92.31

7.69

4

0.6

80.00

6.67

5

0.6

100.00

8.33

4

0.55

87.27

7.27

5

0.55

109.09

9.09

4

0.5

96.00

8.00

5

0.5

120.00

10.00