The National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) is launching the 5th round of NIHR Pre-doctoral Fellowship funded by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).
NIHR Pre-doctoral Fellowships are designed to support people who are looking to start or advance their career within a health and social care research methodology, specifically in one of the following methodological areas:
- Medical statistics
- Health economics
- Clinical trial design
- Operational research
- Qualitative research
- Mixed methods
- Epidemiological Methods
Applicants who wish to apply for this scheme should either: have completed or are about to complete their undergraduate degree in a relevant subject area, have completed and hold a relevant master’s level qualification (i.e. a Level 7 qualification) or are currently undertaking one relevant to one of the areas above.
Applicants without a master’s level qualification should use the Fellowship to undertake a master’s level qualification in one of the areas listed above. (e.g. a MSc, PGCert, PGDip, MRes or equivalent). Those already holding a relevant master’s degree or equivalent qualification, or those who are currently completing one should use the Fellowship to gain additional support and training to help advance them to the next level of their methodology career. For example, further training in a specific methodology or undertaking pilot work to inform a higher fellowship application such as a PhD.
Following the completion of a NIHR Pre-doctoral Fellowship, successful applicants should look to have achieved one of the following, depending on their level of experience when applying:
- Completion of a broad master’s level training programme, via the completion of a Level 7 qualification, relevant to one or more of the areas listed above which enables the candidate to be in a strong position to go into a range of further health and social care research methodology related roles, e.g. applied statistician in a Clinical Trials Unit, Health Economist supporting other research teams.
- Completion of a training programme specifically designed to support the applicant to undertake a future PhD.
Whilst the use of the Fellowship to help prepare for a future PhD is within remit, it isn’t an expectation that all applicants will utilise it for this purpose. Applicants who have just completed or are about to complete their undergraduate degree are more likely to want to utilise the Fellowship to gain a master’s level qualification in addition to some hands on training and development in a relevant setting, which will provide them with a solid grounding to go on to develop a methodology career in various roles relevant to health and social care research.
Applicants can also look to use these Fellowships as a way of facilitating a career change into research methodology through the undertaking of appropriate master’s level training.
Whilst these Fellowships are personal applications i.e. the applicant completes and submits the form to NIHR themselves, it is expected that they will have significant support and input from two or more supervisors at the time of applying and throughout the fellowship. Applicants are strongly advised to read the guidance notes and application form in conjunction with their proposed supervisors before starting an application. Further information on identifying and contacting potential supervisors is provided later on page six.
Whilst the NIHR Pre-Doctoral Fellowship is not designed to fund large scale research projects, it is still important to be aware of the remit of NIHR in terms of the type of research it will fund. This will help to inform and tailor the training programme accordingly.
All research funded by the NIHR as part of a training award managed by the NIHR Academy must fall within the following remit:
- The overall remit of the NIHR is early translational (experimental medicine), clinical and applied health and social care research
- For personal pre-doctoral and doctoral-level awards the proposal:
a) must be for clinical and applied health research, or social care research
b) must have clear potential for directly benefiting patients/service users, carers and the public (but recognising the training element of the research)
c) can involve: patients/service users; samples or data from these groups; other people who are not patients/service users and/or carers; populations; health technology assessment; or health or care services research
- NIHR does not support basic research or work involving animals or their tissue.
- If the work involves biomarkers:
a) research that tests whether application of new knowledge can improve treatment or patient outcomes, and has obvious direct potential benefit, is within remit; this might include application of known biomarkers, or other prognostic factors, to refine and test novel therapeutic strategies
b) research that aims only to elucidate mechanisms underpinning disease, or identify risk factors for disease or prognosis (including search for biomarkers) is out of remit.
- The NIHR is also prepared to support high quality research into 'medical education' (defined broadly as education for healthcare providers) and methodological research. It is expected that the research will have the potential to have practical application and the potential impact on patients/service users, carers and the public must be made clear.
Applications with themes of Global Health research are out of remit for the NIHR Fellowship Programme and will be deemed ineligible.
- Completion of a relevant undergraduate degree, at the time of starting the award.
- Proposed host must be an English HEI, NHS body or other provider of health and/or care services.
- Proposing to develop a career as a methodologist and in one of the areas listed in the introduction.
Please Note: The Fellowship is not open to medically qualified applicants or dentists looking to undertake training in research methods. Applicants from a medical, clinical or practitioner background looking to develop a career as a clinical academic should also consider schemes from the relevant clinical and practitioner academic programmes provided by NIHR as there are four Pre-Doctoral level schemes that run concurrently.
For information about what a relevant undergraduate degree might be, please follow the link to Annex B: NIHR Pre-Doctoral Fellowship FAQ.
Applications to the NIHR Pre-Doctoral Fellowship must be based in England at their Host Organisation for the duration of the fellowship (except for travel for training or development activities as outlined within the proposal). Applications in which the fellow is living overseas from their Host Organisation will not be supported.
Applications for NIHR Pre-doctoral Fellowships are assessed on the following criteria:
Applicants without a master’s level qualification
- Interest of applicant in developing a future career in health and social care research methodology within the UK.
- Experience and skills (at undergraduate level) relevant to a career in health and social care research methodology and the training programme being proposed, including a second class degree (Iii) or above BSc in a relevant subject area.
- High quality training programme including opportunity to complete a relevant master’s level training programme which will support a number of potential future roles in research methodology.
- Experience of supervisory team, relevant to the training programme being proposed.
- Demonstrable track record of host organisation and supervisory team of supporting aspiring methodologists.
Applicants with a master’s level qualification
- Prior completion of a master’s level qualification of relevance to the training programme proposed.
- Interest of applicant in undertaking a future PhD in health and social care research methodology within the UK.
- High quality training programme to support applicant in making a PhD application in a relevant area of research methodology.
- Experience of supervisory team, relevant to the training programme being proposed.
- Demonstrable track record of host organisation and supervisory team of supporting aspiring methodologists.
Fellowships must start on the first of the month between 01 September 2023 and 01 March 2024.
Award Length and Part-time Options
Applicants are able to select the Whole Time Equivalent (WTE) they wish to hold the Fellowship at between 50% and 100%. When completing the application form, applicants are asked to select the number of 100% WTE months needed to complete their award from either 12, 18 or 24 months. They are then asked to select the WTE % they would like to undertake the award at. The system then calculates the total duration of the award. For example if the applicant selects an 18 month duration to be undertaken part-time at 50% WTE, the end date will be 36 months from the selected start date.
When considering the length of the Fellowship, applicants should consider the training needed to get to the next stage in your methodology career. It is expected that applicants without a master’s level qualification will usually make use of the full 24 months to allow completion of master’s level qualification followed by additional training courses in relevant areas. Those already holding a relevant master’s may only need 12 months support to help prepare for a future PhD programme.
However, the Fellowship can be undertaken for any duration provided this is fully justified and fits with the expected outcomes from the award (i.e. if you were to choose a 24 month programme without undertaking a master’s degree, it should be strongly justified within your application why this additional length of time is required).
Identification of Potential Supervisors
Whilst the NIHR Pre-doctoral Fellowship is a personal fellowship, i.e. the applicant themselves makes the application direct to NIHR, it is expected that applicants will have help and support from two or more supervisors in putting together the application; in particular details of the training and development programme. The supervisors will also play an active role in supporting the applicant throughout the duration of the Fellowship. It is a mandatory requirement that at least one supervisor must have experience and expertise in the candidate’s chosen methodology.
For candidates who have not yet identified a supervisor, please refer to the information below where you may find supervisors whom are familiar with NIHR fellowships and/or have areas of expertise in methodological studies.
Contact details are provided via the following links and applicants are advised to get in touch with those whom you may have an interest in working with at the earliest opportunity. This is to allow the necessary time to be able to formulate a competitive application.
A list of individuals and organisations who are willing to provide support in both putting together an application and with undertaking the Fellowship can be found here:
Candidates may also wish to explore the following NIHR contacts who may not necessarily act as supervisors but may be able to help identify potential people in their locality, or who can co-supervise with a relevant methodologist if they are not a methodologist themselves.
A list of potential masters levels courses that could be undertaken as part of the fellowship are also available via the following webpage:
Scope of Funding
- Applicants need to identify an eligible Host Organisation which will act as their employer for the duration of the Fellowship. Any organisation wishing to host an NIHR Fellowship must be able to provide the applicant with a contract of employment for the duration of the award and be capable of fulfilling the role of research sponsor as set out in the Research Governance Framework for Health & Care. Further guidance on the roles and responsibilities of a research sponsor can be found on the Health Research Authority’s (HRA) website. Host Organisations can either be a recognised Higher Education Institute (HEI) or any other organisation which provides health or social care services and is based in England and in receipt of public funding (for example, social enterprises or local authorities).
- An NIHR Fellowship award requires that the award holder has a contract of employment with the host organisation for the duration of the Fellowship. The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) will enter into a Fellowship contract with the Host Organisation. Government procurement transparency regulations require the publication of all contracts made with the DHSC to be made available on the DHSC website. Confidential information including research proposals, detailed finance information, bank details, and departmental staff names (other than the award holder’s name) will be removed from the published versions.
- NIHR Fellowships are individual training awards which will offer funding to cover the salary costs of the individual, and training and development programme.
- All Fellowships will be funded at 100% and Full Economic Costs will not be covered.
Application Procedure and Selection Process
- The NIHR Academy uses an adapted version of the NIHR Standard Application Form (SAF), which for this Fellowship is a single stage process.
- The NIHR Academy can advise on eligibility and remit enquiries, and answer queries you or your supervisor may have when completing the application form.
- All applications will undergo an initial screen for eligibility. Following this, applications are reviewed by the Selection Committee in advance of a Selection Committee meeting where decisions on which applications to recommend for funding are made.
- Details of the Pre-doctoral Fellowship Selection Committee membership can be found on our website.
- The Selection Committee will make recommendations for funding that will be considered by the Chief Scientific Adviser and the Director for the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) Science, Research and Evidence (SRE) Directorate. Once confirmed, the funding decisions will then be communicated to applicants.
- Applicants will be informed of the outcome of their application by email when all of the required processes are complete.
- The selection process and subsequent management of the Fellowships will be managed by the NIHR.
- All documents must be submitted in English.
- Fellowships cannot be deferred, without the consent of the NIHR.
- If applicants are successful in being awarded a Fellowship 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.
Application Deadlines and Timetable
Your application must have been submitted by the deadline and any signatories must have approved your application by this time using the Academy Research Awards Management Information System (ARAMIS) online application system.
All components of your application must be submitted by the deadline. No additional supporting documents will be accepted after the deadline.
Please give yourself sufficient time to obtain your signatory’s approval before the deadline. No exceptions will be made.
See the below timetable for dates of the selection process:
Competition opens for applications for NIHR Pre-doctoral Fellowships: 26 January 2023
Closing date for submission of online application: 1pm on 16 March 2023
Selection Committee Recommendation Meeting: May 2023
Award starts: 1 September 2023 to 1 March 2024
Registering, Completing and Submitting the Application
All Fellowship applications must be completed and submitted via the online application system ARAMIS.
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 publications record (in “My Research Outputs”). Please note that when adding a Degree or Qualification to your CV, at the ‘class’ section please enter the classification of the degree/qualification and not the year your class graduated. For example first-class honours (1st).
When registered on the system, you can apply for any open applications. To start an application you will need to go to ‘My Applications’ and select ‘New Application’. You should then select NIHR Pre-doctoral Fellowship from the list provided.
Please note – there are four pre-doctoral fellowship competitions open concurrently:
- NIHR In-Practice Fellowship,
- NIHR Pre-doctoral Fellowship
- HEE/NIHR Pre-doctoral Clinical and Practitioner Academic Fellowship (PCAF) SchemeHEE/NIHR
- LAAF Programme Pre-Doctoral Local Authority Fellowship (PLAF) Scheme
Please ensure that you are applying for the correct scheme.
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. You can at any stage download a PDF version of the application which can be useful for sharing applications with others.
Completing and submitting the form
Please see Annex C for flow diagrams of the application submission process.
Participants and Signatory
You will need to complete all of the mandatory sections of the form and enter under the ‘Participants and Signatories’ section the names and contact details of participants and signatory (see below). 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 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 (see below):
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 individuals who will be required to approve your application after submission (signatory) should be entered in the ‘Participants and Signatories' section. Please note it is often the case that one or more of the participants named in this section are also named in the "Participants and Signatories" section of the form.
Required Participants (if applicable):
It is mandatory to include a primary and secondary supervisor in your application. All supervisors named in the application should state the number of students (Master’s and PhD) they are supervising and the number students they have supervised through to completion.
- Primary Supervisor: The individual named as your primary supervisor must agree to participate in the application and confirm they will act as your Primary Academic Supervisor, support your career development and abide by the conditions under which an award may be granted. The Primary Supervisor will be able to access the full application form and is expected to play an active role putting together the details of the training and development programme that you will undertake. The Primary Supervisor must also confirm that the information provided by you describes the status of your current studies and also confirm that any proposed part-time study arrangements have been agreed and meet University regulations.
- Secondary Supervisor: The individual named as your Secondary Supervisor must agree to participate in the application and confirm they will act as your Secondary Academic Supervisor, support your career development and abide by the conditions under which an award may be granted. The Secondary Supervisor will be able to access the full application form and is expected to play an active role putting together the details of the training and development programme that you will undertake.
- Research Supervisor: All supervisors detailed in the ‘Research Supervision’ section must agree to participate in the application and confirm they will act as your supervisor for research and career development and agree to abide by the conditions under which an award may be granted. All additional supervisors will be able to access the full application form and are expected to play an active role putting together the details of training and development programme that you will undertake.
- 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 host and administer the award, at the stated costs, 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 once you have submitted.
You are required to supply the names and email addresses (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. Details of what is required and expected of each of the roles can be found below.
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 final signatory approval will result in the application being fully 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.
- Head of Department or Senior Manager: You will be required to include the Head of Department or Senior Manager 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 Form.
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. 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 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 16 March 2023, no exceptions will be made.
Should you require assistance in completing the online form, please contact the NIHR Academy at 0113 532 8410, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Completing the Application Form
Application Summary Information
Please give details of the organisation who will be the contractor if the fellowship 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 email.
Please indicate the methodological area you are planning to undertake using the drop down lists available. Please ensure you have read the relevant guidance above before selecting your responses to these questions.
Proposed Start Date
Whole Time Equivalent (WTE) of Award
Awards can only be undertaken with the WTE options given.
Degrees and Professional Qualifications
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 undertook research for 2.5 days a week and teaching work for 2.5 days per week; please enter 50% for that position. If you have worked part time at 60%, and undertook research for half of that time, please enter 30% for that position.
Applicants who have just completed or are completing their undergraduate degree don’t necessarily need to complete any details here, although details of any relevant experience, such as placements, can be included.
Research Grants Held
Details of all 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.
Please note it is not necessarily expected that applicants for this fellowship will have been involved in grants at this stage in their career, especially those applying straight from their undergraduate degree.
Please note that your research grant record must be completed within the application form and not via the CV section on ARAMIS.
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
Applicant Research Background
Please describe your research career to date
- your interest in a career in research methodology;
- relevant skills and experience you have gained to date, including those gained at undergraduate level.
Impact of Fellowship
Has this Application been Previously Submitted to this or any other Funding Body?
• 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.
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 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).
Training and Development and Research Support
Proposed Training and Development Programme
Please use this section to detail the training and development programme you will undertake as part of the fellowship. This should cover the training you may need to support your development as a future health 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 fellowship.
- You should complete this section in collaboration with your supervisors.
- Where this involves the completion of a master’s level training, and/or other formal training please detail the list of topics that the course(s) will cover.
- You should detail the range of methods that the training programme will provide training and experience in and how this will tie in with your future career ambitions.
Research Support / Supervisor
- Up to 4 supervisors may be named in this section.
- Details should be provided of the experience each supervisor will bring and the support they will provide. This should include details of the numbers of students currently supervised and the number of students supervised to completion previously (Masters and PhD level).
- At least one supervisor must have experience and expertise in the candidate’s chosen methodology.
The individuals you list here must also be added as participants in the ‘Participants and Signatories’ section of the application form. Funding for research support and supervision is available for travel and subsistence only (for the applicant) and does not support any fees the individuals who provide research support or supervision may wish to charge the applicant.
Host Organisation Support Statement
The statement is completed by the Head of Department and should detail how the organisation(s) are going to support the applicant to successfully complete their 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.
In addition, the statement should also describe the host organisation’s approach to creating and maintaining an inclusive and supportive research culture for all. The statement should provide evidence of how the organisation values and supports equality, diversity and inclusion as well as acknowledging the organisation’s responsibilities with respect to 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 and practitioner academic training and it is recommended Host Organisations read these documents, where relevant, before completing the statement of support.
Information for medics and dentists
Information for all other professions
NIHR expects that all commitments made to the applicant within this statement will be honoured for the lifetime of the award.
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, patients/service users/carers- and public involvement (PPI) and any other direct costs. For help with estimating PPI costs please see the INVOLVE cost calculator.
- 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 Fellowships 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 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 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 June 2023 then its second year starts 01 June 2024.
- 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. Further details about CRN contacts are available at: https://local.nihr.ac.uk/lcrn/
- All applications are expected to have appropriate NHS, HEI, commercial and other partner organisation 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 of different types of organisations
This Fellowship does not cover Full Economics Costs, therefore all prices should be entered at, and will be paid at 100% regardless of the type of organisation (NHS, HEI or Other).
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.
- If the Employing host organisation is a Higher Education Institution, please select the “Other” option when entering the “Type of Cost” to prevent costs being submitted at 80%.
NHS bodies and other providers of NHS services in England
- For applications where the contractor is an NHS body or provider of NHS 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 an other partner organisation (e.g. charity or 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.
These are costs that are specific to the Fellowship, which will be charged as the amount actually spent and can be supported by an audit record. Funding for the Pre-Doctoral Fellowship should comprise of:
- Salary for applicant for the full duration of the fellowship
- Up to £5000 for Training and Development Costs
- Up to £1000 for Conference related costs
- Up to £1000 for Supervision Fees
- UK/Home Master's Level Training Fees (costs will vary from HEI).
Further information for each of these direct costs can be found below.
I) Details of posts and salaries
This section presents an overview of salary costs for the applicant including normal salary increments broken down individually.
Please state the proposed salary point and scale at the start of the fellowship. 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.
II) Salary costs
This section specifies the annual costs of the applicant. You should now allocate the individual staff member costs to each year of the research, allowing for increments. Use current rates of pay, 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, %WTE and number of months.
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).
III) Travel, Subsistence and Conference Fees
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 and training activities 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.
Travel by the most economic means possible is encouraged. NIHR programmes do not usually fund first class travel.
There is a limit on the amount that can be spent on conference related costs (including all associated travel and subsistence as well as conference fees) depending on the level you are applying for. These are as follows:
- Up to £1000
IV) Training and Development
All costs in this section will be funded at up to 100% for HEI, NHS 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 and Development Budget
Up to £5,000 towards the cost of undertaking your training and development plan may be applied for. Please note this includes all associated travel and subsistence related to undertaking the specific training activity.
Laptop costs are not supported by this award. If such costs are requested, candidates must strongly justify why their Host Institution is unable to provide the equipment.
Applicant’s Master’s Level Training Fees
NIHR support UK/Home Master’s fees only, international fees will not be supported. UK/Home Master’s fees will be supported in addition to the £5,000 training and development budget. Fees for master level training will only be funded if you are planning to undertake a full master’s level qualification (i.e. a full PGCert, MSc programme where full fees are applicable). Masters level modules undertaken as a standalone will be funded through the £5000 Training and Development budget (as described above).
Up to £1,000 towards the costs of supervision may be included in this section and will be supported in addition to the £5,000 training and development budget.
Management and Governance
Please complete the check boxes as appropriate.
To support your training and development plan you must upload the following document in the ‘Uploads’ section of the form:
GANNT Chart: 1 A4 page showing when the training and development plan will take place during the proposed award timescale.
Participants and Signatories
A number of participants and signatories are required to be added to your application and, where applicable, to complete sections of it. Details of the required individuals are provided 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 the signatory and the applicant.
Acknowledge, review and submit
Please declare any conflicts or potential conflicts of interest that you may have in undertaking this research, including any relevant, non-personal and commercial interest that could be perceived as a conflict of interest. Please check with your supervisors if unsure.
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
Applicants should use the list below to check that they have included the necessary information prior to submitting their application.
- A good description of your research career to date
- A clear demonstration of your interest in a career in research methodology
- A comprehensive training programme relevant to your career goals
- A single page Gantt chart (document upload)
A detailed finance breakdown that does not exceed the following budgets:
- Salary for the applicant for up to 2 years WTE.
- Up to £5,000 towards training and development.
- Where relevant, Home/UK course fees for a Master’s level qualification (i.e. MSc, PGCert).
- Up to £1,000 towards conference/meeting related travel expenses.
- Up to £1,000 towards the costs of supervision.
Additional Supporting Information
Plagiarism in NIHR funding opportunities
NIHR expects all content within applications for funding to be original material of the applicant's own work, with the exception of sections that other participants are required to complete. Whilst we anticipate and expect that applicants will get help and advice from various sources when putting together an application, including on occasion input from those previously awarded funding, care must be taken to ensure this does not lead to plagiarism of either published work or other previous applications. If an allegation of plagiarism is raised against an application this will be investigated in accordance with the NIHR Academy’s policy on plagiarism, a copy of which is available on request by email at: email@example.com.
Our purpose for collecting information is to communicate with you about your application and have the necessary information to evaluate you for a fellowship. The data we collect here is collected in the public interest. Information provided here may be subject to Freedom of Information requests.
The NIHR Academy is part of the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC), The National Institute of Health and Care Research (NIHR). The contracting agent for the NIHR Academy is the Leeds Teaching Hospital Trust (LTHT). The DHSC is the Data Controller and LTHT is the Data Processor under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) EC 2016/679. DHSC NIHR respects the privacy of individuals who share their data and processes it in a manner that meets the requirements of GDPR. The DHSC Data Protection Officer can be contacted by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
This notice is under constant review and will be updated and / or revised based on that review as appropriate.
Equality and Diversity Monitoring Information
NIHR is committed to promoting equality, diversity and inclusion in research and asks applicants to provide Equality and Diversity Monitoring Information (age, sex, ethnicity and race, and disability). By answering these Equality and Diversity Monitoring Information questions, you will help us to better understand the different groups of people that 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.
International Standard Registered Clinical/soCial sTudy Number (ISRCTN)
All primary research studies need to be assigned an ISRCTN. Find out more on the ISRCTN website. Please note that the remit of this database has been widened to include all primary research projects, even those that are not randomised controlled trials. There is no registration fee for NIHR funded trials.
Requirements for systematic reviews to be registered with PROSPERO
Applicants undertaking systematic reviews should note the commitment of NIHR to publication in the database. PROSPERO was developed by the NIHR’s Centre for Reviews and Dissemination (CRD), and is the first online facility to register systematic reviews for research about health and social care from all around the world. Access is completely free and open to the public. PROSPERO registration is a condition of NIHR funding for eligible systematic reviews. Find out more on the PROSPERO website.
UK Biobank is a major national health resource, and a registered charity in its own right, with the aim of improving the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of serious and life-threatening illnesses – including cancer, heart diseases, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis, eye disorders, depression and forms of dementia. UK Biobank recruited 500,000 people aged between 40-69 years in 2006-2010 from across the country to take part in this project. They have undergone measures, provided blood, urine and saliva samples for future analysis as well as detailed information about themselves. The health of members of this large cohort will be followed over the coming years and the participants have consented to be approached about health research.
Applicants are encouraged to consider whether Biobank may be able to provide suitable data for their study. We do not want to discourage establishment of new collections of participants and their data where this is necessary to address the research questions under consideration, our aim is to avoid applications for funding to set up Biobank-like cohorts where the use of Biobank would prevent wasteful duplication of Biobank-like activities. Find out more on the Biobank website.
NIHR Carbon Reduction Guidelines
Researchers applying for NIHR funding are asked to consider the carbon footprint of their research and take steps to reduce carbon emissions where appropriate. Advice on how to do this can be obtained from the NIHR Carbon Reduction Guidelines.
In line with the government’s transparency agenda, any contract resulting from this tender may be published in its entirety to the general public. Further information on the transparency agenda can be found in Procurement and contracting transparency requirements: guidance.
Clinical Trials Unit (CTU) support
Applicants thinking of including a clinical trial, feasibility or pilot study as part of their application, or are undertaking a research and/or training related to clinical trials are encouraged to consider working with a CTU where appropriate. Further guidance for trainees and applicants is available in the NIHR Clinical Trials Guide. This includes guidance on how to go about approaching a suitable CTU to support your application.
The NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN) supports researchers and the life sciences industry in planning, setting up and delivering high quality research to the agreed timelines and study recruitment target, for the benefit of the NHS and its patients in England.
In partnership with your local R&D office, we encourage you to involve your local CRN team in discussions as early as possible when planning your study to fully benefit from the support the NIHR CRN offers as outlined in their Study Support Service. To find out more about how you can apply for this additional support to help deliver your study, please visit www.supportmystudy.nihr.ac.uk.
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.
If you are using patient, service user or 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.
Financial support under an NIHR Fellowship is subject to a contract between the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and the host organisation.
Once funding for a Fellowship has been discussed and agreed, NIHR will confirm the financial arrangements with the host organisation. NIHR will provide the host organisation with a contract setting out the details of these arrangements.
The host organisation will be expected to issue the individual with an employment contract commensurate with their experience and seniority.
Government procurement transparency regulations require publication of details of all contracts made with the DHSC on their Website. Confidential information including research proposals (Plain English Summaries will be published), detailed finance information, bank details, and departmental staff names (other than the award holder’s name) will be removed from the published versions.
Freedom of Information Act
The NIHR Academy manages the 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:
0113 532 841
Annex A: NIHR Remit Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
The following FAQs are designed to help applicants decide whether the research they are proposing as part of a Fellowship or other research training application falls within the remit of the NIHR. Please bear in mind that in these 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 his/her skills and experiences to a still higher level. Therefore, along with the research proposal, NIHR panels will assess the abilities, academic trajectory, existing experience, commitment to a career in health and social 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 a Senior Programme Manager for the award you applying for before submitting an application.
Do you fund the evaluation of education and/or training schemes?
Yes. Proposed studies should be within the overall remit of the NIHR and outcomes measured should be health related, or there should be good evidence for a link between the outcome measured and a health outcome.
Do you fund the development and/or evaluation of decision aids for patients, service users or carers?
The development or updating of a decision aid will be considered as part of a larger project or programme.
Do you fund the development of interventions, devices, technologies or services?
The development or adaptation of interventions can be considered as part of a larger project or programme of work. We will not fund standalone developmental studies.
Do you fund the development and/or evaluation of outcome measures, questionnaires or surveys (e.g. Patient Reported Experience/Outcome Measures)?
The development, adaptation or updating of outcome measures questionnaires or surveys can be considered as part of a larger project or programme of work.
Do you fund the development, evaluation and/or validation of models (e.g. risk factor models, health economic models etc.)?
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.
Do you fund research requiring observational/applied epidemiological methods?
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 remits. An applied epidemiological component can also be considered as part of a larger project or programme of work.
Do you fund research into workforce?
Yes. Proposed studies should be within the overall 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.
Do you fund research into Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) in research?
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.
How does NIHR define the early translational (experimental medicine) research that it is interested in funding?
NIHR is interested in funding translational research which involves investigation undertaken in humans which can show a trajectory to benefiting patients/service users/carers.
Proposals must show a clear link to improving disease outcomes and/or improvements in health. This could include proof of concept studies in humans and phase 1 clinical trials. Research which is aimed only at furthering understanding of the underlying biology and physiology of disease, including research into disease mechanisms is not within remit.
Annex B: NIHR Pre-doctoral Fellowship FAQ
What is the difference between the Pre-doctoral Fellowship and the Pre-doctoral Clinical and Practitioner Academic Fellowship?
The Pre-doctoral Fellowship is designed to support people who are looking to start or advance a career specifically in health and social care research methodology, committing to advancing the methodological field they chose to specialise in. The Pre-doctoral Clinical and Practitioner Academic Fellowship (PCAF) is open to ICA eligible professions who are looking to train as clinical academics.
Can clinical academics or practitioners apply to the Pre-doctoral Fellowship?
Yes, if you are a clinical academic or practitioner looking to specialise as a research methodologist and pursue this as your career, then you are eligible to apply to the Pre-doctoral Fellowship. However, you would be expected to continue on this pathway and not return as a clinician or practitioner after the award. However if you would like to train in research methods you should look at the programmes offered by the relevant clinical and practitioner academic programmes provided by NIHR, such as the PCAF.
Can an overseas institution host my award?
No, your proposed Host institution must be an English HEI, NHS body or other provider of health and/or care services.
Can you apply if you live outside the UK?
Yes, as long as you have the support of the host organisation you are applying with and are eligible to work in England if your application is successful. The NIHR expects that you will be physically located within your host organisation for the duration of the fellowship. These fellowships cannot be undertaken remotely.
Do I need to be employed by my Host at the time of applying?
No, you do not need to be employed by your Host at the time of applying, if your application is successful your Host will offer you a contract of employment. As part of your award, you will be employed for the full duration of your fellowship.
Is the Pre-doctoral Fellowship only for UK students and researchers or can international students and researchers apply?
International students are welcome to apply as long as they; have a proposed English Host institution, are able to live and work in the UK, and are committed to a career as a research methodologist.
What do you mean by ‘salary costs’, is this in addition to the training costs?
Pre-doctoral Fellows are paid a salary to undertake the Fellowship; this support is in addition to the training and development, conference and supervision budgets.
Is there an average salary offered as part of the fellowship?
There are no ‘average’ salary costs. As you would be offered a contract of employment by your host, you would discuss with them what grade/salary you would start on.
Is it expected that the award will be undertaken alongside a job, or would this be the candidate’s full focus for the time period?
If you wish to do so you may undertake the Fellowship on a part-time basis in order to carry out a second job.
Are fellowships full time? I am disabled and would have to study part-time.
Applicants are able to undertake the award on a part time or full time basis dependent on their individual requirements. Candidates may select the Whole Time Equivalent (WTE) of anywhere between 50% and 100%, for example 60% WTE equates to 3 days per week.
If you apply for part time funding does it still only cover up to 2 years, or can it cover a longer time period?
If you would like to apply for 2 years FTE and undertake the award on a part time basis the duration of the award would increase, for example if you select a 24 month WTE duration and undertake the award at 50% WTE, the award duration will be 48 months.
Should I have a Master’s place confirmed at the time of the application if I apply for a master’s level training scheme?
It is not necessary to have confirmation of a master’s place at the time of application, however full details of the course you intend to undertake should be provided in the Training and Development section of the application form. If you are interested, a list of potential Master’s level qualifications for this scheme can be found here.
Does the application process involve an interview?
The application process does not involve an interview stage. Following submission and eligibility checks, application forms are assessed by the Selection Committee and discussed at a Funding Recommendation Meeting to confirm who is deemed ‘fundable’.
Does the fact that I already have a Master’s put me at a disadvantage for the Pre-Doctoral Fellowship?
Candidates who already hold a relevant master's degree (or are currently completing one) can use the Fellowship to gain additional support and training to advance to the next level of their career, for example, training in a specific methodology or pilot work to inform a higher fellowship application. Therefore having already completed a Master’s will not put you at a disadvantage when applying to the Pre-doctoral Fellowship.
If you have already completed a master’s degree in a subject not considered relevant, are you eligible to complete another master’s degree, which is relevant, funded by the NIHR as part of your fellowship?
Yes, however you must demonstrate your ambition and plan to become a future research methodologist as outlined in your application.
If you were to be awarded a Pre-Doctoral Fellowship, would this prevent you from applying for future fellowships?
The NIHR Fellowship Programme supports individuals on their trajectory to becoming future leaders in NIHR research, therefore success at the Pre-Doctoral Fellowship would not prevent you from applying to future fellowships. The epecattion is that you would go on to apply for more funding either through NIHR, or other funders in order to achieve your ambition as a future research methodologist.
If you were unsuccessful last year can you apply again and is it OK to change focus of research methodology?
Candidates are able to submit two applications to the same scheme so yes, if your previous application was unsuccessful you could apply to the next competition call. You could also change your selected research methodology. When submitting your second application please ensure that you address all the points of feedback provided by the Selection Committee following your first application. If you are unsuccessful on your second attempt, you must wait a period of three years before attempting to reapply.
How do I ensure that my host organisation writes a great supportive statement?
It is good practice to contact your Host institution as soon as possible to introduce yourself, explain your career aspirations and tell them how the Fellowship will help you to achieve these goals. Confirm who your supervisors are and how they will support you. Finally, ensure that your Host is aware of their responsibilities both in preparing your application and managing the award if you are successful.
Do you have any advice for finding a supervisor?
A list of potential supervisors who are familiar with NIHR Fellowships and/or have areas of expertise in methodological studies can be found here. Speaking to your peers, current supervisors and Host organisations may also help you to find potential supervisors.
What is classed as a ‘relevant’ undergraduate degree?
Examples of relevant subject areas can be found in the list below:
- Health Sciences
- Biomedical Science
- Operational Research
- Computer Science
- Social Science
- Life Sciences
- Computer Science
Please note that this list is not exhaustive:
As per the scope of the scheme, there is the opportunity to use the Pre-Doctoral Fellowship to facilitate a career change, therefore your first undergraduate degree may not fall into any of these broad scientific areas. In this circumstance, you would need to make it very clear in your application why you want to pursue a career in a research methodology, and how the fellowship will help you advance your change in career. Please get in touch with NIHR Academy if you require any further support with this.
Are PPI costs covered by the Pre-Doctoral Fellowship?
As the the NIHR Pre-doctoral Fellowship is a ‘training’ award rather than a research project, we would usually not expect any PPI costs to be claimed through this scheme. However, if you are utilising the fellowship to undertake pilot work required for a future PhD application, PPI training is recommended to ensure you are aware of what this entails come the submission of a future doctoral fellowship application.
Annex C: Submission Flow Diagram
Outlined are the steps for submitting an application. The applicant starts the application and adds participant and signatory details. The participants and signatory can then log in and confirm their participation and signatory can complete the sections of the form as directed. The applicant can continue entering data and completes all relevant sections of the form (step 3). The applicant then presses the ‘Submit’ button. Once the applicant submits, signatories will receive automated emails to approve the application. However, automated ‘out of office’ replies to these emails will not be relayed to the applicant. Once all signatories have approved the application, it is automatically submitted to NIHR for consideration. Rejection of the application by any individual at this stage will return the application to step 3.