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NIHR Pre-doctoral Fellowships Guidance Notes - Round 3, January 2021

 

Contents

Introduction

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Academy is launching the 3rd round of Pre-Doctoral Fellowship funded by the Department of Health and Social Care. 

Pre-doctoral Fellowships are designed to support people who are looking to start or advance a career in health and social care research methodology, specifically in one of the following areas:

  • Medical statistics
  • Health economics
  • Clinical trial design
  • Operational research
  • Modelling
  • Bioinformatics
  • Qualitative research
  • Mixed methods
  • Epidemiology

Applicants should either have completed or are about to complete their undergraduate degree in a relevant subject or already hold a master's degree (or currently undertaking one) relevant to one of the areas above. Applicants without a master's degree should use the Fellowship to undertake a master's degree in one of the areas listed. Those already holding a relevant master's degree (or currently completing one) should 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.

Following the completion of a 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 (or full master's degree) training programme relevant to one or more of the areas listed above, which would allow them to be in a strong position to go into a range of further health and social care research 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 the remit of the Fellowship, 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 qualification in addition to some hands on training and development in a relevant setting, which will provide applicants with a solid grounding to go on to develop a 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 the candidate 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 in the 'Identification of Potential Supervisors' section which you can access from the right hand menu.

NIHR Remit

Whilst these Fellowships are 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 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:

  1. The overall remit of the NIHR is early translational (experimental medicine), clinical and applied health research, including social care research.
  2. For personal pre-doctoral and doctoral-level awards the proposal:
    a) must be for clinical and applied health research, including social care research
    b) must have clear potential for directly benefiting patients and the public (but recognising the training element of the research
    c) can involve: patients; samples or data from patients; people who are not patients; populations; health technology assessment; or health services research
  3. NIHR does not support basic research or work involving animals or their tissue
  4. 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.
  5. 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 and the public must be made clear.

Eligibility Criteria

  • Completion of a relevant first 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 in one of the areas listed in the introduction
  • The Fellowship is not open to clinical applicants looking to undertake training in research methods. Clinical applicants looking to develop a career as a clinical academic should consider schemes from the relevant clinical academic programmes provided by NIHR.

Assessment Criteria

Applications for Pre-doctoral Fellowships are assessed on the following criteria:

Applicants without a master's degree

  • Interest of applicant in developing a future career in health and social care research methodology.
  • 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 (lii) or above BSc in a relevant subject area.
  • High quality training programme including opportunity to complete a relevant master's degree 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 degree

  • Completion of relevant master's degree of relevance to training programme being proposed.
  • Interest of applicant in undertaking a future PhD in health and social care research methodology.
  • 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.

Start Dates

Fellowships must start on the first of the month between 1st September 2021 and 1st March 2022.

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 career. It is expected that applicants without a master’s degree will usually make use of the full 24 months to allow completion of a master’s degree followed by additional training in relevant areas. Whereas those already holding a relevant master’s may only need 12 months support to help prepare for a future PhD programme. However the Fellowship is being utilised any of the options can be used provided this is justified and fits with the expected outcomes from the award.

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 2 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 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. Please note that supervisors do not need to be associated with the organisations listed below.
Contact details are provided below and applicants are advised to get in touch with those whom you may have an interest in working with at the earliest opportunity and no later than 20 February 2021.

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 MSc courses is also available:

If you are struggling to identify a suitable supervisor in your area of interest then please contact the NIHR Academy using the details listed at the end of this guidance.

Scope of Funding

  1. 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 UK Policy Framework for Health and 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. 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).
  2. 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.
  3. NIHR Fellowships are individual training awards which will offer funding to cover the salary costs of the individual, and training and development programme.
  4. 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 1 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 (DHCS) Science, Research and Evidence (SRE) Directorate. Once confirmed, the funding decisions will then be communicated to applicants.
  • Applicants will be informed of the outcome of their application by email when all required processes are complete.
  • The selection process and subsequent management of the Fellowships will be managed by the NIHR Academy.
  • 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.

Timetable

Stage

Date

Competition opens for applications for Pre-doctoral Fellowships

28 January 2021

Closing date for submission of online application

25 March 2021 by 1pm

Selection Committee Recommendation Meeting

03 June 2021

Awards start

01 September 2021 to 01 March 2022

Registering, Completing and Submitting the Application

Registering

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 Pre-doctoral Fellowship from the list provided.

Please note – there are three Pre-doctoral Fellowship competitions open concurrently:

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 B for flow diagrams of the application submission process.

Participants and Signatories

Applicant:

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 signatories (see below). Once all other parties have made their contribution, you will be required to ‘Submit’ the application to the signatories 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 signatories 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 signatories 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 (signatories) 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):

Participants:

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 (MSc 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.
  • Research Contract Officer: A Research Contract Officer at the host organisation must confirm that they have read the guidance notes for the relevant NIHR programme and the standard NIHR contract, and confirm that the host organisation would be willing to accept an award according to the published terms and conditions of the NIHR standard contract. Your supervisor will be able to advise who this should be.

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.

Signatories:

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 ‘signing off’ your application. Once their contact details have been entered, the signatories 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.

Signatories 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. all signatories 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 approvals.

Signatories 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 B) for further information. The final signatory approval will result in the application being fully submitted to the NIHR. All parties (applicant, participants and signatories) will be notified of this via an automated system generated email.

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

Required Signatories:
  • 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.
  • 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.

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 signatories. At this point, the signatories 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 signatories have approved the final version. When the last 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 25 March 2021, 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 academy-awards@nihr.ac.uk.

Completing the Application Form

Application Summary Information

Host Organisation

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 academy-awards@nihr.ac.uk.  

Application Type

Please indicate the type of Fellowship you are applying for 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

Note this should be from 1st of the month regardless of whether this is a working day or not. Please be realistic about your possible start date taking account of the necessary contracting and staff recruitment prior to starting your project.

Whole Time Equivalent (WTE) of Award

Awards can only be undertaken with the WTE options given.

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’ 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 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 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.

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 visit ORCID.

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

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:
  • 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 
Please describe the impact this fellowship will have on your career, noting a fellowship should provide you with a step change in your career trajectory. 

Has this Application been Previously Submitted to this or any other Funding Body?

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 training programme 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.

Current and Previous NIHR awards

In order to help track the progression of NIHR trainees please indicate whether you have previously held or currently hold another NIHR research training award.

Employment Breaks

Please use this question to detail any employment breaks you wish to make the Selection Committee aware of.

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 both the training you may need to undertake the research being proposed but also training designed 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 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.

Research Support / Supervisor

  • Up to 4 supervisors may be named here.
  • 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. 

Collaborations

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.
 
The NIHR is particularly keen to enhance the cadre of researchers equipped to work at the university/NHS/industry interface, translating ideas into new treatments and products from which patients can benefit. Therefore, where appropriate, you should consider any industry collaborations you may wish to establish during the course of your award. 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 the NHS.

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.

Detailed Budget

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 and public involvement (PPI) and any other direct costs. For help with estimating PPI costs please see the payment guidance.
  • 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 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 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 2021 then its second year starts 01 June 2022.
  • 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.
  • 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.
Direct costs

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. They should comprise:

I)  Details of posts and salaries. This section presents an overview of salary costs for the applicant including normal salary increments broken down individually.  

The Applicant

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 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

There is a limit on the amount that can be spent on conference related costs (including all related 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.

Laptop Costs   

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 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.

Supervision Costs

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.

Uploads

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 B goes through the actions required of participants, signatories and the applicant.

Acknowledge, review and submit

Conflict Checks

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 a NIHR stage 1 research application

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 degree.
  • 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 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 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), National Institute for Health 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: 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.

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

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.

Transparency Agenda

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

MRC Complex Intervention Guidance

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

NIHR INVOLVE

INVOLVE is funded by the National Institute for Health Research, to support active public involvement in NHS, public health and social care research.

As a national advisory group, its role is to bring together expertise, insight and experience in the field of public involvement in research, with the aim of advancing it as an essential part of the process by which research is identified, prioritised, designed, conducted and disseminated.

INVOLVE can support prospective applicants and existing awardees to incorporate effective patient and public involvement into their work. Support includes; help with calculating appropriate costs for involving patients and the public, help with developing potential strategies for involvement, case studies of involvement activities including the impact they have had, and help with writing plain English summaries.

Full details of the support INVOLVE can provide and contact information is available via the INVOLVE website.

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.

If you are using patient information from an existing database, you should check whether the patients 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 patient 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 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:

NIHR Academy

0113 532 841

academy-awards@nihr.ac.uk

Annex A: Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

NIHR Remit

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?

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/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/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, the public, or of the workforce itself.

Do you fund research into patient and public involvement in research?

Yes. Proposed studies would need to demonstrate the potential for practical application and make clear the potential impact on patients 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.

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.

NIHR Pre-doctoral Fellowship

What is the difference between the Pre-doctoral Fellowship and the Pre-doctoral Clinical 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. The Pre-doctoral Clinical Academic Fellowship (PCAF) is for clinical academics looking to train as clinical academics.

Can clinical academics apply to the Pre-doctoral Fellowship?

Yes, if you are a clinical academic looking to specialise as a research methodologist 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 after the award. However if you would like to train in research methods you should look at the programmes offered by the relevant clinical academic programmes provided by NIHR Academy, 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.

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 arrange a contract of employment. As part of your award you should be employed for the duration of the award.

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 improving the health and wealth of the Nation as described in the NIHR's remit.

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 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 MSc place acceptance decision on the time of the application if I apply for a master level training scheme?

It is not necessary to have confirmation of an MSc place at the time of application, however full details of the courses you intend to undertake should be provided in the Training and Development section of the application form.

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 meeting to confirm recommendations for funding.

Does the fact that I already have an MSc 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 an MSc will not put you at a disadvantage when applying to the Pre-doctoral Fellowship.

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 and success at the Pre-Doctoral Fellowship would not prevent you from applying to future fellowships.

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.

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 on the NIHR Pre-doctoral Fellowship Potential Supervisors webpage. Speaking to your peers, current supervisors and Host organisations may also help you to find potential supervisors.

Annex B: Submission Flow Diagram

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