NIHR SPARC Round 5 Guidance Notes
On behalf of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), the NIHR Academy is launching the fifth round of the NIHR Infrastructure Short Placement Award for Research Collaboration (SPARC) (previously known as the NIHR Infrastructure Doctoral Training Exchange scheme or ‘IDTE’).
The NIHR’s vision is to open up its world class facilities, training and career development opportunities to early career researchers funded in the Infrastructure. This scheme will therefore allow NIHR Academy Members supported by NIHR Infrastructure to spend time in other parts of the NIHR to network, train in a specific skill or collaborate with other researchers/specialists. The scheme is designed to optimise and enhance the individuals’ experience as well as their CVs. Expected outcomes include collaborations, publications, presentations and posters, as well as the development of new skills.
These guidance notes are intended to help completion of an application for the NIHR Infrastructure SPARC, Round 5 (2018).
The NIHR SPARC is open to all NIHR Academy Members who:
- are early career researchers (PhD or early career post-doc) undertaking a formal training/career development award, which is competitive, includes a training plan and has a defined end point (this may be an application for further funding);
- are directly funded by an NIHR award to a part of the NIHR Infrastructure with a remit to build capacity (Biomedical Research Centre (BRC), Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC), Patient Safety Translational Research Centre (PSTRC) or at the NIHR School for Primary Care Research (SPCR) or Public Health Research (SPHR);
- receive at least 25% funding from the NIHR Infrastructure for their salary/stipend/fees over the lifetime of the award, and;
- can complete the award between April 2019 and February 2020.
Scope of Award
The NIHR Infrastructure SPARC allows eligible individuals within one part of the NIHR Infrastructure to spend a short period of time training in another part of the NIHR. The period of experience in another part of the NIHR is flexible if the applicant can demonstrate the impact and benefit to their training. The training placement period can be broken up to allow flexibility but must be completed and the financial report must be submitted by March the 1 st 2020. Awardees will remain registered at their ‘home’ institution and the ‘host’ institution will provide supervision and training in collaboration with the ‘home’ supervision team.
The following types of activities could be supported:
- moving to other parts of the NIHR with similar specialisms to their home institution;
- seeking placements in a specific NIHR institution that offers training experiences not available at their home institution (including cross-discipline training, such as regulatory aspects, clinical trials etc.)
The placements, however, are not limited to these types of activities. Applications to spend time in a part of the wider NIHR or NIHR Infrastructure with a different remit than an applicant’s home institution (e.g. BRC to a CLAHRC) are also encouraged.
Applicants must clearly demonstrate how this opportunity would enhance their studies and their CV.
Applicants are advised to look at the following documents:
1. SPARC – Where Can I Go? This details the types of activities taking place within the NIHR Infrastructure (nb this is not an exhaustive list, and does not detail wider NIHR opportunities. Applicants must liaise with their named Training Lead prior to developing an application).
2. SPARC – Advice from Awardees to Applicants. This document includes advice that may be helpful in planning a placement.
3. SPARC – Case Studies. The home and host institutions, placements, outputs and impacts of some previous awards are described. The most recent case studies can be seen here
Scope of Funding
The placement will be funded by awards of up to £5,000 per individual through a centrally run competition. The aim of the award is to cover the incidental expenses (accommodation, travel, food and other reasonable expenses) of working from another institution for a short period of time. Travel and subsistence rates should be in accordance with the rates approved by the home institution. The awardee’s home institution will continue to support their salary/stipend/fees. Research costs, open access fees, conference fees, and supervisory fees will not be covered by this award and would be expected to be funded by the home institution.
Successful applicants will:
- notify the NIHR Academy when the placement has come to an end;
- submit a written report within 2 months of the completion of the placement or by the 1st of March 2020 (whichever is soonest), in a form provided by the NIHR Academy, detailing the placement, achievements, impacts and outputs.
The home institution will:
- within 2 months of the completion of the placement or by the 1st of March 2020 (whichever is soonest) submit an invoice to the NIHR Academy for incidental expenses incurred during the placement, up to the limit of the amount awarded.
The NIHR Academy reserve the right to request supporting documentation.
Application and Selection Process
- Applicants are responsible for liaising with their Home Institution Training Lead (see Infrastructure Training Leads) and potential placement institution and agreeing the scope of the placement.
- The application form is available from the NIHR SPARC webpage at www.nihr.ac.uk/SPARC
- To submit the application, the NIHR Training Lead representing the NIHR Infrastructure Home Institution must email a completed application form and the applicant's CV to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The applicant’s CV should detail their qualifications, awards, publications and experience and both documents should be suitably protected.
- The deadline for submission is 1pm on Thursday 29th November.
- Any changes to the formatting of text within the application form may impact the rest of the form and what is visible to the SPARC Panel when reviewing the application. Such issues usually resolve when the form is saved and reopened, but the applicant needs to ensure that all required text is visible in an electronic and printed copy of this application form prior to submission.
- Incomplete, faxed, posted or late applications will not be accepted under any circumstances.
- The NIHR Academy is responsible for the selection process and subsequent management of the award.
- Applications will be reviewed by an expert Panel, and scored during a Panel meeting late in January 2019.
- The Panel, via the NIHR Academy, will make recommendations for funding to the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC).
- The NIHR Academy expect to be able to notify applicants of the outcome of their application by March 2019.
Applications will be acknowledged by email within a week of the closing date.
Applicants should not phone or email the NIHR Academy with enquiries prior to receiving this email.
Applications for the NIHR Infrastructure SPARC will be assessed using the following criteria:
- the potential for the applicant to enhance their current research studies;
- the impact the placement will have on the applicant’s career development and trajectory;
- the extent to which the placement will provide a high-quality and stimulating research training experience;
- the provision of academic supervision and support in both the home and host institutions, and;
- the extent to which the placement will support the professional and personal development of the applicant.
NIHR Privacy Notice
Our purpose for collecting information is so we have the necessary information to evaluate your application for a placement and can communicate with you about your application. The data we collect is collected in the public interest. Information provided here may be subject to Freedom of Information requests.
The NIHR Academy is part of the DHSC, NIHR. The contracting agent for the NIHR Academy is the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS 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: email@example.com
This notice is under constant review and will be updated and / or revised based on that review as appropriate.
Statement of Acknowledgement
Data processing relating to applications and awards of NIHR grants by the DHSC is done under the legal basis of public interest. As these are publicly funded awards, there is a requirement to be publicly transparent. The information provided in award applications may be subject to Freedom of Information requests. To meet the requirement of transparency the NIHR Academy publishes details of the awards and awardees, and this may include photographs and email addresses, on our website. You have the right to object, and objections will be considered on a case by case basis so that the balance between public transparency and privacy rights are maintained.
Equal Opportunities and Diversity
NIHR and DHSC have a duty as a public body to promote equality of opportunity. All applicants will be contacted shortly after the closure date by NIHR Equality Monitoring.
Monitoring ensures that all applications to NIHR Programmes are treated equally in terms of gender, ethnicity and/or disability.
The information you share with the monitoring system will:
- be stored separately from your application;
- only be used for the purpose of monitoring equal opportunities, and;
- be kept securely and in confidence.
Completing the application form
Submitting the Application
Please ensure that you read this advice carefully.
Please ensure that your name, email address, Training Lead (at your Home Institution Organisation) name and email address, Home Institution Infrastructure Organisation and Proposed Host Institution Infrastructure Organisation (or named part of the wider NIHR) are detailed here.
Section A – Applicant Details
Ai. Applicant Details
Please enter your full name, including title, job title, highest level of qualification and current level of study.
Professional background. For doctors and dentists, please enter the GMC/GDC recognised specialty. For all other applicants, please enter your discipline or professional background from the drop down menu.
Please add your professional body/council registration membership(s) and registration number(s) where appropriate.
Aii. Applicant Home Institution Details
Please give details of your home institution (where you are based), and include the name and contact details of your Primary Supervisor. Please also provide a correspondence address and contact details if they are different to those you have already provided. Note: your home institution must be an NIHR BRC, CLAHRC, PSTRC or the SPCR or SPHR. Please refer to the ‘Eligibility’ section above for more information.
Section B – Applicant Experience
Overview of experience to date Please give an overview of your research experience to date in no more than 150 words.
Section C – Proposed Placement: Contact Details
Please provide the name, job title and contact details of the person who will supervise you during the placement at the host institution.
Section D – Proposed Placement: Plans
Please provide a title for your placement and your preferred start date (from the dropdown list).
Di. Please provide a clear outline of the plan for your proposed placement. Include a justification of the length of placement and the order of activities planned and explain why it is important for your career at this stage. It is also important to explain why you have chosen the particular NIHR host that you wish to work with during the placement (for example, due to particular experts, technical expertise, equipment or teams). (350 words max)
The placement programme should provide training/research/mentoring or other experiences that are not currently available in your home training environment. This may include being part of a research study that enhances your own work, collaborating with a new team of researchers who specialise in your field or working in a different field where you have career aspirations. The placement, however, is not limited to these types of activities.
The period of experience in another part of the NIHR is flexible as long as benefit to the applicant can be demonstrated.
The training placement period can be broken up to allow flexibility but must be completed by the end of February 2020.
Dii. Please outline a) the likely benefits and impact of the placement on your research, training and career, and b) how you will know whether it has been a successful placement (250 words max)
Diii. This section must provide a clear breakdown and full justification of all funds requested, including a total. Please note the award is for a maximum of £5,000.
- Funding is provided to cover the incidental expenses (accommodation, travel, food and other reasonable expenses) of working from another institution for a short period of time. Travel and subsistence rates should be in accordance with the rates approved by the home institution.
- Research costs, open access fees, conference fees, and supervisory fees will not be covered by this award and would be expected to be funded by the home institution.
- Costs should be based on current prices.
- All applicants are expected to seek appropriate input into the finance section of the application form.
- Within 2 months of the completion of the award, or by the 1st of March 2020 (whichever is soonest), the home institution will be expected to submit an invoice to the NIHR Academy. The invoice will be checked in line with the proposed placement plans and justification of funds requested, and when approved, the NIHR Academy will reimburse the awardee’s home institution.
- The NIHR Academy reserve the right to request copies of supporting documentation.
Div. THIS SECTION IS TO BE COMPLETED BY THE PROPOSED HOST SUPERVISOR
Please outline how you as a Supervisor and the Host Institution will support the applicant during this placement (250 words max)
Section E – Declarations and Signatures
The following parties must carefully read the declarations and signatures section and insert their name, an electronic signature and date on to the application form:
Home Institution - Primary Supervisor
Host Institution – Proposed Placement Supervisor
Section F – NIHR Infrastructure Home Institution Training Lead Statement of Support
All applications should be signed by the NIHR Training Lead. In signing, he/she is indicating:
- their approval of the application;
- their willingness of the home institution to support the applicant (if successful) during the placement;
- their commitment to providing the support necessary to make the award a success;
- their approval of the costs sought; and
- their acceptance of the terms and conditions associated with an NIHR Infrastructure SPARC award.
Section G – Monitoring Information
Please use the drop-down list to state how you became aware of the scheme.
If you have any queries about the SPARC award please contact us at:
Address: NIHR Academy 21 Queen Street Leeds LS1 2TW
Telephone: 0113 532 8430
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org quoting ‘SPARC Round 5’ in the subject heading.