The NIHR Programme Development Grants Scheme (both Stream A and Stream B) invites applications to the second round of our ground-breaking scheme of Developing Innovative, Inclusive and Diverse Public Partnerships funding opportunity.
This document provides guidance on completing a PDG application for Stream A (funding to develop a future programme grant).
This guidance should be read in conjunction with the supporting information for applicants (see Annex 1) and the funding opportunity brief (see link below under ‘Scope’).
It supersedes the 'Scope' and 'What we Fund' sections of the guidance on the PDG webpage, and is meant to provide simpler, clearer guidance for those who are not used to completing NIHR applications. If you need further advice or explanation, please do not hesitate to contact us at email@example.com.
We are seeking applications to develop, carry out, and evaluate novel and equitable partnership-based development activities that break new ground in research involvement and engagement. Applications involving groups who have been under-served by research are particularly welcome. Further details can be found by reading the Developing Innovative, Inclusive and Diverse Public Partnerships call brief.
It is important to remember, though, that the NIHR funds research, meaning applications need to be logical, specific, have clear outputs, and some connection to the Programme Development Grants and/or Programme Grants for Applied Research schemes, which is: health and social care research that seeks to come up with applied solutions to problems.
Given the above, the funding opportunity is not intended to support applications which seek solely to undertake early work. For example, priority setting endeavours or simply creating new partnerships is not eligible work. Partnership building activity is allowed – and encouraged -- in the context of novel research leading to clear outputs.
This funding opportunity has been specifically conceived to put the communities at the forefront of proposing and leading on research. Community partners are expected to play a full part in the idea generation, design and delivery of any project and to jointly lead the application.
However, one current restriction of the PDG scheme is that it is legally limited in which organisations can take the role of host organisation and lead the application. At the moment, this has to be an NHS Trust, NHS Body or another provider of NHS services in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, meaning the lead applicant has to be either employed by a NHS Trust, NHS Body or another provider of NHS services, or have an honorary contract with them. We recognise this as a limitation of the scheme.
It is expected that the community organisation take the joint lead role and be an active and equal partner in determining the research to be done and in carrying out the research. The joint community partner lead applicant does not have to have some connection to a NHS Trust, NHS Body or another provider of NHS services.
If the application receives funding, the contract will be set up with the NHS Trust, NHS Body or another provider of NHS services.
NOTE: The host organisation should take into account the innovative nature of this scheme and the final constraints on most community groups. Applications should note how the host organisation plans to proactively address and sympathetically support their community partners from a funding perspective (e.g., release of funds through quicker, less administrative and/or time-consuming processes).
Guidance on completing the Stream A PDG application form
These notes are intended to provide an overview only and applicants should note that the application form provides online guidance help. If you need further advice or explanation, please do not hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Application Summary Information
Please give details of the host organisation. They will be the organisation that holds the contract if the development work is funded and must be a NHS Trust, NHS Body or another provider of NHS services in England, Wales, Scotland, or Northern Ireland (please see note above).
If you have any queries, please contact email@example.com before submitting your application.
Development work title
Please provide a title for the development work. The title should clearly and concisely state the proposed work to be undertaken. Any abbreviations should be spelled out in full.
Select the appropriate research type. If your proposed programme includes any element of primary research, that is the collection of new data, please select ‘Primary Research’. If you are carrying out a new analysis of existing data, select ‘Secondary Research’. If you are not sure which category to select, choose the closest match to your project as this can be adjusted later. If the majority of the development work will be devoted to conveying the research findings to practitioners, policy-makers, commissioners and providers of NHS and social care services, select 'Knowledge mobilisation.’
Proposed start date
Please tell us when you think you will be able to start.
NOTE: This should be from 1st of the month regardless of whether this is a working day or not. Be realistic about your possible start date taking account of the necessary contracting process, and staff recruitment prior to starting your project.
Development work duration (months)
Please tell us how long the development work is going to take.
Ensure that you have enough time to complete all aspects of the development work including applications for regulatory approvals where required (where required) and writing the final report.
NOTE: Applicants may apply for funding for a period of between 6 and 18 months.
This field will automatically populate once you have entered the start date and research duration information.
Total development work costs
This will be automatically pulled through from the budget section.
NOTE: Funding is available from £50,000 up to £150,000 for this funding opportunity
Scope of development work
Please select an option from the drop down below to confirm whether your application is
- Stream A (for development work prior to programme grant submission) or
- Stream B (to either conduct additional linked research of strategic importance to NIHR or to further develop, analyse or disseminate your programme grant or its outcomes).
CV - Lead and Co-applicants
In this section, the lead applicant and co-applicants need to provide information about their professional and or personal experiences which are relevant to the work proposed in the application. This can be done via the RMS’ built-in CV function, which links to each co-applicant’s RMS account; however, we recognise that the format of this section is unhelpful to non-research co-applicants. While academic and or clinical partners should use the RMS’ built-in CV function, community representatives/partners and/or public contributors are therefore not required to complete this section, unless they wish to do so.
Community representatives/partners and/or public contributors can upload a CV as a ‘supporting information’ document in the ‘uploads’ section, or can submit a paragraph or two about their experience and why they are qualified for or have the skills or insight to do this work. It is also possible to do this in the ‘Development Work Team’ section. In the ‘Development Work Team’ section, please select ‘Yes’ to indicate that a co-applicant is a public contributor and complete the pop-up box to outline your skills, knowledge and experience/lived experience.
In terms of entering details about your organisation, if it is not recognised by the online system, please enter Independent Expert or PPIE Representative.
Research Background - Lead and Co-applicants
In this section, the lead applicant and co-applicants are required to complete details about their research grants and publication history. Again, we recognise that the format of this section is unhelpful to non-research co-applicants. Community representatives/partners and/or public contributors are therefore not required to complete it, unless they wish to do so.
Under the ‘Development Work Team’ section, please select ‘Yes’ to indicate that you are a public contributor and complete the drop-down box to outline your skills, knowledge and experience/lived experience.
This section also asks the lead applicant to detail whether the application has previously been submitted to the NIHR Programme Development Grants funding scheme or any other funding body (see question set below).
Has this application been previously submitted to this or any other funding body?
To be completed by the lead applicant only.
Select ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ from the drop-down box to indicate whether this or a similar application has previously been submitted to this or any other funding body.
Applications Submitted to other NIHR programmes
Where this application or a similar one has been submitted to this or another NIHR programme or elsewhere please complete the necessary information.
We are keen to know if the application has been submitted elsewhere and you must be as open about this as possible. This includes, but is not limited to, any facts that, should they come to light at a future date, would embarrass either the programme or the individual who withheld the fact (e.g. if a member of the team holds a patent or has a financial interest within the research area).
Failure to disclose accurately or fully will be considered by the programme as academic misconduct and treated accordingly. You should also include in this section information on whether this or a similar application has been submitted to any programme previously, or to any other funder including other NIHR programmes. You should name, and provide dates and outcomes of these. Please indicate whether you hold or have ever held an NIHR programme contract which has been terminated prior to completion, extended in time or in terms of funding.
The Development Work Team
Joint Lead Applicant
This section is critically important, as this is where you have the opportunity to say who will be jointly leading the application. As emphasised above, this funding opportunity is looking to put the community at the forefront meaning community partners are expected to jointly lead the application alongside their academic or clinical/academic partners.
When you click on the link to add the joint lead applicant, a pop-up box will appear where the Joint Lead’s name, expertise, knowledge, and experience/lived experience should be detailed. There is also a separate section where the details of what the Joint Lead applicant will be doing in the research beyond having the title of joint leading it should be included. That is, it should say precisely what the Joint Lead will be doing (e.g., coordination, communication planning, planning workshops, working with young people, stakeholder engagement, project management, analysing the findings, developing new methods of doing research, etc.). It is important to complete the box indicating how much time the Joint Lead will spend on the research (please see explanation above about ‘%FTE’).
Co-applicants are those individuals with responsibility for the day-to-day management and delivery of the project. Co-applicants, including public co-applicants, are considered part of the project team and are expected to share responsibility for its successful delivery. In contrast, collaborators normally provide specific expertise on particular aspects of the project but who do not share in the responsibility for the delivery of the project.
Up to a maximum of 15 co-applicants will be allowed. Please note that for application/contracting purposes, the joint lead applicant will be counted as a co-applicant. Therefore, if you have listed a joint lead applicant, then only a further 14 co-applicants can be included.
NOTE: Please allow sufficient time for your joint lead applicants and co-applicants to complete their sections of the online form before the application deadline. All co-applicants should register for an account on the RMS as early as possible as account activation can take up to two days. Each co-applicant will also need to log into the RMS and confirm their participation in the application.
Plain English Summary
In this section, please provide a clear explanation of your research using plain English. It should be an easy-to-read-overview of your whole study.
The plain English summary is very important. Many reviewers use it to assess your application. This includes members of the public as well as clinicians, other practitioners and researchers who do not have specialist knowledge of your field. Please give due care in writing it. It helps:
- those carrying out the review (reviewers and committee members to have a better understanding of your research proposal (who will decide whether to fund the application) understand your research proposal
- inform members of the public, health and social care professionals, policy makers and the media about your research
- the research funders publicise the research that they fund.
It should include:
- background to the work – that is: the setting, history or reason this work came to be thought of
- aim(s) of the work – that is: what you plan to accomplish
- work plan/what you plan to do – that is: how you intend to do it
- patient, user, carer and public involvement – that is, how community groups, patients, and the public have been involved in coming up with the idea, developing it, and doing the work.
- dissemination and anticipated outcomes – that is: how you will tell others about the work you have done and what you plan to deliver
If your application for funding is successful, the summary will be used on National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) and other websites.
If your plain English summary is not clear, accurate and easy to understand, then you may be asked to re-write it prior to final funding approval.
It is helpful to involve patients /service users/carers/practitioners and members of the public in developing a plain English summary.
Further guidance on writing in plain English is available online at NIHR Plain English summaries.
For further support and advice on writing a plain English summary, please contact your local Research Support Service - RSS where applicable (this was previously supported by the Research Design Service).
Detailed Development Work Plan
Using all of the headings (in the order presented) and guidance below, clearly explain the development work you intend to undertake.
As this is the main part of your application which will be considered by the reviewing committee you should ensure that the information is accurate, succinct, clearly laid out and provides adequate methodological detail.
Applicants should therefore aim to reserve a significant proportion of the word limit for the development work plan to ensure its appropriateness and scientific rigour can be judged. (Limit: 6,000 words)
Schematics, tables, illustrations, graphs, and other types of graphics can be used to clarify the development work plan, but they should not clutter the central narrative. Images do not count towards the overall word count but inclusion of them to overcome word limits is not permitted. Images may only be included within the 'Development Work Plan.' Images included in other sections will be removed from the application and not seen by reviewers.
Background and Rationale
Briefly describe the background and rationale of the public partnership development work and future programme, providing a clear explanation of:
Remember that the application will be reviewed by assessors who may not have a detailed understanding of the issue that your application relates to. It is vitally important that you clearly tell the story of why this research is important.
The problem that you want to address
- Who/which under-served group(s) you are targeting
- Why the research is needed and important for the NHS, social care, public health, drawing on the current evidence and literature to support your case, that is: what are the gaps and how does this proposal address those?
- The reason and justification for the particular lines of research you plan to follow
- How it is new/novel, and will add distinct value to what is already known, or in progress
- How you will ensure that this project or approach will continue to have beneficial effects beyond the life of the award
- How your research meets the aim of this community partnership funding opportunity.
References should be provided as part of the ‘Supporting Documentation’ section of the application.
Aims and objectives
Please indicate the overarching aims/objectives of the work, that is: the broad goals. Explain how this work will inform a future programme. Where appropriate, state your main hypothesis.
Programme Development Grant work plan
Stream A Development work for a future PGfAR application
Give details of the development work to be undertaken. In particular, specify the key deliverables to be generated by the development work and how these outcomes will help develop and inform any future research and/or application to the PGfAR funding scheme.
List clear objectives and provide brief descriptions, including the methodological approaches to be used and how the community partner(s) are central to design, conduct and successful delivery of the research plans..
Applicants are reminded that NIHR strategy encourages research which follows patient/service user, carer or public need. Researchers should clearly articulate how their research meets this objective, and how this contributes to the scientific rigour of their programme. Programmes should recruit participants from geographical areas where patient/service user or carer need is greatest including for example the rural and semi-rural areas where many older people live, and represent areas of diverse socioeconomic and ethnic diversity.
Equality, inclusion and diversity should also be properly considered when planning and describing the research, and evidenced in the application (see below).
i) Guidance for applicants on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion for study participants:
In keeping with the community-led nature of this funding stream, inclusionary practices are extremely important. Applicants should show how considerations of who will participate have been taken into account, and how participation opportunities have been extended beyond those who traditionally participate in research. For example, showing a wide range of recruiting locations or recruiting strategies.
Every person eligible to take part in research should be offered the same opportunity of taking part in that research regardless of:
- Geographical location
- Gender or gender reassignment
- Marriage and civil partnership status
- Pregnancy and maternity
- Ethnicity – for example:
- Religion or belief
- Sexual orientation
- Socioeconomic status
- Access to health or social care
All NIHR applications are expected to include information about how this data will be collected. In addition, applicants should demonstrate how these factors have been considered and addressed in their proposal, including steps taken to ensure the research sample is representative of the population the study is targeted at. Applicants need to explain who they are planning to recruit to ensure inclusivity of study participants and justify and explain any exclusions, for example by completing an Equality Impact Assessment. Costs associated with inclusivity, which may include, but are not limited to justified translation of research participant material into other relevant languages, would be expected and where appropriate should be included in the detailed budget section under ‘Other Direct Costs’. Additionally, applicants should demonstrate that all potential recruiting locations have been considered and the research is deliverable to those areas.
Please see the NIHR INCLUDE Guidance linked below for more information about how to include under-served groups effectively:
If involving patients/service users, carers as research participants, please also provide key details about how they will be supported, managed and involved (see below)
ii) Summary of patients/service users/carers/public as research participants:
The successful recruitment and retention of study participants is strategically important for the NIHR. If your proposed study involves patients/service users/carers/public as research participants please use the following bullet points to summarise their characteristics and what would be expected of them throughout the research project lifecycle. The potential burden on study participants can then be understood as well as whether or not the proposed strategies are practical, inclusive and feasible. Please also signpost to where further information on these points can be found in the detailed research plan and application.
Points to cover:
- Inclusion and exclusion criteria to help ensure that certain groups were not being excluded without justification
- Recruitment method and consent process to ensure it is practical and fair
- Type and content of participant information materials
- Overview of research methods to capture data from participants and their frequency e.g. questionnaires/tests/intervention/focus groups/ interviews to include considerations around access for different groups as appropriate
- Study participant support to consider how drop-out and issues of participation would be handled/helplines/ other access arrangements required
- Methods for sharing study progress and findings with study participants
- Payments, rewards and recognition for study participants.
The SPIRIT 2013 statement is a useful resource when preparing study protocols.
Future work plans
We are interested in how the research will be maintained and continue beyond the life of the award. While we are keen to see the research lead to and/or influence a future programme of applied research, we do recognise that some projects will be quite early in their development meaning a smaller follow on project may be needed. It may also mean that the main continuation of the work will be sustaining the benefits within the community.
Briefly outline the next steps for the research to ensure it continues beyond the life of the award:
- the aims and objectives
- a description of the project. If you are planning a programme, please describe the individual studies comprising the programme, anticipated methodological approaches and how the studies link with one another
- the anticipated community patient/service user, carer or public benefits and impacts arising from the project or in the case of a programme, from the component studies and the programme as a whole.
If it does not continue beyond the life of the aware, please briefly outline how the benefit will be sustained in the community.
Describe how the work will progress: the timetable, key milestones and deliverables.
Explain the practical plans for managing the development work. This should include details of the roles and responsibilities of the individual team members who will undertake the development work, the management structure (i.e., reporting lines), the programme manager, frequency of meetings, financial management etc., and highlight the role of any Advisory or Reference Groups associated with the development work.
Ethics / Regulatory Approvals
Outline any potential ethical issues associated with this development work and the arrangements for handling them. If there are no plans to obtain ethical review, this must be clearly justified.
NOTE: Work involving human participants is likely to require some consideration of ethics. However, you do not need ethics to conduct an involvement activity. Patient and public involvement should inform research questions or research design with Public and Patient (and carer) opinions.
If you are collecting opinions rather than study data, your activity is likely an involvement activity. For example, asking for feedback on a questionnaire counts as involvement as long as you do not ask for or record the public contributor’s responses to the questions, but their opinions on the suitability/wording of the questions.
If you are not sure if your activity counts as involvement or research, use the Health Research Authority tool.
The work outlined in your application/protocol must adhere to the UK Framework for Health and Social Care Research.
Project / Research expertise
Explain why the group is well qualified to undertake the development work, describing the experience and track record of the team: where appropriate, include publication outputs, grant income and impact on health service or social service practice and policy. For public/community members of the group, please explain professional experience, lived experience, situated experience, knowledge and skills that are relevant to the work.
Explain how the applicants have worked together in the past (or propose to work together if they have not done so previously). Please identify other major collaborators who will be important for the delivery of the work. State clearly the particular contribution that each of the applicants will make towards the work and the particular contribution that any collaborators intend to make (see section 4 above for an explanation of the difference between co-applicants and collaborators)
Where the Stream A PDG funding will be used to strengthen the team and build collaborations, explain how this will be achieved.
Clearly describe if and how the PDG funding and/or the future programme, will contribute to capacity building/career development of applicants and of researchers employed on the grant. It is especially important to describe how it will build skills or capacity within the community.
PPI (Patient, user, carer, public) Lead
There should be a named person with appropriate skills and lived experience who is responsible for leading the PPI (Patient, user, carer, public) element within the project. This role should be an adequately costed and resourced research team member who is able to manage the PPI plans and related activities. More information and examples of the activities a PPI lead might undertake can be found on the NIHR website.
NOTE: ‘Lived experience’ is when someone has lived with a particular condition or life experience (e.g diabetes, LGBTQ+ issues, rural deprivation, disability due to military service, etc.) and brings this practical knowledge to the research project. Although this is not academic knowledge, ‘lived experience’ is a vital tool to all health and social care research, It ensures that the research is relevant, for patient and public benefits, fit for purpose, cost-effective and sustainable.
Success criteria and barriers to proposed work
Please set out how you will measure success. Please also set out what you see as the barriers to success, and any other key risks to delivering the work. Please describe what measures you will put in place to reduce or eliminate each risk or its impact.
Please be as open and honest about these risks as you can – it is better to list them at the beginning so that, should you be successful, we can help you as much as possible to have a successful project.
NOTE: A risk is defined as any factor which may delay, disrupt or prevent the full achievement of a research objective. Typical areas of risk for a research application might include staffing, resource constraints, technical constraints, data access, timing, management and operational issues (please note that this list is not exhaustive).
Upload a Gantt chart
A Gantt chart is a chart which shows all the work you will be doing over what time frame. It lists each piece of work separately and shows who will be doing that work and precisely when it will be done. Please visit Gantt.com, an informative website to find out more information about Gantt charts and how to develop them.
It is mandatory to attach a Gantt chart indicating a schedule for the completion of work, including the timing of key milestones and deliverables.
We recognise this section of the guidance is not the easiest to understand. Like other parts of the application form, we are unable to adjust the format of this section. We encourage researchers based in the Host institution to help and support community partners/representatives to complete this part of the application form.
NOTE: For applications involving the recruitment, consenting and/or treatment of patient or service user participants, you are required to submit a Schedule of Events Cost Attribution Template (SoECAT) with your PDG application. Please visit the Online SoECAT Guidance hosted by NIHR, the page hosts information specifically for England, Wales, Scotalnd, and Northern Ireland. For guidance in creating a SoECAT, please visit the Guidance Document.
It is not necessary to submit a SoECAT if the development work does not involve the recruitment, consenting and/or treatment of patient or service user participants.
Justification of costs
Provide justification for the resources requested, including the following:
- staff costs
- travel, subsistence and conference fees
- equipment (including lease versus purchase costs)
- patient and public involvement, engagement and participation
- any other direct costs
- dissemination costs
- indirect costs
For help with estimating PPI costs please see the NIHR Payment Guidance for researchers and professionals.
You should indicate here how this research will potentially benefit the NHS and/ or public health and social care sector. For example, where appropriate, describe the likely cost savings or benefits in terms of numbers of patients treated, treatment times, service users or carers supported etc.
You should describe the value for money of the conduct of the proposed research.
As appropriate, please also provide justification for the NHS Support and Excess Treatment costs detailed in the SoECAT. If there are no NHS Support or Excess Treatment Costs associated with the research you must explain why you think this is the case.
Detailed Budget Breakdown
The finance section should provide a breakdown of costs associated with undertaking the research as described in the proposal. Please refer to the associated ‘How to complete the finance form’ or short video for guidance about how to complete this section of the application form.
Programme specific information
Programme Development Grants does not pay FEC. Therefore, indirect costs cannot be claimed for HEIs. However, Programme Grants and Programme Development Grants will fund 100% of HEI staff costs.
For PDG applications to the ‘Developing Innovative, Inclusive and Diverse Public Partnerships’ highlight notice, applicants may apply for funding of between £50,000 to £150,000 for a period of between 6 and 18 months. In both cases, the amount of funding awarded, however, is determined by the scale and nature of the research activity to be conducted.
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 your best interest to undertake a thorough, realistic and accurate costing. As this is the full application, the committee will pay close attention to any material increase in costs. 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.
- We recognise that the current higher level of inflation is increasing costs in research. NIHR aims to ensure that the cost of research is properly recompensed, therefore we will fund appropriate, evidenced inflationary price increases, including pay deals, within current contracts. Researchers should present evidence justifying any additional inflationary costs at contract close, with any pre-close pressures managed through normal contract management.
- 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 the Local Comprehensive Research Network (LCRN) senior manager for advice on NHS support costs. Further details about LCRN contacts are available on the NIHR LCRN website.
- All applications are expected to have appropriate NHS, HEI, commercial and other partner organisation input into the finance section of the application form.
- Non-commercial led Awards (e.g., NHS, HEI etc.) will be paid via BAC transfer payment schedules. The NIHR will release funds net of VAT as Research and Development is considered VAT exempt. There are some cost items within an application which may incur VAT, such as equipment or subcontractors. If the applying organisation is unable to claim back the VAT on these items (e.g., maybe they are not VAT registered) then applicants can charge the gross value to the application.
- Commercially led awards will be paid via invoicing. It is up to the company to decide if it is appropriate to apply VAT on the invoice. If the company decides to apply VAT, then DHSC will pay the invoice and claim back the VAT. We recommend that applicants seek advice from VAT experts within their organisation before applying.
Please note that whilst the applicable percentages will be used to calculate the maximum grant payable, the programme reserves the right to award a grant for less than this maximum where it is considered appropriate.
Information on different types of organisations
Higher Education Institutions (HEIs)
Please see the Programme Specific Information above. Programme Development Grants does not pay FEC. Therefore, indirect costs cannot be claimed for HEIs. However, it will fund 100% of HEI staff costs.
NHS bodies and other providers of NHS services in England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland
For applications where the contractor is an NHS body or provider of NHS services in England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, up to 100% of direct costs will be paid.
Commercial/other partner organisations
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.
If you are another 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 research, which will be charged as the amount actually spent and can be supported by an audit record. They should comprise:
This section presents an overview of salary and associated on-costs for the applicant(s) contributing to the research, including normal salary increments broken down individually.
Salary costs (apply to years)
This section specifies the annual costs of each applicant contributing to the research. You should now allocate the individual staff member costs to each year of the research, allowing for increments. Use current rates of pay, 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, as this programme does not fund HEI indirect and estate costs, HEI shared staff costs charge out rates should exclude HEI indirect costs and estate costs when being calculated.
Travel, subsistence and conference dissemination costs.
This section includes journey costs, subsistence and 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.
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 covers accommodation (if necessary) and meals associated with the travel, excluding any alcoholic beverages.
Where national or international conference costs are included, a statement naming the conference or purpose of travel and the benefit to the research must also be made; failure to adequately justify your attendance at a conference will mean the programme will not fund this cost.
For research projects of three years or more, the programme will usually fund up to a maximum of two international conference attendances (two people attending one conference or one person attending two conferences). There are no limits on the number of UK conference attendances.
Essential items of equipment plus maintenance and related costs not included as part of estates should be input in this section. These can be lease or purchase costs.
- The purchase cost of pieces of equipment, valued up to £5,000 excluding VAT, will be considered.
- Pieces of equipment costing more than £5,000 to purchase will usually need to be leased. Where applicants are leasing equipment with a purchase price of more than £5,000, a comparison of leasing versus purchasing costs must be provided in the ‘Justification of Costs’ section.
- Items of equipment valued at £250 or more must be itemised separately; however grouping same type equipment is permitted.
- Costs of computers are limited to a maximum of £1000 per item. This includes the costs of any associated software and VAT. A statement of justification must be included, in the relevant ‘Justification of Costs’ section, for any purchase above this limit.
This section includes non-reusable items specific to the research. Please itemise and describe the requirements fully (e.g. postage, stationery, photocopying). These items should be research specific, not just general office costs which should be covered by indirect costs.
Patient and public involvement
Please itemise and describe fully the costs associated with patient, user, carer and public involvement. These are likely to include individual travel, out of pocket expenses, payment for time and any relevant training and support costs. Costs related to study participants should not be itemised here.
If voluntary, charity or community groups are supporting the research via activities such as facilitating contact with potential participants, hosting research activities or providing advice, an adequate budget must be included to compensate for their time and resources.
For further information on budgeting for involvement, please read the NIHR Payments Guidance for researchers and professionals.
Other direct costs
These are costs, not identified elsewhere, that are specifically attributed to the research. For example, costs associated with the use of research facilities, external consultancy costs, costs associated with inclusivity (which may include, but are not limited to justified translation of research participant material into other relevant languages), computer licensing, recruitment and advertising costs.
Please note that for organisations claiming indirect/overhead costs, costs such as recruitment of staff, and general training (e.g. in common IT packages) are costs that should be covered by the indirect costs element of the award being sought and should not appear in this section.
If external consultancy costs are included in this section they must be fully justified in the ‘Justification of Costs’ section. Please specify the hourly rate and the number of hours and note that consultants must not be people who are already employed by the applicant’s institution. If they are, any costs should be entered as direct costs in the ‘Details of Posts and Salaries’ and ‘Annual Costs of Posts’ sections.
Open access costs
Applicants should no longer include open access costs as part of their detailed budget Research Costs.
From the 1st of June 2022 all eligible awards contracts issued across NIHR Programmes, NIHR Personal Awards and NIHR Global Health Research Portfolio will have an Open Access Envelope allocated to them on top of the award value, which is ring-fenced for open access costs of peer reviewed research articles that arise directly from the research funded by the award in question.
Further information can be found by reading the Open Access Funding Guidance.
Other dissemination costs
Any large costs should be further detailed with a breakdown of constituent parts or a timescale profile of the costs. Meetings to share best practice, training events and events to disseminate research findings must be run at the lowest possible cost with minimal catering. ‘Conferences’ which are described as such are not eligible for funding.
Indirect costs will be charged in proportion to the amount of research staff effort requested on the award.
- General office and basic laboratory consumables
- Premises costs
- Library services/learning resources
- Finance, personnel, public relations and departmental services
- Usage costs of major research facilities
- Central and distributed computing
- Charge out rates for shared equipment
- Cost of capital employed
NHS bodies or other providers of NHS services indirect costs
NHS indirect costs cannot be claimed through NIHR/DHSC programme funding. NHS bodies or other providers of NHS services have been allocated NIHR Research Capability Funding (RCF) to contribute to the cost of hosting NIHR/DHSC-supported research. For more information please visit the RCF webpage.
HEI indirect costs
Please see the Programme Specific Information above. Programme Development Grants does not pay FEC. Therefore, indirect costs cannot be claimed for HEIs.
Commercial/other partner organisation indirect costs
Commercial/other partner organisations can claim indirect costs which are the costs of resources used by the research that are shared by other activities. Please seek advice from your finance department about the appropriate cost for this section.
Total Commercial/other partner organisation indirect costs must be fully justified.
NHS support and treatment costs (incl. excess treatment costs/savings)
Please be aware that the research award does NOT include NHS support and/or treatment costs. These costs, including costs for Social Care research, are funded via Clinical Research Networks and should be detailed in the Schedule of Events Cost Attribution Tool (SoECAT) (see below for further details).
However, the committee will take NHS support and/or treatment costs into account when considering the value for money of the research. It is important that you consider these costs and discuss them with the NHS bodies or providers of NHS services involved in order to avoid any delay in commencing the research.
Applicants should contact their local NHS R&D Department initially and if they are unable to help directly, or if there is no local NHS R&D Department, contact their Local Clinical Research Network (LCRN) for advice on NHS Support Costs. Further details about LCRN contacts are available online at ‘Clinical Research Network’.
When considered necessary by the LCRN AcoRD specialist, a Schedule of Events Cost Attribution Tool (SoECAT) detailing NHS support and/or Treatment Costs, needs to be completed and uploaded as part of the application.
A Schedule of Events Cost Attribution Template (SoECAT) form is not required if the development work does not involve the recruitment, consenting and/or treatment of patient/service user or carer participants.
If your planned project includes the recruitment of participants, your application should be accompanied with the Funder Export from the online SoECAT, obtainable via the NIHR Central Portfolio Management System (CPMS). This online version replaces the previous Excel version of the SoECAT, which will no longer be available for applications.
In order to create a SoECAT, you will need to create an account in CPMS. After creating the account, you will need to login to CPMS to activate this account. If any assistance is required in creating the account, please refer to our CPMS user guide. Once your account has been created and is active, you can proceed.
Guidance for the completion of the SoECAT is present in the online tool to assist at each page and stage of the application process and further details can be found on the Online SoECAT Guidance page.
There is also an Online SoECAT Guidance Module which includes video tutorials and linked resources (an NIHR Learn account is required to access and enrol onto the module) and a helpful Study Representative - Online SoECAT Top Tips infographic.
Please note that completion of the SoECAT may not be necessary when applying for funding to support: overarching programmes with no specific research study protocol, infrastructure, fellowships, anything where the grant is to be used for direct employment of a member of staff or purchase of an asset, and data or diagnostic reviews where recruitment data is not collected. Such applications should be submitted with an explanation added to the Justification of Costs section.
More information on the SoECAT form is available on the NIHR website: Online SoECAT guidance.
NHS support costs
These are the additional patient and service user care costs associated with the research, which would end once the R&D activity in question has stopped, even if the patient or user care service involved continues to be provided. These might cover items such as extra patient or user tests, extra in-patient days, extra nursing attention, extra care visits and extra care worker attention.
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 your Local Clinical Research Network (LCRN) senior manager for advice on NHS support costs. Further details about LCRN contacts are available on the NIHR LCRN website.
NHS treatment costs
Please read the guidance on the excess treatment costs webpage prior to completing your application.
These are the patient or service user care costs that would continue to be incurred if the patient or user care service in question continued to be provided after the R&D activity has stopped. In determining NHS treatment costs (or intervention/treatment costs) you must assume that the patient or user care service being assessed will continue even though there may be no plans for it to do so.
Where patient care is being provided which differs from the normal, standard, treatment for that condition (either an experimental treatment or a service in a different location from where it would normally be given), the difference between the total treatment costs and the costs of the “usual standard care" (if any) constitutes excess treatment cost/saving, but is nonetheless part of the treatment cost, not an NHS support or research cost. These costs should be determined in conjunction with your NHS body or provider of NHS services and their commissioners.
Please note: Social care studies are eligible for Clinical Research Network (CRN) support, it does not just apply to NHS based research, and researchers should speak to the CRN and include support costs where relevant. For the purposes of social care studies ‘treatment costs’ should be interpreted as ‘intervention costs’ and should be included in the proposal when needed. Further guidance on support and ‘treatment’ costs can be found on the excess treatment costs webpage.
For further information, please see the attributing the costs of health and social care research and development (AcoRD) guidance.
Management and Governance
Is Clinical Trials Authorisation required?
Yes / No
Does your project require ethics approval?
Yes / No
If yes, has ethics approval already been obtained?
Yes / No
A list of references cited in the application.
If claiming Clinical Trials Unit (CTU) support:
CTU letter of support.
The following file(s) are considered non-mandatory to submission; please number your files and attach:
Supporting documentation, including logic models, flow diagrams, pictures, charts, letters of support, papers in press etc. No more than five separate files are permitted. The total file size of all uploads should not exceed 6Mb (this includes the SoECAT form and Gantt Chart uploaded earlier in the form). Total file sizes larger than this may not be considered as part of the submission. All supporting documentation must be uploaded with a clear and concise filename description, preceded by a numbered ‘Appendix’ reference.
We strongly recommend that only .doc or .pdf files are uploaded as some file types are not supported by the system (such as .xls and .zip file types which will not render out into the final version of the application form). Should you wish to upload documents of other file types, we encourage you to check that they appear in the PDF of the application form prior to submission as changes cannot be made after the deadline has passed.
Administrative contact details
Please provide the details of an administrative lead as a secondary point of contact for any queries relating to the application, should it be supported.
NOTE: This person does not need to be a co-applicant.
Research and Development office contact details
Please provide the contact details and job title of a person in the R&D office so that we are able to notify them of the outcome of this application including any associated feedback.
NOTE: This person does not need to be included as a co-applicant.
Acknowledge, review and submit
Please declare any conflicts or potential conflicts of interest that you or your co-applicants may have, including any facts that, should they come to light at a future date, could lead to a perception of bias. Include any relevant personal, non-personal & commercial interest that could be perceived as a conflict of interest. Examples include (this list is not all encompassing) secondary employment, consultancy, financial or commercial gain (pensions, shareholdings, directorships, voting rights), honoraria, etc. In a case of commercial sector involvement with the application or the study, please state clearly the relationship to ownership of data, access to data, and membership of project oversight groups.
Agreement to terms and conditions
As lead applicant, please tick the box to confirm that the information given on this form is correct and that you will be actively engaged in this research and responsible for its overall management. In addition, you will accept responsibility for ensuring that the host institution and interested parties are kept informed.
Ticking this box constitutes an electronic signature of the lead applicant with regard to this application
Checklist of information to include when submitting a NIHR PDG research application
Applicants should click the checkboxes to indicate that they have included the necessary information prior to submitting their application.
Appropriate and relevant involvement of patients, service users, carers and the public
A good quality plain English summary
A clear description of team member roles and contribution
A clear scientific abstract
A flow diagram illustrating the study design / flow of participants (document upload), if appropriate
A full and accurate detailed budget breakdown
A clear justification of costs / value for money
References (document upload)
A clear Detailed Research Plan outlining the study design, methods, dissemination etc.
Completed Schedule of Events Cost Attribution Tool (SoECAT), if appropriate
This annex contains additional information which applicants may find helpful when completing an application.
Completing the Application Form
To submit an application you must complete all the relevant sections of the online form available within the Research Management System (RMS).
The ‘System Help’ document found on the RMS’s web pages provides extensive step by step instructions on how to make use of the RMS.
Only registered users of the RMS can apply. Applicants new to using the RMS should register as a new user. Once logged into your account the RMS home page is the starting point to create applications, access co-applications and to update contact information and professional details.
Managing my details
Lead applicants and co-applicants can manage their basic contact information and curriculum vitae (CV) through the ‘Manage my Details’ link on their RMS home page. Lead and co-applicant contact information and CV details are integrated by the RMS into the relevant fields during the application process. Please note lead and co-applicant CV details are mandatory.
Creating an application
The lead applicant must initially create the new application. Clear instructions on how to start a new application can be found in the ‘System Help’. The research team can collaborate with the lead applicant to edit the content in the application by being invited to be a co-applicant through the co-applicant section of the application form.
The lead applicant can use the search tool to find co-applicants and then to invite them to join the application. The RMS will automatically dispatch an email inviting the co-applicant to confirm their participation in the application. Co-applicants can then decide whether to accept the invitation and consent to the application being submitted jointly in their name. They will need to log into the RMS and follow the links to ‘Confirm’ their involvement on the co-application summary page. Once confirmed, the co-applicant will be granted access to edit the online application form.
All co-applicants must ‘Confirm’ their invitation to participate in the application electronically on the co-application summary page in advance of the submission deadline.
Completing an application
From the application summary page, the application can be edited by clicking on the ‘Edit’ button. The different sections of the application form can then be accessed via the list of hyperlinked buttons on the left hand side of the RMS webpage. You can move from page to page either by using the ‘Previous’ and ‘Next’ buttons, or using the list on the left-hand side of the web page.
Most questions are associated with contextual help buttons and clicking on them will open up pop up windows containing brief guidance notes that supplement the published guidance for applicants. It is strongly advised that applicants refer to the published guidance first and then use contextual help as they complete and review each question as contextual help is not designed to replace it. Mandatory questions are flagged with a red dot.
The system will prevent your co-applicants accessing your application at the same time as you. This stops applicants and co-applicants inadvertently making changes to the same part of the application at the same time and overwriting each other’s work.
Remember to save your work
You will be prompted to save your work if you leave the browser in application editing mode. We recommend you save your work regularly to minimise the risk posed by any local computer or internet problems. You can save and return to the application form as often as you like prior to submission.
Exiting and returning to work on your form
Should you wish to exit your form, you can return at any time; simply log in using your username and password and select ‘My Applications’ from the menu. You will then be presented with a list of all the applications you are currently involved with as well as providing details as to their stage in the submission process.
Validation and submission of the form
The lead applicant can review the progress of their application at any time by selecting the ‘View/Print’ option on the application summary page to generate the application as a PDF File.
When the application form has been completed, the lead applicant must use the ‘Validate form’ tool within the online application form. The validation step is a check run by the RMS to assess whether all the mandatory questions contain information. It will provide a list of links to any parts of the form where corrections or additional content are needed.
Once the application has been validated successfully and no further corrections are needed, the lead applicant can submit the application by clicking on the ‘Submit’ button on the lower right hand side of the application summary page.
A programme specific reference number will be assigned to the application once it has been submitted. After the relevant competition round closes, the application will automatically enter the process of being considered for funding.
Privacy and Data Protection
The Research Management System (RMS) is hosted by Pulsant. The Data Controller for the website is the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC). The Data Processor is the NIHR, based at LGC.
The purpose for which personal information is collected through the RMS is to deliver the work of the NIHR in relation to the operation of research programmes, faculty and infrastructure work-streams. Data will not be used for any other purpose without the consent of the supplier.
Use of the registration and application facility on the RMS is entirely voluntary and the personal information stored will be used solely by the NIHR, its subcontractors and partners in order to respond to your enquiries and send information relevant to its work.
To prevent unauthorised access, maintain data accuracy, and ensure the correct use of information, the NIHR has put in place appropriate physical, electronic, and managerial procedures to safeguard and secure the information it collects online. The information you provide will be held securely and in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998. The Department of Health and Social Care, (DHSC) NIHR is the Data Controller. Your personal details provided on registration will not be disclosed to third parties. Details that are provided on research application forms must necessarily be shared in confidence with third party individuals involved in making funding decisions.
Your information may also be shared with other DHSC NIHR bodies for the purposes of statistical analysis and other DHSC NIHR management purposes, including targeted communications with selected groups of researchers. In addition, information collected is used by the NIHR, its subcontractors and partner organisations:
- To administer the grant application process
- To identify peer reviewers for grant applications
- To notify users about funding opportunities by email
- To notify relevant users about application deadlines by email
- To notify users of any issues of service interruptions, holiday closures and other situations affecting the operation of the RMS.
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 apply to us for funding and their experiences of the funding process – particularly the groups protected by UK equality legislation. Although it is mandatory to answer these questions, it is possible to select “prefer not to say” as a response. However, the more information you provide, the more effective our monitoring will be. This information will not be used to make decisions about funding.
Institutional 'Sign Off'
For all NIHR programmes, institutional sign off of Stage 2 applications is no longer required. This is in response to a broader and long-term government drive to reduce bureaucracy for researchers. This is in addition to some other changes NIHR has implemented across all its programmes. including deleting redundant clauses from the standard NIHR research contract and significantly reducing the size of the stage 1 funding application form.
Applicants to NIHR programmes are reminded of their responsibility to notify and work closely with the host organisation’s R&D office when preparing an application, including obtaining financial and host organisation sign off according to internal institutional processes.
Research Support Service
Applicants may wish to seek advice on the content of an application via the NIHR Research Support Service (RSS). It is advisable to make contact as early as possible to allow sufficient time for discussion and a considered response
Clinical Trials Units (CTUs)
CTUs are regarded as an important component of any trial application and can advise and participate throughout the process from initial idea development and design through to project delivery and reporting. However they may not be essential for all types of research studies. If you feel this is the case please justify the reasons in your application in the appropriate section.
If you are looking for a CTU to collaborate with in your application, then the following sources can provide more help:
- The UKCRC CTU Network provides a searchable information resource on all registered units in the UK, and lists key interest areas and contact information.
Although we do not prohibit the submission of applications which were submitted unsuccessfully in previous application rounds, applicants should recognise that the original applications were judged to be uncompetitive in that round, or significantly flawed, and are therefore likely to need substantive modification to have a realistic chance of being funded in future competitions.
Previously unsuccessful applicants should therefore pay particularly close attention to the generic feedback provided on previous rounds of applications (and to any specific feedback provided on their individual application), before making a realistic assessment of their ability to develop a competitive application for Programme Development Grant funding.
Applicants unsuccessful in previous PGfAR competitions may, if they wish to do so, apply for a PDG; if they believe that they can fully address the concerns raised by the PGfAR Selection Panel and that the development work to be funded via any PDG award would enable them to prepare a credible Programme Grant application in due course.
Submissions to more than one NIHR Programme
NIHR will not accept the same or substantially similar applications to more than one NIHR programme. If two similar applications are submitted, once the overlap is identified, the application that is most advanced through the funding process will continue and the second will not be taken further.
Similar applications will only be considered by two programmes concurrently if:
- the aims and research proposals are substantially different
- if successful, NIHR would be prepared to fund both proposals
- the successful delivery of one project is not dependent on the other
NIHR has issued guidance for researchers about involving patients and the public in research.
A list of PPI resources for applicants to NIHR research programmes is available on the NIHR website, including: Briefing notes for researchers on how to involve patients/service users, carers and the public, including definition of involvement engagement and participation; and Payments Guidance for researchers and professionals with information on budgeting for involvement.
The Research Support Service (RSS) provides advice on developing research applications including involving patients and the public and the James Lind Alliance has a step-by-step guide on involvement in research identification and priority setting.
Applicants undertaking systematic reviews should note the commitment of NIHR to publication in the PROSPERO 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.
Ethics / Regulatory Approvals
Guidance on the application process for ethical and other approvals can be found on the Health Research Authority (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: The programme 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.
UK Biobank is a major national health resource 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 has 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.
As such, applicants are encouraged to consider whether Biobank may be able to provide suitable data for their study, rather than request funding for unnecessary new data collection. 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.
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 can be found in the Cabinet Office procurement and contracting transparency requirements guidance.