Programme Grants for Applied Research - Guidance for Stage 1 applications
This document provides guidance on completing an application for stage 1 of funding competition 31 for the NIHR Programme Grants for Applied Research (PGfAR) Programme. Please see also the supporting information for Stage 1 and Stage 2 applicants.
Section 1: Application Summary Information
Provide details of the organisation who will be the contractor if the programme is funded.
The programme title should state clearly and concisely the proposed research. Any abbreviations should be spelled out in full.
Select the appropriate research type. If your proposed programme includes any element of primary research, please select ‘Primary Research’. If you are carrying out 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.
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.
Research Duration (months)
Ensure you include sufficient time to complete all aspects of the research including applications for regulatory approvals (where required) and the final report.
This field will automatically populate once you have entered the start date and research duration information.
Estimated Research Costs
Enter the total amount of research costs requested (not including NHS Support & Treatment costs).
Estimated NHS Support & Treatment costs or external (not NHS) intervention costs
Enter the total amount of NHS support and treatment costs or external intervention costs associated with this proposal.
Section 2: Lead Applicant CV
Complete your name, contact details and other requested information.
Section 3: Lead Applicant Research Background
Provide details of a MAXIMUM of 6 of your most recent / relevant publications (in the last 10 years) relevant to this application (using Vancouver or Harvard citation format). Please use DOI reference numbers if needed.
Research Grants Held
Please select research grants held (as a named applicant) CURRENTLY or IN THE LAST 5 YEARS – as well as any additional previous grants, relevant to this application, stating who the grant is with and the amount of each grant.
Has this application been previously submitted to this or any other funding body?
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. For more information about resubmission of a research/trainee funding application, or joint funding please contact the appropriate NIHR research funding programme.
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 click the ‘Add’ button and 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.
Section 4: The Research Team
Specify your (lead applicant) role in this research
Explain in addition to your role as Lead Applicant, the role that you will be undertaking in the research, e.g. co-ordination and project management, analysis, methodological input etc.
Commitment: This refers to the percentage of your time that you will commit to this project.
Joint Lead Applicant
Where appropriate and justified it is acceptable for the application to be led by joint Lead Applicants. Where this applies, please complete your name, contact details and other requested information.
Justification for Joint Lead Applicant
Justification should be given to demonstrate why more than one person would be required to lead this research and how this brings added value to the application.
Relevant expertise and experience of joint Lead Applicant
Please summarise the proposed Joint Lead Applicant’s relevant expertise and track record in applied health research, in terms of skills and experience, previous publications, grant funding and impact on health service provision.
Specify role in research
Please provide a brief overview of your role in the proposed research. You have the opportunity to elaborate upon this further in the ‘Research Plan’ section.
Commitment: This refers to the percentage of your time that you will commit to this project.
NOTE: For application/contracting purposes, the joint lead applicant will be counted as a co-applicant.
Add details of all co-applicants and their specific role in the programme. Do not include collaborators, who should be mentioned (if necessary) in the Research Plan section of the form.
Co-applicants are those individuals with responsibility for the day to day management and delivery of the project and can include patients, carers and service users. Co-applicants are considered part of the project team and are expected to share responsibility for its successful delivery. Collaborators normally provide specific expertise on particular aspects of the project but do not share in the responsibility for the delivery of the project.
Section 5: Plain English Summary of Research
A plain English summary is a clear explanation of your research.
Many reviewers use this summary to inform their review of your funding application. They include clinicians and researchers who do not have specialist knowledge of your field as well as members of the public. If your application for funding is successful, the summary will be used on National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and other websites.
A good quality plain English summary providing an easy to read overview of your whole study will help:
- those carrying out the review (reviewers and board and committee members) to have a better
understanding of your research proposal
- inform others about your research such as members of the public, health professionals, policy makers and the media
- the research funders to publicise the research that they fund.
If it is felt that your plain English summary is not clear and of a good quality then you may be required to amend it prior to final funding approval.
It is helpful to involve patients / carers / members of the public in developing a plain English summary.
When writing your summary consider including the following information where appropriate:
- aim(s) of the research
- background to the research
- design and methods used
- patient and public involvement
The plain English summary is not the same as a scientific abstract - please do not cut and paste this or other sections of your application form to create the plain English summary.
Further guidance on writing in plain English is available online at NIHR Make it clear http://www.invo.org.uk/makeitclear/.
For further support and advice on writing a plain English summary, please contact your local Research Design Service (where applicable).
Section 6: Research Plan
Using all of the headings in the order presented below, please use this section to clearly explain your proposed research. Schematics, tables, illustrations, graphs, and other types of graphics can be embedded to clarify the research 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 'Research Plan.' Images included in other sections will be removed from the application
and not seen by reviewers.
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 sufficient methodological detail. The overall amount of information that you can provide at this stage is limited to 3 - 5 pages (dependent on the type/complexity/scale of study proposed). (Limit: 4000 words).
The NIHR expects appropriate and relevant involvement of patients and the public and other key stakeholders in the research it supports. It is essential to set out your plans to involve patients and the public in the Stage 1 application. Your patient and public involvement plans will be assessed by the funding committee/board including patient and public members.
Information and resources to assist you can be found on the INVOLVE website (a detailed definition of patient and public involvement in research, briefing notes for researchers on how to involve patients and the public and an involvement cost calculator and budgeting guide).
In this section it is important that you identify all stakeholders who are relevant to your research proposal. For each stakeholder group you need to be clear about how they benefit from your proposed research and, where appropriate, how they have been involved in the development of the application, as well as the plans for their involvement in the proposed research.
1. What is the problem being addressed?
Provide a clear explanation of the health problem to be addressed, the impact on patients or the public as well as health and care services, and how this research would fill a demonstrable evidence gap, addressing patient needs and DHSC priorities (at national or local levels).
Explain how your proposed research is within the remit of the PGfAR programme and how it addresses the key aim of the programme to produce research findings that will have practical application for the benefit of patients, the public or populations, and the NHS or social care sector in the relatively near future.
Applicants are reminded that NIHR strategy encourages research which follows patient need. Researchers should clearly articulate how their research meets this objective. Programmes should recruit participants from geographical areas where patient need is greatest, including for example 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
Remember that the application will be reviewed by assessors who may not have a detailed understanding of the particular clinical area that your application relates to. It is vitally important that you clearly tell the story of why this research is important, and how it will make a stepped change to practice and/or outcomes. The committee is looking for novel approaches. Research which, in the committee’s view, represents only an incremental development on current practice, or is unlikely to have general application / uptake is unlikely to be supported. Research which improves efficiency and effectiveness (rather than increasing workload in an already stretched NHS) is welcomed.
Please indicate under this question if you are responding to the highlight notice on ‘Brain Tumours’, the call for diverse methodologies or applying for co-funding with Diabetes UK.
2. Why is this research important in terms of improving the health and/or wellbeing of the public
and/or to patients and health and care services?
It is essential that you clearly identify the health and care need your research meets or contributes to. Please outline the anticipated value or contribution the study will provide.
- The importance of the proposed research and its relevance to the priorities and needs of the NHS (including a statement of the significance of the research area, e.g. burden of disease)
- The anticipated outputs, outcomes and impact of the proposed research on the health of patients and/or the public, highlighting the innovation and/or development aspects and quantifying the potential benefits, where possible
- The anticipated timescale for the benefits to patients, the public or populations and the NHS or public health or social care settings resulting from the proposed research to be realised.
As well as the overarching patient benefits the proposal seeks to achieve, the clear and identifiable patient benefits emerging from each work package. For example, (patient and/or health care professional experience data following qualitative work, increased knowledge following surveys/observational studies etc.).
3. Review of existing evidence - How does the existing literature support this proposal?
Explain why this research is needed now, both in terms of time and relevance. Briefly describe:
- The need for research in this area, drawing particularly from systematic reviews (including NHS context and relevant literature), and the rationale for the particular lines of research you plan to pursue
- Past and current research that justifies the proposed research and shows that it will add distinct value to what is already known, or in progress
- Work undertaken previously by the research team which has led to the proposed programme (e.g., describe any pilot or feasibility data).
NOTE: We will only fund primary research where the proposed research is informed by a review of the existing evidence.
Applicants should be aware of ongoing research in this area and comment on any other research which might be deemed to overlap with the contents of the proposal. In particular, applicants are advised to use both PubMed Central and Europe PubMed Central for recent material on the topic area they are applying for. All applicants must also include reference to relevant on-going studies, e.g. from trial registries.
Any applications that include primary research should include reference to the existing evidence and explain how this evidence has informed the proposed research. Where a systematic review already exists that summarises the available evidence this should be referenced, as well as including reference to any relevant literature published subsequent to that systematic review. Where no such systematic review exists, it is expected that the applicants will undertake an appropriate scoping review of the currently available and relevant evidence and then summarise this in their proposal. The application may then include a more detailed review in early work packages.
Further information can be found in our Adding Value in Research pages.
4. What is the research question /Aims and objectives
This section should be used to indicate the overarching aims/objectives of the research, outlining the key
question(s) which the work will address and, where appropriate, the main hypothesis.
5. Project Plan
NOTE: Applicants should aim to reserve a significant proportion of the word limit for the project plan to ensure methodological approaches are fully specified.
Provide an expert summary of the project plan of investigation plus any additional points required to support statements made in the previous sections, and include any key references required to justify the points made (e.g. in the use of particular outcome measures or methods of analysis).
As well as the overarching patient benefits the proposal seeks to achieve, the patient benefits emerging from each work package should be described. For example, patient and/or health care professional experience, data following qualitative work, increased knowledge following surveys/observational studies etc.
- Methods: Describe the proposed research plan, providing brief descriptions of individual projects/workstreams/workpackages in turn and indicate how they integrate together to form a coherent programme of research. In particular, specify the methodological approaches proposed in sufficient detail to allow them to be assessed, (justification for sample sizes, inclusion and exclusion criteria, nature of follow up, techniques of data collection, choice of analysis and why etc.).
- Team: Briefly describe why the team is well qualified to do the work. If submitting with a joint lead applicant, justify why more than one person is needed to lead the proposal. Please also list and explain the role of key collaborators involved in the research, as well as any patient and
public leads (not previously listed as co-applicants). Please describe if and how the programme will contribute to capacity building or career development of applicants and researchers employed on the grant.
- Timetable: Detail the timetable for the programme of work, including key milestones and deliverables.
- PPI: Describe how patients and the public, as well as other relevant stakeholders, including evidence users, have been involved in the development of the application as well as plans for involvement in the proposed research. Your initial application will be assessed by a public committee member who will consider this aspect of your proposal.
References should be provided as an attachment (see section 7: Uploads).
Researchers may find the SPIRIT 2013 statement a useful resource when preparing their protocol.
Section 7: Uploads
One single-side A4 page, listing references used throughout your proposal.
If required, an additional supporting (single side of A4) document can be submitted with your application form (e.g., a flow diagram illustrating the study design and the flow of participants, gantt chart, pictures, diagrams etc.) If submitting a flow diagram, applicants should also describe complex interventions and controls as
accurately and fully as possible within their diagram. If proposing an RCT, we advise you refer to the CONSORT statement and website for guidance. Alternatively, you may find the EQUATOR Network website useful. The PDF file should be submitted along with your application form.
Section 8: 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.
Section 9: 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: Please note this person does not need to be included as a co-applicant.
Section 10: Acknowledge, review and submit
Please declare any conflicts or potential conflicts of interest that you or your co-applicants may have in undertaking this research, including any relevant, non-personal & commercial interest that could be perceived as a conflict of interest.
As lead applicant, please tick the box to confirm that the information entered into the application form is correct and that you take responsibility for overall management and delivery of the research.
Checklist of information to include when submitting a NIHR stage 1 research application
Applicants should click the checkboxes to indicate that they have included the necessary information prior to submitting their application.
- A good quality Plain English Summary www.invo.org.uk/makeitclear/
- A clear explanation of the problem being addressed
- A clear demonstration of the need and importance of the research
- A review of existing literature (primary research)
- A clear research question / aim(s) and objectives
- A clear project plan summarising the study design and methods
- A clear description of team member roles and contribution
- Appropriate and relevant involvement of patients and the public http://www.invo.org.uk/
- A flow diagram illustrating the study design / flow of participants (document upload), if appropriate
- A single A4 page of references (document upload), mandatory