Programme Grants for Applied Research - Information for subcommittee applicants 2021
We are seeking to appoint new members to serve on Programme Grants for Applied Research (PGfAR) subcommittees that consider researcher-led proposals to the programme. We have a permanently open call for applications and have a number of vacancies for 2021/22. We would welcome applications from a range of applied health researchers who have the enthusiasm and vision to work with the Director and committee Chairs to build on the success of the PGfAR scheme and to take it forwards in diverse and exciting ways.
In line with the Director’s ambition to increase the diversity and scope of the PGfAR scheme, we would particularly welcome applications from applied health researchers with experience of using novel methodologies to demonstrate patient benefits. These prestigious appointments offer senior applied health researchers the chance to take part in and gain experience of making recommendations to NIHR for large scale, high quality programmes of research for the benefit of patients and the NHS.
NIHR is taking action for diversity and inclusion. We particularly welcome applications for those from an ethnic minority background, different ages, and disabled people as they are currently under-represented on our committees.
PGfAR makes significant awards of flexible funding and duration. Since the Programme was established in 2006, 32 rounds have been completed leading to 270 awards worth over £586 million. Professor Elaine Hay is the Programme Director.
In line with the Director’s ambition to increase the diversity and scope of the PGfAR scheme, we would particularly welcome applications from applied health researchers with experience of using novel methodologies to demonstrate patient benefits. Potential applicants are advised to read the Director’s inaugural messages and blogs to gain insight into the future scope and direction of the scheme.
Briefly, whilst acknowledging that the scheme’s bread and butter is likely to remain the development and testing of complex interventions, we also want to encourage applications using a wider range of approaches to demonstrate patient benefits (for example, applied epidemiology, routinely collected healthcare data, qualitative methods, research in social care and public health settings, etc). Programmes that embed endeavours to advance research methods in applied research within the clinical programmes will also be welcomed.
In order to achieve this we are aware that the constitution of our committees probably needs to change, and we are also aware that we need to develop and promote a more imaginative and broader definition of patient benefits. We are therefore looking for enthusiastic new members from across the range of health, public health and social care research to help achieve these ambitious aims.
Programmes are undertaken by collaborative groups based in England, with co-applicants from the NHS and academia working together. A typical programme grant supports strong teams of researchers to undertake a number of clearly inter-related and inter-dependent work streams drawing on a range of methods, where the whole has ‘added value’ and is more than the sum of the parts. The research is applied and relatively near-term, with an expectation of a range of benefits to patients, populations, and the health and social care systems. There are three funding competitions each year - announced in February, June and October.
Applications undergo a two-stage assessment process. Applicants to the first stage whose proposals are judged to have a high chance of success are invited to submit a Stage two (full) application. Stage two applications undergo peer review before assessment at a meeting of one of two subcommittees. At all stages, appraisal is against pre-defined criteria that reflect the purpose of the programme:
- the importance and relevance of the research to the priorities of patients and to the needs of the NHS, public and social care systems
- the tractability of the research
- the likelihood of significant benefits to patients and the health and social care systems
- the suitability of the research team
- the scientific rigour of the research planned, and
- the potential value for money.
Each second stage subcommittee operates with fixed membership and typically comprises:
- two subcommittee Chairs
- general methodology experts: nine general applied health researchers with a range of backgrounds such as health services research, clinical epidemiology, pragmatic trials, primary care, public health and social care
- four experienced public members.
- methodology experts, typically but not always: statistics, health economics, behavioural science and social scientists/qualitative methods experts
We have a permanently open call for applications and have a number of vacancies for 2021/22. We would particularly welcome applications from a range of general applied health researchers, public health researchers, and social care researchers who have the enthusiasm and vision to work with the Director and committee Chairs to build on the success of the PGfAR scheme and to take it forwards in diverse and exciting ways.
Subcommittee members are expected to be recognised nationally and internationally as leaders in applied health research across a range of methodologies. Generally this means that they will be at Senior Lecturer / senior research fellow level or above.
Successful candidates will have significant experience in applied health research as demonstrated through publications, research funding, impact of research on patients, carers or service users, the NHS and social care system, and other measures of peer esteem.
We do advise applicants to have permission and support from their host institution prior to applying, as committee membership involves a not insignificant time commitment.
Tenure is for 4 years with a review after three meetings. Although membership to subcommittees is fixed, members may be asked to assist other subcommittees if unable to attend their own meeting and/or supply written comments about the applications under consideration, particularly in the event where it is not possible to attend any of the subcommittee meetings for a given competition.
Extensions may be made for an additional two years up to a maximum of six years at the discretion of the Programme Director. Reapplication for membership is only permissible after a two-year period has elapsed.
Subcommittees are currently convening via Zoom, due to COVID-19 restrictions. However it is envisioned that stage 2 subcommittees will return to face-to-face meetings from late 2021, in a central/London location. Subcommittees convene three times a year during early November, late February/early March and early July and a meeting lasts for a whole day. Subcommittee members are expected to serve on all subcommittee meetings that occur during a standard four-year term of office, and to prioritise these meetings in their diaries. There is no remuneration but travel expenses are reimbursed and overnight accommodation is paid for.
General methodological experts act as lead assessors for assigned Programme Grant applications. The other methodological experts provide an assessment of proposals from their particular disciplinary perspective, as well as being expected to contribute to the discussion about the overall strength and value of the applications. In both instances, this involves completion of an assessment form prior to the meeting, presenting views orally at subcommittee meetings, making corporate funding recommendations, and approving post-feedback changes made to applications before they are funded.
All subcommittee members are expected to participate in the critical evaluation of every application (even if not formally assigned to do so) and to share responsibility for all decisions of the subcommittee as a whole. Thus, there is a large volume of application paperwork to be considered by each member, requiring several hours of preparation time before each meeting.
Methodological experts will also be expected to be involved in the programme process prior to Stage two subcommittees by assessing Stage one applications shortlisted to Stage two through completion of a brief assessment form.
In addition to the regular committee meetings, subcommittee members may be asked to review documentation from funded programmes from time to time. This might include checkpoint reports to allow a programme to continue to the second phase of funding, variation to contract requests and changes to research plans.
How to Apply
If you have any queries or would like more information, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 8843 8056.
We strive to host inclusive and accessible events that enable all individuals to engage fully. We will do everything we can to meet individual committee member’s needs. To make a request or for inquiries about accessibility, please contact Fiona Giles on email@example.com or 020 8843 8078.