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UK ESG-NSC Guidance for Applicants - straight to Stage 2


Published: 18 April 2024

Version: 1.0 Mar 2024

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These are the guidance notes for applicants who are applying for the Evidence Synthesis Programme (ESP) call for Evidence Synthesis Groups - UK National Screening Committee (ESG-NSC). Applicants should complete and submit a Stage 2 application via the REsearch Awards Lifecycle Management System (REALMS).

Applicants should consider these guidance notes for completing an application in conjunction with the appropriate ESG-NSC Specification Document, providing the background, rationale, eligibility criteria, specification, success criteria and assessment process for the new groups.

The ‘Add New Ticket’ button towards the top of the screen can be used to raise a support ticket if you have any questions relating to the call or completion of the online application form

Please regularly press the 'Save Draft' button, found towards the bottom of the screen to save your progress.

We would like to draw your attention to the 'Info still required' button at the bottom of the application page. We encourage you to click this well before submitting - it will bring up a list of all the sections that still need completing and any errors the system has detected (if any). These can then be corrected in good time before the submission date.

Summary information

Contracting organisation

Please give details of the organisation who will be the contractor if the application is successful.We expect the Lead Applicant’s contracting organisation (substantive employer) to act as the contractor. Your primary organisation will be shown by default. If this is not the contracting organisation, search for the correct contracting organisation by typing the name of the organisation in the search box. If the organisation you require does not appear in the search box, you can request to ‘Add New Contracting Organisation’. Please ensure this is the correct legal name for the contracting organisation that should be used in any research contract with DHSC if your application is successful. New organisations need to be approved by the REALMS team prior to submission of your application. Please contact us if this request is being made within 2 weeks of the call close date. Please also bear in mind that:

  • Thought must be given to the most appropriate institution to act as the contractor as part of the application process, as changes are unlikely to be agreed once a funding decision has been made.
  • The contractor is expected to respond to annual financial reconciliation exercises, provide the final financial reconciliation statement for the project and to provide ad hoc requests for financial information during the lifetime of the contract. In the unlikely event that a request is made for the contractor to differ from the Lead Applicant’s contracting (host) organisation, the suggested contractor must be able to fulfil these expectations and to do so in the usual timeframes.
  • In the same way, the contractor is expected to respond to any queries relating to Intellectual Property, commercialisation and benefit realisation.

If you have any queries, please contact before submitting your application.

Research title (limit: 300 characters)

Please add the title of your proposed ESG-NSC. Any abbreviations should be spelled out in full.

Research type

Please select ‘Evidence Synthesis’ from the drop-down list.

Start month

Please enter 1 of April. Note this will be from the first of the month regardless of whether this is a working day or not.

Start year

Please enter 2025.

Research duration (months)

This opportunity is for a 60 month (5 year) contract. Please enter 60 months.

End date

This field will automatically populate once you have saved the research duration information.

Total research costs

These figures are automatically populated from the detailed budget section.

Research team

Lead applicant

Information on your name, main and other affiliated organisations and contact details will be automatically populated from your contact profile. Degrees and professional qualifications can be added to your contact profile. Update your contact profile to complete any missing mandatory information or make any updates here – you can do this via the ‘My Profile’ icon on your home page whilst in the application form by first clicking the ‘Update’ button alongside your details in the Research Team section and then clicking on the ‘Update Contact Profile’ button. Your contact profile will need to be validated prior to your application submission.


ORCiD provides a persistent digital identifier for individual researchers.

Please note: You (and the joint lead applicant - if included) are required to obtain a free unique ORCiD ID number and update your REALMS user contact profile with this before you can submit your application - the requirement for an ORCiD ID is mandatory for all applicants except PPI co-applicants. However, if a PPI co-applicant has an ORCiD account and wishes to add this to their REALMS contact profile they can. By clicking the link ‘Create or connect your ORCiD ID’ within the ‘ORCiD’ section of your user contact profile you will be taken to the ORCiD website where you will need to register or sign in. Once logged in to ORCiD and following acceptance of T&Cs, you will need to click on the ‘Continue to import your ORCID Data’ button which will update your profile with your ORCiD ID, along with other associated ORCiD data (e.g. any publications and grants you have allowed ORCiD to make visible to the public or trusted parties). Grants and Publications drawn from ORCiD in this way will be available for you to use in populating the relevant sections of your application. The ORCiD ID number is a mandatory requirement.

If additional publications and grants need to be added to an application, and you would like these available to select for other applications, you will need to update your ORCiD account first and then click ‘Re-Import ORCiD Data’ on your REALMS ‘My Profile’.

Equality and diversity reporting system (EDRS)

NIHR is committed to promoting equality, diversity and inclusion in research and asks applicants to provide Equality and Diversity Monitoring Information. 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.

Research team

The Research Team section lists any applicants who have been added to this application. Note, the Joint Lead Applicant, Co-applicants and Administrative contacts are all required to be invited and accept their participation in a Stage 2 application (if not already invited and accepted at Stage 1). The ‘Update’ button can be used to access the Applicant Details Form for each applicant and update the details of each user's involvement in this application. Different types of applicants can be added (e.g. Co-applicant/Co-applicant PPI).

Once ORCiD accounts have been linked up, the Lead, Joint Lead and co-applicants need to select which publications and grants are relevant for this application within the Applicant Details Form. This form can be found in the Action Items on each person’s home page once the Lead applicant has added them.

The Applicant Details Form for all applicants must be in Submitted status in order to submit your application.

Research team – lead applicant ‘update’

Click the ‘Update’ button to the right of your Lead Applicant information to add the information regarding your role on the application.

Role (limit: 200 characters)

Specify the Lead Applicant's role in the UK ESG-NSC. Enter the role that you will be undertaking in the group e.g. co-ordination and project management, analysis, methodological input etc.

% Full-time equivalent (FTE) commitment

This refers to the percentage of your time that you will commit to the ESG.


Select your primary organisation for the purpose of this application. Your main organisation and any other affiliated organisations that you have already added will be listed by default. If the correct organisation is not listed, this can be added by using the ‘Update contact profile’ button towards the top of the page and adding a new organisation (to do this click on ‘Other Organisation’ in the left hand selection bar). Department – Select the primary department affiliated with.

If you are a PPI representative and can’t find or don’t have an appropriate registered organisation, please start typing ‘PPI Representative Based in…’ and select the England/Scotland/Wales/Northern Ireland option as appropriate.

Department (limit: 100 characters)

Select your department for the purpose of this application. 

Applicant research background

Recent relevant publications

Provide details of a maximum of 6 of your most recent / relevant publications (in the last 10 years) relevant to this application.

To add relevant publications, click on the ‘Open’ button and either select the relevant listed publications pulled in from your ORCiD record, and/or add any other new relevant publications. Once complete click ‘Save selected Publications’.

Research grants held

This should include 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. Please include who the grant is with and the amount of each grant.

To add relevant research grants, click on the ‘Open’ button and either select the relevant listed research grant pulled in from your ORCiD record, and/or add any other relevant research grants. Once complete click ‘Save selected Publications’.

For each manually added research grant entry you should state the registration number, name of registry and the DOI of the main related publication.

Once all information has been entered and saved, click the ‘Complete’ button.

Joint lead applicant

Select ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to indicate whether this application involves a Joint Lead Applicant, and where appropriate use the envelope icon to add a Joint Lead applicant to your application and complete the necessary information. Once complete click the ‘Invite’ button. Once the joint lead applicant has accepted their invitation they will appear in the 'Research Team' list, and their information can be edited as necessary. The joint lead applicant will need to complete their publications and grants information.


Use the ‘Add / Edit Co-Applicants’ button to add a co-applicant(s) to your application and complete the necessary information. Once complete click the ‘Invite’ button. Once a co-applicant has accepted their invitation they will appear in the 'Research Team' list, and their information can be edited as necessary. Where appropriate, co-applicants will need to complete their publications and grants information.

Do not include collaborators, who should be mentioned (if necessary) in the 'Detailed Research Plan' (upload document).

Co-applicants are those individuals with responsibility for the day to day management and delivery of the project. 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 who do not share in the responsibility for the delivery of the project.

Patient and public involvement (PPI) co-applicants

We recognise and value the varied perspectives that members of the public, patients, service users and carers bring to a project as applicants and encourage their inclusion where appropriate. They are not required to provide a full curriculum vitae (CV) (i.e. N/A may be appropriate for 'Publication Record and Research Grants held'). PPI co-applicants should provide a summary of any relevant knowledge, skills and experience that they will draw upon to contribute to this project. This could include information about:

  • previous or present work (paid or unpaid) with any relevant organisations
  • links with any relevant groups, committees, networks or organisations
  • experience of particular health conditions, treatments, use of services, being a carer - or as a member of a particular community
  • knowledge and experience of research including previous research undertaken
  • knowledge and experience of patient and public involvement including previous involvement activities
  • skills from any other roles that are transferable Relevant qualifications, training and learning

For further information please access the 'Public Co-Applicants in Research' guidance.


Please note that signatories are no longer a requirement of a Stage 2 application submission. However, if your research proposal is recommended for funding you will be required to add the relevant signatories and obtain their approvals shortly after receiving your funding recommendation outcome letter as part of the project start-up and contracting process (approximately 2-3 weeks after the funding assessment committee date).The signatories that will be required at this stage are as follows: Director of Finance and Head of Department or Senior Manager or equivalent.

Applicants must follow their host organisation's application review and sign off procedures before submitting an application. Failure to do this may result in any agreement to fund being withdrawn.

Administrative contact details

This facility allows you to provide an alternative contact(s) who will also have access to the application but will not be able to submit it when complete. The Lead Applicant must submit the completed application and will still receive all emails automatically generated through the system.

If you wish to include an administrative contact, use the envelope icon below to enter the administrative contact's details, and invite them to participate in this application.

Application details

This section contains the Scientific abstract and plain English summary.

Scientific abstract (limit: 3,500 characters)

The scientific abstract should be a clear and concise summary of the 'Detailed Research Plan’, with a character limit of 3,500 characters (1 side of A4 maximum). The following is a list of potential elements/headings that you might want to include:

  • background
  • aims and objectives
  • methods (general approach)
  • anticipated impact and dissemination

It will be for researchers to decide the appropriate elements to be included in the scientific abstract, and could include elements outside this list.

Applicants may find the guidance on the EQUATOR Network website useful.

Plain English summary of research (limit: 3,500 characters)

A plain English summary is a clear explanation of your group's proposal.

Many reviewers use this summary to inform their review of your funding application. They include clinicians, other practitioners 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 NIHR and other websites.

A good quality plain English summary providing an easy to read overview will help:

  • those carrying out the review (reviewers and committee members) to have a better understanding of your proposal
  • inform others about the work of your group such as members of the public, health and social care professionals, policy makers and the media
  • the 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/ service users/ practitioners and 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 group
  • the general approach that will be adopted
  • patient and public involvement
  • anticipated impact and dissemination

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 a plain English summary is available. Please use a readability checker to ensure appropriate language and structure has been used.

For further support and advice on writing a plain English summary, please contact your local Research Design Service (where applicable).

Patient and public involvement (PPI)

Please describe how patients/service users, carers and the public have been involved in developing this proposal (limit: 3,500 characters)

You should describe who has been involved and why this is appropriate, what role(s) they played, and what influence or change has happened as result of their involvement.

Please describe the ways in which patients/service users, carers and the public will be actively involved throughout the proposed research, including any training and support provided (limit: 3,500 characters)

Public Involvement approach, management and support

  • explain why your approach to public involvement is appropriate for this proposal; in your description you will need to say who will be involved and why
  • please use this opportunity to describe how you plan to manage and coordinate the patient and public involvement activities in your ESG
  • describe how you will support and enable patients/service users, carers, the public and members of relevant communities to contribute to your group (e.g. access, payments, training)
  • we would also encourage you to outline plans for the capturing, evaluating and reporting the impact of public involvement activities

Patients, carers, service users and the public can be involved in every stage of a research project, from developing a proposal through to dissemination and evaluation. Further resources to support the design of your PPI are available. 

These include standards for public involvement in research, guidance for researchers on PPI and guidance on Payment and recognition for PPI, which includes a budgeting guide.

We provide advice on developing research applications including patients and the public and the James Lind Alliance has a step-by-step guide on involvement in research identification and priority setting. These resources are focused on public involvement in research projects but will have some relevance to ESGs

PPI lead

The role of the PPI lead can be undertaken by any of the co-applicants within the research team (or a named member of the team), who has the relevant skills, experience and authority to be accountable, represent, manage and embed patient and public involvement in all aspects of the research study/programme. This role should be a budgeted and resourced research team member. Examples of activities a PPI lead might undertake are available. 

A summary of PPI activities

Please provide a summary of the proposed PPI activities embedded throughout the ESG lifecycle. Please clearly signpost to other sections of the 'Detailed Research Plan' where the PPI is described further in relation to the relevant project stage e.g. dissemination, intervention design, data collection, analysis.

In rare cases where proposals do not involve patients/service users, carers and the public, clear justification must be provided. (limit 3,500 characters)

Complete / justify as necessary.

Detailed budget

Organisations for budget

Use the ‘Add Organisations’ and ‘+’ button to select and add the organisations who will be responsible for budget items, receive funding and add them to your application.

Application budget

This section should provide a breakdown of costs associated with undertaking the activities of the ESG as described in the application.

The information entered in this section should provide a breakdown of the total funds requested to support the group and should be based on current prices. These costs will be used to assess value for money, which is an important selection criterion.

  • It is in the best interest to undertake a thorough, realistic and accurate costing. You must provide a clear and full justification for all costs. You must also ensure that you include all costs including those required to secure good management and governance.
  • Costs must be provided at current prices. An adjustment for inflation will be made annually thereafter at rates set by the Department of Health and Social Care. Whilst allowances for incremental increases should be included on the form, nationally or locally agreed pay increases should be excluded.
  • Years should be calculated starting from the anticipated start date of the group. For ESG-NSC, the anticipated start date is 1 April 2025 then its second year starts 1 April 2026 etc.
  • When costs have been entered for year 1, it is possible to copy these costs to subsequent years, and they can then be edited if needed.
  • 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).
  • Payments are not able to be made in advance of need and, if funded, your payments will be made in accordance with your application budget. Please therefore ensure that your planned costs are included in the budget year in which they are most likely to be incurred.
  • Appropriate sub-contracts must be put in place for any element of the group's activities which are to be paid to another organisation.
  • NHS Support Costs are not supported by the ESG-NSC funding opportunities.
  • All applications are expected to have appropriate input from collaborating organisations (i.e. higher education institutions and other partner organisations) into the finance section of the application form.
  • Please note that whilst the applicable percentages will be used to calculate the maximum award payable, the programme reserves the right to award for less than this maximum where it is considered appropriate.

Costs for un-named co-applicants

If you need to provide costs for more than one unnamed individual it is important to name them as ‘TBA 1’, ‘TBA 2’ etc. not just ‘TBA’, or use the expected job title, otherwise their costs will not appear in the PDF version of the form.

Contributions and joint funding

Contributions from other organisations and proposals for joint funding with another organisation can be recorded as such in the ‘Contributions’ tab. If you are considering applying for a joint funding arrangement please contact to discuss this.

Information on different types of organisations

Higher education institutions (HEIs)

Higher education institutions (HEIs) should determine the full economic cost (FEC) of their involvement using the transparent approach to costing (TRAC) methodology. For HEIs, up to 80% of FEC will be paid, provided that TRAC methodology has been used.

NHS bodies and other providers of NHS services in England

For applications where the contractor is an NHS body or provider of NHS services in England, up to 100% of direct costs will be paid based on Research costs identified through ‘Attributing the costs of health and social care Research and Development’ (AcoRD).

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 an ‘other partner’ organisation (e.g. charity or NGO), please fill in direct costs and other partner organisations indirect costs. Indirect costs should be charged in proportion to the amount of research staff effort requested on the funding application form. Up to 100% of costs will be paid.

Direct costs

These are costs that are specific to the research, which will be charged as the amount actually spent and can be supported by an audit record. They should comprise:

I) Posts and salaries

This section presents an overview of salary and associated on-costs for the applicant(s) contributing to the group, including normal salary increments broken down individually.

Please include all members of staff working in the group by clicking ‘add a new staff member’ salaries’ or editing a current one. If there are any members whose costs are not being claimed you should still include their details within this section, but don’t include any actual costs. Where applicants are already in receipt of NIHR funding for any part of their salaries (e.g. NIHR Fellowships), these should not be additionally charged to the project. Where applicants are already receiving salaries funded by NIHR, these should be declared in the application by selecting ‘Yes’ in the ‘Other NIHR Salary’ drop-down list - please note that the NIHR will not fund more than 100% of an applicant’s time across multiple NIHR projects/awards and this fact will be checked prior to contracting. If you are unsure about this requirement or have any questions please contact the appropriate NIHR research funding programme.

The Apprenticeship Levy can be included in the salary costs where relevant.

The annual costs of each applicant contributing to the research needs to be calculated by specifying the %FTE and number of months. 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 ensure that you check that the ‘Cost Type’ box reflects the organisation which correctly describes the employing organisation for a member of staff (e.g. HEI, NHS, Commercial, Other), as this impacts on the level of funding provided. Staff employed by a Higher Education Institution (HEI) are funded at 80% of cost and staff employed by NHS, commercial or other partner organisations at up to 100% of cost.

II) Travel, subsistence and dissemination costs

This section includes journey costs, subsistence and dissemination costs, including conference fees. Where applicable, you will need to include the travel and subsistence costs of your Project Advisory Group, Steering Committee. It is anticipated that many of these meetings will currently be virtual and some may be face to face, where this provides added value. Travel and subsistence costs relating to dissemination should also be included here, as should costs relating to overseas travel.

Journey costs - Enter the total cost of transport for all journeys for destination/purpose. If travel is by car, apply your institution’s mileage rates (however this should not exceed HMRC approved mileage allowance payments, which is 45p per mile for the first 10,000 miles and 25p thereafter). Travel by the most economic means possible is encouraged. NIHR programmes do not usually fund first class travel.

Subsistence - Subsistence covers accommodation (if necessary) and meals associated with the travel, excluding any alcoholic beverages.

Dissemination costs
Conferences - Where national or international conference costs are included, a statement naming the conference or purpose of travel and the benefit to the group must also be made; failure to adequately justify your attendance at a conference, will mean the programme will not fund this cost. For research of up to 5 years, the programme will usually fund up to a maximum of 2 individuals to attend 1 international conference attendance, or 1 individual to attend 2 international conferences. For research beyond 5 years, the programme will usually fund up to a maximum of 2 international conference attendances per five year or part of 5-year research period.

Open Access Costs - Applicants should no longer include open access costs as part of their Stage 2 application Detailed Budget Costs.

From 1 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. Open Access funding guidance is available.

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.

III) Equipment

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 normally restricted to a maximum of £1,000 each to include VAT and any associated software. If the purchasing organisation is unable to reclaim/ recover the VAT on any piece of equipment, then it should be included in the stated cost. A statement of justification must be included in the relevant ‘Justification of Costs’ section for any purchase above this limit.

IV) Consumables

This section includes non-reusable items specific to the ESG. Please itemise and describe the requirements fully (e.g. postage, stationery, photocopying). These items should be ESG specific, not just general office costs which should be covered by indirect costs.

V) Patient and public involvement

Please itemise and describe fully the costs associated with Patient 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 group via activities such as facilitating contact with potential participants, contracting research activities or providing advice, an adequate budget must be included to compensate for their time and resources.

For more information on budgeting for involvement, please read the NIHR Payments Guidance for researchers and professionals.

VI) Other direct costs

These are costs, not identified elsewhere, that are specifically attributed to the group. For example, costs associated with the use of facilities, external consultancy costs, training costs, costs associated with inclusivity (which may include, but are not limited to justified translation of 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 ‘Posts and Salaries’ section.

Indirect costs/overheads

Indirect costs are similar to overheads, they will be attributable to items which support the group but are not directly incurred as part of the work of the group. The funding scheme will fund legitimate and reasonable indirect costs for local authorities. These may include a proportion of the costs of accommodation in the organisation, used for the group's work, and an appropriate proportion of HR, payroll, and finance costs.

For HEIs, Indirect costs are usually included as part of the calculation of FEC, and like direct costs should be included at 100% but will be funded at 80%.

Commercial/Other member organisations’ indirect costs, as described above, can be included.

All indirect costs need to demonstrate value for money. The NIHR reserves the right to set limits on indirect costs charged. Indirect costs will be charged in proportion to the amount of staff effort requested on the award. Commercial/Other Partner Organisations should calculate them, using their own cost rates.

They comprise:

  • general office and basic laboratory consumables
  • premises costs
  • library services/learning resources
  • typing/secretarial
  • finance, HR, public relations and departmental services
  • usage costs of major facilities
  • central and distributed computing
  • charge out rates for shared space/ 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.

HEI indirect costs

Total HEI indirect costs must be fully justified. HEIs are permitted to claim estate and other indirect costs. These costs are calculated on the basis of TRAC methodology. Proposals from other types of institutions/organisations should leave this section blank.

HEI indirect costs are based on the number of full-time equivalent research staff working on the group and the indirect/estates charges set by an institution. Please note HEI indirect costs cannot be claimed on shared staff costs. Where staff from more than one HEI are working on the research there may be different indirect/estates charges for each one. Please list each institution on a separate line.

The applicant(s) should consult their HEI Finance Departments for the appropriate figures to include in the estate charges and other indirect cost sections

Other partner organisation indirect costs

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.

Other Partner Organisation indirect costs must be fully justified.

NHS support and treatment costs (incl. excess treatment costs/savings)

The finance section includes a section that asks researchers to provide an estimate of the patient care costs associated with the research (this is not applicable for this funding opportunity).

I) NHS support costs

These are the additional patient care costs associated with the research and are not applicable for this call, so please leave this section blank. 

II) Excess treatment costs

These are the patient care costs that would continue to be incurred if the patient care service in question continued to be provided after the R&D activity has stopped and are not applicable for this call, so please leave this section blank. 

Justification of costs (limit: 8,000 characters)

Please provide a breakdown of costs associated with activities of the group and provide justification for the resources requested. This should include the following costs: staff costs, travel and subsistence, dissemination costs, equipment (including lease versus purchase costs), consumables,public involvement (PPI) and any other direct costs. For help with estimating PPI costs please see the NIHR Payments Guidance for researchers and professionals.

When justifying staff costs you should also provide the % amount of time input of each member of staff and link this to the specific area/work package/theme of the proposed study where this input will be taking place.

You should indicate here how the work of the group will potentially benefit the NHS and public health

You should describe the value for money of the proposed ESG.


Any additional, non-requested, documents will not be considered by the funding committee during its review. However, there may be other requested documents e.g. cover letter, collaborative documents, dictated by the specification of the call.

To upload a document click on the icon next to the relevant upload type. All required uploads must be added for you to be able to submit your application.

Only the following document types can be uploaded: .doc, .docx & .pdf. If you upload a Word document the system will create a PDF version of it and both versions will be displayed below. Any other document types will need to be converted to PDF format before uploading. If you wish to remove or replace any specific documents all versions of that document will need to be deleted

Attachment 1: Detailed Research Plan

It is mandatory to upload and submit a Detailed Research Plan (DRP), which is a full account of the proposed plan for the group. The DRP may contain relevant diagrams and charts within the 20 A4 pages.


Broadly, your detailed research plan should include the following:

  • use Arial font size 11
  • not exceed 20 A4 pages
  • have a header containing your allocated project reference number if known
  • have a footer showing your page numbers
  • be converted to a .PDF version before uploading it

Each recommended section of the Detailed Research Plan is not specifically word count limited, which provides applicants with the opportunity to use the 20 pages to provide elaboration in specific sections as required.

In this upload, you are asked to describe in detail how your team would deliver an NIHR Specialised Evidence Synthesis Group - UK National Screening Committee (ESG-NSC) as described in the call specification document, providing supporting references to relevant work where possible.

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 and clearly laid out.

Please provide the information as requested in each section, using the sub-titles provided below.

Full title of group (limit: 300 characters)

Please provide the title of the ESG-NSC. This should be the same title as above. Any abbreviations should be defined.

Summary of proposed activities (abstract)

The scientific abstract should be a clear and concise scientific summary of the Detailed Research Plan / Methods. Applicants may wish to refer back to/or duplicate Section 6 of this form and have the opportunity to expand the information if needed.

The following is a list of potential headings that might be included depending on the design of the proposed research. It will be for researchers to decide the appropriate elements to be included in this summary and could include elements outside this list.

  • background
  • aims and objectives
  • methods - general approach
  • anticipated impact and dissemination

Research Team (ability to meet the call criteria)

Please provide detailed information on how the proposed research team would meet the specified criteria and deliver evidence syntheses that meet the needs of the UK NSC. Therefore, we request that you provide detail under each of the headings given below (in bold).

Projects should have a research team with the right skills to undertake the research. It is important that the team forming the ESG-NSC has the necessary expertise but is not so large that project management will be difficult. All applicants need to show that they will commit appropriate time and effort to the ESG-NSC, and the use of large teams of applicants with little time commitment to the contract is discouraged. The roles and responsibilities for each team member should be clearly defined in the application.

The lead applicant should generally be the person who has contributed most to the intellectual and practical development of the application, and who will take lead responsibility for its implementation. This is not necessarily the most senior investigator in the research team. Where the lead applicant has a limited track record in holding grants, we will look for evidence that they will be supported and mentored by more experienced co-applicants.

Outline the particular contribution each member of the team will make to the project and the particular contribution that collaborators are intended to make. Applicants might not be able to do so for all contributing members at this stage. The important element at this stage is for the NIHR to understand the contribution of the co-applicants, their responsibilities in this commission and what they will deliver and what this represents in the way of costs. In addition, please give details of supervision arrangements for junior staff involved.

You should outline staff numbers and grades, where possible.

Team expertise and knowledge

Please describe the core research team members’ expertise in evidence synthesis production and related supporting activities, including expertise in screening topics.

Please demonstrate the team’s capabilities and capacity to produce evidence syntheses on screening topics. Key skills should include information science and retrieval expertise, critical appraisal, health economics and economic modelling, epidemiology and statistics and knowledge/understanding of evidence sources.

Please evidence the team’s understanding of policy stakeholders across all four nations and acknowledge the differences in social care delivery models.

Previous experience

Please demonstrate the team’s previous experience in carrying out evidence syntheses in screening topics. Consider the UK NSC criteria for a population screening programme and for a targeted screening programme, and the types of research that underpin these in your statement. Briefly, also describe the team's experience in completing other types of evidence synthesis projects.

In addition, please include details of experience of partnership-working with policy stakeholders and in co-designing research projects with them. 


Please provide evidence of the team’s access to a network of experts who can support evidence synthesis production and interpretation in an advisory capacity.

Patient and public involvement

The group should demonstrate that they have appropriate skills and experience within the team to include patient and public involvement in projects and evidence an established culture of PPI.

In the case of this call the group should outline how they will work with the UK NSC to determine patient involvement plans and related activities, appropriate for each project.

Research Design/Methods

The appointed groups will work with the UK NSC secretariat to develop and evolve methods to best meet UK NSC needs and to take account of emerging technologies and to incorporate advancements in methodology in their approach. Studies within a review, are encouraged alongside the research topic being synthesised where appropriate. Please confirm that you understand these requirements and will include them within your work.

Resourcing and Project management

A description of how the Evidence Synthesis Group will operate should be provided. This should include a statement of the general approach to be adopted in managing individual projects and the contract as a whole. It should include information about assignment of staff to individual project teams, including arrangements for supervision, oversight and quality assurance, and the team's ability to direct resources as needed. It should cover the ability of the group to undertake the work over the life of the contract, the resources required to do so (this refers to the researchers and staff who will be involved in the team, rather than the costs required to support the team) and ability to recruit and retain staff accordingly. 

For proposed groups involving a number of institutions or component parts, effective project management is essential to ensure the work is completed within the planned time frame. You should set out how joint applicants in different institutions will communicate and monitor progress of the project. 

Project/research timetable

A work plan will be developed with the successful team on an iterative basis and this should be acknowledged in your application. We would also expect applicants to show that there would be capacity to work on more than one ESG-NSC project at a time and explain how this would be organised.

This timetable will be an important aspect of the monitoring framework during the life of the project, once the initial work plan is agreed it will also inform the annual review of that work plan.

If your application is successful, you will be required to submit progress reports, to help all parties manage the contract appropriately.

Dissemination, outputs and anticipated impact

Applicants will need to demonstrate innovative approaches to the dissemination of research findings and this will be captured as part of annual progress reporting.

While UK-NSC work will be responding to a specific need and the work will be impactful by default, please set out how you will maximise the impact of each of the evaluations you undertake over and above deliverables for UK-NSC. Describe how you would go about doing this and the novelty of the methods you would employ. 

Please refer to the NIHR Dissemination guidance as applicable: How to disseminate your research: Getting your message heard - and used.

Success criteria and barriers to proposed work

Please set out the measurements of success you intend to use, the risks to the proposed research and how you intend to mitigate against them.


We realise this is not likely to be possible at this stage. However, individual evaluations may give rise to ethical issues. Please set out your experience in this respect including how issues were resolved and what was learned from the situation.

Outline any ethical and/or other regulatory issues, and arrangements for handling them. If there are no plans to obtain ethical review, this must be clearly justified. (Note that work outlined in your application/protocol must adhere to the UK Framework for Health and Social Care research).

Guidance for applicants on equality, diversity and inclusion

The NIHR is committed to actively and openly supporting and promoting equality, diversity and inclusion in research. This is, in part, achieved by diversifying research participants in the studies we support and the voices of those who shape our research agenda, by redesigning our processes, introducing targeted interventions and the effective monitoring and evaluation of impact.

We invite you to consider how the above principles on equality, diversity and inclusion can be incorporated into the work of an Evidence Synthesis Group and in developing innovative methodological design.

Helpful links:

Attachment 2: Team structure/organogram (called ‘Flow Diagram’ on application form)

Please attach a diagram or organogram (single-side of A4) illustrating your proposed team structure.

Please ensure that your diagram is large and clear enough to be projected as a slide at the commissioning committee meeting to provide committee members with a visual aid of your proposed team.

Attachment 3: References (maximum 3 pages of A4)

List all references cited in the full project description, using either the Vancouver or Harvard referencing conventions, and include the DOI of the main related publication.

Acknowledgements and conflicts

Potential conflicts

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. The ICMJE criteria for conflict management can be used as a guide. If in doubt, you should err on the side of disclosure.

Agreement to terms and conditions

I have read and understood the terms on which I have been nominated as lead applicant for this proposal along with the associated documentation and accept this role.

A list of terms and conditions is available.

Checklist of information to include when submitting a Stage 2 research application

As a guide, applicants should ensure they have included the below necessary information prior to submitting their application:

  • appropriate and relevant involvement involvement of the public
  • a good quality Plain English Summary
  • a clear description of team member roles and contribution
  • a clear scientific abstract
  • a full and accurate detailed budget breakdown
  • a clear justification of costs/value for money

Document uploads

  • a clear Detailed Research Plan outlining the design, methods, dissemination etc.
  • team structure/organogram (called ‘Flow Diagram’ on application form)
  • references, maximum 3 pages of A4
  • any Papers In Press (where relevant)