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Working with the Research Design Service


Published: 23 September 2020

Version: 1

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The RDS was replaced by the new NIHR Research Support Service on 1 October 2023. If you are a new client, please visit the Research Support Service page to find out more. The RDS will continue to offer support to existing clients until March 2024.

The Research Design Service (RDS) provides a national network of experts who help researchers across England to develop competitive funding applications for health, public health, and social care research. This document describes what you can expect from the RDS and what we expect in return to provide the best possible service.

We will:

  • offer free advice on developing research funding and fellowship applications
  • allocate advisers to coordinate support and guidance
  • provide timely feedback on draft applications
  • where appropriate, include our public contributors* as part of the support we provide to you
  • treat all discussions and information provided in confidence
  • signpost to other helpful people, services, and resources
  • offer continuing support post award where needed

We can help by:

  • identifying suitable funders for your research
  • identifying possible gaps in your research team and suggest collaborators
  • recommending appropriate methods and designs
  • advising on and supporting public involvement in your research
  • helping you to demonstrate the potential value and impact of your research
  • reviewing drafts of your application and suggest improvements

Unfortunately, we cannot:

  • support applications not intended for national peer-reviewed funding bodies
  • provide supervision or informal support for students
  • draft sections of funding applications
  • carry out any of the research proposed

To make the most of the RDS and to support the service, we ask researchers to approach us well in advance of application deadlines, familiarise themselves with the scope and eligibility of their intended funder, inform the RDS of the outcome of their applications, and provide feedback on our service through our post-advice surveys.

Please note: The RDS cannot and does not promote or endorse any application or intervention.

* 'public contributors' are lay people who work with us to support research teams, and who have an interest in health research and can provide public involvement advice