Step 3 - Make a strong application
Take our advice
We offer all the advice and infrastructure you need to plan, apply, develop and deliver your research study.
- For all Programmes, except the Systematic Reviews Programme, the key issue is not the study design but the question.
- Read our tips, general assessment criteria and the specific programme guidance thoroughly before applying. Programme guidance can be found attached to each funding opportunity.
- Use the expert support available from our Research Design Service to formulate your idea into a research question.
- Contact the research Programme you are interested in directly.
- Talk to our Study Support Service to plan, set up and deliver your research and address treatment costs in the NHS regardless of location, study type, study size, therapy or research area.
- Ensure that your application adds value.
- Make sure you consider partnerships and collaborations with the Life Sciences Industry or Charities.
- Carefully consider intellectual property.
- Ascertain whether your study can include international work.
- Make sure you have a clear dissemination strategy.
- If your study is led from England and involves the NHS in England, you need Health Research Authority (HRA) Approval and to ensure that it is registered.
- Planning a trial? The Clinical Trials Toolkit provides practical advice to researchers in designing and conducting publicly funded clinical trials in the UK.
- Refer to our carbon reduction guidelines for those areas where sensible research design can reduce waste without adversely impacting on the validity and reliability of research.
- If you are considering using animal testing, please review our use of animals in research guidelines.
Please note that the NIHR will shortly be launching a new streamlined application form. To be rolled out from May, the new form will allow the correct application to be attached to each call, making it available to applicants when they use the 'click here to apply' button.
Make it clear and involve the public
If you are making a researcher-led application clarify what impact that answer is likely to have on the health of the nation.
Involve the public from the outset and ensure that your research intention is clear for those outside your professional specialty reviewing your application by providing a good quality, plain English summary. Our Research Design Service provides advice and support to researchers on public involvement. You may wish to review our webinars, an introduction for researchers with little or no experience of PPI (email required to view) and the opportunities and challenges of PPI for experienced researchers for guidance on involving the public in your research.
For an example of how people are being involved in data analysis see the video below from the Pressure Ulcer Service User Research Network (PURSUN).
Respond to feedback
Applications are reviewed by a range of experts and clinicians as well as patients and carers. The funding board or panel may invite you to refine your study design when making a full application. Incorporate any anonymised expert feedback you receive based on comment from a range of specialties including patient perspectives.
If making a stage 2 application, detailed information should be realistic. Reasonable and sufficient costings and staff time commitments show that you can deliver your project effectively. Demonstrate the feasibility of your approach, including that you can recruit sufficient patients. Our Study Support Service can help you with recruitment.
Before seeking funding approval from the Department of Health, the Board or panel may request further changes so be prepared to make final changes.
Minutes of funding meetings and funding decisions are made public.