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I need help costing my research

All of the information you will need around how to cost your application for funding can be found in the relevant guidance information for the funding opportunity when you apply. This page is designed to provide an overview of the key costings information you may need to be aware of before you apply.

Costs to consider - checklist

It is a good idea to consider the costs of these possible requirement when you are completing an application. It may be that not all are relevant, but are worth considering.

  • time lead applicant spends undertaking research
  • co-applicant time costs
  • health economist, statistics and methodological support
  • junior colleagues
  • trial coordinator
  • monitoring of studies
  • costs of Trial/Study Steering Committees
  • consumables and equipment costs
  • site costs
  • patient and public involvement and engagement

Application and payments

Your application should provide a breakdown of costs associated with undertaking the research as described in the proposal. Costs should be based on current prices and will be used to assess value for money.

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).  The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) makes the payments directly to the contracted organisation’s finance office in accordance with the payment schedule at Section 4 of the contract. In most cases, you do not need to submit invoices.  Your final award payment will usually be released after all the funder requirements have been met.

We will require each UK award to provide an annual financial report (ASTOX), Global Health awards will require a quarterly financial report (QSTOX) plus transaction report, and all awards will need to submit a financial reconciliation statement (FSTOX) together with a full transaction listing at the end of the award.   We reserve the right to request additional financial information at any time if required.

Different institutions or contractors

Higher Education Institutions (HEIs)

HEIs should determine the full economic cost (FEC) of their research using the transparent approach to costing (TRAC) methodology. For more information please refer to the guidance notes relevant to the opportunity you are applying for.

Please note that whilst the applicable percentages will be used to calculate the maximum award payable, the programme reserves the right to award a grant for less than this maximum where it is considered appropriate.

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.

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. 

Other organisations

If you are a commercial organisation/consultancy or a charity, please fill in direct costs and your 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.

Conference and Open Access costs

Conference costs may be included – requests for funding for conference attendances will need to be justified and individual NIHR programmes may have specific limits.

Open Access Costs - Applicants should no longer include open access costs as part of their application.  From the 1st of June 2022 all eligible awards will have an Open Access Envelope allocated to them at the contracting stage.

For more information see  Open Access Funding Guidance  


We expect equipment to be purchased at the time that will best serve the purposes of the research.  The purchase cost of essential 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.

Costs of computers are normally restricted to a maximum of £1,000 each to include VAT and any associated software. If you need to spend more, you will need to justify this first.

NHS or social care support and treatment/intervention costs, are not funded through the NIHR award, for these see below.

Attributing the costs of health and social care Research and Development (AcoRD)

If your study involves participants, you will need to consider AcoRD as part of your application.

The AcoRD guidance provides a framework for the NHS and its partners to identify, recover and attribute the costs of health and social care research and development, in a transparent, and consistent way.

To ensure researchers have all the support they need around the attribution of study activities, we’ve developed a range of resources to help you understand the principles of AcoRD, including the attribution e-learning tool.

For answers to commonly asked questions on AcoRD, see the DHSC's AcoRD FAQs.

Further information about public health and social care intervention costs is available in our researcher guidance for public health and social care excess treatment costs (ETCs).

Find your AcoRD Specialist

NIHR has established a network of AcoRD specialists based across all of our Local Clinical Research Networks (LCRNs), whose role is to:

  • Signpost researchers to resources and training to understand the principles of AcoRD and the differences between a research cost, a treatment cost and an NHS service support cost.
  • Provide specialist advice and support for activity attribution.
  • Support resolution of attribution queries.
  • Assist with understanding the requirements for a Schedule of Events Cost Attribution Template (SoECAT), for studies that include service support or Excess Treatment Costs (ETCs)
  • Authorise the SoECAT for submission to the funder.
  • Facilitate the Triage process to confirm the majority commissioner responsible for funding the ETCs.

Help and support

  • If you need support from an AcoRD specialist in your region on how to correctly identify and attribute relevant activities and to authorise your completed SoECAT,  please contact your LCRN. Please allow a minimum of 20 working days for authorisation of a SoECAT by an AcoRD Specialist.
  • Further information about SoECAT can be found in our SoECAT Guidance.
  • Funders often request completion of a SoECAT as part of their application processes. Applicants for such grants may request support or advice from their local AcoRD specialist in completing the SoECAT if required. Although please note that it is the role of the AcoRD specialist to authorise completed SoECATs, not complete them on behalf of sponsors. Non-NHS sponsors may also request support or advice from their lead NHS R&D office. See Researcher Guidance for Public Health and Social Care Excess Treatment Costs (ETCs) for more information.