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HS&DR Funding FAQs

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 HS&DR > Funding Opportunities > FAQs

Detailed information about how to apply is available in the guidance notes that accompany each funding opportunity. Please read these first before starting your application. Further information can also be found at the following links:

About the programme

The selection process

Call timetable and how to apply

Resources for applicants


1. About the HS&DR Programme

1.1 What is the HS&DR Programme remit?
1.2 What are the researcher-led and commissioned workstreams?
1.3 Has the amount of funding available changed under the new programme?
1.4 What does 'evaluative research' mean?
1.5 What will happen to existing funded HSR and SDO projects?
1.6 Is the HS&DR Programme open to applicants from all the countries of the UK?

2. Applying to the HS&DR programme

2.1 When can I apply?
2.2 How does the NIHR support applicants in developing their proposals?
2.3 Who can submit a proposal - is it just universities?
2.4 Can I ask for the deadline for proposal submission to be delayed for me?
2.5 Can the title or content of the project be amended from the outline to full proposal application?
2.6 What does it mean when a proposal is 'transferred'?
2.7 If my proposal is not successful, can I resubmit?

3. Project management and governance

3.1 What is the role of the Chief Investigator?
3.2 Do we need a designated Project Manager?
3.3 When should we seek ethical approval?
3.4 Can I collaborate with someone outside the UK?
3.5 Do we need a programme appointed Study Steering Committee?

4. What can and can't be funded

4.1 Is there a maximum duration or amount of funding for research projects?
4.2 Does the HS&DR Programme fund clinical trials?
4.3 Does the HS&DR Programme fund pilot and feasability studies, either as standalone projects or linked to a full trial?
4.4 Do you accept bids concurrent with applications to other organisations?

5. Finance and contract issues
Please note: further information about costing your project is available in the application guidance notes.

5.1 What does the standard contract look like?
5.2 What should I do about VAT?
5.3 Will our indirect costs be funded if our application is successful?
5.4 How accurate do you expect my costs to be?
5.5 Can you explain how NHS costs are categorised?

6. The online application form

6.1 I'm having problems using the online application form - what can I do?
6.2 Can I include further information if the field I am typing in runs over the character allowance?
6.3 How do I work out my project start date?
6.4 Do the Chief Investigator's and Co-applicant's CVs need to be uploaded and attached or typed on to the application form? 
6.5 What format should we use when producing flow diagrams and what details are needed?
6.6 Can I upload my details from the outline proposal onto the full proposal?
6.7 When completing a full application form, can I include all applicants under 'Directly Allocated Costs'?

7. Other questions

7.1 How do I make a research suggestion?
7.2 Are there opportunities for patients and the public to get involved in the HS&DR Programme?
7.3 Where can I find out about NETS programmes' involvement in studies with international connections?
7.4 I have some questions not answered here - what should I do now?
7.5 What is the NIHR's approach to intellectual property?

 

About the HS&DR Programme

1.1  What is the HS&DR Programme remit?
The HS&DR Programme funds research to improve the quality, effectiveness and accessibility of the NHS, including evaluations of how the NHS might improve delivery of services. The audience for this research is the public, service users, clinicians and managers. The HS&DR Programme has two workstreams, one researcher-led and the other commissioned.

1.2 What are the researcher-led and commissioned workstreams?
The HS&DR Programme has two workstreams. The researcher-led workstream accepts applications from researchers on any question that is within the programme remit. The commissioned workstream issues calls on specific topics that have been identified as high priority for the NHS. View more information about the programme.

1.3 Has the amount of funding available changed under the new programme?
The funding available under the HS&DR Programme remains the same as the combined budgets of the HSR and SDO Programmes. The budgets will not be ring-fenced between the two workstreams. The budget of the programme will enable it to fund large studies of national and international importance that would be beyond the capacity of many other funders.

1.4 What does 'evaluative research' mean?
Under the new programme we wish to encourage evaluations of interventions in the NHS, the results of which will be of immediate interest to the research-using community and which could be of use across large parts of the NHS.

1.5 What will happen to existing funded HSR and SDO projects?
The existing HSR and SDO remits, aims and portfolios will continue into the new programme. The current arrangements for monitoring of existing funded projects remain in place. Deadlines and milestones are unchanged, and monitoring practice by the current secretariat will continue to support projects.

1.6 Is the HS&DR Programme open to applicants from all the countries of the UK? 
The HS&DR Programme is funded by the NIHR, with contributions from NISCHR in Wales, the HSC R&D Division, Public Health Agency in Northern Ireland, and case by case contributions from the CSO in Scotland.
 
The programme operates two funding streams; researcher-led and commissioned. Researchers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are eligible to apply for funding from either workstream under this programme. Researchers in Scotland may apply to the researcher-led workstream but are not eligible to respond to the commissioned workstream and should contact the CSO to discuss funding opportunities for healthcare delivery-type research.

Further information is available in the funding specification or commissioning brief for each funding opportunity.

 

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Applying to the HS&DR Programme

2.1 When can I apply?

The HS&DR Programme runs three funding rounds per year under both the researcher-led and commissioned workstreams. Full details of current and future deadlines are available under funding opportunities.

2.2 How does the NIHR support applicants in developing their proposals?
The NIHR provides specific support to help researchers develop and design high quality research proposals through the NIHR Research Design Service and through the involvement of Clinical Trials Units in your research. We strongly recommend that you contact your local RDS and Clinical Trials Unit as appropriate, to help in the development of your proposal.

2.3 Who can submit a proposal – is it just universities?
Anyone who considers that they can carry out high-quality research is likely to be eligible. If you have any concerns regarding your eligibility to apply we advise that you contact us before completing an application. NETS programmes (with the exception of the EME programme researcher-led workstream) welcome applications which are within the programmes' remits from all sectors. Applicants are strongly advised to consider establishing partnerships with other relevant sectors or organisations to demonstrate they have the full breadth of expertise to carry out their proposed research in their applications to NETS programmes. Applicants should always check individual call specification documents for any additional eligibility requirements.

The HS&DR Programme is funded by the NIHR, with specific contributions from the CSO in Scotland and NISCHR in Wales and the HSC R&D Division, Public Health Agency in Northern Ireland.

2.4 Can I ask for the deadline for proposal submission to be delayed for me?
No, unfortunately we cannot grant any requests for extensions of time. For outline proposals we must receive your electronic application form by the stated deadline. For full proposals we must receive your electronic application form by the stated deadline and one signed hard copy within a week of the stated deadline.

2.5 Can the title or content of the project be amended from the outline to full proposal application?
The HS&DR Programme would not expect to see any significant changes to the content of the project between the outline and full proposal stage, and the title must normally remain the same. Any changes made to the project content (including those requested by the relevant Board or Panel) should be fully explained and justified. Similarly, we would not expect to see a significant change in the funding requested, and any changes made should be fully justified.
Please note that once an outline or full proposal has been submitted, further changes cannot be made. You can, if you wish, withdraw your application and resubmit it at a later date. If it is an outline application, you could make changes at the full proposal stage if shortlisted, but these will need to be clearly explained and justified.

2.6 What does it mean when a proposal is ‘transferred’?
NETSCC manages a range of health research funding programmes. We operate an internal transfer process to help ensure that applications are assessed by the most appropriate programme. This takes place where a proposal is deemed to be out of remit by the receiving programme, and agreed by the Programme Directors as within remit of another programme. This usually occurs in the early stages of assessment soon after receipt of the proposal. Transferring a proposal does not imply that it will be funded by the receiving programme – that will be a decision for the relevant funding committee at which the transferred proposal is considered. If your proposal is transferred you will be notified by NETSCC of the next steps.

2.7 If my proposal is not successful, can I resubmit?
An unsuccessful application cannot be resubmitted to the HS&DR Programme or any other NETS programme within one year of the original decision, unless applicants can demonstrate it has been changed significantly and is thus essentially a new proposal.

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Project management and governance

3.1 What is the role of a Chief Investigator?

The chief investigator of an HS&DR study has the overall responsibility for:
• the conduct of the study
• managing the research resources in a way that maximises the chances of completion within available funding
• the day-to-day running of the study and for managing the study budget
• ensuring that appropriate systems and procedures, that assure the appropriate quality of every aspect of the study, are in place
• convening the steering group (if relevant) when there are any matters arising from the conduct or management of the study that might require their advice
• supporting the steering group (if relevant)
• ensuring that clear lines of communication are established between investigators
• preparing and approving reports to the HS&DR programme as required
• notifying the HS&DR Programme of changes to the study
• on completion of the study: analysing, writing up, reporting and disseminating the results
• ensuring that the study is conducted in accordance with research governance
• ensuring that all data and documentation associated with the research are readily accessible for independent inspection and validation.

The Chief Investigator is expected to ensure that their research team is of a suitable composition to assist in the delivery of these requirements. Please note only one person can be named as Chief Investigator. If you are proposing shared project management arrangements these can be detailed in the application with others included as co-applicants, though the Chief Investigator will retain overall responsibility.

3.2 Do we need a designated Project Manager?
All project proposals should include details of how the project will be managed including who will be the project manager, a role which should be appropriately costed where necessary.  This role may be played by the Chief Investigator (see above) or another designated team member.  A Project Manager role description is included in the full proposal guidance notes. For projects involving a number of institutions or component parts, effective project management is essential to ensure the work is completed within the planned timeframe.  You will need to set out how co-applicants in different institutions will communicate and monitor progress of the project.
 
3.3 When should we seek ethical approval?                                
Not all projects require ethical approval.  For those that do, we realise that this process can take some time.  However, we do not advise submitting materials to the appropriate ethics approval system until you have received notification of funding from the HS&DR Programme as the Board may request changes to be made to proposals that have implications for ethics and research governance approvals.

3.4 Can I collaborate with someone outside the UK?
We would usually expect the lead applicant and the bulk of the funding to be within eligible countries. However, we will accept proposals that include collaborators outside of the UK, though you should justify in your proposal the rationale for such collaboration. For more information, please contact NETSCC.

3.5 – Do we need a programme appointed Study Steering Committee?
It is expected that all Primary Research projects will have a steering committee and/or a management advisory group in place; details of which should be included at the full proposal stage. For evidence synthesis projects (literature review/ systematic review), scoping studies or other study design, it is proposed that if the project meets any one of the specific criteria then a committee should be formed. Please read the guidance below for full details of when a programme appointed SSC is required: 

HS&DR SSC guidance document

You may also find the HS&DR SSC checklist for applicants useful

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4. What can and can’t be funded

4.1 Is there a maximum duration or amount of funding for research projects?


There are no fixed limits on the duration of projects or funding and proposals should be tailored to address fully the identified research question (including long-term follow-up if necessary).  Applicants should balance the need for the information with the need to follow up participants for an adequate amount of time to measure important outcomes. Under the researcher-led workstream, the HS&DR Programme welcomes bids at all levels and funds on the basis of the importance of the work to the NHS, and the scientific merit of the proposal, as long as value for money is clearly demonstrated. There is no lower limit to the amount of funds. Under the commissioned workstream, the commissioning brief for each call will set out any funding limits or guidance. Ambitious projects that address issues of national importance are encouraged, and we expect the budget for these projects to be realistic for the scope of the work planned.

4.2 Does the HS&DR programme fund clinical trials?

Under the researcher-led workstream, the HS&DR Programme does not set any restrictions on the types of methodology that can be used. For commissioned calls, any guidance or requirements about the methodology to be used will be set out in the relevant commissioning brief.

A randomised controlled trial could fall within the remit of the programme as long as it relates to a health service-oriented issue. The HTA Programme funds trials of new health technologies. If you are considering a trial you should contact a Clinical Trials Unit for advice.

4.3 Does the HS&DR Programme fund pilot and feasibility studies, either as standalone projects or linked to a full trial?
Depending on the requirements of the call, these types of studies could be funded under the commissioned workstream, but the commissioning brief for each call will provide details of what sort of studies can be considered. Under the researcher-led workstream, the HS&DR Programme can fund pilot and feasibility studies as long as they relate to health service outcomes. The HS&DR Programme can also fund pilot and feasibility studies as one phase of a larger study that includes a subsequent trial. However, in these cases there would need to be a review point following the pilot or feasibility phase, before funding for the trial could be released. Please contact us if you would like to discuss this option further.


4.4 Do you accept bids concurrent with applications to other organisations?     
No, we will not accept research proposals that are currently being considered by other funding bodies.


5. Financial and contract issues
Please note: further information about costing your project is available in the application guidance notes

5.1 What does the standard contract look like?
 The contracts issued by the HS&DR Programme are standard Department of Health research contracts, which will not be modified. There are four different contract types according to the type of institution the contract is awarded to, and these can be accessed below:

University contract (pdf, 118kb)

Commercial or charity contract
(pdf, 120kb)

NHS contract (pdf, 115kb)

Research council or Government Department contract (pdf, 116kb)

5.2 What should I do about VAT?
If your organisation is an 'eligible body' under HM Customs & Excise Notice 701/30 (VAT: Education and Vocational Training), e.g. you are a university or NHS Trust, the cost of any equipment should include any VAT you have to pay on purchase.

5.3 Will our indirect costs be funded if our application is successful?

The HS&DR Programme will fund indirect costs/ overheads for HEIs only.
 
5.4 How accurate do you expect my costs to be?
Applicants should note that it is in their interests to undertake a thorough, realistic and accurate costing of their proposal. The HS&DR Programme would not expect to see any significant changes.  However any made (including those requested by the relevant HS&DR Panel or Board) should be fully explained and justified.

Although the HS&DR outline application only requires an overall figure for the costs you are applying, should your application be successful at the panel meeting, you will be asked to submit a full proposal which will give you the opportunity to justify your costs in a detailed break-down.

5.5 Can you explain how NHS costs are categorised?
There are three types of costs associated with NHS Research and Development:

Research Costs - These cover the costs of R&D activity itself and include: data collection; analysis; other activities needed to answer the research questions; trial registration; dissemination; and the salary and indirect costs of staff employed to carry out the research.

Service Support Costs - These cover any additional patient-related costs, associated with the research, that end once the research activity has stopped. These may include: extra diagnostic tests; extra I/P or O/P activity; extra nursing care; and obtaining informed consent from participants.

Treatment Costs - These cover patient care costs, which will continue if the patient care service continues after the R&D activity stops. Treatment Costs cover all types of patient care including: diagnostic; preventive; continuing-care services; rehabilitative-care services; and health promotion. Where patient care is being provided which differs from the normal, standard, treatment for that condition (either an experimental treatment or a service in a different location from where it would normally be given) the difference between the total Treatment Costs and the costs of the 'standard alternative' (if any) is termed the Excess Treatment Costs, but it is nonetheless part of the Treatment Cost, not a Service Support or R&D cost.

More detail is available in the DH guide Attributing revenue costs of externally funded non-commercial research in the NHS (ARCO) which gives examples of what kind of costs should be allocated in the full proposal details as research, NHS support or NHS treatment costs.

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6.The online application form
Please note: detailed guidance on using the online application form is available in the application guidance notes for each call.

6.1 I'm having problems using the online application form - what can I do?
If you are experiencing difficulties completing the form, please read the Guidance Notes for the relevant call carefully as these provide detailed instructions and guidance.  If after reading these you are experiencing problems then contact your IT support in the first instance to ensure that you have the appropriate access rights on your machine.  If having done this you are still not able to access or use the form then contact us: hsdrinfo@southampton.ac.uk

6.2 Can I include further information if the field I am typing in runs over the character allowance?
We do not recommend that you submit any additional attachments with your application. Any other documents that are attached will be accessed at the assessors’ discretion. Applicants should not assume that any additional documents will be treated necessarily as part of the application form. At full proposal stage applicants are required to submit a detailed project description which offers the opportunity to provide a more detailed account of the proposed research.

6.3 How do I work out my project start date?
The application form asks you for your proposed project start date. We expect that successful projects will start within a reasonable time following a decision to fund (usually about six months).   Please be aware that if your project requires ethical approval we are unable to release payments until these approvals have been obtained.

Your intended start date should therefore allow time for obtaining these approvals and submitting appropriate documents to the HS&DR programme prior to the official start of the project. (It is worth noting that the start date we are referring to is the HS&DR formal start date for when we start releasing money and the main research begins. We acknowledge that the project team will have actually started working on the project prior to this date).

6.4 Do the Chief Investigator's and Co-applicant's CVs need to be uploaded and attached or typed on to the application form?
CV information is not required for outline applications.  However, for full applications, information must be entered into each individual field.  CVs should not be uploaded as separate attachments. 


6.5 What format should we use when producing flow diagrams and what details are needed?
For assistance regarding flow diagrams please refer to http://www.consort-statement.org/ 
The flow diagram can best be described as a visual outline of the processes/stages that lead you through your proposal. This can therefore include a timeline as well as touching upon the logic of your project.

6.6 Can I upload my details from the outline proposal onto the full proposal?
The full application form will usually include a range of information, including the applicant’s details, automatically transferred from the outline proposal.  It is important however that you check that this information is correct before adding further details and submitting your application. Any information that has been automatically inserted into the full form from your outline proposal should be considered in light of the feedback from the Panel or Board and revised as necessary.

6.7 When completing a full application form, can I include all applicants under 'Directly Allocated Costs'?
The HS&DR Programme fully supports full economic costing, and awards research funds on this basis to research based in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). Under the terms of this, all applicants are allowed to charge for the proportion of their time that will be spent working on any funded proposal. All proposals will be carefully scrutinised to ensure that all costs are appropriate and fully justified.

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7.Other questions

7.1 How do I make a research suggestion?

Anyone can suggest a research topic or idea for the HS&DR Programme to consider. If you would like to make a suggestion, please contact us at hsdrinfo@southampton.ac.uk

7.2 Are there opportunities for patients and the public to get involved in the HS&DR programme?
Members of the public need to be involved in research because research that takes account of the views, experience and understanding of members of the public is more likely to provide useful results for the NHS. The HS&DR Programme is committed to involving patients and the public at all stages of the funding process. In particular, we are always interested in hearing from people who might be able to act as a public reviewer and we sometimes have vacancies for public Board or panel members – see our public involvement pages for details.
If you would like to know more about public involvement in NETS programmes, please contact our PPI team at netsppi@southampton.ac.uk

7.3 Where can I find out about NETS programmes' involvement in studies with international connections?
For information about NETS programmes' involvement in studies with international connections, please refer to the NETSCC FAQs or contact us directly at netscc.international@soton.ac.uk

7.4 I have some questions not answered here – what should I do now?
If you still have questions that are not covered on the website, you can contact us at the following address: hsdrinfo@southampton.ac.uk

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The NIHR Health Services and Delivery Research (HS&DR) Programme is managed by the NIHR Evaluation, Trials and Studies Coordinating Centre (NETSCC). NETSCC is part of the University of Southampton funded by the NIHR, with specific contributions from the CSO in Scotland and NISCHR in Wales and the HSC R&D Division, Public Health Agency in Northern Ireland.

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