Research Design Service South East

How we can help



NIHR Research Design Sergvice SE at NCVO London

What advice can we give?

RDS advisers are well-connected active researchers with specialist methodological expertise and considerable experience of crafting competitive funding applications.

Our advisers can help your with many aspects of the research application process, whether you are applying for a research grant or for funding to support your research career. For more information about how we can help download our RDS SE national leaflet.

Research advisers are happy to meet at a convenient time and place to discuss your research. We advise you to speak to us as early as possible so we can help you to develop your research ideas, and to ensure that you get meaningful input into all aspects of the grant application. It is easy to contact us via our request for support page, or you can email us at

What will happen after contacting the RDS SE?

After you contact the RDS with some basic information about your research proposal, we will assign you with a lead research adviser who will discuss your research ideas in detail. A first meeting will be organised, and this is usually face to face at a place that is convenient for you. At the initial meeting, your lead research adviser will check there is a viable research question to answer and will familiarise themselves with the unique research requirements you may need. Once they have a good understanding of the proposed research project, they can help to coordinate other specialist support as needed.

As well as one to one support with your research application, RDS SE can provide the following advising services:

  • Project development sessions: These are aimed at researchers at a relatively early point in their research planning. The sessions are attended by RDS SE Advisers with a multitude of backgrounds to whom the researcher can pitch their ideas, get immediate feedback about their plans and engage in brief discussions about the next steps needed to progress with their projects.
  • NIHR Information workshops: These half day workshops aim to provide researchers starting out in research with an overview of funding opportunities from NIHR, its remit, requirements & application process. Talks include: ‘Overview of NIHR funding programmes’; session on ‘How to write a Fundable Proposal’; brief talks by CTU & CRN; short PPI session; interactive Q&A; followed by bookable 1-2-1s with research advisers.
  • Public Involvement Fund: Small RDS SE PPI grants help researchers with the costs of involving patients and the public in the development of research ideas and grant applications. See Public Involvement pages for further details and how to apply.
  • Grant writing days/ half days: These writing days are aimed at research teams at a more developed point in their research planning. The aim is to give research teams time and space together, away from their day jobs, to work on their research applications. The workshops are attended by a number of RDS SE Advisers and service users so that research teams have an opportunity to ask specific questions as they finalise their plans and write their applications.
  • Mock interviews: If you are successful at Stage 1 of your Fellowship application you will be invited to submit a Stage 2 application and for an interview with an NIHR Fellowship panel. A mock interview can be arranged for you and will mimic an NIHR panel interview as closely as possible. The panel members are not associated with your proposal and may include a lay representative. There will be a panel chair who keeps the interview to time and manages the questions, as occurs in your NIHR interview. You give a five minutes presentation and this is followed by 20 to 25 minutes of questions about your project and your training and development plans. Once the formal interview is completed there is an opportunity for you to receive feedback from the panel and to ask questions.
  • Pre-submission panel (PSP): These review meetings mimic NIHR grant award panels, as far as is practicably possible. They are available to researchers at the final stage of proposal preparation. All relevant disciplines from amongst the core Advisers are represented at the meetings. Proposals are graded in a style similar to NIHR grant award panels. On occasion, the chair in consultation with the panel may invite the researcher/lead-applicant to attend a panel.

See our upcoming events page for a full list of planned RDS SE events.

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