Research Design Service South East

How we can help: FAQs



How we can help: FAQs


What is the difference between the RDS and the CRN? Aren’t they the same organisation?

Both the CRN (Clinical Research Network) and RDS (Research Design Service) are funded by the NIHR. Although they do work closely together, they are separate and different organisations. Both can  provide confidential, free advice on your research:

  • The RDS supports research teams in developing and submitting applied health and social care funding applications to the NIHR or other peer reviewed funders.
  • The CRN’s main focus is helping teams to deliver their research once funding is awarded. They can also advise on costings and recruitment strategy.

It is a good idea to contact both the RDS and CRN early on in the development of your research idea. You can then get advice on both study design and feasibility of delivering the research.

When should I contact the RDS SE?

Contacting the RDS SE in the early stages of planning your research is always best. It ensures that we can think through the best design for your project, what is feasible and what might be funded by peer-reviewed funding panels. In addition, early contact allows us to signpost to allied organisations such as the CRN and regulatory bodies such as the MHRA. The earlier you contact us, the more comprehensive our advice will be. However, we will try to help you at any stage of research development if we can. You do not have to have a fully formulated research plan when we first meet – we can help you to turn your initial idea into testable hypotheses (where relevant) and think through possible research methods.

Will the RDS be able to write different sections of my application?

No, RDS advisers are not able to write sections of your application (unless they are co-applicants on the project). They can of course advise on how to improve your funding application and suggest areas for improvement. We also offer a pre-submission review panel, which can provide further feedback on your application before it is submitted to the funder.

I don’t know anything about health economics. Can the RDS provide training?

Whilst the RDS cannot provide training, we can help you to find relevant collaborators, suggest useful training courses and help you to access specialist RDS health economics advice. This can relate to frequently used health-related quality of life outcomes (e.g. EQ-5D, SF-36) or to ways of costing an intervention and service resource use.

How long does it take to develop a funding application?

This really varies and it depends on the type of project and funding stream. Developing a funding application often takes longer than expected, so it helps if you speak to us as early as possible. It may be advisable to work towards a later deadline if there is a lot of work to do before the next funding deadline. We often find that dedicated blocks of time lead to better progress than revisiting the application frequently, but only briefly. However, we recognise that this can also be challenging in the context of clinical work. We can talk through this with you and help you to develop a realistic plan, taking into account your other commitments.

Can the RDS help me put together a research team?

The RDS can’t put a team together for you, but we can suggest potential collaborators and help to put you in touch with relevant people or organisations that might be able to help. Having the right research team in place is really important as funders will want to see that the team has appropriate skills and experience to manage all aspects of the project once it is funded. We can help you to think about what skills and experience are needed for your project. You will need to develop relationships with relevant experts (including disciplinary experts, methodologists, clinicians and service users/ experts-by-experience). For the project to be successful, all members of the team need to have sufficient ‘buy-in’ and you need to have plans in place for each member to contribute/ lead on specific aspects of the project. It is not just about the scientific merits of the research, but also the ability to take the work forward, keep the project on track and make progress towards project objectives in order to achieve the project aims.

What will happen once I have filled in a request for support form ?

Once you complete the the request for support form with relevant information about your research, we will assign you a lead adviser based in Kent, Surrey or Sussex. They  will contact you to arrange a phone call or meeting to discuss your project in detail and agree the next steps to take it forward.

How many consultations can I have with RDS SE?

There  is no limit on the number of consultations you can have with the RDS SE, however, if there is no activity on your project for 6 months, we will get in touch to let you know we are putting the project on hold.

Can RDS staff become co-applicants on the application?

Yes they can. If this is something you’d like to consider, please speak to your RDS adviser.

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