How we can help – support for grant applications

The NIHR funds the RDS to provide research design and methodological support to health and social care researchers across England to develop grant applications to the NIHR and other national peer reviewed funding programmes.  Advice is confidential and free of charge.

Research advisers are happy to meet at a convenient time and place to discuss your research. We advise people to speak to us as early as possible about a research idea 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 call email us at

After you contact the RDS with some basic information about your research proposal, we will assign you 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 that 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 coordinate any specialist support needed.

What advice can we give?

Our advisers can help your with many aspects of the research application process (see diagram):

As well as one to one support with your research application, RDS SE can also provide the following specialist 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.
  • Research workshops: These day-long workshops 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 to whom research teams can go for answers to specific questions as they finalise their plans and write their applications. Next workshop date: 3rd October.
  • 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. As a minimum, we ask that the following information is ready before an application can be submitted for pre submission review:
    • The bid should be on the appropriate funding template
    • The Plain English Summary should be complete
    • PI and team to be clearly identified with an idea of overall cost
    • Research plan including statistical analysis plan for quantitative work and data analysis plan for qualitative work.
    • Next PSP dates: 7th November 2018 (deadline for submission 24th October).
  • Public Involvement Funds: 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.

Please also note:

  • the RDS cannot provide support to students. Students in need of research support and advice should contact their supervisors.
  • the RDS does not provide advice for audit projects. For support contact your local Audit Department or R&D lead.