How we can help – support for grant applications

NIHR funds the RDS to provide FREE research design support to health and social care researchers across England. Our expert RDS Research Advisers can help you develop your research ideas into grant applications to the NIHR and other national peer reviewed funding programmes.

When should I contact RDS?
 early as possible! We can then help you develop your research idea and provide meaningful input into all aspects of the grant application. We can meet and discuss your proposal at a convenient time and place.
Contact us via our ‘request for support’ page, or email us at

How does the RDS service work?
After you contact us with basic information about your research proposal, we assign a lead Research Adviser. You can discuss your research ideas with them in detail. A first meeting will be organised – usually face to face – at your convenience. Your Adviser will check there is a viable research question to answer and assess any unique research requirements you may have. Once they have a good understanding of your proposed project, they can help coordinate any specialist support you need.

What advice can we give?
Our Advisers can help with all aspects of the research application process (see diagram). As well as expert one-to-one support, RDS SE offers valuable specialist services:


  • Project development sessions for researchers at a relatively early point in planning research. Pitch your ideas to RDS Advisers with a multitude of backgrounds, get immediate feedback and discuss next steps needed to progress your project.
  • Research workshops are all-day events for research teams at a more advanced stage in research planning. Workshops allow time and space to work on research applications, away from the day job. RDS SE Advisers and service users are on hand to answer teams’ specific questions as they finalise and write applications.
    Next workshop date: 3rd October 2018.
  • RDS SE Pre-submission panel (PSP) reviews are available to researchers at the final stage of preparing proposals. Our panel includes RDS Advisers from all relevant disciplines and public members. The meetings mimic NIHR funding panels as far as possible, including introducing and grading each proposal. The Chair (in consultation with the panel) occasionally invites the lead applicant to attend.
    To qualify for submission to PSP review, your research application must meet our minimum criteria:

    • proposal appears on the appropriate funding programme template
    • Plain English Summary is complete
    • PI and team are clearly identified, together with estimated overall cost
    • Research plans in place, including statistical analysis (quantitative work) and data analysis (qualitative work).
    • Next PSP date: 7 November 2018 (deadline for submission 24 October).
  • Public Involvement Funds: Small RDS SE PPI grants help researchers with the costs of involving patients and the public in developing research ideas and grant applications. See our Public Involvement pages for further information.

Please note:
The RDS cannot provide research support to students. Please contact your supervisor.
The RDS does not provide advice for audit projects. Please contact your local Audit Department or R&D lead.