6. Research involving existing facilities and resources - MRC


6.1 Research involving cohort resources

All applications for funding for new or existing population cohort studies are required to submit an outline for assessment by the Cohort Strategic Review Group (CSRG) prior to submission of a full application to a board. Applications for funding for clinical cohorts (usually set up around specific diseases or conditions) need not follow this process.

Outlines should be prepared following the MRC Cohort Outline Application Template (PDF, 39KB) and should be no more than 6 pages of A4 in length. Outline applications should be submitted via email to populationcohorts@headoffice.mrc.ac.uk by 4pm on the day of the submission deadline. See the CSRG page.

If invited by CSRG to submit a full proposal to an MRC Board, applicants will be expected to submit their full proposal within 3 months. Full applications should address any concerns raised by CSRG and also cover the points highlighted below.

It is important that all grant applications which include elements of infrastructure support for new or existing cohorts make clear what new health research questions or hypotheses it will be possible to answer over the next five to ten years using the cohort resource. This is required regardless of whether or not the grant application is requesting funding towards investigating any of these specific research questions.

For existing resources, grant applications must contain an explicit statement on what research has been done using the cohort, including publications, and what the impacts have been.

Applications must also detail:

  • Why can this science be addressed using this cohort above other resources?
  • What does this cohort offer that other cohorts do not (nationally and internationally) and how does it relate to other relevant cohorts? Applicants should either list the assets (measures, specimens, population group) as an Annex or reference the cohort website.
  • What are the plans for establishing the cohort as a resource – how is it/will it be used by the wider research community?

The grant application must make clear what new activities, including new data sweeps or new analysis of existing cohort data, will be carried out as part of the grant. Applicants must be clear which costs relate to de novo data collection, analysis of new data or maintenance or use of existing data.

There should be complete transparency in the funding being requested, particularly when resources are funded by more than one funder. Applicants must make clear which elements of the cohort resource and studies are funded by whom and over what period.

Data sharing and preservation

In line with MRC policy on data sharing and preservation (PDF, 108KB), applicants must specify the proposed arrangements for data access, data sharing and curation. Appropriate costs to support these elements of the work must be included in the funding requested and applicants should take care to clarify exactly which costs are associated with data sharing, data curation or data access.

Applications should also outline:

  • governance arrangements for data sharing and data access by the wider research community. This should include the process by which third parties apply to use the cohort and how and by whom proposals are assessed
  • where and how the cohort meta-data will be made available
  • the time-frame under which any new data obtained will be added to the cohort resource. Renewals must also demonstrate that previous funding for data sweeps has enriched the cohort.

Last updated: 26 August 2021

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