Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Better methods, better research: new investigator

Apply for funding to:

  • improve the methods used by others in biomedical and health research
  • take the next step towards becoming an independent researcher

You must:

  • focus your project on methods research within scope of Medical Research Council (MRC) or National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR)
  • have the skills and experience to ‘transition to independence’
  • have the support of a host research organisation eligible for MRC funding

Your project can be up to £625,000 (100% full economic cost (FEC)). MRC and NIHR usually fund up to 80% of your project’s FEC.

This is an ongoing funding opportunity. Application rounds close every June and November.

If you are not able to demonstrate that your skills and experience (at the time of your application) match those of the transition to independence career stage, you may be eligible to apply for ‘Better methods, better research funding opportunity’. Please also note the annual funding opportunity ‘Develop guidance for better research methods’.

Who can apply

Before applying for funding, check the Eligibility of your organisation.

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has introduced new role types for funding opportunities being run on the new UKRI Funding Service.

For full details, visit Eligibility as an individual.

Who is eligible to apply

To be eligible to apply for this funding opportunity you must:

  • have research organisation support
  • be able to show that your skills and experience match those in the ‘transition to independence’ stage of the MRC applicant skills and experience table, such as showing evidence of career progress and clear plans to develop your own research niche
  • provide a clear rationale of why this grant will best support your long-term career goals and chosen career route
  • be the sole intellectual leader of the proposed project, although we will allow co-investigators when they bring expertise to the project that is outside your field
  • focus your application on biomedical and health research methods

You are also eligible to apply if you:

  • are employed as a postdoctoral research assistant, but this grant cannot start until your current work finishes
  • hold a lecturer appointment, a junior fellowship or another research staff position
  • hold, or have held, an early career training fellowship such as an MRC skills development fellowship
  • do not have a contract with your chosen host institution
  • are not currently based at the eligible research organisation, that has agreed to host your new investigator award
  • are either a non-clinical or clinically active researcher
  • have any number of years of experience

You can only have one new investigator research grant or fellowship application under consideration by MRC at any one time.

Who is not eligible to apply

You are not eligible to apply if you have achieved independence, for example by receiving substantial grant income as a fellow or project lead (formerly known as principal investigator).

‘Substantial grant income’ is typically defined as grants or fellowships that are three or more years long, providing more than £50,000 direct research costs each year (excluding your salary).

You are also not eligible if you have:

If you are unsure if you meet the eligibility criteria or have any questions about your eligibility, you should contact the Funding Service helpdesk at support@funding-service.ukri.org and the better methods, better research team will respond.

Read our new investigator research grants frequently asked questions for situation-specific eligibility information.

Project co-leads

Project co-leads can be involved but must bring expertise to the project that is outside your field. Your current supervisor or lab head should not be a co-lead.

International co-leads

You can include international applicants as project co-leads if they provide expertise in another research field that is not available in the UK. You must justify why their expertise is required, see ‘Applicant and team capability to deliver’ section.

Equality, diversity and inclusion

Diversity of thought and knowledge improves the impact of methodology research. We are committed to achieving equality of opportunity for all funding applicants. We encourage applications from a diverse range of researchers.

We support people to work in a way that suits their personal circumstances. This includes:

  • career breaks
  • support for people with caring responsibilities
  • flexible working
  • alternative working patterns

Find out more about equality, diversity and inclusion at UKRI.

What we're looking for

Scope

We are looking to fund new investigators who are capable of becoming independent researchers and are now ready to take the next step towards that goal.

Better methods, better research (BMBR) funds the development or improvement of generalisable biomedical and health research methods. We are seeking research within the remit of MRC or National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) that includes at least one of the following project categories.

1. Methodology research

Your project can include research into methodologies underpinning health or biomedical research that extends beyond a single case study or application.

Research outputs should be designed to maximise:

  • accessibility and informative value to benefit those outside the project team, including other researchers
  • utility and research impact across broader research communities, sectors or systems

This means all projects should ensure the approach to benchmarking and stakeholder inclusion supports the uptake of improved methods by others.

2. Improving methods used

Your research should respond to a specific and evidenced barrier to the uptake of optimal research methods. It should be framed within a pathway to improve community practice by methodologists, non-methodologists, or both. This can include:

  • research standards
  • theory
  • implementation
  • adoption of optimal methods

Applications that do not fully justify the choice of barrier or method may be rejected as out of scope.

3. Improving research outputs

Your methodology research should make the outputs of biomedical and health research more useful to others. For example, this can be across:

  • existing scales or measures
  • experimental approaches
  • systems
  • disciplines
  • translational pathways

Applications should consider approaches to evaluation and the resources required to drive uptake or implementation by others.

For all applications, we encourage you to learn from others where possible, and welcome multidisciplinary teams or approaches.

Please contact us at support@funding-service.ukri.org ahead of developing a full application to ensure your proposal is within remit. Include a one to two page project summary that covers background, key objectives and research plan (including dissemination activities).

Activities we do not fund

The following are not eligible for funding through BMBR:

  • development or improvement of methods that are not generalisable beyond a single application
  • novel applications of existing methods
  • assay or protocol development
  • generation of novel animal models
  • platform or resource development
  • technology development
  • specific biomarker identification and validation

New methodological approaches that are essential for implementation or uptake of new technologies or biomarkers will be considered as part of pre-application enquiries.

Find out more about MRC’s remit, programmes and priorities.

How you spend your time

We expect you will want to combine your research project with other activities. For example:

  • time spent on other research grants or clinical duties
  • teaching
  • administration duties
  • other time spent in faculty

You may spend up to 50% of your contracted working time on this project and we will cap our contribution to your salary at this level.

If you want to spend more time than this on your project, you must provide a strong scientific rationale and your host organisation will need to fund this time.

Duration

The duration of this award is typically 36 months.

It may be possible to apply for a longer period, but you will need to justify why this is necessary. Projects help applicants in the transition to independence so will not usually be for less than three years.

Projects should start one to six months after the funding decision date.

New investigator research grants are not renewable.

Funding available

The budget for each funding opportunity is £2.5 million.

The annual budget is £5 million annually with two funding opportunities occurring each year.

The FEC of your project can be up to £625,000. MRC and NIHR will fund 80% of the full economic cost up to £500,000.

We can consider larger requests, but where you expect costs to exceed £625,000, please make early contact with us at support@funding-service.ukri.org to request MRC approval.

What we will fund

You can request funding for costs such as:

  • a contribution to your salary capped at 50% of your total working time
  • a contribution to salary for the time any co-lead will spend working on the project
  • team approaches and support for other posts such as research and technical staff
  • research consumables
  • equipment
  • travel
  • data preservation and data sharing
  • knowledge mobilisation and dissemination resources
  • NHS research costs where appropriate
  • estates and indirect costs

The salary requested should be in line with the research organisation’s usual new investigator levels.

You can also request costs for work to be undertaken at international organisations by international project co-leads. We will fund 100% of the full economic cost.

The total of such costs requested for international applicants from developed countries (those not on the OECD DAC List of ODA Recipients), India and China must not exceed 30% of the total resources requested.

There is no cap on costs requested for international applicants from Development Assistance Committee (DAC) list countries.

For more information on international costs and what we will and will not fund see costs we fund-overseas costs and the Collaborate with Researchers in Norway guidance.

What we will not fund

We will not fund:

  • new clinical trials or interventions where methodology research is not the primary focus
  • costs for PhD studentships
  • publication costs
  • funding to use as a ‘bridge’ between grants

Team project partner

You may include project partners that will support your research project through cash or in-kind contributions, such as:

  • staff time
  • access to equipment
  • sites or facilities
  • the provision of data
  • software or materials

Each project partner must provide a statement of support. If your application involves industry partners, they must provide additional information if the team project partner falls within the industry collaboration framework.

Find out more about subcontractors and dual roles.

Who cannot be included as a team project partner

The individual named as the contact for the project partner organisation cannot also be a named applicant, such as those with a role of project lead or co-lead and any other named member of staff.

Supporting skills and talent

We encourage you to follow the principles of the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers and the Technician Commitment.

International collaboration

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) is committed in ensuring that effective international collaboration in research and innovation takes place with integrity and within strong ethical frameworks. Trusted research and innovation (TR&I) is a UKRI work programme designed to help protect all those working in our thriving and collaborative international sector by enabling partnerships to be as open as possible, and as secure as necessary. Our TR&I principles set out UKRI’s expectations of organisations funded by UKRI in relation to due diligence for international collaboration.

As such, when applying for UKRI funding, you may be asked to demonstrate how your proposed projects will comply with our approach and expectation towards TR&I, identifying potential risks and the relevant controls you will put in place to help proportionately reduce these risks.

Further guidance and information about TR&I, including additional where applicants can find additional support, can be found on UKRI’s website.

Find out about getting funding for international collaboration.

How to apply

We are running this funding opportunity on the new UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Funding Service. You cannot apply on the Joint Electronic Submissions (Je-S) system.

The project lead is responsible for completing the application process on the Funding Service, but we expect all team members and project partners to contribute to the application.

Only the lead research organisation can submit an application to UKRI.

To apply

Select ‘Start application’ near the beginning of this Funding finder page.

  1. Confirm you are the project lead.
  2. Sign in or create a Funding Service account. To create an account, select your organisation, verify your email address, and set a password. If your organisation is not listed, email support@funding-service.ukri.org Please allow at least 10 working days for your organisation to be added to the Funding Service.
  3. Answer questions directly in the text boxes. You can save your answers and come back to complete them or work offline and return to copy and paste your answers. If we need you to upload a document, follow the upload instructions in the Funding Service. All questions and assessment criteria are listed in the How to apply section on this Funding finder page.
  4. Allow enough time to check your application in ‘read-only’ view before sending to your research office.
  5. Send the completed application to your research office for checking. They will return it to you if it needs editing.
  6. Your research office will submit the completed and checked application to UKRI.

Watch our research office webinars about the new Funding Service.

Deadline

We must receive your application by 8 November 2023 at 4.00pm UK time.

You will not be able to apply after this time.

Make sure you are aware of and follow any internal institutional deadlines.

Following the close of the funding opportunity, your application cannot be changed, and applications will not be returned for amendment. If your application does not follow this guidance, it may be rejected.

Personal data

Processing personal data

MRC, as part of UKRI, will need to collect some personal information to manage your Funding Service account and the registration of your funding applications.

We will handle personal data in line with UK data protection legislation and manage it securely. For more information, including how to exercise your rights, read our privacy notice.

We will need to share the application and any personal information that it contains with National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) so that they can participate in the assessment process. For more information on how NIHR uses personal information, visit NIHR privacy notice.

Publication of outcomes

We will publish the outcomes of this funding opportunity at board and panel outcomes.

If your application is successful, we will publish some personal information on the UKRI Gateway to Research.

Summary

Word limit: 550

In plain English, provide a summary we can use to identify the most suitable experts to assess your application.

We may make this summary publicly available on external-facing websites, so make it suitable for a variety of readers, for example:

  • opinion-formers
  • policymakers
  • the public
  • the wider research community

Guidance for writing a summary

Clearly describe your proposed work in terms of:

  • context
  • the challenge the project addresses
  • aims and objectives
  • potential applications and benefits

Core team

List the key members of your team and assign them roles from the following:

  • project lead (PL)
  • project co-lead (UK) (PcL)
  • project co-lead (international) (PcL (I))
  • researcher co-lead (RcL)
  • specialist
  • grant manager
  • professional enabling staff
  • research and innovation associate
  • technician
  • visiting researcher

Only list one individual as project lead.

Find out more about UKRI’s new grant roles.

Transition to independence

Word limit: 250

How will this award contribute to your career development as the project lead and your transition to being an independent researcher?

What assessors are looking for in your response

Explain why you are applying for this new investigator award and demonstrate how it will support you in achieving your:

  • long-term career goals and chosen career route
  • plans to develop your own research niche
  • independence, as the sole intellectual leader of the proposed work
  • plans to secure further grant support during or after this award, such as MRC research grant funding

Research organisation support

Word count: 1,000

What support is being provided by the research organisation?

What assessors are looking for in your response

A clear statement of commitment and support from the research organisation to you and the project, that confirms:

  • the name and role of the person providing the statement, who should be the head of department or other senior manager
  • why they consider you to be a suitable candidate for a new investigator award
  • any internal assessment process the application has gone through before submission
  • what the research organisation will provide, including the contribution to your salary and long-term financial commitment
  • how your expertise fits within the wider interest and strategies of the organisation and department
  • how they recognise and value you as part of their team and will integrate you into the research organisation, enabling you to develop your independence and the focus of your research
  • what development and training opportunities will be provided and how they form a cohesive career development package tailored to your aims and aspirations
  • what mentoring and support arrangements are proposed and how they are appropriate to you
  • how they will support you following the end of the award
  • the names of senior academics who have supported you during the development of your application and who will continue to do so

This statement of support should also explain if the host organisation will provide:

  • guidance and training on setting up a research group, building partnerships and collaborations, or with public engagement
  • rapid access to resources at the research organisation through knowledge of appropriate processes and systems
  • access to career development support and advice to enable future career transitions
  • support for any proposed leadership activities
  • access to laboratory space or investment in equipment to establish your laboratory, and access to communal departmental resources

Vision

Word limit: 500

What are you hoping to achieve with your proposed work?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Explain how your proposed work:

  • is of excellent quality and importance within or beyond the field(s) or area(s)
  • has the potential to advance current understanding, or generate new knowledge, thinking or discovery within or beyond the field or area
  • is timely given current trends, context, and needs
  • impacts world-leading research, society, the economy, or the environment

Within the vision section we also expect you to:

  • show how your proposed work will develop or improve generalisable biomedical and health research methods
  • identify the potential direct or indirect benefits and who the beneficiaries might be
  • identify potential improvements in human or population health, whether through contributing to relieving disease or disability burden, improving quality of life or providing benefit to the health service or health-related industry
  • Show awareness of the current gaps in translation and uptake of methodology research, and provide assurance that the project is designed to mitigate these risks to impact

Within this section you can also demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form, such as images, if relevant:

  • use images sparingly and only to convey important information that cannot easily be put into words
  • insert each new image onto a new line
  • provide a descriptive legend for each image immediately underneath it (this counts towards your word limit)
  • files must be smaller than 8MB and in JPEG, JPG, JPE, JFI, JIF, JFIF, PNG, GIF, BMP or WEBP format

Approach

Word limit: 3,500

How are you going to deliver your proposed work?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Explain how you have designed your approach so that it:

  • includes appropriate community consultation
  • is effective and appropriate to achieve your objectives
  • is feasible, and comprehensively identifies any risks to delivery and how they will be managed
  • uses a clearly written and transparent methodology (if applicable)
  • summarises the previous work and describes how this will be built upon and progressed (if applicable)
  • will maximise translation of outputs into outcomes and impacts
  • ensures wider implementation or learning from project outputs, including approaches for benchmarking (method performance and implementation costs), outreach and the ability to influence wider audiences
  • describes how your, and if applicable your team’s, research environment (in terms of the place and relevance to the project) will contribute to the success of the work
  • describes steps to ensure that all contributions to the project are recognised and are beneficial to the careers of all contributors within the project team

Within the approach section we also expect you to:

  • demonstrate access to the appropriate services, facilities, infrastructure, or equipment to deliver the project
  • include a project plan that details milestones and timelines, in the form of a Gantt chart or similar
  • explain and justify how you will approach diversity and inclusion in the study population and follow the MRC embedding diversity in research design policy (if applicable)
  • show how you will use both sexes in research involving animals and tissues and cells (if applicable). If you are not proposing to do this justify why.
  • use at least 500 words to describe how you will ensure reliability, robustness, reproducibility and reuse of your work, including detail on the technical support, methodology and experimental design as needed. Refer to the MRC guidance for applicants, section 2.2.3.5 ‘Reproducibility and statistical design’, for further information

If your proposed work involves animals, and you provide information on animal sample sizes and statistical analyses in the approach section, you should not duplicate it in the ‘Research involving the use of animals’ section. Use the ‘Research involving the use of animals’ section to provide information on the rationale for using animals, choice of species, welfare and procedure severity.

Within this section you can also demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form, such as images, if relevant:

  • use images sparingly and only to convey important information that cannot easily be put into words
  • insert each new image onto a new line
  • provide a descriptive legend for each image immediately underneath it (this counts towards your word limit)
  • files must be smaller than 8MB and in JPEG, JPG, JPE, JFI, JIF, JFIF, PNG, GIF, BMP or WEBP format

Applicant and team capability

Word limit: 1,500

Why are you the right individual or team to successfully deliver the proposed work?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Evidence of how you, and if relevant your team, have:

  • the relevant experience (appropriate to career stage) to deliver the proposed work
  • the right balance of skills and expertise to cover the proposed work
  • the appropriate leadership and management skills to deliver the work and your approach to develop others
  • contributed to developing a positive research environment and wider community

The word count for this section is 1,500 words: 1,000 words to be used for R4RI modules and, if necessary, a further 500 words for Additions.

Use the Résumé for Research and Innovation (R4RI) format to showcase the range of relevant skills you and, if relevant, your team (project and project co-leads, researchers, technicians, specialists, partners and so on) have and how this will help deliver the proposed work. You can include individuals’ specific achievements but only choose past contributions that best evidence their ability to deliver this work.

Complete this section using the R4RI module headings listed. Use each heading once and include a response for the whole team, see the UKRI guidance on R4RI. You should consider how to balance your answer, and emphasise where appropriate the key skills each team member brings:

  • contributions to the generation of new ideas, tools, methodologies, or knowledge
  • the development of others and maintenance of effective working relationships
  • contributions to the wider research and innovation community
  • contributions to broader research or innovation users and audiences and towards wider societal benefit

Additions

Provide any further details relevant to your application. This section is optional and can be up to 500 words. You should not use it to describe additional skills, experiences, or outputs, but you can use it to describe any factors that provide context for the rest of your R4RI (for example, details of career breaks if you wish to disclose them).

Complete this as a narrative. Do not format it like a CV.

UKRI has introduced new role types for funding opportunities being run on the new Funding Service.

For full details, see Eligibility as an individual.

References

Word limit: 1,000

List the references you have used to support your application.

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Include all references in this section, not in the rest of the application questions.

You should not include any other information in this section.

We advise you not to include hyperlinks, as assessors are not obliged to access the information they lead to or consider it in their assessment of your application.

If linking to web resources, to maintain the information’s integrity, include persistent identifiers (such as digital object identifiers) where possible.

You must not include links to web resources to extend your application.

Project partners

Word limit: 1,000

Provide details of any project partners’ contributions, and letters or emails of support from each named partner.

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Download and complete the Project partner contributions template (DOCX, 52KB).

Each letter or email you provide should:

  • confirm the partner’s commitment to the project
  • clearly explain the value, relevance, and possible benefits of the work to them
  • describe any additional value that they bring to the project

Save letters or emails of support from each partner in a single PDF no bigger than 8MB. Unless specially requested, please do not include any personal data within the attachment.

For the file name, use the unique Funding Service number the system gives you when you create an application, followed by the words ‘Project partner’.

If the attachment does not meet these requirements, the application will be rejected.

The Funding Service will provide document upload details when you apply. If you do not have any project partners, you will be able to indicate this in the Funding Service.

Ensure you have prior agreement from project partners so that, if you are offered funding, they will support your project as indicated in the contributions template.

For audit purposes, UKRI requires formal collaboration agreements to be put in place if an award is made.

Do not provide letters of support from host and project co-leads’ research organisations.

Please do not include any sensitive personal data within the attachment.

Industry collaboration framework (ICF)

Word limit: 1,500

Does your application include industry project partners?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

If industry collaboration does not apply to any of your project partners, or you do not have any project partners, simply enter ‘N/A’ into the text box.

If your research project involves collaboration between an academic organisation and an industry or company, you are likely to need to follow the industry collaboration framework and answer this question, check using the ICF decision tree.

By ‘industry or company’ we mean an enterprise that puts goods or services on a market and whose commercial activities are greater than 20% of their overall annual capacity.

The assessors are looking for information relating to the nature, goals and conditions of the collaboration and any restrictions or rights to the project results that could be claimed by the project partner.

By ‘industry or company’ we mean an enterprise that puts goods or services on a market and whose commercial activities are greater than 20% of their overall annual capacity.

Find out more about ICF, including:

  • collaboration agreements
  • definitions of basic or applied research
  • internationally based companies
  • subsidy control
  • Intellectual property (IP) arrangements
  • fully flexible and gated contributions
  • the ICF assessment criteria

In addition to the project partner information completed in the previous section, confirm your answers to the ICF questions in the text box, repeat this process for each ICF project partner:

  1. Name the industry or company project partner considered under ICF.
  2. Indicate whether your application is either basic research or applied research.
  3. Explain why, in the absence of the requested UKRI funding, the collaboration and the planned research could not be undertaken.
  4. State whether your application is under the category of either fully flexible contribution or gated contribution (based on the IP sharing arrangements with the ICF partner).
  5. Outline the pre-existing IP (‘background IP’) that each project partner (including the academic partner) will bring to the collaborative research project and the terms under which project partners may access these assets.
  6. Outline the IP that is expected to be developed during the collaborative research project (‘foreground IP’) and briefly outline how it will be managed, including:
    • which project partners will own this IP
    • what rights project partners will have to use academically-generated foreground IP during and after the research project, for internal research and development or for commercial purposes
    • any rights of the academic partner to commercialise the foreground IP (including foreground IP generated by project partners)
  7. Outline any restrictions to dissemination of the project results, including the rights of the project partner to:
    • review, approve or delay publications (including the time period associated with such rights)
    • request or require the removal of any information
  8. Declare any conflicts of interest held by the applicants in relation to the project partners and describe how they will be managed.
  9. If applicable, justify collaborating with an overseas industry or company under ICF.

Failure to provide the information requested for industry partners under ICF could result in your application being rejected.

You are recommended to discuss the goals and conditions of any collaboration with an industry or company project partner with your university technology transfer or contracts office before applying.

Facilities

Word limit: 250

Does your proposed research require the support and use of a facility?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

If you will need to use a facility, follow your proposed facility’s normal access request procedures. Ensure you have prior agreement so that if you are offered funding, they will support the use of their facility on your project.

For each requested facility you will need to provide the:

  • name of facility, copied and pasted from the facility information list (DOCX, 35KB)
  • proposed usage or costs, or costs per unit where indicated on the facility information list
  • confirmation you have their agreement where required

If you will not need to use a facility, you will be able to indicate this in the Funding Service.

Data management and sharing

Word limit: 1,500

How will you manage and share data collected or acquired through the proposed research?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Provide a data management plan which should clearly detail how you will comply with MRC’s published data management and sharing policies, which includes detailed guidance notes.

Provide your response following the MRC data management plan template

The length of your plan will vary depending on the type of study being undertaken:

  • population cohorts; longitudinal studies; genetic, omics and imaging data; biobanks, and other collections that are potentially a rich resource for the wider research community: maximum of 1,500 words
  • all other research, less complex, the plan may be as short as 500 words

Ethics and responsible research and innovation (RRI)

Word limit: 500

What are the ethical or RRI implications and issues relating to the proposed work? If you do not think that the proposed work raises any ethical or RRI issues, explain why.

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Demonstrate that you have identified and evaluated:

  • the relevant ethical or responsible research and innovation considerations
  • how you will manage these considerations

Consider the MRC guidance on ethics and approvals.

Genetic and biological risk

Word limit: 700

Does your proposed research involve any genetic or biological risk?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

In respect of animals, plants or microbes, are you proposing to:

  • use genetic modification as an experimental tool, like studying gene function in a genetically modified organism
  • release genetically modified organisms
  • ultimately develop commercial and industrial genetically modified outcomes

If yes, provide the name of any required approving body and state if approval is already in place. If it is not, provide an indicative timeframe for obtaining the required approval.

Identify the organism or organisms as a plant, animal or microbe and specify the species and which of the three categories the research relates to.

Identify the genetic and biological risks resulting from the proposed research, their implications, and any mitigation you plan on taking. Assessors will want to know you have considered the risks and their implications to justify that any identified risks do not outweigh any benefits of the proposed research.

If this does not apply to your proposed work, you will be able to enter N/A in the Funding Service to complete the section.

Research involving the use of animals

Word limit: 10

Does your proposed research involve the use of vertebrate animals or other organisms covered by the Animals Scientific Procedures Act?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

If you are proposing research that requires using animals, download and complete the Animals Scientific Procedures Act template (DOCX, 74KB), which contains all the questions relating to research using vertebrate animals or other Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 regulated organisms.

Save it as a PDF. The Funding Service will provide document upload details when you apply. If this does not apply to your proposed work, you will be able to enter N/A in the Funding Service to complete the section.

Conducting research with animals overseas

Word limit: 10

Will any of the proposed animal research be conducted overseas?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

If you are proposing to conduct overseas research, it must be conducted in accordance with welfare standards consistent with those in the UK, as in Responsibility in the use of animals in bioscience research, page 14.

Ensure all named applicants in the UK and overseas are aware of this requirement. Provide a statement to confirm that:

  • all named applicants are aware of the requirements and have agreed to abide by them
  • this overseas research will be conducted in accordance with welfare standards consistent with the principles of UK legislation
  • the expectation set out in Responsibility in the use of animals in bioscience research will be applied and maintained
  • appropriate national and institutional approvals are in place.

Overseas studies proposing to use non-human primates, cats, dogs, equines or pigs will be assessed during NC3Rs review of research applications. Provide the required information by completing the template from the question ‘Research involving the use of animals’.

For studies involving other species, select, download, and complete the relevant Word checklist or checklists from this list:

Save as a PDF. If you use more than one checklist, save it as a single PDF. Unless specifically requested, please do not include any sensitive personal data within the attachment.

The Funding Service will provide document upload details when you apply. If this does not apply to your proposed work, you will be able to enter N/A to complete the section.

Research involving human participation

Word limit: 700

Will the project involve the use of human subjects or their personal information?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

If you are proposing research that requires the involvement of human subjects, provide the name of any required approving body and whether approval is already in place.

Justify the number and the diversity of the participants involved, as well as any procedures.

Provide details of any areas of substantial or moderate severity of impact.

If this does not apply to your proposed work, you will be able to enter N/A in the Funding Service to complete the section.

Research involving human tissues or biological samples

Word limit: 700

Does your proposed research involve the use of human tissues, or biological samples?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

If you are proposing work that involves human tissues or biological samples, provide the name of any required approving body and whether approval is already in place.

Justify the use of human tissue or biological samples specifying the nature and quantity of the material to be used and its source.

If this does not apply to your proposed work, you will be able to enter N/A in the Funding Service to complete the section.

Resources and costs

Word limit: 1,000

What will you need to deliver your proposed work and how much will it cost?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Justify the application’s more costly resources, in particular:

  • project staff
  • significant travel for field work or collaboration (but not regular travel between collaborating organisations or to conferences)
  • any equipment that will cost more than £10,000
  • any consumables beyond typical requirements, or that are required in exceptional quantities
  • all facilities and infrastructure costs
  • all resources that have been costed as ‘Exceptions’
  • support for public and patient involvement and engagement
  • support for preserving, long-term storage, or sharing of data
  • support for international co-leads, demonstrating this is within the 30% costs cap for co-leads from developed countries, India and China
  • NHS research costs, when they are associated with NHS studies
  • animal costs, such as numbers that need to be bred or maintained and to achieve high welfare standards

Assessors are not looking for detailed costs or a line-by-line breakdown of all project resources. Overall, they want you to demonstrate how the resources you anticipate needing for your proposed work:

  • are comprehensive, appropriate, and justified
  • represent the optimal use of resources to achieve the intended outcomes
  • maximise potential outcomes and impacts

Clinical research using NHS resources

Word limit: 250

Will your research involve participants from the NHS or Health and Social Care duty of care?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

If not, enter ‘N/A’ into the text box

Researchers applying for clinical research in the NHS, public health or social care need to complete a Schedule of Events Cost Attribution Tool (SoECAT) to be eligible for the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Clinical Research Network (CRN) portfolio. This is the route through which support and excess treatment costs are provided in England.

You must answer ‘Yes’ and complete and upload a SoECAT if you are applying for clinical research funding, and:

  • you will carry out your research in the UK
  • it is intended for the NIHR CRN portfolio; this may include studies in a social care or public health setting
  • the research requires approval by Health Research Authority (England) or its equivalents in Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales
  • your research will use NHS resources

You must complete a SoECAT even if you do not think your clinical research will involve excess treatment costs (ETCs).

See MRC guidance 3.5.1 on who needs to complete a SoECAT.

If you are applying for clinical research in the NHS, public health or social care and do not think you need to complete a SoECAT, answer ‘Yes’ and explain why a SoECAT is not necessary.

We want to know that you have taken the appropriate steps for the full costs of your research to be attributed, calculated and paid.

We want to see the expected total resources required for your project, such as Excess Treatment Costs (ETCs), to consider if these are appropriate.

How to complete a SoECAT

SoECAT guidance can be found on the NIHR website.

These are the steps you need to take:

  1. Contact an AcoRD specialist as early as possible in the application process
  2. Complete an online SoECAT. Excel versions of the form have been discontinued. If you do not have an account for NIHR’s Central Portfolio Management System (CPMS) you will need create and activate one. See the user guide for instructions
  3. Request authorisation of your SoECAT
  4. Once authorised convert the ‘summary’ page from the ‘Funder Export’ as a PDF and upload it to your application.

Applications that require a SoECAT but have not attached the SoECAT funder export summary may be rejected.

Contact support@funding-service.ukri.org if you have questions about the UKRI aspects of this process or have concerns that your SoECAT may not be authorised in time for the application deadline.

Related applications

Word limit: 500

Is this application related to another application to MRC or other funding organisation?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

If not enter N/A.

If yes, state your previous reference number and explain how this new application is related to the other application.

If the related application was submitted to another funder you should identify the name of the funder and when you applied.

If this is a resubmission describe how it differs from the previous application and how feedback on the previous application has been considered and acted on.

How we will assess your application

Assessment process

We will assess your application using the following process.

Examination of applications

All applications will be examined to ensure they meet the eligibility criteria and scope of the funding opportunity. If your application is outside the scope, you will be advised by email, and we will not assess your application. We aim to notify you of this around four weeks after the closing date.

You can find out more about what happens after you submit your proposal.

Peer review

We will invite experts to review your application independently, against the specified criteria for this funding opportunity.

You will not be able to nominate reviewers for applications on the new UKRI Funding Service. Research councils will continue to select expert reviewers.

We are monitoring the requirement for applicant-nominated reviewers as we review policies and processes as part of the continued development of the new Funding Service.

Shortlisting

Experts will review the comments and scores for each application. Shortlisted applications will go to a panel who will make a funding recommendation.

If your application is shortlisted, you will have 14 days to respond to reviewers’ comments and any feedback from the shortlisting panel.

If your application is not shortlisted, we will give you the reviewers’ comments and any feedback from the shortlisting panel.

Panel

Following peer review and shortlisting, we will invite experts to use the evidence provided by reviewers and your applicant response to assess the quality of your application and rank it alongside other applications, after which the panel will make a funding recommendation.

MRC and NIHR will make the final funding decision.

The panel meeting will take place on 8 to 9 May 2024.

We aim to communicate funding decisions within 10 days of the panel meeting.

Timescale

We aim to complete the assessment process within six months of receiving your application.

Feedback

If your application was discussed by a panel, we will give feedback with the outcome of your application.

We aim to provide feedback within six weeks of the panel meeting.

Principles of assessment

We support the San Francisco declaration on research assessment and recognise the relationship between research assessment and research integrity.

Find out about the UKRI principles of assessment and decision making.

Sharing data with co-funders

We will need to share the application and any personal information that it contains with National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) so that they can participate in the assessment process. For more information on how NIHR uses personal information, visit NIHR privacy notice.

We reserve the right to modify the assessment process as needed.

Assessment areas

The assessment areas we will use are:

  • vision of the project
  • approach to the project (including data management)
  • capability of the applicant or applicants and the project team to deliver the project
  • research organisation support
  • resources requested to do the project
  • ethical and responsible research and innovation considerations of the project

Find details of assessment questions and criteria under the ‘Application questions’ heading in the ‘How to apply’ section.

Contact details

Get help with your application

IMPORTANT NOTE: The Helpdesk is committed to helping users of the UKRI Funding Service as effectively and as quickly as possible. In order to manage cases at peak volume times, the Helpdesk will triage and prioritise those queries with an imminent opportunity deadline and/or a technical issue. Enquiries raised where information is available on the Funding Finder opportunity page and should be understood early in the application process (for example, regarding eligibility or content/remit of an opportunity) will not constitute a priority case and will be addressed as soon as possible.

Contact Details

For help and advice on costings and writing your proposal please contact your research office in the first instance, allowing sufficient time for your organisation’s submission process.

For questions related to remit and scientific aspects of this specific funding opportunity please contact bmbr@mrc.ukri.org and rosalind.roberts@mrc.ukri.org

For general questions related to MRC funding including our funding opportunities and policy please contact rfpd@mrc.ukri.org

Any queries regarding the system or the submission of applications through the Funding Service should be directed to the helpdesk.

Email: support@funding-service.ukri.org
Phone: 01793 547490

Our phone lines are open:

  • Monday to Thursday 8:30am to 5:00pm
  • Friday 8:30am to 4:30pm

To help us process queries quicker, we request that users highlight the council and opportunity name in the subject title of their email query, include the application reference number, and refrain from contacting more than one mailbox at a time.

You can also find information on submitting an application here: Improving your funding experience.

Sensitive information

If you or a core team member need to tell us something you wish to remain confidential, email bmbr@mrc.ukri.org

Include in the subject line: [the funding opportunity title; sensitive information; your UKRI Funding Service application number].

Typical examples of confidential information include:

  • individual is unavailable until a certain date (for example due to parental leave)
  • declaration of interest
  • additional information about eligibility to apply that would not be appropriately shared in the ‘Applicant and team capability’ section
  • conflict of interest for UKRI to consider in reviewer or panel participant selection
  • the application is an invited resubmission

For information about how UKRI handles personal data, read UKRI’s privacy notice.

Additional info

Background

Better methods, better research

Global Talent visa

New investigators are eligible for a Global Talent visa under the ‘exceptional promise’ category for future research leaders.

Research disruption due to COVID-19

We recognise that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused major interruptions and disruptions across our communities. We are committed to ensuring that individual applicants and their wider team, including partners and networks, are not penalised for any disruption to their career, such as:

  • breaks and delays
  • disruptive working patterns and conditions
  • the loss of ongoing work
  • role changes that may have been caused by the pandemic

Reviewers and panel members will be advised to consider the unequal impacts that COVID-19 related disruption might have had on the capability to deliver and career development of those individuals included in the application. They will be asked to consider the capability of the applicant and their wider team to deliver the research they are proposing.

Where disruptions have occurred, you can highlight this within your application if you wish, but there is no requirement to detail the specific circumstances that caused the disruption.

Updates

  • 9 November 2023
    'Contact details' section updated.

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