Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Develop guidance for better research methods

Apply for funding to develop new guidance on biomedical and health research methods.

The guidance should aim to:

  • improve the understanding and use of better methods related to the remit of MRC or NIHR
  • be accessible to those without specialist methodology knowledge.

You must have a postgraduate degree and be based at an eligible research organisation.

Funding is for up to 18 months and can cover 100% of directly incurred costs. Indirect and estate costs are not eligible.

This is a recurring opportunity. Applications open once a year, closing in June.

Who can apply

You can apply for this opportunity if you are a researcher based at an eligible research organisation. These include:

  • higher education institutions
  • UKRI-approved independent research organisations or NHS bodies
  • government-funded organisations
  • public sector research establishments
  • MRC institutes
  • MRC units and partnership institutes (including those in Gambia and Uganda)
  • institutes and units funded by other research councils.

You must have a graduate degree, although we expect most applicants to have a PhD.

We recognise the diversity of skills necessary for a successful research team, and encourage proposals to recognise the contribution of technical professionals. This includes through the use of researcher co-investigator status, as appropriate.

We encourage applications from collaborative teams, which may include international co-investigators who provide expertise that is not available in the UK. Please contact us to confirm eligibility prior to submission.

We welcome collaboration with industry, which should be managed through the MRC industry collaboration framework.

You should check any specific eligibility criteria for the type of grant you are applying for MRC guidance for applicants.

What we're looking for

Gaps remain between the development of improved biomedical and health research methodologies, widespread awareness and uptake, and their recognition as best practice.

Where multiple methodologies are available, it can be difficult to understand when, where or how each methodology should be best applied.

This funding opportunity will support the development of guidance in priority areas of methodological uncertainty, with the aim of catalysing uptake of improved research methods.

Following an award, teams must begin the proposed work within six months to ensure that the resulting guidance for better research methods retains its relevance as assessed when awarded.

Who to involve

Your proposed guidance should allow others to navigate the methodological options available and provide frameworks to ensure the optimal research approach or approaches are used.

Any area of unmet methodological need within MRC or NIHR remit will be considered.

To develop your guidance, you should engage and involve relevant groups. These could include:

  • methodologists
  • non-methodologist researchers
  • technical professionals
  • health and allied health professionals
  • industry
  • non-expert stakeholder groups, such as:
    • funding bodies’ policy and decision-makers
    • the public and patients as required by the identified area of need.

The guidance you produce will need to be accessible, appropriate and informative to the groups involved.

Costs covered

The funding provided can be used to cover incurred costs for:

  • background review or scoping activities
  • consensus activities and workshop costs, including travel and subsistence, if applicable
  • writing and open-access publication costs
  • production of other learning resources, if appropriate.

Funding can last up to a maximum of 18 months and can cover 100% of directly incurred costs. Indirect and estate costs are not eligible.

How to apply

You must apply through the Joint Electronic Submission system (Je-S).

We recommend you start your application early. You can save completed details in Je-S at any time and return to continue your application later.

When applying select ‘new document’ then:

  • council: MRC
  • document type: standard proposal
  • scheme: research grant
  • call/type/mode: Develop guidance for better research methods June 2023.

You can find advice on completing your application in the Je-S handbook.

Your host organisation will be able to provide advice and guidance on completing your application.

The opportunity will close at 16:00 on 7 June 2023 and it will not be possible to submit applications after this time.

What to include

Applications must include:

  • a completed proposal form
  • a case for support (up to four pages)
  • applicant CVs for the principal investigator and co-investigators (up to two pages per person)
  • applicant publication lists for the principal investigator and co-investigators (no more than one page each)
  • a justification of resources, including a detailed table of costings (up to three pages).

All costs on Je-S should be included under the cost heading ‘other directly incurred costs’, indicating the cost type as ‘exceptions’.

A data management plan is not required, unless requested by the programme manager after applications have been submitted.

This programme is open once a year with a June deadline.

Case for support

This is mandatory and should be no more than four pages.

You will need to provide details of the methodology you will use to develop your guidance.

In the context of this funding opportunity, methodology does not include tools, assays or biomarkers, but can include generalisable methods that underpin their use.

With this in mind, your case for support should:

  • provide evidence of the need for the guidance you are developing, such as:
    • current literature
    • resources
    • methodological practice
    • value to be added by its development
  • demonstrate the relevance of the expertise of the applicant team
  • include the methodology for identifying stakeholders, eliciting their views and co-producing guidance
  • include justification of the breadth of guidance to be delivered, considering the trade-off between impact and feasibility
  • include the proposed scope and format of consensus activities
  • explain the format of the proposed outputs and the dissemination strategy, including optimal targeting, delivery and promotion, and legacy plans
  • identify risks (including barriers to consensus and uptake) and appropriate mitigation strategies
  • include the proposed project timeline.

How we will assess your application

Your proposal will be assessed via a two-stage peer review process. A shortlisting panel will consider your application roughly one month before the full panel meeting.

Your application will be assessed on:

  • the unmet need for methodological guidance in the proposed area
  • strategic importance
  • your approach or approaches for developing guidance
  • your project management, risk mitigation and decision-making approaches
  • reassurance that guidance will result in clarity and wider implementation of methods
  • value for money and impact.

Shortlisted applicants will have two weeks to respond to the externally written peer review and any feedback from the shortlisting panel before their decision and the expert panel meeting.

We aim to communicate funding recommendations within one week of the full panel meeting.

Contact details

Get help with developing your proposal

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.

Ask about this funding opportunity

Dr Rosalind Roberts, Programme Manager


Include ‘develop guidance for better research’ in the subject line.

Ask about MRC policy and eligibility

Get in touch with our research funding policy and delivery team.


Get help with applying through Je-S



01793 444164

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