Guidance

Application and policy guide for the UKRI Funding Service

From:
MRC
Published:

1. Introduction

The purpose of this guide is to outline the policies and procedures to follow when applying for MRC funding opportunities in the UKRI Funding Service. Where possible, the guide will direct you towards policies harmonised across UKRI.

This guide does not outline how to use UKRI Funding Service, but instead specifies the policies that you should consider when preparing an application. Details on how to complete your application are available in the UKRI Funding Service.

2. Who can apply and how to apply

Eligibility of research organisations

The project lead must be based at the lead organisation. Before applying for funding, check the eligibility of your organisation. Please see the following additional eligibility guidance for MRC institutes, units, partner institutes and institutes and units funded by other research councils.

MRC institutes (MRC Harwell, MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences and MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology)

MRC institutes may apply for MRC grants (except programme). Funding is available to support research that is clearly additional to existing ‘core’ support and will be based on the full economic costs (FEC). Applications to MRC research boards are not normally expected and require prior agreement between the institute director and MRC head of theme. See Costing of applications involving MRC institutes in section 5 (MRC Harwell, MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences and MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology).

MRC partnership institutes

MRC partnership institutes (Francis Crick Institute, Health Data Research UK, UK Dementia Research Institute) may apply for MRC grants. Funding is available to support research that is clearly additional to existing ‘core’ support and will be awarded following the usual FEC rules. See ‘Costing MRC Partnership Institutes’ in section 5 for more information.

MRC units

MRC units should refer to the unit transition guidance provided directly by MRC for rules on applying for MRC funding. Email Core@mrc.ukri.org for further guidance.

Institutes and units funded by other research councils

These are eligible to apply as a lead applicant for MRC funding due to a reciprocal arrangement between councils. They should also apply for 80% of full economic costs.

Responsibilities of research organisations

By applying to us, a research organisation indicates:

  • its formal acceptance of the application
  • acceptance of the terms and conditions of an MRC award
  • the eligibility of the applicants
  • the approval of the salaries and resources sought

Submission also signifies that the research organisation accepts the terms and conditions of UKRI FEC grants , the MRC additional terms and conditions and any award-specific terms and conditions, as specified on the award letter, for the entire life of the award.

Administrative authorities have responsibility for ensuring that the salaries and resources requested in the application are sufficient to undertake the proposed research, to attract sufficiently experienced and skilled staff, and represent good value for money.

Applicants

UKRI has introduced new role types for opportunities on the UKRI Funding Service. For full details see roles in funding applications.

You can be involved in more than one MRC grant at a time. The award of a grant does not guarantee any further commitment to funding by us.

A project lead or project co-lead must have a contract of employment with an eligible research organisation for the duration of the grant before they apply (except New Investigator Research Grants and fellowships). If they do not have a contract of this length, they must provide assurance from the eligible research organisation that, if the application is successful, a pre-existing contract of employment will be extended beyond the end date of the grant.

For applicants who do not have a contract of employment for the duration of the proposed project, the research organisation is confirming, by applying, that successful applicants will have:

  • contracts extended beyond the end date of the project
  • all necessary support for the project and the applicants, including mentorship and career development for early career researchers

If a project lead or co-lead is retired, emeritus or honorary, we expect their involvement in the project to be covered by a contract with the research organisation.

Applicants must ensure that they have obtained the permission of any other person named on the application (for example any project co-leads or project partners) for the provision of their personal information to UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the processing of their data by UKRI for the purpose of assessing the application and management of any funding awarded.

Equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI)

We are committed to achieving equality of opportunity for all funding applicants and aim to create an inclusive environment that encourages excellence in research through good equalities practice. Diversity is one of our core values, and we are working to ensure that we embrace diversity of thought, people, geographical locations and ideas through our funding. Read about our current EDI initiatives.

We strongly encourage applications from under-represented groups including female and ethnic minority researchers, and researchers with disabilities or long-term conditions.

We support researchers and their research teams to work flexibly and in a way that meets their personal circumstances. Read MRC guidance on career breaks and flexible working.

If any issues arise throughout the funding process regarding equality and diversity, contact equalitymrc@ukri.org

The project lead

Each application must have one project lead. The project lead is usually responsible for the intellectual leadership of the research project and for the overall management of the research. If intellectual leadership of the research is shared, the project lead should be the individual who will act as the main contact and coordinator for MRC.

We normally expect project leads to be based in the UK, unless their research means they spend long periods overseas, or they are from eligible international research organisations, for example, CERN, MRC international units.

If the project lead leaves the research organisation for any reason, the research organisation must notify us and seek permission for a named replacement. If possible, one of the project co-leads usually takes on the role of project lead.

If the project lead is moving to another research organisation, it may be possible to transfer the grant, subject to the agreement of both organisations. If the project lead wishes to do this, they need to contact us. See manage your award.

An emeritus professor can be a project lead. Refer to ‘Retired, emeritus or honorary staff’ in section 5 for how they should be included on applications.

Project co-lead

Research is often carried out by teams. If one or more individuals support the project lead they can be named on the application as project co-leads. A project co-lead assists the project lead in the management and leadership of the research. Project co-leads should normally be able to meet the eligibility criteria for project leads and be based at an eligible research organisation.

Project co-lead (international)

Researchers from international research organisations may be a project co-lead on MRC applications if they provide expertise not available in the UK. An international project co-lead is an individual employed by an international research organisation who otherwise fits the normal definition of a project co-lead.

We expect the international project co-lead to make a major intellectual contribution to the design and conduct of the project. The international research organisation must be equivalent to a UKRI-recognised UK research organisation, such as a university, government-funded research institute or not-for-profit research organisation.

Researcher co-lead

A researcher co-lead is someone who has made a substantial intellectual contribution to the formulation and development of the application but is not eligible to be either project lead or co-lead in their own right (they do not have a pre-existing contract of employment with the research organisation of the project lead or any co-leads). Being a researcher co-lead can be used as evidence of acquiring funding and leadership of a research project when pursuing future funding and career opportunities.

Researcher co-leads may be included on any application to MRC unless stated otherwise in the funding opportunity guidance. Research staff this could apply to include postdoctoral research assistants, clinical fellows and technology specialists or equivalent roles. Note that researcher co-leads are not permitted on New Investigator Research Grants.

A researcher co-lead will be:

  • working on the proposed research project as a postdoctoral research assistant or equivalent
  • making a substantial intellectual contribution to the formulation and development of the project
  • employed on the project up to 100% full time equivalent by, and based at, the research organisation of either the project lead or any co-leads
  • given intellectual ownership (for example, through corresponding authorship) and grant management duties in relation to the ensuing research

Project partners, subcontractors, and consultants

We encourage and support collaborative research projects and team approaches, especially between academic and industry researchers. If you are working with collaborators based in different organisations to the project leads or in industry, you can formally recognise them in applications as either named project partners, subcontractors or consultants.

Project partners

A project partner is a collaborating organisation that will have an integral role in the proposed research, for example a charity partner or, if applicable, a supplier of the project intervention such as treatments or drugs.

If an individual or organisation outside the core team is responsible for recruiting people as research participants or providing human tissue for this project, list them as a project partner.

Their contribution may include direct (cash) or indirect (in-kind) contributions such as expertise, staff time or use of facilities.

Project partners provide contributions to the delivery of a project and therefore should not normally seek to claim funds from that project. However, if there are specific circumstances where project partners do require funding for minor costs such as travel and subsistence, this will be paid at 80% FEC (unless exceptionally agreed otherwise in advance).

You should outline any project partner costs and fully justify them in the application. They will be subject to peer review. Note that we will also consider any applicable subsidy control regulation and HMRC guidance. This may affect the percentage of these costs that we will fund.

Project partners do not include project co-leads. You cannot include an individual (including their organisation) named as the project partner contact in your application as an applicant, such as project lead or any other core team role.

You cannot include someone else from your organisation, including other departments, as a project partner.

Organisations or individuals that are applicants on a project or UKRI head office staff acting in their capacity as a UKRI employee are not eligible to be project partners. Project partners do not need to be based at an eligible research organisation or have a UKRI Funding Service account.

If the project partner is from industry, applicants must follow the guidance in the Industry Collaboration Framework.

Subcontractors

A subcontractor is a third-party organisation, or person, not employed on the grant who is subcontracted by the lead research organisation to deliver a specific piece of work. Subcontracted work will be subject to the procurement rules of the research organisation. All costs supporting delivery of the subcontract are eligible. These will be paid at 80% FEC.

Dual roles

An organisation or individual may act as both a project partner and subcontractor on a project. However, this must be fully justified and will be subject to peer review. This dual role may be required, for example, when an organisation or individual is contributing to the project in kind but is selected to deliver other work to the project involving substantial costs to be covered via a subcontract.

Consultants

A consultant is a third-party organisation, or person, who facilitates the research by providing specific contributions beyond the project team. You cannot name consultants as applicants and they should not make a significant scientific contribution to the project.

We expect consultancy to be subject to competitive purchasing requirements. It should be costed at a daily rate. This will be paid at 80% FEC.

Project partner and subcontractor entitlement to project outputs and intellectual property

Entitlement to the outputs of a project or intellectual property will be determined between the parties involved. However, any access to project outputs or intellectual property must be in line with any relevant subsidy control regulation. You should set out any entitlements in a formal collaboration agreement in line with FEC grant condition RGC 12.1

Responsibilities of applicants, including declaration of interests

We expect all funded researchers, both clinical and non-clinical, to adopt the highest achievable standards in the conduct of their research. This means exhibiting impeccable scientific integrity and following the principles of good research practice detailed in MRC’s Good Research Practice guidelines.

As part of this, you must declare any private, personal or commercial interests relating to an application for funding to the research councils at application submission by contacting support@funding-service.ukri.org.

Where we are involved directly with a co-funder, they will be named in the guidance for the funding opportunity. The applicant should state if there is any potential conflict of interest.

Refer to our guidance for examples of conflicts of interest and to UKRI declarations of interest policy and guidance.

Refer to research integrity for further policies and guidance.

Multiple applications

Applications to MRC

Each project lead may submit a maximum of two applications to each funding opportunity deadline. However, we strongly advise applicants to seek funding based on quality rather than the number that they can submit.

Applicants may only have one NIRG, MRC or UKRI fellowship application under consideration at any time.

Resubmissions and renewals

We will not consider applications previously declined by us, another research council or other funding body within 12 months of the original submission date, unless invited by us in writing to resubmit.

Applying to MRC and other funders for research grants

By submitting an application to us, the applicant confirms the resources requested are proportionate and the research proposed is not already supported by us or any other funding body. If we have concerns about the credibility of resources requested in an application, we will reject it.

You cannot submit the same or a substantially similar research grant application, in terms of objectives or resources, to MRC and any other UKRI research council at the same time.

You can submit time-sensitive grant applications to us at the same time as submitting applications to other, non-UKRI funders when they also allow duplicate submissions. Reviewing and assessing applications takes time. Before you make a duplicate submission, you should consider whether it’s essential to the research outcome.

If you intend to submit a duplicate application, you should let us know either:

  • in your application
  • at any point after you submit your application but before announcement

You will not be able to accept duplicate funding for a project.

Applying to MRC and other funders for fellowships

You may only have one fellowship application under consideration by us at any point. However, you may simultaneously apply to other funders’ fellowship schemes.

You may not have simultaneous fellowship applications under consideration by us and any other UKRI fellowships schemes.

Refer to the Guidance for Fellowship Applicants for further information.

Who can apply and what you can apply for

Studentships

We support students by providing block grants directly to research organisations, who then recruit and manage the students. We do not award grants directly to individual students. Applicants must not include student costs under any MRC funding opportunity (other than applications to MRC Centres of Research Excellence). Refer to MRC studentships for further details.

Early career researchers

Early career researchers can apply for a fellowship, a New Investigator Research Grant (NIRG) or research grant.

Researchers

Refer to opportunities for details of other types of grants available.

How to apply

MRC transition to the UKRI Funding Service

In 2023, all research councils began the transition from the Joint Electronic Submissions (Je-S) system to the UKRI Funding Service. This means that all applicants, grant holders, research support staff, reviewers and panel members must transition to the new UKRI Funding Service.

As we transition, opportunities on the funding finder will clearly state whether an application is required through Je-S or the UKRI Funding Service. Detailed guidance on how to apply via the UKRI Funding Service will be available in the advertised opportunity.

When a funding opportunity opens, its web page displays a ‘start application’ button. This takes you to the online application form in the service. If you do not have a UKRI Funding Service account, you can create one when starting the application form.

The UKRI Funding Service includes specific guidance for each application question.

Find out more about the transition at:

Submission process

It is your responsibility to ensure you apply to the correct funding opportunity. If you select the incorrect funding opportunity, your application will be rejected. It is also your responsibility to submit your application with adequate time to allow your research organisation to complete necessary checks and complete the final submission to us by 4pm on the advertised closing date.

When an application is submitted through the UKRI Funding Service, it does not pass directly to us, but to the research organisation’s administration team who will then submit the application to us.

You must read and understand all guidance. If in doubt, contact the relevant programme manager for further information.

For some funding opportunities, you may need to submit an outline application before making a full application. Usually, you will receive feedback at the end of the outline stage. Such feedback is designed to help applicants improve the quality of their subsequent full application (if invited) to strengthen its competitiveness.

MRC will not return your application for amendment or consider any requests to amend your application after the opportunity has closed. Failure to provide the information requested for your application, or including additional information we have not requested, could result in it being rejected.

Refer to how applicants use the UKRI Funding Service for guidance on creating an account, signing in, completing an application and submission.

Support with using UKRI Funding Service

The UKRI Funding Service helpdesk can provide support with your questions about using the service.

Email: support@funding-service.ukri.org

Telephone: 01793 547490

3. The application

Application questions and assessment criteria

You need to use the following sections in all MRC researcher-led applications in the funding service:

  • details
  • core team
  • vision
  • approach
  • applicant and team capability to deliver
  • references
  • project partners
  • project partners: letters (or emails) of support
  • industry collaboration framework (ICF)
  • facilities
  • data management and sharing
  • ethics and responsible research innovation (RRI)
  • genetic and biological risk
  • research involving the use of animals
  • conducting research with animals overseas
  • research involving human participation
  • research involving human tissues or biological samples
  • resources and cost justification
  • clinical research using NHS resources
  • related applications

In each section, you will find guidance and the criteria that the assessors will be looking for in your response to the question. This information is also available under ‘how to apply’ in each fellowship funding opportunity web page.

MRC strategic funding opportunity application questions may vary. You should consult the specific funding opportunity guidance.

Application title

Enter a distinct title for your application.

Summary

The summary will be sent to potential reviewers to determine if your application is in their field of expertise. This summary may be available on external facing websites, so you should write it in plain English to ensure it can be understood by a variety of readers, for example:

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

Official Development Assistance transparency and reporting

As part of the government’s commitment to Official Development Assistance (ODA) transparency and in line with government ODA reporting requirements, UKRI is responsible for publishing information about UKRI ODA grants, including project titles and summaries, via the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) registry and via UK government national statistics.

The purpose of publishing information via the IATI registry is to make information about ODA easily accessible to governments, stakeholders and other relevant groups in beneficiary countries. All UKRI-funded projects from this programme will be published in this way.

You should write your project title and summary in such a way that they are meaningful and accessible to non-specialist audiences. Avoid the use of jargon, acronyms, puns and plays on words.

You should also make clear in your project title and summary how your project is ODA compliant, for example by identifying the development challenge(s) being addressed, the aims of the project and the beneficiary countries.

Start date

The anticipated start date should be realistic and would normally be between one month and six months after the date of the funding decision meeting.

If successful, your offer will provide an announced start date at least three months after the issue date of the letter. Once the offer has been issued, you can start your project at any time up to three months after the announced start date. The start date for the grant cannot be earlier than the offer issue date. The grant may lapse if it is not started within this period.

Some funding opportunities require a specific start date, which may not allow for the three-month leeway. Check the details of the funding opportunity you are applying to.

Duration

The duration of a grant will typically be from 12 to 60 months and should reflect the work to be undertaken. Check the specific funding opportunity guidance for grant duration requirements.

Core team

Select the appropriate roles for the members of your team. UKRI is introducing new role types for opportunities offered on the UKRI Funding Service. For full details see roles in funding applications.

Vision

Detail what you are hoping to achieve with your proposed work.

Refer to the specific funding opportunity guidance and assessment criteria.

Approach

Explain how you are going to deliver your proposed work.

Refer to the specific funding opportunity guidance and assessment criteria.

Impact

We define research impact as the demonstrable contribution that excellent research makes to society and the economy. This includes both academic and economic and societal impact.

The impact agenda is incredibly important. UKRI exists to fund the researchers who generate the knowledge that society needs, and the innovators who can turn this knowledge into public benefit. Impact remains a central consideration in how UKRI makes funding decisions. Applicants should consider how they will or might achieve impact throughout their projects and include this as part of their approach.

You should request appropriate resources to facilitate this impact in applications. You should justify these in the justification of resources.

Reproducibility and statistical design

We advise you to use around 500 words in your approach for reproducibility information and statistical design. The purpose of this is to provide important additional information on reproducibility and to explain the steps taken to ensure the reliability and robustness of the chosen methodology and experimental design.

Note in this context that methodology refers to the rationale for choosing which method to use and not the provision of detailed descriptions of the methods to be used.

We strongly advise that you use this word count to provide information specifically relating to the statistical analyses, methodology and experimental design aspects of the application. Specify population groups in relation to their diversity characteristics and the proposed analysis (MRC Embedding diversity in research design).

You should include the sex of animals, cells and tissues and use both sexes as default. Learn more about the circumstances in which MRC will fund single-sex animal, tissue and cell studies at sex in experimental design. Note that you should not duplicate information presented elsewhere in the application.

We will reject applications for funding that do not provide sufficient detail to convince expert reviewers and panel members that the proposed experiments will be carried out appropriately to produce robust and reproducible research on these grounds and subject to the usual limits on resubmission.

See worked examples of experimental design.

The NC3Rs has developed a free online tool to guide researchers through the design of their experiments, helping to ensure that they use the minimum number of animals consistent with their scientific objectives, methods to reduce subjective bias, and appropriate statistical analysis. You should consider embedding the summary diagram of this tool, representing your experimental plan.

What to include

We expect you to seek professional statistical (or other relevant) advice in putting this section together. Each experiment does not need to be described in detail, but you must include sufficient information that reviewers are readily able to understand the experimental plan. We encourage the use of figures, tables and diagrams.

The following highlights the key points you should include.

Experimental approach to address objectives

You may provide this information in diagrammatic or tabular form if appropriate:

  • primary and secondary experimental outcomes to be assessed (for example, cell death, molecular markers, behaviour change) and how these relate to experimental objectives
  • number of experimental and control groups
  • a clear definition of the ‘experimental unit’ in the analysis and its implications (in other words, there is a difference between N samples from one animal, as distinct from one sample from each of N animals, or combining samples from multiple animals)
  • number of ‘experimental units’ in each experimental group
  • total number of ‘experimental units’ to be measured
  • number of times each ‘experimental unit’ will be measured
  • number of independent replications of each experiment
  • steps taken to minimise the effects of bias, for example, masking (blinding), randomisation or an explanation of why this would not be appropriate
  • breeding strategies may be included here, if applicable
Justification of model(s) chosen (animal model, cell line)
  • how and why the models and methods are appropriate to address the scientific objectives
  • the sex of the animals, cells or tissues
  • any justification for not using both sexes (refer to MRC guidance on exemptions for single sex studies)
Sample sizes
  • show clearly how effect sizes have been calculated and justify how they are biologically relevant
  • demonstrate that statistical power calculations are grounded in justifiable and explicit assumptions about both anticipated effect size and variability of the experimental effects
  • if statistical power calculations cannot reasonably be applied, applicants should provide a principled explanation of the choice of numbers
  • we will not consider explanations adequate if based solely in terms of ‘usual practice’ or with reference solely to previously published data
Planned statistical analyses and their relation to the choice of sample size
  • overview of the planned statistical analyses in relation to the sample size
  • details of any statistical or methodological design advice sought (you may cost a relevant expert, for example statistician, into your application if necessary and justified)

If your application includes the use of animals, you should also refer to ’applications involving animal use’, in addition to the guidance above, for more information on the key points you may wish to include.

What not to include

Do not use this section as a simple continuation of the methods set out in the main description of the approach. Do not include detailed descriptions of the methods. The approach section should be a self-contained description of the proposed work with relevant background and should not depend on additional information.

For applications involving animal use, you should provide the rationale for using animals, choice of species, information about the animals used (for example weight, sex) and animal costs and procedure severity information elsewhere in the application as detailed in ‘Justification of animal use’.

Applicant and team capability to deliver

Describe why you are the right individual or team to successfully deliver the proposed work.

UKRI is rolling out Resume for Research and Innovation (R4RI), a flexible narrative CV template, across funding opportunities that require track record information. Find out more about R4RI: a better way for you to evidence your contributions.

References

List the references you’ve used to support your application.

Project partners

Add details about any project partners’ contributions. Refer to ‘Project partners, subcontractors, and consultants’ in section 2 for guidance on who you should include as project partners.

Project partners: letters or emails of support

Provide letters or emails of support from each named partner confirming their commitment to the project. Letters should clearly explain the value, relevance, and possible benefits of the work to them and describe any additional value that they bring to the project.

We are not looking for you to provide any supporting emails or letters related to any individual or organisation already included in your application (this includes other departments in the same organisation).

Do not include any additional documents, email communications or any other type of information we have not requested, including supporting statements (letters or emails), simply expressing supportive opinions (we only expect to see emails or letters of support from third-party project partners uploaded to this section).

Industry Collaboration Framework

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 (ICF). Check by using the ICF decision tree.

The level of contribution expected from the industrial partner depends on the intellectual property arrangements between the academic and industrial partners.

Facilities

If your proposed research requires the support and use of a facility, you must provide the name, usage or costing details and confirmation of agreements in place where required.

Data management and sharing

Describe how you will you manage and share data collected or acquired through the proposed research. You should clearly detail how you will comply with MRC’s published data sharing policy and management guidance. Provide your response following the MRC data management plan template.

The data management plan should demonstrate how you will meet, or already meet, your responsibilities for research data quality, sharing and security. It should refer to any institutional and study data policies, systems and procedures and be regularly reviewed throughout the research lifecycle. Where the organisation is ISO 27001 compliant, the registration number should also be included.

The data management plan is reviewed by peer reviewers alongside the case for support. We advise you to use the data management plan template for all plans. Carefully read and adhere to guidance. The quality of the plan may have an impact on peer review and whether the application is successful.

For advice and guidance on how to comply with MRC’s data sharing policy for research that involves people, refer to the MRC data sharing policy: guidance for sharing data about people.

For intervention studies involving human participants (such as clinical trials, clinical intervention studies, and studies of public health or behavioural interventions) the data management plan should indicate how the study meets the requirements of the MRC policy on registration and publication of clinical trials and public health intervention studies, which include:

  • registration in the ISRCTN registry within 12 months of the trial starting
  • addition of the trial protocol (or a link to it) to the ISRCTN registry within 12 months of the trial starting
  • timely public reporting or publication of trial results within 24 months of study completion
  • preparing data for sharing or reuse

Partnership grants reliant on sharing or reusing research data must include a brief summary of how access to existing data will be managed and how newly generated data will be accessed and preserved for the duration of the award.

Level of risk

Where the research involves human participants, their data or tissues or where the research team holds identifiable data about these research participants, the level of risk regarding data management is much higher. In these instances, the data management plan should be more detailed and include information on how these risks will be managed.

Length of data management plan

For population cohorts, genetic, omics and imaging data, biobanks, and other collections that are potentially a rich resource for the wider research community, length should be up to 1500 words.

For longitudinal studies, involving a series of data collections, length should be up to 1500 words.

For all other research, length should be 500 to 1500 words.

How to write your data management plan

You should write the data management plan for two audiences:

  • scientists in the broad field of the area of science covered in the application
  • technical experts who are familiar with the prevailing data management practices

Most of the readers will be the first audience.

The information must be concise. The detail should be proportionate to the complexity of the study, the types of data being managed, their anticipated long-term value, and the anticipated data security requirements.

What to include

You should use the data management plan template to develop a plan to accompany a research proposal. If you do use the template, ensure to address all the topics listed on the template.

We expect you to seek advice from data management experts in your organisation and use other sources of good practice to improve and innovate data management. If this means your plan departs from some aspect of this guidance (or that on data sharing), explain succinctly why and how this is more appropriate. It will aid your data management plan if you can show that the infrastructure and good practice is already in place at your research organisation.

Custodians of previously collected or generated research data (‘legacy data’), applying for funds to use legacy data as part of a new funding request, should ensure that the plan covers both existing and new data collection and generation.

Multiple funding agencies

Where research is co-funded by us and another organisation, our data sharing policy and these guidelines on the data management plan will still apply. The relevant policies of the major UK funders of biomedical research are aligned on principles and most of their detailed requirements. Discuss any apparent policy conflicts with your programme manager, or by emailing mrcdatasharing@mrc.ukri.org.

Cost of data sharing

You should include the costs related to your data sharing in the resources and cost justification section of the application form. This may include people, equipment, infrastructure and tools to manage, store, analyse and provide access to data.

Where the costs of managing legacy data and sharing are substantial, the proposal should differentiate the resources and funding for the following activities:

  • collecting and ‘cleaning’ new data
  • own research on newly acquired and legacy data
  • ongoing data curation and preservation
  • providing access and data sharing

Ethics and responsible research innovation

Demonstrate that you have identified and evaluated the relevant ethical or responsible research and innovation considerations, and how you will manage them. See our guidance on ethics and approvals.

Genetic and biological risk

Identify the genetic and biological risks resulting from the proposed research, their implications, and any mitigation you plan on taking. See our guidance on ethics and approvals.

Research involving the use of animals

If your research involves the use of vertebrate animals or other organisms covered by the Animals Scientific Procedures Act, provide details of severity, approvals, species and experimental design. Further information is required for the use of non-human primates, dogs, cats, equidae or pigs. Refer to our guidance on applications involving animals.

Conducting research with animals overseas

If your proposed animal research will take place overseas, you must provide a statement to confirm it will be conducted in accordance with welfare standards consistent with UK standards in Responsibility in the Use of Animals in Bioscience Research.

For studies involving certain species, you must also complete an additional checklist and include it in the application. Refer to our guidance on applications involving animals.

Research involving human participation

If your project involves the use of human subjects or their personal information, provide details of required approvals, justification of numbers, diversity, procedures and severity. Refer to our guidance on ethics and approvals.

Research involving human tissues or biological samples

If your project involves human tissue or biological samples, provide justification specifying the nature and quantity of the material to be used and its source. Provide details of required approvals. Refer to our guidance on ethics and approvals.

Resources and cost justification

Complete the resources and cost summary table for your project’s full costs. Use the Justification text box 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

Refer to our guidance on costings in section 5.

Clinical research in the NHS, public health or social care

If your research will take place in an NHS, public health or social care setting you will 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. Refer to our guidance on NHS costs in section 5.

For MRC opportunities opening from 1 April 2023 you must use the online NIHR Central Portfolio Management System (CPMS) and you should accompany your application with the ‘study information’ and ‘summary’ page of the ‘funder export’.

To create a SoECAT, you will need to create an account in CPMS. After creating the account, you will need to log in to CPMS to activate this account. If you need any assistance in creating the account, refer to the CPMS user guide. Once your account has been created and is active, you can proceed.

Guidance for the completion of the SoECAT is available in the online tool at each page and stage of the application process and further details are available in the online SoECAT guidance.

There is also an online SoECAT guidance module which includes video tutorials and linked resources (you need an NIHR Learn account to access and enrol onto the module) and a helpful study representative: online SoECAT top tips infographic.

Who needs to complete a SoECAT?

You must complete a SoECAT if any of the following apply:

  • the proposed study is intended for the NIHR CRN portfolio, the route through which support and excess treatment costs are provided in England – this may include studies that will take place in a social care or public health setting
  • the research requires Health Research Authority (HRA) and Health Care Research Wales approval in England or Wales, and studies requiring NHS or Health and Social Care management permission in Northern Ireland or Scotland
  • the research will use NHS resources

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

Completion of the SoECAT may not be necessary when applying for funding to support:

  • overarching programmes with no specific research study protocol
  • infrastructure
  • fellowships
  • anything where the grant is to be used for direct employment of a member of staff or purchase of an asset
  • data or diagnostic reviews where recruitment data is not collected

You should submit such applications with supporting documentation to explain why a SoECAT was not submitted in this instance.

A SoECAT is not required if you are submitting an outline stage or stage-one application. However, if a full or stage-two application is invited, you must complete a SoECAT and submit it with the full application.

If your application includes a clinical study, but where the clinical study is not yet fully defined, you will need to complete a SoECAT at the application stage and update it before requesting approval from HRA.

Completing a SoECAT form

When applying for MRC funding, you must complete the following steps.

1. We recommend early engagement with the local clinical research network (LCRN) AcoRD (attributing the costs of health and social care research and development) specialist in the application process. A list of network specialists is available on the NIHR website.

2. Create an account in CPMS and log in to activate the account. Complete the online SoECAT and request authorisation.

3. Append the ‘study information’ and ‘summary’ page of the ‘funder export’ form with your completed grant application as a combined PDF. We reserve the right to request a copy of the complete form.

4. If the application is supported you must inform the AcoRD specialist and you must upload a copy of your award letter to CPMS. Please note, in England, where excess treatment costs are over a ‘high threshold’ of £1 million per study or £20,000 per patient, you will need further assessment by an NHS specialist commissioner before any funding award can be made.

For further information, refer to:

Additional advice and guidance are available from your local trust’s research and development office or from the Department of Health research and development finance team.

For research based in Scotland

You can get advice from the Chief Scientist’s Office. For advice on NHS funding and policy, research ethics, intellectual property, information and communication, telephone: 0131 244 2246.

For research based in Wales

Refer to NHS research and development in Wales.

For research based in Northern Ireland

Refer to NHS research and development in Northern Ireland.

Related applications

Provide details of related applications including submissions to other funders or resubmissions. Refer to our guidance on multiple applications in section 2.

If your application is a stage-two application, you should identify this here and you may be asked to provide a response to feedback from your stage-one application.

If you are applying to renew a programme grant, use this section to provide a report on the progress of your research.

4. Application assessment

All applications to MRC are assessed according to the UKRI principles of assessment and decision making.

All applications submitted to us are scrutinised by independent experts who consider each application against the assessment criteria for the funding opportunity. Find out more about the assessment process we use for applications for funding. More information on peer review at MRC is available on our peer review pages.

Covid-19

UKRI recognises 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 careers such as breaks and delays, disruptive working patterns and conditions, the loss of ongoing work, and role changes that may have been caused by the pandemic.

We will ask reviewers and panel members to consider the unequal impacts that COVID-19-related disruptions might have had on the track record and career development of those individuals included in the application. We will ask them to consider the capability of the applicant and their wider team to deliver the research they are proposing.

Applicants’ response to reviewers’ comments

Where appropriate, and where the assessment approach for a funding opportunity allows, we will provide applicants with an opportunity to see and respond to the reviewer comments.

This is your opportunity to respond to factual inaccuracies, conceptual misunderstanding and questions raised by expert reviewers that panel members will consider when assessing the application. It is not an opportunity for you to change or reconstitute your application in light of the expert reviewers’ comments.

You will have 14 calendar days to provide a response and will have up to 500 words per review to respond. You can use this total word limit flexibly to best respond to the comments.

The funding decision meeting will consider your response alongside your application and reviewer comments.

5. Costs we fund

We assess applications on the quality of the research and value for money in terms of the resources requested, including whether the funds requested are essential and adequate for the work and justified. For more information on assessment criteria please refer to the specific funding opportunity guidance.

Full economic cost and transparent approach to costing

All grants and fellowships (except pre-doctoral clinical research training fellowships) must be costed based on the full economic costs (FEC) necessary to deliver the research. If a grant is awarded, we will typically fund 80% of the FEC, and the applying organisation must agree to find the balance of FEC from other resources.

Some awards are made at different FEC rates, and applicants should refer to the specific funding opportunity guidance for further information.

Universities and other higher education organisations must use transparent approach to costing (TRAC) to calculate the cost of the project’s activities. TRAC has been validated by UKRI and is subject to ongoing review. Other research organisations, research institutes and public sector research establishments can use dispensation rates or can calculate their own rates for validation by UKRI funding assurance.

Fund types

Under FEC, costs must be presented within four fund types. The fund heading and type will depend on the nature of the cost incurred:

  • directly allocated costs
  • directly incurred costs
  • indirect costs
  • exceptions

Most of these fund headings have several cost categories, outlined below. Further explanation of the costs that you can request under each category is available in the following sections.

Directly allocated costs

Directly allocated costs are resources used by a project that are shared by other activities. They are charged to projects based on estimates rather than actual costs and do not represent actual costs on a project-by-project basis.

Directly allocated costs are funded at 80% FEC and include the following categories:

  • staff
  • estates
  • other
Directly allocated: staff

If an applicant’s time is shared across other activities and therefore being charged to the grant based on estimates, you should include it as a directly allocated cost. If their time is instead actual, auditable, and verifiable you should include it as a directly incurred staff cost.

Applications need to show the costs of time to be charged to the project by project leads and co-leads. This will be derived from hours on the project and relevant salary rate, which could be based on an average or pool rate. The applicant’s proposed time commitment for the project, but not their salary itself, must be justified.

Directly allocated: estates

Estate costs provide a share of the cost of providing the physical infrastructure for research. These costs may include building and premises costs, basic services and utilities and any clerical staff and equipment maintenance or operational costs that are not included under other cost headings.

Your research organisation will calculate these costs using TRAC, so they will vary between organisations. A single figure will be required for your application. Information about the calculation of, or justification of, estates costs is not required. We will not question the estates costs requested.

However, we will take into account the full cost of the proposed research in any assessment of its value for money.

Visit roles in funding applications to find out which project team roles attract estates costs in addition to salary costs.

Where any named individual will be working away from the research organisation on long-term secondment for over six months during the project, estates costs should not be charged for the period of secondment. No reductions should be made for shorter-term absences.

Where the level of staff effort to be awarded is different to that requested, the research organisation must recalculate the estates and indirect costs within 10 working days, using the same costing basis and TRAC rates in force at time of application.

Directly allocated: other

These comprise all other direct costs calculated based on estimates, which are not included in the research organisation’s estates or indirect cost rates.

Items that can be included under this heading are:

  • charge-out costs for use of major facilities
  • charge-out costs for use of existing equipment
  • charge-out costs for ‘pool staff’, departmental technical and administrative services
  • animal costs

Charge-out costs will vary by research organisation. We will take this into consideration during the assessment process.

Directly incurred costs

Directly incurred costs are explicitly identifiable as arising from the conduct of a project, are charged as the cash value spent and are supported by an auditable record.

Directly incurred costs are funded at 80% FEC and include the following categories:

  • staff
  • equipment
  • travel and subsistence
  • other
Directly incurred: staff

Staff time that is actual, auditable and verifiable should be included under this heading.

If staff members included under this heading are contracted to work on two or more projects, timesheets must be kept as it is essential to have a means of recording and verifying the actual time applied to each activity. Where timesheets are not completed, these staff should be included under the directly allocated fund heading.

If the staff member is instead contracted to work 100% of their time on a single project (whether is it full or part-time) timesheets are not necessary.

Visa fees, or certificate of sponsor costs, for directly incurred staff employed on the project for 100% of their time can be costed under directly incurred: other.

Directly incurred: equipment

You may request funding for new equipment (including computers and software), the costs of equipment repairs and major spares, the costs of external maintenance agreements and the cost of equipment relocation and installation, where required by the proposed research.

You should only include items of equipment bought or leased for the project costing over £10,000 (£8,333 excluding VAT) under this equipment category. Please note, the £10,000 includes all component parts of the equipment requested and some opportunities do not support equipment costing over £10,000. Related requests over £10,000, such as refurbishment and other costs as specified in the funding opportunity, should also be included as equipment.

You should include items of equipment that cost less than £10,000 under directly incurred: other.

Where equipment purchased under a previous MRC grant is to be used, you can seek a share of the continuing maintenance cost, unless already provided by other grant support. Equipment purchased on MRC grants may be eligible for VAT relief and exempt from import duty. If this is the case, do not include these costs.

All equipment and associated costs must be explained in the justification of resources.

We will fund equipment at 80% FEC, or 100% FEC for agreed exceptions.

Equipment for instrument development

Items of equipment for instrument development can be funded at 100% FEC, although we reserve the right to request a contribution from the research organisation in exceptional circumstances. Other equipment requested not related to the instrument development will be subject to our standard rules for equipment.

A request can be classed as instrument development where it is wholly or mainly focused on creating a novel instrument that will either enable research capability not available using any existing instrument or will substantially improve research capability by opening significant new scientific opportunities.

Directly incurred: travel and subsistence

You may include funds for travel and subsistence for staff assigned to the project where these are required by the nature of the work. All travel claims should show evidence of value for money alongside environmental impact, welfare, and business need.

Consequently, you should only include travel by standard class by train and economy class by air. We would permit exceptions to this where there is a justifiable health and wellbeing need and approved by the research organisation before purchase.

Evidence of this should be available. Consideration of the environmental impact of travel should be in line with the institutional policy. You cannot request carbon offsetting costs arising from project-related travel.

You can include costs for attendance at conferences, where such attendance will be of direct benefit to the research. We would expect funds to be requested for one UK or European conference per year and one major international conference every other year (expecting one per three-year grant and two per five-year grant). Please note that you cannot claim costs associated with a conference where the date of the conference falls after the end date of the grant.

You can request additional childcare costs beyond that required to meet the normal contracted requirements of the job, and that are directly related to the project, if the institutional policy is to reimburse them. This may include attendance at conferences and workshops that are directly related to the project. You cannot claim childcare costs associated with normal working patterns.

We will also consider requests to meet the costs of travel and living expenses for:

  • collaborative working visits on the proposed research
  • learning of special techniques

Subsistence and any catering costs for events should reflect the normal rates applying to the host research organisation and will need to be fully justified in the justification for resources. Alcohol cannot be included.

Directly incurred: other

You should request any directly incurred costs under this subheading that are not captured in the subheadings above.

Examples of other directly incurred costs that you can include in your application include:

  • consumables
  • minor items of equipment costing less than £10,000, including basic computer equipment for directly incurred staff, for example, laptops and tablets, or higher-specification computer equipment for specific grant related activities
  • recruitment and advertising costs for staff directly employed on the project, provided they occur after the date of the award letter
  • visa fees, or certificate of sponsor costs, for directly incurred staff employed on the project for 50% or more of their time
  • immigration health surcharge costs for directly incurred staff employed on the project for 50% or more of their time
  • relocation costs for named staff who will be moving, provided the research organisation has a general policy in place to pay relocation costs and they are not already included as part of indirect costs
  • consultancy fees
  • subcontractor costs
  • additional childcare, beyond that required to meet the normal contracted requirements of the job, and that are directly related to the project, if the research organisation’s policy is to reimburse them, but you cannot include childcare costs associated with normal working patterns
  • scanning and surveys
  • cost of the International Standard Randomised Controlled Trial Number (ISRCTN) registration fee (from January 2022, HRA will automatically register new clinical trials that have gone through HRA research ethics committee approval with ISRCTN; refer to the HRA website for what trials are included, and only include the costs of ISRCTN registration if these will not be covered by the HRA)
  • payments and incentives used for healthy volunteers participating in clinical research are allowable, provided that the payment is for expense, time and inconvenience and is not at a level that would induce people to take part in studies against their better judgement

This list is not exhaustive as under full economic cost most resources are eligible to be claimed as part of your application provided they are sufficiently justified. However, there are specific costs that are not permitted and should not be requested, see ‘costs not permitted’.

Indirect costs

Indirect costs are non-specific costs charged across all projects, based on estimates, which are not otherwise included as directly allocated costs. These include the costs of administration, such as personnel, finance, library and some departmental services.

Like estates, the research organisation will calculate indirect costs and a single figure is required for the application. Visit roles in funding applications to find out which project team roles attract indirect costs in addition to salary costs.

It is the responsibility of the research organisation to monitor the time claimed by any staff member to ensure that no more than 100% of FTE is claimed as indirect costs for any individual across all applications funded by UKRI.

Information about the calculation of, or justification of, indirect costs is not required. We will not question the indirect costs requested. However we will take into account the full cost of the proposed research, including these costs, in any assessment of its value for money.

If your application is successful, and the level of staff time to be awarded is different to the original application, your organisation must recalculate your indirect costs within ten working days, using the original costing basis.

Exceptions

Exceptions are directly incurred costs that are funded at 100% of FEC, subject to actual expenditure incurred, or items that are outside FEC.

You should only include certain items specified in the sections below as exceptions under the following subheadings:

  • staff
  • equipment
  • travel and subsistence
  • other

Exceptions can include costs for international collaborating organisations. Refer to our guidance below for international costs.

Refer to our guidance below for costing DNA sequencing.

Refer to our guidance below on ‘costs related to the developmental pathway funding scheme and experimental medicine’ for additional eligible exception costs.

Costs not permitted

Under FEC, most resources are eligible to be claimed as part of your application, provided they are sufficiently justified.

However, the costs listed below are not permitted and you should not include them in your application. If your application includes these costs, and is successful, we will remove them before award:

  • article processing charges and other publication charges relating to peer-reviewed research articles and conference papers
  • publication charges for monographs, book chapters and edited collections published on or after 1 January 2024; refer to guidance on open access publishing
  • visa fees, immigration health surcharge and certificate of sponsorship for staff working less than 50% of their time on the project
  • visa fees for family members
  • general printing or postage costs that are not specific to the project and its dissemination plans
  • basic computing equipment for directly allocated staff already employed by the organisation (unless justified, see ‘cost justification’ section)
  • general miscellaneous expenditure or contingency costs
  • carbon offsetting costs arising from project-related travel
  • costs for PHD students
  • patent costs and other intellectual property costs are not eligible as universities already receive funding for these from Higher Education Innovation Funding
  • costs not sufficiently justified

Staff costs

Staff time commitment

The maximum amount of time that one applicant can request for funding across all UKRI projects is 1,650 hours a year, equivalent to 37.5 hours a week, 44 weeks a year. It is the responsibility of the research organisation to have a process in place that monitors the time claimed by any applicant to ensure that no more than 100% of full time equivalent (FTE) is claimed as salary for any individual across all grants funded by UKRI.

They should also ensure that estates costs for any individual do not exceed 100% FTE across all grants by UKRI.

UKRI grant terms and conditions allow researchers employed on grants six hours per week for teaching and demonstrating work.

Salary costs

You should request salaries at a level commensurate with the skills, responsibilities and expertise necessary to carry out the proposed research activity. This must be justified in the application.

If an application includes provision for a named individual, this should reflect their current salary and consider their previous experience, professional contribution and research responsibilities. The level requested must be justified in the application.

If the application is to be submitted before the research organisation has agreed details of any pending pay revisions, we expect that the application will be costed based on the organisation’s present pay structure. You should take into account salary increments over the period of the project, but do not anticipate future pay awards.

Clinical trainee salaries should be costed to be commensurate with the appropriate NHS pay scale and training stage for the candidate.

Applicant lead time and salary are already wholly (100%) supported

If a project lead or co-lead’s time is already fully supported, for example via active research grants, MRC unit/institute funding, or single separate fellowship provided by UKRI, you must make this clear in the application in the justification of resources. You should request zero salary in the application costs.

Retired, emeritus or honorary staff

Project leads and project co-leads who are not paid a salary by the research organisation, for example, emeritus or honorary staff, and whose time is not fully funded on other UKRI grants, should include their hours on the project, but request zero salary costs.

Where the contract includes reimbursement of time, you can include that cost up to a maximum equivalent of 37.5 hours a week on the application. You can request estates and indirect costs regardless of whether they are getting a salary or payment or not.

Where a project lead is due to retire before the grant has ended, then the grant must also include details of a costed replacement for the remaining period.

Visiting researchers

We will consider meeting the salary costs of senior collaborative researchers, invited from a recognised centre in the UK or abroad, to work in the UK for up to one year giving full-time advice or assistance on the research project. You should include their salaries under directly incurred costs and calculate them in relation to staff of equivalent status in the host research organisation.

Animal costs

You can include these costs under directly incurred or directly allocated other costs.

You should give detailed justification of the costs incurred in the ‘justification of resources’. This should detail the total number of animals requested and justify the resources requested for purchasing, breeding, maintaining and using the chosen number of animals.

For further guidance on the inclusion of animals please refer to our guidance on applications involving animals. In some cases, adherence to the principles defined in this guidance will require additional resources, for example, for:

  • identification of animals (by microchip for example)
  • increased maintenance charges resulting from randomisation procedures
  • salary costs associated with obtaining statistical support

We recognise this and will support such costs where fully justified.

International costs

You should include costs associated with project co-leads (international) and any locally employed staff under exceptions. This can include their staff costs and travel, as well as any other costs directly incurred by the project.

Costs attributed to project co-leads (international) from developed countries (those not on the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Development Assistance Committee (DAC) list of Official Development Assistance recipients,) or India or China must not exceed 30% of the FEC grant value.

There is no cap on eligible funds going to international co-leads from DAC list countries. You may include more than one international co-lead on the application as long as the combined funding requested for international co-leads does not exceed the caps stated.

100% of the direct costs will be paid to the international co-leads for both DAC list and developed countries. However, you will need to provide a greater justification for inclusion of costs for international co-leads in developed countries.

Investigators at international organisations are generally not eligible to receive indirect and estates costs. However, where the research is taking place in a developing country, we may contribute towards indirect and estates costs at our discretion if it will assist in developing research capacity.

You should seek guidance from the MRC programme manager in advance of submitting the application. Where allowed, you should include indirect and estates costs associated with international locally employed staff as exceptions.

Although we will not question the indirect costs and estates costs rates declared by international research organisations, we will take into account the full cost of the proposed research (including indirect and estates costs) in any assessment of value for money.

You should not include travel and subsistence (including bench fees) for UK-based researchers going abroad to undertake work, and the costs of any service or product procured (for use in the UK) from an international supplier (for example, mouse, antibody strains, cells lines, assays) under exceptions.

You can claim costs incurred directly by the international organisation, when a UK researcher is active in that country, under exceptions.

DNA sequencing

Following the introduction of FEC, we can support the resources for DNA sequencing requested through research grants at either 100% FEC or 80% FEC. In order to qualify for the resources to be granted at 100% FEC, the sequencing will need to be carried out through a contract to an institution or organisation ineligible to apply for UKRI funding.

You must apply for funds for sequencing . We will award them in pounds sterling. Any grant made will include 100% of the costs only. No indexation will be applied, and no further funds will be granted for this activity to cover, for example, currency fluctuations.

It is possible to request support for other activities associated with DNA sequencing, such as annotation of the sequence, but in order for this to qualify for 100% FEC, it must also be undertaken by an organisation not eligible for UKRI funding.

Industrial partner costs

The level of contribution expected from the industrial partner depends on the intellectual property arrangements between the academic and industrial partners. Refer to the Industry Collaboration Framework (ICF) for information including what you can include under industrial partner costs.

The general rule is that we will only fund the costs of the academic partner if the grant is funded. If the industry partner will have a dual role as a subcontractor on the application, you can request these costs. These costs will be funded at the normal scheme FEC rate (usually 80%).

NHS costs

You can apply for research costs associated with NHS studies. Costs included in these applications comprise:

  • research costs
  • NHS treatment costs
  • NHS support costs

Research costs of a study

We will only fund costs that fall under this heading. These are funded at the appropriate FEC rate (usually 80%). The research award does not include NHS support or treatment costs, although we will take NHS support and treatment costs into account when considering the value for money of the research.

Where a research study takes place in or involves the NHS, Department of Health guidance on the responsibilities for meeting patient care costs associated with research and development in the NHS applies.

NHS support costs

These are the additional patient care costs associated with the research, which would end once the research and development activity in question has stopped, even if the patient care service involved continues to be provided.

These might cover items such as extra patient tests, extra in-patient days and extra nursing attention. You should contact your local NHS research and development department initially. If they are unable to help directly or if there is no local NHS research and development department, contact the local Comprehensive Local Research Network (CLRN) senior manager.

NHS treatment costs

These are the patient care costs that would continue to be incurred if the patient care service in question continued after the research and development activity has stopped. In determining NHS treatment costs, you must assume that the patient care service being assessed will continue even though there may be no plans for it to do so.

Where patient care differs from the normal, standard treatment for that condition (either an experimental treatment or a service in a different location from where it would normally be given), the difference between the total treatment costs and the costs of the ‘usual standard care’ (if any) constitutes excess treatment cost or saving.

However, it is still part of the treatment cost, not an NHS support or research cost. You should determine these costs in conjunction with your NHS trust partners and their commissioners.

Excess treatment costs of studies involving human participants

Researchers applying for research grants involving human participants will need to complete a Schedule of Events Cost Attribution Template (SoECAT) to be eligible for the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) portfolio and the support it provides. Refer to ‘Clinical research in the NHS, public health or social care’ in section 2 for application guidance.

Costs related to the Developmental Pathway Funding Scheme (DPFS) and experimental medicine

For the Developmental Pathway Funding Scheme and experimental medicine supporting clinical evaluation, we may pay certain costs of more than £50,000 for sub-contracts with contract research organisations (CROs) at 100%. This is limited to activities that meet all three of the criteria outlined below:

  • they are required to be undertaken to regulatory standards by a competent authority to allow clinical evaluation
  • they do not involve creativity or intellectual input to the development of the entity by the CRO
  • they require access to skills and resources not available in academia, where this can be robustly justified

Examples of eligible activities are:

  • pre-clinical toxicology package carried out under Good Laboratory Practice (GLP)
  • synthesis or manufacture of an entity carried out under Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP)

Examples of typically ineligible activities are:

  • testing an intervention for efficacy in animal models
  • iterative development of an intervention (for example medicinal chemistry)
  • preparation of regulatory submission

If you are considering applying for 100% FEC for such activities, you must discuss with the relevant programme manager before submitting. The programme manager will advise on suitability and the mechanism for inclusion of the exceptional costs.

Please note that you should include the first £50,000 of aggregated eligible CRO costs under directly incurred. You should enter the remaining balance under exceptions.

Open access publishing

Researchers need to comply with UKRI’s open access policy.

You should not include any costings for access publishing charges (APCs) or other types of publication in respect of peer reviewed research articles (including review articles not commissioned by publishers) and conference proceedings that acknowledge funding from the us.

The charges for APCs and other publication charges for all research papers resulting from work funded by us (or one of the other research councils) are supported through block grants to UK higher education institutions, approved independent research organisations and research council institutes. A research organisation can then access these funds to pay for APCs for any article resulting from research council funding.

Costing of applications involving MRC institutes

You must calculate all MRC institute costs (MRC Harwell, MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences and MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology) using FEC. Refer to the UKRI FEC grants: standard terms and conditions of grant guidance for the principles of full economic costing.

You must agree the costs of the proposed research with your senior finance manager at an early stage before submission. All costs will be funded at the FEC rate of the funding opportunity, which is usually 80%.

You should only request costs if additional to the institute’s core funding and supporting work directly related to the research proposed. You can name UKRI staff and indicate effort on the application, with zero costs requested if applicable. You should include salary costs of all UKRI staff in the justification of resources.

Collaborative applications led by an MRC institute involving other research organisations

Applications may be collaborative and involve costs for one or more research organisations that are not MRC institutes.

MRC head office can pay non-MRC research organisations directly. If there are multiple non-MRC research organisations involved, one of these must be willing to receive the funds and be responsible for distributing funds to other non-MRC research organisations. This would typically be the research organisation receiving the largest proportion of the grant.

If this is the case, the other research organisations must provide the project lead with financial reports, as required by the grant conditions, allowing the collaborative research project to be managed in its entirety.

If the funding requested by non-MRC research organisations is substantial, it may be more appropriate for them to lead the application.

Costing MRC partnership institutes

Eligible individuals from MRC partnership institutes (Francis Crick Institute, Health Data Research UK, UK Dementia Research Institute) may apply for MRC grants as either a project lead or co-lead. These grants are intended to support research that is clearly additional to existing institute support.

We award grants to partnership institutes at the standard FEC rate for the funding opportunity (normally 80%) and all usual MRC funding rules, exclusions and expectations apply. You can only request funding related to new activity that does not duplicate existing institute support.

New grants should not be disruptive to the delivery of established institute activity. Institute support and external funding applied for or awarded related to the project should be included under the ‘related applications’ section of the application.

Staff receiving their full salary from institute support cannot include salary costs on MRC grant applications. Use the ‘core team’ section to indicate the time these individuals will work on the grant but enter salary costs as zero.

You should only calculate indirect and estate costs using the FTE eligible to request salary from the grant. In the justification of resources, give particular attention to justifying any salaries requested and the method used to calculate indirect and estates costs.

Aim to provide assurance no duplicative funding is being requested. For comparative purposes, state the value of core supported salary contributions.

Partnership institute applicants must contact the relevant MRC programme manager for advice before applying.

MRC and other funders provide partnership institute core support.

6. Research involving existing facilities and resources

Research involving cohort resources

We will provide funding for longitudinal population studies core infrastructure support, for both new studies and renewals of existing studies (new data collection or continued access to and use of existing data). Please note that you can only include associated research with the study’s core application if it is for pilot or proof of concept studies.

All applications for funding for new or existing longitudinal population studies must submit an outline application for joint review by the LPS Strategic Advisory Panel and the Research Board and a decision on whether to invite a full application will be made, with feedback.

Data sharing and preservation

In line with our policy on data sharing and preservation, you must specify the proposed arrangements for data access, data sharing and curation. You must include appropriate costs to support these elements of the work in the funding requested, and take care to clarify exactly which costs are associated with data sharing, data curation and data access.

Applications should also outline:

  • governance arrangements for data sharing and data access by the wider research community, including the process by which third parties apply to use the cohort and how and by whom applications are assessed
  • where and how you will make the cohort metadata available
  • the timeframe in which you will add any new data obtained to the cohort resource

Renewals must also demonstrate that previous funding for data sweeps has enriched the cohort

Access to UKRI facilities

MRC accepts research applications requiring access to UKRI facilities such as synchrotron (Diamond Light Source, European Synchrotron Radiation Facility) and high-performance computing (ARCHER2).

We expect you to apply directly to the relevant facilities for the access and time required for your research.

You should identify planned usage in the relevant section of the application. If there are any costs to be charged by the facility or associated costs of using it, you should include and justify them in the resources and costs.

Applicants seeking use of UKRI facilities should contact the appropriate provider to confirm facility eligibility requirements, their process to apply for access, and the likely costs, before submitting the research application to MRC.

Access to external facilities

If your project requires the use of non-UKRI facilities, such as Genomics England, then your application should explain how you will have access, including confirmation that:

  • you have the necessary facility access or are in the process of requesting it, and expected timing of decision
  • you can complete the agreements and follow the necessary policies to use the facility
  • this facility or resource is capable of delivering your research objectives

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