Area of investment and support

Area of investment and support: Better methods, better research

The aim of Better Methods, Better Research (BMBR) is to ensure optimal research methods are being used to advance biomedical, health and care focused research, policy and delivery. Funding is available for research that develops and delivers ways to improve the research methods being used by others.

This is an ongoing initiative with two funding rounds a year in June and November.
Partners involved:
Medical Research Council (MRC), National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR)

The scope and what we're doing

The BMBR panel is a partnership, co-funded by MRC and the Department of Health’s NIHR.

MRC supports methodology development through a variety of mechanisms:

  • within broader research proposals considered by our boards and panels
  • within units and institutes
  • through the MRC-NIHR BMBR panel.

Programme aims

BMBR aims to improve efficiency, quality and impact across the entire spectrum of biomedical and health-related research within the MRC and NIHR remit. The programme supports methodology research that will improve the methods used by others.

Methodology research maximises benefits for researchers, patients and the general population. It also ensures health research and policy are built on the best possible evidence.

To fulfil these aims, methodology development or improvement supported by BMBR must:

  • underpin an evidenced research need within the MRC or NIHR remit
  • be able to be generalised beyond a single case study
  • demonstrate early engagement with a broad range of end users for developed methodology
  • improve best practice, and evidence a pathway to implementation and sustainable impact
  • demonstrate awareness of current gaps in the translation of methodological research.

To achieve its objectives, BMBR works with stakeholder organisations to identify current and emerging methodological needs, and to ensure the methodologies developed are taken up by others and add value to research.

Standing partners providing input into the programme include:

Additional stakeholders are consulted as required to support emerging priority areas (for example, the National Advisory Group on Clinical Audit and Enquiries).

Opportunities, support and resources available

Better methods, better research funding opportunity

This opportunity covers the entire remit of MRC and NIHR, prioritising current rate-limiting methodological challenges for health research.

The BMBR panel meets twice a year and provides final funding recommendations for BMBR awards.

View the Better methods, better research funding opportunity.

Develop guidance for better research methods funding opportunity

For improved biomedical and health research methods, gaps still remain between their development, widespread awareness and uptake, and their recognition as best practice.

Additionally, where many methodologies are available, it can be difficult to understand when, where or how each should be best applied.

With this funding opportunity, we aim to support guidance development in priority areas of methodological uncertainty. It aims to catalyse uptake of improved research methods. Any area of unmet methodological need within MRC or NIHR remit will be considered. This is an annual opportunity, normally available in June each year. We grant up to two awards of £60,000 in directly incurred costs each year.

Application timelines

See MRC applications timelines for the next set of closing dates for both BMBR opportunities.

BMBR embedded methodology award

Researchers who hold active or pending funding from the NIHR Health Technology Assessment, Health Services and Delivery Research, Public Health Research or Invention for Innovation programmes can apply for an BMBR embedded methodology award.

Researchers can make applications for an embedded methodology award when they submit the main application to NIHR, or after the study is reviewed and funded. Embedded methodology award applications must be a separable but closely-aligned piece of methodological work. The case for support must describe the additional methodological insight and the added efficiency from the integration of this research into an ongoing study.

Researchers should submit applications directly to the MRC-NIHR BMBR panel through the normal BMBR funding opportunity and using the usual application procedure.

Past projects, outcomes and impact

Awarded BMBR grants

See project details in Gateway to Research (search on project reference codes from the awarded grants spreadsheet)

Who to contact

Dr Rosalind Roberts, Programme Manager


Governance, management and panels

The BMBR panel sets the programme strategy and is the central decision making body for the programme, including research funding decisions.

The BMBR guidance portal represents a central collection of MRC-NIHR endorsed resources to lead best practice in health and biomedical research. Resources developed are all approved by the BMBR panel as informing the forefront of methodological practice.

Last updated: 29 February 2024

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