We closed for outline applications to our Research Project grant scheme on 11th January and received over 70 applications. We recently let applicants know whether they had been invited to submit a full application and, once again, we received many more applications that we can possibly fund,  taking around half through to the next stage.

Applications were assessed in terms of:

  • How well they fit within the Trust’s funding remit and how they would be addressing the Trust’s strategic objectives and funding priorities
  • How they would help to expand and/or sustain capacity in the Trust’s area of focus
  • Their ‘pathway to impact’ plan detailing how the project would make a difference to understanding the mechanisms of ageing, treating age-related diseases and improving the lives of older people and the time-frame in which it would do so.

Characteristics of unsuccessful applications:

  • Not mentioning the Trust or its strategic objectives. Please don’t assume that because your project is investigating an age-related disease that this immediately ticks the box for this question. We want to see that you have proactively engaged with the Trust’s funding priorities and strategic plan and considered how your project will address these.
  • Lack of clarity in the research questions and proposed outcomes. Please make sure your research questions are clearly defined and explain how the proposed methods will adequately address them and clarify the status of the proposed study, i.e. is it a pilot study, feasibility study, experimental design etc. It is important to also ensure that the proposed outcomes follow-on from the research questions and you provide a description of how they will be robustly measured.
  • Giving generic statements on sustaining and/or expanding research capacity in the Trust’s area of focus. Successful applications gave specific examples of how research careers would be supported for the project duration, incl. mentoring, formal training etc. as well as linking to wider institutional frameworks and support. For example, the Athena Swan status of the department and other opportunities for training and development.
  • Generic or unrealistic ‘pathway to impact’ statements. The impact statement is a great opportunity for you to show why the research you are doing is important and the impact it is likely to have. Please avoid using generic statements and provide a credible impact plan, including specific examples of actions you will be taking to achieve the impacts described and the time-frame in which these are likely to occur. While you will have more opportunity if you are invited to submit a full application to provide detail, the information you give  in your outline application should give some comfort that detailed thought has been given as to how the results of the work will influence the wider research, policy and practice communities and whether different approaches are needed for different audiences.
  • Lack of innovative objectives and/or a multidisciplinary approach. Ensure what is being proposed builds on the existing evidence base and clearly state what your proposal will contribute. Adopting a multidisciplinary approach, by seeking out collaborators from other relevant disciplines, will strengthen your approach to ensuring your proposal is innovative – what may seem novel in one field may well have been addressed in others!
  • Lack of consideration given to Patient and Public Involvement (PPI). For basic science proposals we understand that it may not be appropriate to involve older people directly in the research, but it is important to still consider how older people will be engaged with the study and findings. For social science applications, what is the proposed focus of interest and value to older people? Have they said so? Have they been part of the design and is the PPI genuine, i.e. are older people partners rather than subjects?
  • Poor value for money or unrealistic costings. Can the work be achieved in the time specified and, in the case of research involving PPI, has there been adequate thought to the costs of participatory events? If you are applying for funding for an extension to a previous study or expansion of a parent study, you need to clearly articulate why this was not costed into the original parent project and what the additional benefits of  continuing/expanding the project will be.
  • Applying for projects not within the Trust’s funding remit. The Trust does not provide funding for projects relating to heart disease or cancer, as there are other funders better placed to support these areas.

The Trust re-opens for Outline Research Project grant applications on the 25th March. For more information on what the Trust has funded through this scheme in the past, please take a look at our website.

Please also take a look at our previous blog piece, which has further advice and read up on the details of the research project grant scheme and accompanying FAQs.