Frequently asked questions for academic and clinical researchers
What are the Trust’s priority areas for support?
The priority areas for support are:
- Research into the causes and treatments of disease, disability and frailty related to ageing which have the potential to have a meaningful impact on the health and well-being of older people within a reasonable time frame.
- Innovation in the care of older people, including rehabilitation and palliative care.
- Pilot studies in these areas which could establish whether larger investigations are justified.
We are also keen to see how the project is constructed to support the development of research capacity within the disciplines relevant to the above.
Where can I see examples of what sort of work the Trust funds?
You can see examples of our funded projects in the Our work in action section of our website (although please bear in mind that some of these examples are for grants awarded under the old schemes).
What would you say a good application looks like?
Our Research Grants Committee members have put together their “top ten” tips on writing a good application…
- Your application will be looked at by several people: peer reviewers, other specialists, as well as non-specialists. Craft it so it can be understood by all these readers – the detail must be accurate, but make the main messages stand out for the non-specialist glancing through the application.
- Remember you know much more about your planned project than the reviewer. Don’t leave things in your head that need to be explained in the application – asking a critical friend to review the final draft can be useful.
- Be explicit about who will benefit, how, and why. Explain why the research is needed what impact will it have. The “pathways to impact” section is very important. (If you’d like help on how to write a good pathway statement, why not check out these resources?) Even if work is more “early stage”, there should be a clear pathway for what this work might lead to that ultimately improves the health and well-being of older people.
- Always provide an analytical plan (e.g., but not exclusively, a power calculation), based on solid evidence from the literature and/or feasibility data.
- Be realistic about what you can achieve with your resources, both in terms of the funding you request and the tasks you hope to achieve. Make sure that what you plan to do is feasible. In developing your application, focus on work that answers your core questions/objectives, which should be clearly specified and achievable in the time/resources available. Applications can fall down by having too broad a scope leading to concerns about feasibility.
- Be clear about how your proposed project fits with what is already known and how it will be a useful addition. Why does this particular project need to be done by this particular team at this particular time? Make clear what the gap in the literature is and how you intend to fill it (watch Dragons’ Den for examples…)
- For research that involves human participants (including samples extracted from human participants in the course of the study, or data originally collected from older people) make sure you have clear plans for public involvement, ideally that should include the development of your protocol e.g. reviewing your plain language summary.
- Write clearly and make sure your message comes across credibly. Tell a convincing story. Take a look at our strategic priorities and write in language that we will understand. You can find lots of help on writing a good lay summary via INVOLVE’s Make it Clear campaign.
- It’s not a time to be shy – shine! We want to be sure that you can deliver.
- And last but not least, allow yourself plenty of time, everything takes longer than you think. Remember that you’ll need input from your finance colleagues and from your head of department or Dean. They will all need to create accounts on the Grants Management Portal and “sign off” on your application before you can submit. Check the deadlines and work back from there.
Is there a standard application form?
We have a two-stage online application process. You will need to register for an account on our Grants Management Portal and then select the scheme for which you are applying. The online application form will only appear within the Portal when the scheme is open to applications so do check current deadlines for opening and closing dates. You can download a copy of the outline application forms below to help you start planning your application – but do please note that we will only accept submissions via the Grants Management Portal during the published application periods.
When can I apply and what is involved?
For Research project grants, we make three calls each year. Please visit the web site for details of the deadlines for the current financial year. If you have submitted an outline application which is successful, you will be advised at that point of the timetable for submission of a full application.
We use an online application system (Grants Management Portal) and you will need to register for an account. We are also an ORCID member organisation. In common with a number of other major funders, we now require all applicants for research grants to provide an ORCID iD when completing an application form in our Grants Management Portal. Applicants who don’t have an ORCID iD can register for one and complete the education, employment, funding and publications (“works”) sections of their ORCID profile. This will auto-populate the relevant sections of our application form.
The application process is in two stages: an outline application followed by a full application for those successfully shortlisted at outline stage. Peer review will be conducted for those applications invited to submit full applications, which will then be reviewed and scored by our Research Grants Committee.
The online application forms will only appear within the Portal when the scheme is open to applications so do check current deadlines for opening and closing dates. Here’s a copy of the outline application form to help you to start planning your application – but do please note that we will only accept submissions via the Grants Management Portal during the published application periods.
Can I submit more than one application at a time?
Unfortunately not. Our policy identifies the Trust’s priority areas for support to enable you to decide which of your projects best fits these.
What is an ORCID iD and why do I have to have one?
The Dunhill Medical Trust now requires all lead applicants for Research Project Grants to provide an ORCID iD when completing an application form in its Grants Management Portal. Applicants who don’t have an ORCID iD can register for one.
Through ORCID, researchers can allow funders, publishers and research organisations to access the information in their ORCID profile during grant and manuscript submission. In the future, we’ll be able to automatically capture research-related information linked to individuals, to simplify and speed up grant application and reporting processes.
Where can I find help on registering for and using Dunhill's online Grants Management Portal?
How are applications assessed?
Outline applications will be reviewed against our Grant-making Policy and Research Funding Strategy to assess whether they meet the our eligibility criteria and strategic priorities. We’ll be looking in particular at:
- How the project will contribute to the achievement of the Dunhill Medical Trust’s strategic objectives
- How the project will help expand and/or sustain research capacity in the Trust’s areas of focus
- How the project will make a difference to older people and the time frame in which it will do so (your “pathway to impact”).
Having a clear and accessible lay summary is particularly important at this stage. For help with this, try INVOLVE’s “Make it Clear” advice.
Outline applications that are successfully shortlisted will be invited to submit a full application. Outline applications that do not meet the criteria for support and/or have a low probability of being funded will be rejected at this stage. Do please note that we receive many more applications than we can possibly fund so only the highest ranked eligible outline applications will be invited to prepare full applications.
All full applications for Research project grants will be subject to rigorous peer review and the scrutiny of the Research Grants Committee (which includes Trustees and external advisers with extensive expertise relevant to the Trust’s priority areas). Grants will be awarded on the basis of scoring the following criteria:
- academic quality;
- demonstration of need;
- value for money;
- feasibility of the research plan;
- competence of the applicant/the research team;
- suitability of the research environment;
- credibility and feasibility of the plan to achieve benefit beyond the academic community to improve the health and well-being of older people;
- credibility and feasibility of the project team’s plans to support the development of professional research careers in the Trust’s priority areas.
All recommendations of the Committee are referred to the Board of Trustees for final approval. You should note that we receive many more applications than we can possibly fund and even if an application meets all of the criteria above, may still fall below the cut-off for funding.
How are the Trust's external peer reviewers chosen?
We consult very wide range of referees, both from within the UK and internationally. Referees are identified by a number of methods, including suggestions made by academic members of the Research Grants Committee or by the wide range of academics and researchers known to the Trust. In most cases, however, literature searches are carried out using a number of online publications databases including Europe PubMed Central (Europe PMC), MedLine/PubMed (the US National Library of Medicine’s bibliographic database), Elsevier’s SciVal tool and Dimensions from UberResearch to ensure that the most appropriate expert opinion is being sought. Applicants are also permitted to nominate referees themselves (although the Trust may not necessarily follow up the suggestions offered).
When will I hear if my application has been successful?
At the outline applications stage applicants will be informed within 4 weeks of the deadline.
At full application stage the Research Grants Committee will make its recommendations to the next available meeting of the Board of Trustees. These meetings are held in March, June and December. The outcome will normally be notified to applicants within two weeks of the relevant meeting of the Board of Trustees.
What costs will you cover?
Our guidelines reflect the established convention that research grants paid by charities generally cover the costs directly incurred in undertaking a project (termed Directly Incurred Costs by the Research Councils), which in most cases are a major proportion of the total cost of the work to be done. We will not meet ‘overhead’ costs, including the cost of the time of PIs and CoIs and most of those other costs which Research Councils term Directly Allocated Costs, Estates Costs and Indirect Costs (i.e. Full Economic Costs or fECs). Universities receive funding through the Charities element of the Quality-Related (“QR”) Funding distributed by the Higher Education Funding Council as a contribution towards these costs. A grant awarded by the DUnhill Medical Trust will qualify for support in this way. Proposals for funding should detail carefully all of the relevant directly incurred costs, with reference to the following guidance.
Eligible staff costs
- We will meet directly incurred salary costs, such as salaries of research assistants, whose time can be supported by a full audit trail. The level of salary requested should be fully justified in the case for support. Salary costs should include any increments to which an individual is entitled. Any anticipated future pay awards should not exceed 1.5% p.a. and should be fully justified.
- We will not meet any portion of the directly allocated salary costs of PIs
- We will not meet any portion of the directly allocated salary costs of CoIs, except where:
- They are spending 50% or more of their time directly working on the research project
- They are staff who are clearly providing institution-wide services and are organised in an appropriate manner (for example, the provision of statistical advice from a statistical services department by staff who are dependent on generating income to cover their salaries).
- We will not meet any portion of the salary costs of any other academic (lecturer or equivalent), clinical or allied health professional (of equivalent status) or other equivalent employees, unless there is a clear and direct research-related contribution to the project (see first bullet point).
- We will not contribute towards the Apprenticeship levy.
- Clinical Trial Unit (CTU) Staff: we may provide a reasonable contribution towards CTU staff participating in the research, providing appropriate justification is given. Please see the section below for more details.
It is expected that Research Assistants and other staff directly employed on a project:
- Will normally be employees of the organisation hosting the project (i.e. the organisation employing the PI and/or CoIs).
- May be employed by other eligible organisations, where their involvement is necessary to fulfil a well-defined purpose, such as provision of specialist analytical services.
- Exceptionally, these staff may work for other organisations, or as independent specialists, where their involvement is necessary to fulfil a well-defined purpose (such as specialist consultancy advice).
Eligible non-staff costs
- We will meet approved directly incurred non-staff costs in full (i.e. costs directly attributable to the project), including:
- travel and subsistence costs
- small pieces of equipment costing up to £10,000
- materials and consumables
- We will justified payments for public involvement at INVOLVE rates
- We may meet some directly allocated costs with appropriate justification (e.g. the costs of using research facilities such as imaging scanners, infrastructure technician costs etc.)
- We will not meet overhead costs, typically those identified by Research Councils as Directly Allocated Costs, Indirect Costs and Estates Costs.
Guidance on specific non-staff cost items:
Travel and subsistence costs for PIs, CoIs and staff assigned to the project where these are required by the nature of the work. These will normally be met and should be based on the most suitable and economical form of travel.
- Conference costs: The costs of attendance at conferences by members of the research team may be met up to a total of £1,000 per grant where this is shown to be of benefit to the research. Requests over this amount will require detailed justification and will only be met in exceptional circumstances.
- Requests for project-specific items of equipment costing up to £10k may be met but should be fully justified. For requests between £10k and £100k, we will expect a detailed case to be provided and at least a 50% contribution towards the total cost of the equipment from the host institution and/or other funders. Suppliers’ quotations will also be required.
- We would normally expect the host institution to provide access to major equipment, but where specific circumstances require substantial usage and either the purchase of a major item of equipment specifically for the project, or a contribution to the use of major equipment is requested, a detailed case should be provided, with the University contributing at least 50% of the costs.
- The cost of materials and consumables required to carry out the proposed research will be met (normally to a maximum of £17,500 per annum) but should be justified with special regard to those categories of overhead costs which DMT will not meet. Estimated figures for consumables/materials are not acceptable and must be itemised.
- Non-UK costs (for e.g. specialist tests or assays) may be met, on condition that full justification is provided. It will however be the responsibility of the host institution to reimburse the non-UK institution for carrying out such tests.
- Computers and other IT equipment dedicated to the project may be met, on condition that full justification is provided.
- Data storage and archiving: we will contribute 50% towards these costs, up to a maximum of £500 per grant.
- Recruitment costs: we will pay a maximum of £500 towards recruitment costs for staff being supported by the grant.
- Publication costs: should not be included in applications. In line with our open access policy, grant holders may apply for a contribution towards open access publication fees (on a sliding scale dependent on the size of the grant), once a paper has been accepted by a publisher.
Can I request a contribution towards NHS resources?
Applications that include NHS resources will need to adhere to the Department of Health AcoRD guidance. As an AMRC member charity, Trust would expect any research costs identified as ‘Part B’ (e.g. recruitment of participants or data collection) that are carried out by existing staff employed by the NHS, NIHR Clinical Research Network (NIHR CRN) or other clinical organisation to be paid by the Department of Health through local networks or the NHS Trust (Guidance FAQ 6 and 7). Any Part B costs included in an application will be automatically struck out and applicants should therefore pay particular attention to attributing costs appropriately (consulting their local CRN prior to submitting an application where necessary).
Excess Treatment Costs
From 1 October 2018 the way in which Excess treatment Costs (RTCs) are assessed and paid is changing. The process will now be managed by the NIHR Local Clinical Research Networks (LCRNs) on behalf of their region’s Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs). In order to assess applications that include ETCs the Health Regulatory Authority (HRA) have mandated that researchers will be required to complete a new form known as a ‘Schedule of Events Cost Attribution Template (SoECAT)’ for clinical research. This schedule will form part of the IRAS application process and it will not be possible for researchers to apply for ethical approval for studies that include ETCs if it has not been completed.
Researchers who study includes ETCs and who have been invited to submit a full DMT application will need to complete a SoECAT and submit it to the AcoRD Specialist for your region. Once the specialist has authorised your costs, the authorised version must be uploaded to your DMT application using the file upload function.
To help researchers the NIHR have produced a dedicated web page, where researchers can download guidance and the SoECAT. Researchers should also consult the NIHR AcoRD web page for guidance on attributing costs and this page also contains a link to the regional AcoRD specialists
Although the SoECAT is only applicable to full applications, applicants submitting an outline application to DMT which includes ETCs are urged to look at the advice provided by NIHR and to contact their regions AcoRD Specialist to determine the likely turnaround time for their SoECAT, so that they are aware of the timescales involved if invited to submit a full application.
If a researcher is concerned that their SoECAT will not be authorised in time for DMTs submission deadline, they are strongly advised to contact the Trust immediate.
What are the Trust's requirements for being a Principal Investigator?
Principal Investigators (Lead Applicants) should be experienced researchers, i.e.:
- Academics (normally at senior lecturer level or above or equivalent); or
- Clinicians (normally at consultant level or equivalent); or
- Allied health professionals (normally at post-doctoral level or with equivalent research experience), or
- other appropriately qualified professionals with a strong involvement in the health of older people (normally at senior scientist level, or equivalent) who are employees of an eligible research organisation holding:
- a permanent post, or
- a fixed term post which extends beyond the duration of the grant.
What are the Trust's requirements for being a Co-Investigator?
Co-Investigators – CoI – (Co-Applicants) should meet:
- The same criteria as for PIs (as above), except for those in fixed term posts. For this category of CoI, the requirement should be that their post should extend at least for the duration of the grant.
- Research Assistants may be named as CoIs if they have made a significant contribution to the proposal, and they will be employed for a significant proportion of their time on the project (normally at least 50%).
- CoIs are expected to make a substantial and defined contribution to the research. You will be required to state the contribution of the CoI to the project in the application form.
Do you accept applications for research involving the use of animals?
In line with our grant making policy, we will only support the use of protected animals in research where no viable alternative exists and applicants are required to comply with guidance published by the National Centre for the Refinement, Replacement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs). Where an applicant intends to use animals in the proposed research, they will be required to complete a detailed section of the application form if invited to full application.
Do you accept applications for research involving research conducted in a Clinical Trials Unit?
If you intend to carry out the research in a Clinical Trials Unit (CTU), you will need to complete a detailed section in the application form, if invited to full application, setting out all costs applied for (both staff and non-staff), with detailed justification for each cost making up the overall contribution being applied for. Any ineligible costs will be automatically struck out and applicants should ensure that any Part B AcoRD costs are not included (see the answer to the question on eligible costs).
Will the Trust act as a research sponsor?
No. All successful research applicants need to provide evidence of the acceptance of the proposed sponsor to undertake this responsibility before a research grant can be confirmed, or provide a nil return stating that the object of the research does not fall within NHS research governance requirements.
I see that the Trust is an NIHR commercial partner. What does this mean for my project?
The Dunhill Medical Trust is a National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) non-commercial Partner. This means the studies we fund are automatically eligible for NIHR support. That’s great news for our researchers, because this support is free and it can help to improve the delivery of your study in the NHS.
Established by the Department of Health, the NIHR:
- funds high quality research to improve health
- trains and supports health researchers
- provides world-class research facilities
- works with the life sciences industry and charities to benefit all
- involves patients and the public at every step.
The NIHR Study Support Service
Regardless of the size of your study, where it’s based (as long as it is in England) and the specialty, you can access the same set of NIHR support services. There are six services to make the most of:
- Early contact and engagement – To make the greatest impact on study delivery, engage with the NIHR CRN from the outset and gain access to free support that provides benefits throughout the full life-cycle of your study.
- Early contact and engagement – To make the greatest impact on study delivery, engage with the NIHR CRN from the outset and gain access to free support that provides benefits throughout the full life-cycle of your study.
- Early Feedback – Access NHS clinical experts across all therapeutic specialties to advise on the feasibility and deliverability of your study in the NHS.
- Site Identification – Liaise with your Local Clinical Research Network to help identify sites for your study from over 240+ NHS organisations and 10,000+ General Practices in England.
- Optimising delivery – The NIHR CRN assessment informs and enables the type of support your study will need
- Effective study set-up – Benefit from a national study-wide action plan for streamlined study set-up across all NHS sites supporting your study.
- Performance monitoring - Proactive study-wide performance monitoring helps your study to meet its recruitment targets within planned timescales.
To find out more about this support and how it can benefit you, check out the animation at the link or contact the NIHR on:
t: 0113 343 4555
Will I need to obtain ethical approval or a Home Office Licence before I can apply?
No. Evidence of HRA approval or a Home Office Licence will need to be provided prior to you starting your project and any grant offer will be conditional upon proof of ethical approval, research sponsorship arrangements, etc. It is not expected that these will be in place during the application process, though.
Is there anything that the Trust definitely will not fund?
We won’t fund:
- Sponsorship of individuals
- Sponsorship of conferences or events
- Organizations based outside the UK, or whose work primarily benefits people outside the UK
- Research via a third party (such as a fundraising charity supporting research for which the funds have not been raised/committed)
- Issues that are already well funded within the UK, such as heart disease or cancer
We will not meet:
- Institutional overheads (i.e. Full Economic Costs. We define contribution to the Apprenticeship Levy as an institutional overhead).
- Travel or conference fees (unless these are an integral part of a research project).
Does the Trust have an Open Access Policy?
Does the Trust provide funding to cover Open Access fees?
In line with its Open Access Policy, the Trust will provide a contribution towards the valid costs of open access fees levied by publishers who support the open access model, but demand payment to allow manuscripts to be made available on Europe PMC within 6 months of the official date of publication.
When publishing papers arising from our funded grants, grant holders must also ensure that the Trust is correctly acknowledged.
Does the Trust have a policy on Intellectual Property Rights?
As described in Clause 7 of our Terms and Conditions for Grants, in certain circumstances, we may make any grant offer to support research conditional upon securing an Intellectual Property Agreement (sample at this link) for the sharing of any commercial revenues that may arise as a result of the work it has funded.
What is Researchfish?
Researchfish is an online research impact assessment platform developed specifically for collecting research outcomes and impacts. For details on how the Trust uses Researchfish and what this means for our grant-holders please click here.
Does the Trust have links to the tobacco industry?
No. The Trust does not receive or seek funds from any external body and promotes the highest ethical practices in scientific and medical research and fully complies with the Joint Protocol of Cancer Research and Universities UK on Tobacco Industry Funding to Universities (2004). Please read about our history.
Grants for academic or clinical researchers
View and download the supporting policy documents
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