Writing Competitive Applications for Health and Social Care Research Funding
Overview • Afternoon • Building your Research Team • Team Activity • How to make your application stand out • Title Activity • Presentation by….. • Summing Up Morning • Introduction to the form • Questioning Your Idea • Rationale Activity • Plain English Summary • Plain English Summary & Pico Activity LUNCH (12.05-12.40)
Activities Throughout the day you’ll be working in small groups on a scenario provided This afternoon you’ll give a brief informal presentation of your • Project title • A short outline of your project plan • Plain English summary • Your research team composition Please don’t spend too much time worrying about the detail We want you to make the most of the opportunity to ask questions
Getting prepared An introduction to the form Rachel Evley
Preparation • After today (if you haven’t already): • Look at the NIHR website: http://ow.ly/EQwL30o9d1r • Read the public minutes • Watch webinars from previous years & keep an eye out for ones this year • Talk to people who have applied before • Make contacts & seek advice: Research Design Service, Clinical Trials Unit, Clinical Research Network & more!
Learn from others’ mistakes • Poor balance of background, introduction & research methods • Case for systematic review not made • Qualitative Work not underpinned by theory • Public Involvement looks formulaic & tokenistic • Programme Theory needs to be explicit (Logic Model)
The Application Process… NIHR competitions are 2-stage However there is a remit & competitiveness check prior to being seen by Stage 1 panel • Stage 1 judged by the panel • Stage 2 judged by peer review and panel NIHR competitions use a standard application form
The Application Process… ALWAYS read the guidance Are you eligible? • Before you begin, check with NIHR and the RDS This is going to take time • The form/s are lengthy & even short sections require thought • Aim to submit a week early • Check annual leave of co-applicants
The Application Form – Stage 1 Applicant/Research Details • Relevant Expertise; Publications & Grants; Research Team Plain English Summary Research Plan - Check the grant guidelines for the specific sub-headings required • NIHR expects appropriate and relevant involvement of patients and the public and other key stakeholders in the research it supports • For each stakeholder group be clear about how • They benefit from your proposed research • Where appropriate, how they have been involved in the development of the application • Describe your plans for their involvement in the proposed research • Design, Team, Patient & Public Involvement, dissemination and expected impact Uploads • Gantt Chart, Letters of support, Logic model, References
Plain English Summary – 3500 characters These are often a reviewers’ starting point and are worth getting right • Don’t just present complex things in simple terms, think about the sort of information a ‘normal person’ would want to know. • A good summary may not get you funding, but a poor one will immediately generate uncertainty. • Many reviewers use the Plain English Summary to inform their review • Involve patients / carers / members of the public in developing your PES
Research Plan - 20 000 characters Headings for this section: • What is the problem being addressed? • Why is the research important? – Check for required subheadings • Review of existing evidence • Research question / aims • Project plan – headings vary depending on scheme – CHECK GUIDELINES • Research plan • Methods - includes sample size, data collection, analysis, project timetable • Team – includes stakeholders not listed as co-apps & Clinical Trials Unit • PPI • Dissemination & Impact
What is the problem being addressed? Need to provide a clear explanation of: • The health problem to be addressed • Impact on patients, public, health and care services • How does this research address a gap in the evidence? • How will this research make a difference to patients/stakeholders and the NHS (within 5 years)
Why is this research important? Clearly identify the health and care need your research meets or contributes to How it could be implemented across the wider NHS or in the public health setting? • Health Need & Expressed Need • Sustained interest • Capacity to generate new knowledge • Generalisable & Transferability • Building on existing work
Why is this research important? Research for Patient Benefit • Importance and relevance to the priorities of the NHS • Anticipate outputs, outcomes and impact of the proposed research • Anticipated time scale to realise benefit to patients/NHS
Review of Existing Evidence • Need for research in this area • Past & Current research that justifies the proposed research • Work undertaken previously by your research team which has led to this proposal Health Technology Assessment, Public Health Research, Health Services & Delivery Research • Expect you to carry out a Systematic Review if one not previously published in advance of submitting your proposal • Explain how your research proposal will add to the body of knowledge with reference to current NHS policy & practice
Aims & Objectives Be clear about what you are proposing & explicit about how you are going to achieve this Health Technology Assessmentexpect to see main research question phrased in PICO terms • Population • Intervention • Comparator • Outcome Public Health Research suggest PICOST • Population • Intervention • Comparator • Outcome/s • Setting • Timing
Stage 2 Application Form The following fields are automatically populated from Stage 1 • Application summary information • CV – Lead • Research background – lead & co-applicants • Research team • Plain English Summary
Changes from stage 1 - 3500 • List ALL feedback from stage 1 • Use separate headings to respond to feedback • Indicate what has changed as a result of the feedback • Describe and explain any additional changes to the proposal since stage 1 • New published evidence • New evidence from your own work
PPI Stage 2 – 3500 characters • Who is involved in your proposal • Why this is appropriate • What role they have played • What influence or change happened as a result • Training & support provided Use the INVOLVE National Standards for Public Involvement to help you write this section http://ow.ly/kkWR30owmqF
Detailed Budget Stage 2 • Detailed justification of costs • Panels don’t expect to see much change between stage 1 & stage 2 costings • Check the finance FAQs for limits on equipment, IT costs etc. • For clinical studies a completed Schedule of Events Cost Attribution Tool (SoECAT) is now required to be uploaded and submitted as part of the application submission for all applications. • The SoECAT must be signed off by an AcoRD Specialist even where there are no excess treatment costs.
Summary You need to provide the funder with the information that they are asking for Sections should be consistent & coherent Simple is often better Make it clear you and your team are the right people to complete the research you are proposing
Questioning Your Research Shaun Barber
Key Question What do you think is the most important aspect of your proposal?
What’s the Background? Why is your research important? Are you clear on: • The background to your study • The rationale for your work • The context
Is there a recognised need? Would/do others consider your research important? Is it an identified research priority? Is this really a problem? For whom?
Is Your Research New? Is your research unique? Has anything similar been done before? How will your study differ? Avoid ‘Same Here’…… Funding & Awards Website
How Credible is Your Research? • Is your idea plausible? • Do you have the right team? • Will the relevant resources be available? • Is the timetable realistic?
Is it Acceptable? • Is the research acceptable to patients? • How will the research affect staff and healthcare professionals? • How will patients be involved in your research?
Do I Have Access? • How will I recruit patients? • Will I be able to find enough people to participate? • What access arrangements do I have / will I need?
What’s the Opportunity Cost? • How big a problem is it? • Will your planned solution affect all patients or a subset? • What’s the current burden on the healthcare system? What’s the projected burden? • How well is this going to measure up against other proposals?
Activity – Background & Rationale • Each group has been given a Cochrane Complimentary Medicine review summary • Outline the steps you would take to evidence some or all of the following: • That this is a problem in need of investigating • That there is some logic/biological plausibility underlying use of the proposed intervention • That patients and healthcare professionals would be willing to participate in research • Feel free to consider any of the other points raised in this session
Plain English Summary Freya Tyrer
Plain English Summary • A brief summary for members of the public and interested people – not for specialists. • It is often the first thing that people read! • We should be able to communicate our research in lay terms – otherwise the panel may question our ability to communicate our findings to wider audiences. • Quality of the plain English summary will be assessed by the panel.
What the NIHR say From May 2014: • The NIHR assesses the Plain English Summary and panel members comment on it as part of the review process. • If it is not considered to be of a good quality you will often be required to change it.
What the NIHR say Content of Plain English Summary When writing your summary consider including the following information where appropriate: • Aim(s) of the research; • Background to the research; • Design and methods used; • Patient and public involvement; • Dissemination. The plain English summary is not the same as a scientific abstract Please do not cut and paste this or other sections of your application form to create the plain English summary.
General Tips • Make use of your PPI contacts! • Write as if you were explaining your research to a friend or family member with no scientific knowledge • Suggested to pitch it at the same level as a broadsheet newspaper Can use online tools - e.g. the Gunning Fog Index http://gunning-fog-index.com/ (?value of under 12) • Talk directly to the reader - use ‘we’ and ‘you’ • Avoid multiple negatives as they can be confusing.
General Tips • Keep your sentences short - aim for an average sentence length of 15-20 words. You can use shorter sentences. • Cut out unnecessary words - avoid too many adjectives and adverbs. • Use simple words – think about how many syllables a word has. Can you replace longer words with simpler words? • e.g. duration = time, initial = first.
Alternative words • PRISM Readability Toolkit https://www.kpwashingtonresearch.org/files/9015/4931/8533/PRISM_readability_toolkit.pdf
Examples of Lay Summaries BACKGROUND: This study aimed to investigate the radiographic measurements associated with the progression of hallux valgus during at least 2 years of follow-up.METHODS: Seventy adult patients with hallux valgus who were followed for at least 2 years and underwent weightbearing foot radiography were included. Radiographic measurements included the hallux valgus angle (HVA), hallux interphalangeal angle, intermetatarsal angle (IMA), metatarsus adductus angle, distal metatarsal articular angle (DMAA), tibial sesamoid position, anteroposterior (AP) talo-first metatarsal angle, and lateral talo-first metatarsal angle. Patients were divided into progressive and nonprogressive groups. Binary logistic regression analysis was performed to identify factors that significantly affected the progression of hallux valgus deformity. The correlation between change in HVA and changes in other radiographic indices during follow-up was analyzed. Lee et al. (2018). Radiographic Measurements Associated With the Natural Progression of the Hallux Valgus During at Least 2 Years of Follow-up. Foot & Ankle International. 39(4):463-470.
Examples of Lay Summaries Aims of the research We want to know which measurements of the foot affect how bunions develop. Background to research A bunion (‘hallux valgus’) is a deformity of the toe. It is caused by the big toe pointing in towards the smaller toes, which makes the base of the big toe stick outwards. About one-quarter of adults suffer from bunions. They are very sore and can get worse if left untreated. In some cases, they can lead to arthritis or problems with walking. One method used to help treat bunions involves taking measurements of the foot. From these measurements, the doctor can develop a special treatment plan for that individual. Design and methods used In this study, we will recruit seventy adult patients with bunions who have had an X-ray of their foot. Using the X-ray, we will record different measurements of their feet. Measurements will include the length of the toe and angle of the bunion. We will follow up patients for 2 years and will group them according to whether their bunions got worse (‘progressed’) or stayed the same (‘not progressed’). We will see which measurements seem to make bunions worse. Ultimately, we hope that this will help doctors decide the most appropriate treatment to treat bunions.
A Word of Caution… “Given that the research subject is not easily accessible to the majority of lay people, the applicant has given a great deal of care into explaining the research in everyday language.” “The clear layout, appropriate use of paragraphs, section headings and spacing makes this summary easy to read and comprehend.” But… “Whilst this summary is written so that it is easy to understand, I feel that short, simple sentences and very simple language may have been overused and may detract from the maturity of the research proposal.” “I appreciate that it can be difficult to pitch such a summary at the right level or even know exactly what the right level is, but I would suggest, think of the audience as people, who though they do not have your specialist knowledge, will be interested individuals who are reading the summary, because they want to know about this research.”
Your Plain English Summary & PICO Plain English Summary • How will you describe the research to someone with no specialist knowledge of your topic? • What information will you present? Subheadings • What words will you use? PICO • Population • Intervention • Comparison • Outcome
Building Your Research Team Rachel Evley & Nick Taub
The Research Team NIHR Funding panels look for both breadth and depth in the team. Breadth • The team have all the disciplinary skills needed to deliver the proposed programme Depth • The team have the necessary expertise and experience. Co-applicants should be selected carefully to ensure they have the relevant specific expertise for the work planned