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Joint Health Systems Research Initiative: How to apply and assessment criteria

   

Applicants can choose between two proposal types: full scale research project grants (see section A) or development grants (see section B).

Section A. Full-scale Research Project grants up to 5 years duration. Typically the funders would expect a project of 3-4 years with costs of £100-£200k per year.

Section B. Development grants with a duration of 1-2 years and a total budget in the region of £100k. These grants are tailored to assist interdisciplinary teams to develop robust and competitive proposals through conducting feasibility studies and obtaining preliminary data.

Funding for projects awarded under this call for proposals is jointly provided by the UK Department for International Development (DFID), the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the Wellcome Trust (WT).

MRC administer the call for proposals on behalf of the funders and so all applications should be submitted to the MRC and will be awarded according to MRC Terms and Conditions.

General information about how to apply to the MRC can be found in the MRC Applicants’ Handbook: http://www.mrc.ac.uk/Utilities/Documentrecord/index.htm?d=MRC001873 Where guidance in the present document differs from that in the Applicants’ Handbook, you should follow the guidance in this present, scheme specific, document.

The first submission deadline for both application types is 16:00 Greenwich Mean Time on Tuesday 14th January 2014. Queries should be sent to Jill Jones, MRC Programme Manager for Global Health Strategy, jill.jones@headoffice.mrc.ac.uk, and Meriel Flint meriel.flint@headoffice.mrc.ac.uk ++44 (0) 20 7395 2207.

Who can apply:

Principal Investigators (PIs)

This call differs from the standard MRC rules as for this call Principal Investigators can be based either in the UK ( as per usual MRC rules) or in a low- or middle-income country (LMIC).

For this call, a low- or middle-income country status is dependent on World Bank country classifications: http://data.worldbank.org/about/country-classifications/country-and-lending-groups

Eligibility of UK-based PIs is covered in the MRC Applicants’ Handbook.

For researchers based in low- or middle-income countries, eligible institutions include higher education institutions and non-profit research institutions. Funding for non-UK research institutions that have not previously received substantial funding from one of the funding partners will be dependent on further eligibility and financial checks, to be conducted if the proposal is selected for funding. For further advice on eligibility, please contact jill.jones@headoffice.mrc.ac.uk and meriel.flint@headoffice.mrc.ac.uk

LMIC PIs can claim 100% of their direct costs and up to 20% of those costs as indirect costs.

Principal Investigators cannot be based in a high income country outside the UK.

It is not permitted for the same person to be Principal Investigator on any more than two proposals submitted to this call.

Co-investigators (Co-Is)

Co-investigators can be based in the UK as per usual MRC funding rules.

Co-investigators can be based in low- and middle-income countries as per usual MRC funding rules. They can claim 100% of their direct costs and up to 20% of those costs as indirect costs.

Co-investigators can be based in high-income countries outside of the UK as per usual MRC funding rules. They can claim 100% of their direct costs but no indirect costs. However, as the scheme is intended to fund work in low- and middle-income countries, high-income country applicants are advised to keep their costs claimed to a minimum.

All co-investigators should be registered and added to the application. There is a delay between registration and the investigator being available on the online system to add to the application, so please ensure that registration is completed well in advance of the submission deadline.

Applying for a full-scale research project grant is a two-stage process. You will therefore need to submit an outline proposal. Your proposal should include:

A1. The online Je-S form (see A1 guidance below)

A2. Outline Case for Support (see A2 guidance below)

A3. CVs (including publication lists) of investigators (see A3 guidance below)

When completing all of these documents, please refer to Section A4 assessment criteria for this scheme.

At this outline stage you do not need to submit a Justification for Resources, a Pathways to Impact statement or a Data Management Plan.

Letters of support are not needed from co-investigators or other organisations requesting funding from the grant. Letters of support are needed for any organisations entered on the Je-S form as ‘Project Partners’. A Project Partner is an organisation which contributes in cash or in kind to the project but which is not requesting any money from the project.

Your proposal should be submitted by 16:00 Greenwich Mean Time on Tuesday 14th January 2014.

The assessment panel will meet during March 2014. You will receive notification of whether you are invited to submit a full proposal within a fortnight of that meeting.

If you are invited to submit a full application you will be provided with a guidance document for completion of your full application. You may also be provided with panel feedback notes for you to take into consideration when preparing your full application.

The online Je-S form requests information such as administrative details of the investigators, financial information and summaries of your research. We recommend that applicants access the Je-S form well in advance of the deadline so that they can see the specific information that they will need to enter and can ensure that they and their co-investigators are registered on the system.

The online Je-S form and guidance can be accessed here: https://je-s.rcuk.ac.uk/Je-S2WebLoginSite/Login.aspx

If you do not already have a Je-S account, you will need to create one. For this call, your organisation can self-register if it is not already registered. To do this please follow the links on the Je-S homepage which state that “for certain, limited, calls, self-registration for organisations is available.”

When submitting your application through Je-S you will be provided with drop down menus. Please select the following options:

Select Council: MRC

Select Document Type: Outline Proposal

Select Scheme: MRC Jointly Funded Initiatives Outline

Select Call/Type/Mode: Joint Health Systems Research Initiative 1 Outline

Please complete the administrative, summary and financial information as requested by the online Je-S form. Some points to note are:

Research Organisation Reference: is for any reference number that your research organisation might have assigned to your application for their own administrative purposes.

Duration should usually be 3-4 years for a full-scale research project grant submitted to this scheme but can be up to 5 years.

Summary of Resources Required for Project: further to the information provided in section 5 of the MRC Handbook for Applicants and Grant-holders:

All costs incurred by low and middle income country investigators should be entered as ‘Exceptions’ and will be reimbursed at 100% if funded. You do not need to obtain additional approval from an MRC Programme Manager for the Exceptions costs that you claim; it is assumed that all proposals submitted to this scheme will need to request overseas costs. At the outline stage you do not need to provide a cover letter justifying your Exceptions costs.

Institutions based in low- or middle-income countries can claim indirect costs at a maximum of 20% of their direct costs. If your actual indirect costs are less than 20% of the direct costs, you should only claim the actual costs. The funders reserve the right to check indirect costs rates during the audit of a funded project.

Costs incurred by UK institutions will be reimbursed from this scheme at 74% of Full Economic Costings, not the MRC’s usual 80%. This reflects the different costing regimes of the four funders.

There is no maximum ceiling for funding a full-scale research project grant, but costs will usually be between £100-200k per year. Please bear in mind that the £5m available for this call is intended to fund several projects.

Your Case for Support is a document including your scientific proposal, details of the research environment, people involved and references. Your Case for Support should indicate how your proposal fits the call specification for this scheme.

The outline Case for Support should not exceed three sides of A4 plus one additional page of references (four pages in total). Your Case for Support must be attached to your Je-S online application as a PDF. You will need to prepare the document using a PDF writer such as Adobe Acrobat.

Additional annexes are not permitted.

Please use:

Please complete the proposal in English and use British Pounds Sterling for all costs.

Please number all pages of the Case for Support.

Your proposal cannot be supplemented with further information after the submission deadline.

If you plan to include unpublished data it must be included in the Case for Support. Manuscripts in press or submitted to journals should not be included.

When completing the Case for Support please consider that the assessment committee will have a copy of your Je-S proposal form which contains the Objectives, Summary and Impact Summary. You therefore do not need to repeat detail which is already contained in those sections.

Full title of the project (no more than 150 characters)

In which country(ies) will the project take place?

Duration in months

Total amount requested from this funding scheme

Principal research question to be addressed

Please describe your proposed research project, ensuring that you cover the following points:

3. Importance: why is this study needed now and in this proposed location?

Please consider issues such as burden of disease and priority for the relevant local, regional and national health services.

What evidence is there that the answer to your research question is needed and wanted by relevant users, for instance, policy-makers.

4. How will the results of this study be used?

What changes might be implemented as a result of the study?

Who will make those changes happen and how?

Might the results be generalisable beyond the immediate research setting?

5. Research Project Team

How does the team of investigators incorporate the range of discipline and experience necessary to carry out the study?

6. Financial Information

Are other funding partners involved? Who are the partners and what is the status of the discussions?

In addition to the costings you have provided on Je-S, please provide a breakdown of the funding request per institution using the below table.

Organisation name

Total project costs (GBP)

Total cost requested from this scheme (GBP)*

* UK institution costs are calculated at 74% of the Full Economic Costs. Costs incurred outside of the UK are ‘Exceptions’ and can be claimed at 100%.

7. Proposal history

Has an application for funding for this project been submitted previously to DFID, ESRC, MRC, the Wellcome Trust or another funding organisation?

If so, please indicate the status of the previous application.

Please submit a maximum of 3 pages per investigator: 2 pages CV and 1 page publication list.

Please compile all of the documents into one PDF file and include the documents in the same order as the investigators are listed on your Je-S application form. Each publication list should immediately follow its corresponding CV.

General information on the MRC’s approach to peer review is provided in the MRC Reviewers Handbook: http://www.mrc.ac.uk/Utilities/Documentrecord/index.htm?d=MRC003184

The assessment panel for this scheme will consider whether outline applications are of world-class standard (being intellectually innovative, well-focused and methodologically sounds), and whether the research has the potential to make a real improvement to health outcomes in low and middle income countries.

Peer reviewers will be asked to comment on the following criteria in assessing the outline proposals:

Research agenda:

Is there a real need for this study in the proposed location?

Is the research question important and appropriate?

Is an answer to the research question needed by policy-makers and other stakeholders beyond the academic community?

Project plans:

Is the proposed study feasible?

Is the proposed study innovative, internationally competitive, and methodologically sound?

Project team

Are the credentials of the investigators and host institutions appropriate to deliver the project?

Is there an understanding of and sufficient involvement of the local research context and decision-makers?

Does the proposed team of investigators possess the necessary range of expertise and experience to successfully carry out the proposed study?

Research impact:

Does the project have real potential to improve health outcomes?

Is there clarity as to how, and by whom, the research findings will be used?

Does the application demonstrate that there is demand for the research from policy-makers and other stakeholders beyond the academic community?

Ethics:

Is the work ethically acceptable?

Value for money:

Is the budget appropriate and reasonable for the proposed programme of work?

Section B. How to apply for Joint Health System Research Initiative Development Grants with a duration of 1-2 years and a total budget in the region of around £100k. These grants are tailored to assist interdisciplinary teams to develop robust and competitive full-scale proposals through conducting feasibility studies and obtaining preliminary data.

The development grant application process is a one-stage process. There is no outline phase for development grants.

Your application should consist of:

Your proposal should be submitted by 16:00 Greenwich Mean Time on Tuesday 14 January 2014.

The assessment panel will meet in March 2014 and you will receive notification of whether your application has been successful within a fortnight of that meeting.

The online Je-S form requests information such as administrative details of the investigators, financial information and summaries of your research. We recommend that applicants access the Je-S form well in advance of the deadline so that they can see the specific information that they will need to enter and can ensure that they and their co-investigators are registered on the system.

The online Je-S form and guidance can be accessed here: https://je-s.rcuk.ac.uk/Je-S2WebLoginSite/Login.aspx

If you do not already have a Je-S account, you will need to create one. For this call, your organisation can self-register if it is not already registered. To do this please follow the links on the Je-S homepage which state that “for certain, limited, calls, self-registration for organisations is available.”

When submitting your application through Je-S you will be provided with drop down menus. Please select the following options:

Select Council: MRC

Select Document Type: Standard Proposal

Select Scheme: MRC Jointly Funded Initiatives Full

Select Call/Type/Mode: Joint Health Systems Research Initiative 1 Development

Please complete the administrative, summary and financial information as requested by the online Je-S form. Some points to note are:

Research Organisation Reference: is for any reference number that your research organisation might have assigned to your application for their own administrative purposes.

Duration the maximum permitted for a development grant under this scheme is 2 years.

Resources Required for Project: Further to the information provided in section 5 of the MRC Handbook for Applicants and Grant-holders:

All costs incurred by low- and middle-income country investigators should be entered as ‘Exceptions’ and will be reimbursed at 100% if funded.

Institutions based in low- or middle-income countries can claim indirect costs at a maximum of 20% of their direct costs. If your actual indirect costs are less than 20% of the direct costs, you should only claim the actual costs. The funders reserve the right to check indirect costs rates during the audit of a funded project.

You do not need to obtain additional approval from an MRC Programme Manager for the Exceptions costs that you claim; all proposals submitted to this scheme will need to request overseas costs.

Costs incurred by UK institutions will be reimbursed from this scheme at 74% of Full Economic Costings, not 80%. This reflects the different costing regimes of the four funders.

The total budget for a development grant should be in the region of £100k.

As the development grant is a one stage application process, the Je-S form will require a detailed breakdown of your budget. We therefore strongly recommend that development grant applicants access and complete the financial sections of the Je-S form well in advance of the deadline.

Your Case for Support is a document including your scientific proposal, details of the research environment, people involved and references. Your Case for Support should indicate how your proposal fits the call specification for this scheme.

The Case for Support for a development grant should not exceed four sides of A4 plus one additional page of references (five pages in total). Your Case for Support must be attached to your Je-S online application as a PDF. You will need to prepare the document using a PDF writer such as Adobe Acrobat.

Please use:

Please complete the proposal in English and use British Pounds Sterling for all costs.

Please number all pages of the Case for Support.

Your proposal cannot be supplemented with further information after the submission deadline.

If you plan to include unpublished data it must be included in the Case for Support. Manuscripts in press or submitted to journals should not be included.

When completing the Case for Support please consider that the assessment committee will have a copy of your Je-S proposal form which contains, amongst other information, the Objectives, Summary and Impact Summary. You therefore do not need to repeat detail which is already contained in those sections.

Full title of the project (no more than 150 characters)

In which country(ies) will the project take place

Duration in months

Total amount requested from this funding scheme

Principal research question to be addressed

The development grant is intended to allow researchers to obtain information needed in order to write a credible, competitive, well-informed full-scale research project proposal once their development grant has been completed.

In your development grant project description you should therefore provide specific information about what gaps in your knowledge your development grant will address as well as providing the wider context of how you would use that information to shape a larger research project and why the topic of that larger scale project would be important.

It would be an asset if you can demonstrate that the information generated by your development grant would in itself be of use and needed by policy-makers and other stakeholders as well as informing your own future research plans. I.e. would the data be useful independently of whether or not it contributes to the development of a full-scale project?

Development grant holders will not be automatically awarded funds for a full scale research project upon completion of their development grant. If the Joint Health Systems Research Initiative is still live by that point, they could submit an outline proposal to the full-scale research project route in open competition with all other applicants. If the Initiative is not live anymore, you would need to investigate other potential funding sources either with the four funders for the current joint initiative or elsewhere.

Please describe your development grant plans, ensuring that you cover the following points.

3. Importance: why is this research needed now and in this proposed location?

Please consider issues such as burden of disease and priority for the relevant local, regional and national health services.

4. Research Impact

Describe how you have already, or intend to progress as part of this development grant, the appropriate links with relevant stakeholders and policy-makers to ensure the widest possible use of your research findings? The information provided here should summarise the key points detailed in B6 – your Pathways to Impact statement.

5. Research Project Team

How does the team of investigators incorporate the range of discipline and experience necessary to carry out the study?

How can the host institution demonstrate that it has the facilities and resources available to manage the study?

6. Ethics

Please describe the ethical review and research governance arrangements that would apply to the proposed.

7. Financial Information

Are other funding partners involved? Who are the partners and what is the status of the discussions?

In addition to the costings you have provided on Je-S, please provide a breakdown of the funding request per institution using the below table.

Organisation name

Total project costs (GBP)

Total cost requested from this scheme (GBP)*

* UK institution costs are calculated at 74% of the Full Economic Costs. Costs incurred outside of the UK are ‘Exceptions’ and can be claimed at 100%.

8. Proposal history

Has an application for funding for this project been submitted previously to DFID, ESRC, MRC, the Wellcome Trust or another funding organisation?

If so, please indicate the status of the previous application.

See section 4.2.3 of the MRC Applicants’ Handbook.

Please submit a maximum of 3 pages per investigator: 2 pages CV and 1 page publication list.

Please compile all of the documents into one PDF file and include the documents in the same order as the investigators are listed on your Je-S application form. Each publication list should immediately follow its corresponding CV.

Please include letters of support from any organisations whose involvement is crucial to you having access the study target populations, for instance the local health department.

You do not need to include letters of support from all research organisations involved in your project.

See section 4.2.4 of the MRC Applicants’ Handbook. For a development grant you should:

See section 4.2.6 of the MRC Applicants’ Handbook.

General information on the MRC’s approach to peer review is provided in the MRC Reviewers Handbook: http://www.mrc.ac.uk/Utilities/Documentrecord/index.htm?d=MRC003184

The assessment panel for this scheme will consider whether applications are of world-class standard (being intellectually innovative, well-focused and methodologically sounds). They will consider whether the development grant design is likely to provide answers to important gaps in knowledge.

Peer reviewers will be asked to comment on the following criteria in assessing the outline proposals:

Research agenda:

Is there a real need for this research in the proposed location?

Is the research topic important and appropriate?

Is evidence on this topic needed by policy-makers and other stakeholders beyond the academic community?

Need for a development grant

Will the development grant provide knowledge that is necessary to inform a future larger scale study?

Project plans:

Is the proposed development grant study feasible?

Is the proposed development grant study innovative, internationally competitive, and methodologically sound?

Project team

Are the credentials of the investigators and host institutions appropriate to deliver the project?

Is there an understanding of and sufficient involvement of the local research context and decision-makers?

Does the proposed team of investigators possess the necessary range of expertise and experience to successfully carry out the proposed study?

Research impact:

Does the project have realistic potential to improve health outcomes?

Is there clarity as to how, and by whom, the research findings will be used?

Does the application demonstrate that there is demand for the research from policy-makers and other stakeholders beyond the academic community?

Ethics:

Data Management Plans:

Does the applicant have (or are likely to have) a sound plan for managing the research data funded through the award, taking into account:

– The types, scale and complexity of data being (or to be) managed

– The likely long-term value for further research including by data share

– The anticipated information security and ethics requirements

Value for money:

Is the budget appropriate and reasonable for the proposed programme of work?

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