Funding

Assessment criteria

The assessment of any research proposal is based on three core criteria:

  1. Importance: how important are the questions, or gaps in knowledge, that are being addressed?
  2. Scientific potential: what are the prospects for good scientific progress?
  3. Resources requested: are the funds requested essential for the work, and do the importance and scientific potential justify funding on the scale requested? Does the proposal represent good value for money?

We also ask reviewers to consider other aspects of the research, including the potential impact and pathways to achieving this, ethical issues, appropriate use of animals and/or human tissue, methodology and experimental design and data management plans.

Each of the different funding schemes we operate will have a set of more detailed criteria and you should read and consider the set for the scheme you are reviewing for. The scheme will be specified within the proposal form. 

Research Grant assessment criteria

Importance

  • How important are the research questions, or gaps in knowledge, that would be addressed?
  • Is the level of innovation likely to lead to significant new understanding?

Scientific potential

 

 

Research quality

  • What are the prospects for good scientific progress?
  • How convincing and coherent is the management strategy proposed?
  • Robust methodology and experimental design should be at the centre of any proposal to aid reproducibility of research findings. Has the applicant clearly set out and justified the following:
    • Measures for avoidance of bias (eg blinding, randomisation)
    • Number of experimental and control groups and sample size per group
    • How the sample size was calculated, showing power calculations and including justification of effect size
    • Overview of the planned statistical analyses in relation to the primary outcomes to be assessed
    • Frequency of measurements/interventions to be used
    • Circumstances in which power calculations are not appropriate to determine sample size
  • How well have project risks been identified, and will they be mitigated?

Research environment and people

  • How suitable is the investigator group? Please comment on track record(s) of the individual(s) in their fields and whether they are best placed to deliver the proposed research. Reviewers should take account of preprints in considering applications, noting the content of the papers, not where they, or subsequent peer reviewed papers, are published.
  • How suitable is the environment where the proposed research will take place? Please comment on the level of commitment of the host research organisation to supporting the proposed research and whether appropriate facilities will be available to the researchers.

Impact

  • What is the potential economic and societal impact of the proposed research? Please comment on:
    • identification of realistic potential improvements to human or population health
    • contribution to relieving disease/disability burden and/or improving quality of life
    • identification of potential impacts of research and plans to deliver these (in the Pathways to Impact statement)

Ethics

  • Are there any ethical and/or research governance issues? Please comment on:
    • whether the proposed research is ethically acceptable
    • any ethical issues that need separate consideration
    • appropriateness of ethical review and research governance considerations
    • any potential adverse consequences for humans, animals or the environment and whether these risks have been addressed satisfactorily in the proposal

Data management plan

  • Does the data management plan indicate whether the applicants have (or are likely to have) a sound plan for managing the research data funded through the award, taking account:
    • the types, scale and complexity of data being (or to be) managed
    • the likely long-term value for further research including by sharing data
    • the anticipated information security and ethics requirements

MRC Industrial Collaboration Awards (MICA)

Any research proposal involving a collaboration with one or more industrial partners (contributing either in cash or in kind) is handled by MRC as a MICA. All MICA proposals will be identifiable to reviewers as they will have the word ‘MICA’ at the start of the project title.

  • If the proposal has been identified as a MICA, it will also need to convince the relevant research board or funding panel that:
    • the planned research could or would not be undertaken in the absence of the requested funding, or that it could not be undertaken to the quality level or timescale proposed
    • the collaboration or partnership is consistent with the aims and delivery of the project and MRC funding rules and requirements for academic-industry collaborations  
    • potential conflicts of interest between the parties are acceptable and are being, or would be, appropriately managed

Research involving cohort resources

Any research proposal involving a cohort.

  • What new health research questions or hypotheses it will be possible to answer over the next five to ten years using the cohort resource?
  • Why can this science be addressed using this cohort above other resources?
  • What does this cohort offer that other cohorts do not (nationally and internationally) and how does it relate to other relevant cohorts? Applicants should either list the assets (measures, specimens, population group) as an Annex or reference the cohort website.
  • What are the plans for establishing the cohort as a resource – how is it/will it be used by the wider research community?

Resources requested

  • Are the funds requested essential for the work and justified by the importance and scientific potential of the research?
  • Is the applicants’ stated time commitment to the work appropriate and sufficient?
  • Does the proposal demonstrate value for money in terms of the resources requested?
  • Is any animal use fully justified in terms of need, species, number, conformance to guidelines?

Research involving cohort resources

  • Applicants must be clear which costs relate to de novo data collection, analysis of new data and/or maintenance or use of existing data

New Investigator Research Grant (NIRG) assessment criteria

Importance

  • How important are the research questions, or gaps in knowledge, that would be addressed?
  • Is the level of innovation likely to lead to significant new understanding?

Scientific potential

Research quality

  • What are the prospects for good scientific progress?
  • How convincing and coherent is the management strategy proposed?
  • Robust methodology and experimental design should be at the centre of any proposal to aid reproducibility of research findings. Has the applicant clearly set out and justified the following:
    • Measures for avoidance of bias (eg blinding, randomisation)
    • Number of experimental and control groups and sample size per group
    • How the sample size was calculated, showing power calculations and including justification of effect size
    • Overview of the planned statistical analyses in relation to the primary outcomes to be assessed
    • Frequency of measurements/interventions to be used
    • Circumstances in which power calculations are not appropriate to determine sample size
  • How well have project risks been identified, and will they be mitigated?

Research Environment and People

  • Is the applicant capable of becoming an independent Principal Investigator and is now ready to take the next step towards that goal (www.mrc.ac.uk/skills-careers/skills-needed-to-win-support/)? Reviewers should take account of preprints in considering applications, noting the content of the papers, not where they, or subsequent peer reviewed papers, are published.
  • Has the applicant demonstrated that they will direct the proposed research and be actively engaged in carrying it through, taking into account research experience, supervisory experience and publications?
  • Does the individual have the potential to progress to securing further grant support (eg MRC research grant funding) at the end of this award? Ie do they have clear research plans that are distinct from their current group / leader? Do they cite outputs from their research experience to date to demonstrate their readiness to develop?
  • Is the host research organisation providing an appropriate career structure and support to facilitate the transition to independence? This should be detailed in a letter of support from the research organisation.
  • Are the collaborators well-chosen?

Impact

  • What is the potential economic and societal impact of the proposed research? Please comment on:
    • identification of realistic potential improvements to human or population health
    • contribution to relieving disease/disability burden and/or improving quality of life
    • identification of potential impacts of research and plans to deliver these (in the Pathways to Impact statement)

Ethics

  • Are there any ethical and/or research governance issues? Please comment on:
    • whether the proposed research is ethically acceptable
    • any ethical issues that need separate consideration
    • appropriateness of ethical review and research governance considerations
    • any potential adverse consequences for humans, animals or the environment and whether these risks have been addressed satisfactorily in the proposal

Data Management Plan

  • Does the data management plan indicate whether the applicants have (or are likely to have) a sound plan for managing the research data funded through the award, taking account:
    • the types, scale and complexity of data being (or to be) managed
    • the likely long-term value for further research including by sharing data
    • the anticipated information security and ethics requirements

MRC Industrial Collaboration Awards (MICA)

Any research proposal involving a collaboration with one or more industrial partners (contributing either in cash or in kind) is handled by MRC as a MICA. All MICA proposals will be identifiable to reviewers as they will have the word ‘MICA’ at the start of the project title.

  • If the proposal has been identified as a MICA, it will also need to convince the relevant research board or funding panel that:
    • the planned research could or would not be undertaken in the absence of the requested funding, or that it could not be undertaken to the quality level or timescale proposed
    • the collaboration or partnership is consistent with the aims and delivery of the project and MRC funding rules and requirements for academic-industry collaborations  
    • potential conflicts of interest between the parties are acceptable and are being, or would be, appropriately managed

Research involving cohort resources

Any research proposal involving a cohort.

  • What new health research questions or hypotheses it will be possible to answer over the next five to ten years using the cohort resource?
  • Why can this science be addressed using this cohort above other resources?
  • What does this cohort offer that other cohorts do not (nationally and internationally) and how does it relate to other relevant cohorts? Applicants should either list the assets (measures, specimens, population group) as an Annex or reference the cohort website.
  • What are the plans for establishing the cohort as a resource – how is it/will it be used by the wider research community?

Resources requested

  • Are the funds requested essential for the work and justified by the importance and scientific potential of the research?
  • Is the applicant’s stated time commitment to the work appropriate and sufficient?
  • Does the proposal demonstrate value for money in terms of the resources requested?
  • Is any animal use fully justified in terms of need, species, number, conformance to guidelines? 

Research involving cohort resources

  • Applicants must be clear which costs relate to de novo data collection, analysis of new data and/or maintenance or use of existing data

Programme Grant assessment criteria

Importance

  • How important are the research questions, or gaps in knowledge, that would be addressed?
  • Is the proposed work a “programme”, ie a coordinated and coherent group of related projects to answer an inter-related set of questions?
  • Does the work require long-term and extensive support?

Scientific potential

Research Quality

  • What are the prospects for good scientific progress? 
  • How convincing and coherent is the management strategy proposed?
  • Robust methodology and experimental design should be at the centre of any proposal to aid reproducibility of research findings. Has the applicant clearly set out and justified the following:
    • Measures for avoidance of bias (eg blinding, randomisation)
    • Number of experimental and control groups and sample size per group
    • How the sample size was calculated, showing power calculations and including justification of effect size
    • Overview of the planned statistical analyses in relation to the primary outcomes to be assessed
    • Frequency of measurements/interventions to be used
    • Circumstances in which power calculations are not appropriate to determine sample size
  • How well have project risks been identified, and will they be mitigated?

Research Environment and People

  • From the applicant’s track record of research, do they have the potential to successfully manage and deliver a major research programme? 
  • What is the track record and standing in the field of the named applicants? Reviewers should take account of preprints in considering applications, noting the content of the papers, not where they, or subsequent peer reviewed papers, are published
  • How appropriate is the expertise of the applicants to the proposed work?
  • Is the proposed environment(s) suitable and does it have the variety of expertise and disciplines to support a programme?
  • Has the host institution(s) demonstrated a clear commitment to the proposed programme for the duration of the grant?
  • Are any collaborators well chosen?
  • Does the environment provide appropriate opportunities for training and career development of personnel supported on the grant?
  • Are there any dependencies on other organisations or funding of which the MRC should be made aware?

Impact

  • What is the potential economic and societal impact of the proposed research? Please comment on:
    • identification of realistic potential improvements to human or population health
    • contribution to relieving disease/disability burden and/or improving quality of life
    • identification of potential impacts of research and plans to deliver these (in the Pathways to Impact statement)

Ethics

  • Are there any ethical and/or research governance issues? Please comment on:
    • whether the proposed research is ethically acceptable
    • any ethical issues that need separate consideration
    • appropriateness of ethical review and research governance considerations
    • any potential adverse consequences for humans, animals or the environment and whether these risks have been addressed satisfactorily in the proposal

Data Management Plan

  • Does the data management plan indicate whether the applicants have (or are likely to have) a sound plan for managing the research data funded through the award, taking account:
    • the types, scale and complexity of data being (or to be) managed
    • the likely long-term value for further research including by sharing data
    • the anticipated information security and ethics requirements.

MRC Industrial Collaboration Awards (MICA)

Any research proposal involving a collaboration with one or more industrial partners (contributing either in cash or in kind) is handled by MRC as a MICA. All MICA proposals will be identifiable to reviewers as they will have the word ‘MICA’ at the start of the project title.

  • If the proposal has been identified as a MICA, it will also need to convince the relevant research board or funding panel that:
    • the planned research could or would not be undertaken in the absence of the requested funding, or that it could not be undertaken to the quality level or timescale proposed
    • the collaboration or partnership is consistent with the aims and delivery of the project and MRC funding rules and requirements for academic-industry collaborations  
    • potential conflicts of interest between the parties are acceptable and are being, or would be, appropriately managed

Research involving cohort resources

Any research proposal involving a cohort.

  • What new health research questions or hypotheses it will be possible to answer over the next five to ten years using the cohort resource?
  • Why can this science be addressed using this cohort above other resources?
  • What does this cohort offer that other cohorts do not (nationally and internationally) and how does it relate to other relevant cohorts? Applicants should either list the assets (measures, specimens, population group) as an Annex or reference the cohort website.
  • What are the plans for establishing the cohort as a resource – how is it/will it be used by the wider research community?

Resources requested

  • Are the funds requested essential for the work and justified by the importance and scientific potential of the research?
  • Is the applicants’ stated time commitment to the work appropriate and sufficient?
  • Where the MRC is being asked to fund investigator salaries, are the requests in each case reasonable?
  • Does the proposal demonstrate value for money in terms of the resources requested?
  • Is any animal use fully justified in terms of need, species, number, conformance to guidelines? 

Research involving cohort resources

  • Applicants must be clear which costs relate to de novo data collection, analysis of new data and/or maintenance or use of existing data

Partnership Grant assessment criteria

Importance

  • How important are the objectives the partnership plans to address?
  • Have the applicants demonstrated the partnership format is right for activities they propose and for the scientific field? Will the partnership provide added value to the research?
  • How original is the proposal? Are there similar partnerships in the UK or elsewhere?
  • What impact will this Partnership grant funding have on current or future scientific delivery and on scientific strategy?

Scientific potential

Research Quality

  • What is the potential of this approach to advance the scientific area?
  • Are the aims and objectives realistic within the timeframe and with the resources proposed?
  • How convincing and coherent is the management strategy proposed?
  • What is the longer-term outlook beyond the funded period of the partnership?
  • Robust methodology and experimental design should be at the centre of any proposal to aid reproducibility of research findings. Has the applicant clearly set out and justified the following:
    • Measures for avoidance of bias (eg blinding, randomisation)
    • Number of experimental and control groups and sample size per group
    • How the sample size was calculated, showing power calculations and including justification of effect size
    • Overview of the planned statistical analyses in relation to the primary outcomes to be assessed
    • Frequency of measurements/interventions to be used
    • Circumstances in which power calculations are not appropriate to determine sample size
  • How well have project risks been identified, and will they be mitigated?

Research Environment and People

  • How will the researchers involved in the partnership deliver the proposed work? Specifically:
    • Are the co-investigators and/or collaborators well chosen?
    • Does the quality and productivity of their recent work suggest that they will be likely to successfully deliver the proposed objectives? Reviewers should take account of preprints in considering applications, noting the content of the papers, not where they, or subsequent peer reviewed papers, are published
    • What skills and expertise do the Investigators have to promise success in the proposed approaches?
  • Has the partnership environment been well described?
  • Has the host RO(s) demonstrated commitment to supporting the proposed partnership, for example by reducing or waiving co-investigator salary and associated estates costs?
  • If the proposal is for shared equipment or expertise, have the applicants described where this will be sited and how it will be supported by the host RO(s)? Does the management strategy ensure equitable access to any equipment or staff that will be shared between collaborators?
  • Does the partnership provide opportunities for the training and career development of personnel working in the partnership?
  • If the proposal involves a request for studentships:
    • Will the studentships provide a unique training experience which could not be supported by existing MRC studentship support for example Doctoral Training Grant funding?
    • Will the management strategy ensure high standards of supervision, mentoring and support for students?
    • Do all studentships requested meet MRC’s research training objectives and expectations (see RCUK Statement of Expectations for Doctoral Training)?

Impact

  • What is the potential economic and societal impact of the proposed research? Please comment on
    • identification of realistic potential improvements to human or population health
    • contribution to relieving disease/disability burden and/or improving quality of life
    • identification of potential impacts of research and plans to deliver these (in the Pathways to Impact statement)

Ethics

  • Are there any ethical and/or research governance issues? Please comment on:
    • whether the proposed research is ethically acceptable
    • any ethical issues that need separate consideration
    • appropriateness of ethical review and research governance considerations
    • any potential adverse consequences for humans, animals or the environment and whether these risks have been addressed satisfactorily in the proposal.

Data Management Plan

  • Does the data management plan indicate whether the applicants have (or are likely to have) a sound plan for managing the research data funded through the award, taking account:
    • the types, scale and complexity of data being (or to be) managed
    • the likely long-term value for further research including by sharing data
    • the anticipated information security and ethics requirements.

Research involving cohort resources

Any research proposal involving a cohort.

  • What new health research questions or hypotheses it will be possible to answer over the next five to ten years using the cohort resource?
  • Why can this science be addressed using this cohort above other resources?
  • What does this cohort offer that other cohorts do not (nationally and internationally) and how does it relate to other relevant cohorts? Applicants should either list the assets (measures, specimens, population group) as an Annex or reference the cohort website.
  • What are the plans for establishing the cohort as a resource – how is it/will it be used by the wider research community?

Resources requested

  • Where the MRC is being asked to fund investigator salaries are the requests in each case reasonable and do they reflect the level of intellectual contribution?
  • Do contributions from the host RO(s) or from other sources enhance the value for money of the proposal?

Research involving cohort resources

  • Applicants must be clear which costs relate to de novo data collection, analysis of new data and/or maintenance or use of existing data

Developmental Pathways Funding Scheme (DPFS) assessment criteria

Importance

Need and solution

  • Does the identified need exist?
  • If the need is not significant now, will it become so in the future?
  • Is the need met or unmet? If unmet, will it likely be unmet at the time that the proposed solution is in place?
  • Would meeting this need significantly reduce disease burden and/or provide a valuable commercial opportunity and/or alleviate an important development bottleneck?
  • Is the proposed solution reasonable?
  • Could the proposed solution or components thereof meet other significant needs?

Competitiveness

  • Has the applicant identified the key competing solutions and their status or are you aware of other similar or complementary research underway elsewhere?
  • Has the applicant identified the key competitive advantages of their proposed solution?
  • How likely is it that the proposed solution, if achieved, would be widely adopted?

Scientific potential

Rationale

  • Is there a good medical/scientific rationale for the project?
  • Is there a reasonable body of evidence to support the proposed rationale?

Objective and approach

  • Is the proposal non-duplicative of R&D efforts taking place in industry?
  • Is the proposed approach an effective way of meeting the plan’s objectives and is it based on a good scientific rationale?
  • How innovative is the plan, or is it a tried and tested approach?
  • Use of laboratory animals - where appropriate:
    • Could the proposed research work be carried out using approaches or techniques that avoid the use of animals?
    • Have the applicants fully justified the use of animals and the proposed species?
    • Is the number of animals appropriate?
    • Where the proposed research involves the use of primates – does the establishment comply with the NC3Rs’ ‘Guidelines on primate accommodation, care and use’ 2007?
  • If relevant, is the project appropriately statistically powered?
  • Are the proposed plans for disseminating the results of the research appropriate and adequate?

Project plan

  • Is the project plan sufficient in comparison to the complexity of the project?
  • Does the plan propose reasonable go/no-go milestones? Are the milestone timings appropriate and are the success criteria necessary and sufficient to judge progression?
  • Are the proposed probabilities of milestones being met reasonable?
  • Collaboration/outsourcing - where appropriate:
    • Do the contributions made by the collaborating/parties contracted to undertake the outsourced work enable the project to be delivered or enable it to be delivered to the required quality or within the required time?
    • Would the proposed work be undertaken or undertaken to the required quality or within the required time in the absence of the requested funding?
    • Are potential conflicts of interest between the parties acceptable and are they being appropriately managed?

Project and risk management

  • Do the applicants have, or likely will have, the necessary project management experience to deliver the plan?
  • Has the individual or group established a high quality track record in the field?
  • Where the proposal embarks on work in a field new to the applicants, or is a first funding proposal, is there a firm foundation to take the work forward?
  • How well does the work fit with other relevant research pursued by the applicants?
  • Have the applicants identified the key project risks and reasonably judged their likelihood of occurrence and severity of impact?
  • Is the proposed risk management approach appropriate?

Data management plan

  • Does the data management plan indicate whether the applicants have (or are likely to have) a sound plan for managing the research data funded through the award, taking account:
    • the types, scale and complexity of data being (or to be) managed
    • the likely long-term value for further research including by sharing data
    • the anticipated information security and ethics requirements

Impact

  • What is the potential economic and societal impact of the proposed research, including:
    • Identification of realistic potential improvements to human or population health
    • Contribution to relieving disease/disability burden and/or improving quality of life
    • Identification of potential impacts of research and plans to deliver these

MRC Industrial Collaboration Awards (MICA)

Any research proposal involving a collaboration with one or more industrial partners (contributing either in cash or in kind) is handled by MRC as a MICA. All MICA proposals will be identifiable to reviewers as they will have the word ‘MICA’ at the start of the project title.

  • If the proposal has been identified as a MICA, it will also need to convince the relevant research board or funding panel that:
    • the planned research could or would not be undertaken in the absence of the requested funding, or that it could not be undertaken to the quality level or timescale proposed
    • the collaboration or partnership is consistent with the aims and delivery of the project and MRC funding rules and requirements for academic-industry collaborations  
    • potential conflicts of interest between the parties are acceptable and are being, or would be, appropriately managed

Resources requested

Resource requirements and environment

  • Has the team identified and secured reasonable access to necessary resources/skills? 
  • For Principal Investigators and Project Managers, is the requested time consistent with their proposed involvement; necessary or sufficient for the successful management of the research; and a realistic expectation of the time they could make available?
  • Are the number and skills/experience of requested staff appropriate for the work described?
  • Is the budget realistic for the scale and complexity of the project?
  • Are project costs that will be met by sources other than the MRC clearly identified?
  • Have the applicants set out a clear and reasonable case for the requested levels of staffing and overall resources?
  • Has the host Research Organisation demonstrated a commitment to supporting the work?
  • Does the project make good use of available clinical infrastructure (BRC/Us, CRFs, patient cohorts) where appropriate?
  • Does the proposal make appropriate use of available core DPFS portfolio resources?
  • Taking into account the expected benefits of the work proposed and the level of resources requested, does the proposal promise good value for money?

Pre-doctoral Fellowship assessment criteria

Eg Clinical Research Training Fellowship (CRTF)

Importance

  • Comment on the importance of the research, including:
    • Strength of medical or scientific case
    • Level of innovation and whether this is likely to lead to significant new understanding

Scientific potential

Applicant

  • Comment on the applicant, considering their:
    • Track record and achievements to date. Reviewers should take account of preprints in considering applications, noting the content of the papers, not where they, or subsequent peer reviewed papers, are published
    • Expertise and skill set
    • Current research standing
    • Ability to carry out the proposed work; does the applicant have adequate research experience to undertake this work?
    • Potential for the future; is the applicant committed to a career in academic medicine?
  • Is the applicant at the appropriate level for this fellowship?
  • Do you think the applicant has played a significant role in the design of the project and the writing of the research proposal?

Project and Training

  • Robust methodology and experimental design should be at the centre of any proposal to aid reproducibility of research findings. Has the applicant clearly set out and justified the following:
    • Measures for avoidance of bias (eg blinding, randomisation)
    • Number of experimental and control groups and sample size per group
    • How the sample size was calculated, showing power calculations and including justification of effect size
    • Overview of the planned statistical analyses in relation to the primary outcomes to be assessed
    • Frequency of measurements/interventions to be used
    • Circumstances in which power calculations are not appropriate to determine sample size
  • Comment on the value of the proposed training plans including the proposed placements or collaborations

Environment

  • Comment on the suitability of the research centre where the proposed Fellowship is to be based, including:
    • Scientific impact in the field
    • Appropriateness for the work proposed
    • Level of commitment from supervisors, mentors and host institution
    • Opportunities for training and career development actively identified and supported

Ethics

  • Is the proposed research ethically acceptable?
  • Are there any ethical issues that need separate consideration?
  • Are the ethical review and research governance arrangements appropriate?
  • Are there any potential adverse consequences for humans, animals or the environment and are these risks addressed satisfactorily in the proposal?

Data management plan

  • Does the data management plan indicate whether the applicants 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 sharing data
    • the anticipated information security and ethics requirements?

Impact

  • What is the potential economic and societal impact of the proposed research? Please comment on:
    • identification of realistic potential improvements to human or population health
    • contribution to relieving disease/disability burden and/or improving quality of life
    • identification of potential impacts of research and plans to deliver these (in the Pathways to Impact statement)

MRC Industrial Collaboration Awards (MICA)

Any research proposal involving a collaboration with one or more industrial partners (contributing either in cash or in kind) is handled by MRC as a MICA. All MICA proposals will be identifiable to reviewers as they will have the word ‘MICA’ at the start of the project title.

  • If the proposal has been identified as a MICA, it will also need to convince the relevant research board or funding panel that:
    • the planned research could or would not be undertaken in the absence of the requested funding, or that it could not be undertaken to the quality level or timescale proposed
    • the collaboration or partnership is consistent with the aims and delivery of the project and MRC funding rules and requirements for academic-industry collaborations  
    • potential conflicts of interest between the parties are acceptable and are being, or would be, appropriately managed

Research involving cohort resources

Any research proposal involving a cohort.

  • What new health research questions or hypotheses it will be possible to answer over the next five to ten years using the cohort resource?
  • Why can this science be addressed using this cohort above other resources?
  • What does this cohort offer that other cohorts do not (nationally and internationally) and how does it relate to other relevant cohorts? Applicants should either list the assets (measures, specimens, population group) as an Annex or reference the cohort website.
  • What are the plans for establishing the cohort as a resource – how is it/will it be used by the wider research community?

Resources requested

  • Are the funds requested essential and justified by the importance and scientific potential of the research? Pre-doctoral applicants are not eligible for FEC. The Research Training Support Grant (up to £20,000 per annum) should be fully justified by the applicant.
  • Does the proposal demonstrate value for money in terms of the resources requested?
  • Is any animal use fully justified in terms of need, species, number, conformance to guidelines?

Research involving cohort resources

  • Applicants must be clear which costs relate to de novo data collection, analysis of new data and/or maintenance or use of existing data

Post-doctoral Fellowship assessment criteria

Eg Skills Development Fellowship, Career Development Award (CDA), Clinician Scientist Fellowship (CSF), Senior Non-Clinical Fellowship (SNCF), Senior Clinical Fellowship (SCF)

Importance

  • Comment on the importance of the research, including:
    • Strength of medical or scientific case
    • Timeliness of the proposals; is it important to pursue this topic now? For example: does the proposal capitalise on a new advance, offering the UK the possibility of an international lead; does it relate to a new or developing healthcare need; does it exploit a “window of opportunity”, eg for the introduction of a new clinical development into practice?
    • Level of innovation and whether this is likely to lead to significant new understanding
  • Is the proposal “high risk, high pay-off”? If so, how?
  • Is the proposal internationally competitive?

Scientific potential

Applicant

  • Comment on the applicant, considering their:
    • Track record and achievements to date. Reviewers should take account of preprints in considering applications, noting the content of the papers, not where they, or subsequent peer reviewed papers, are published
    • Expertise and skill set; how appropriate is the expertise of the applicant to the proposed area of research?
    • Current research standing
    • Ability to carry out the proposed work
    • Potential for the future; doe the applicant have the potential to progress to securing major MRC support or similar support from other funders either during or by the end of the fellowship?
  • Is the applicant at the appropriate level for this fellowship?

Project and training

  • Robust methodology and experimental design should be at the centre of any proposal to aid reproducibility of research findings. Has the applicant clearly set out and justified the following:
    • Measures for avoidance of bias (eg blinding, randomisation)
    • Number of experimental and control groups and sample size per group
    • How the sample size was calculated, showing power calculations and including justification of effect size
    • Overview of the planned statistical analyses in relation to the primary outcomes to be assessed
    • Frequency of measurements/interventions to be used
    • Circumstances in which power calculations are not appropriate to determine sample size
  • Comment on the value of the proposed training plans including the proposed placements or collaborations
  • Has the work already been done or is it being done elsewhere? How persuasive is the case that earlier work needs to be replicated or extended to another system?
  • Is the fellowship applied for, the most appropriate form of support in this case?

Environment

  • Comment on the suitability of the research centre where the proposed Fellowship is to be based, including:
    • Scientific impact in the field
    • Appropriateness for the work proposed
    • Level of commitment from supervisors, mentors and host institution
    • Opportunities for training and career development actively identified and supported

Ethics

  • Is the proposed research ethically acceptable?
  • Are there any ethical issues that need separate consideration?
  • Are the ethical review and research governance arrangements appropriate?
  • Are there any potential adverse consequences for humans, animals or the environment and are these risks addressed satisfactorily in the proposal?

Data management plan

  • Does the data management plan indicate whether the applicants 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 sharing data
    • the anticipated information security and ethics requirements?

Impact

  • What is the potential economic and societal impact of the proposed research? Please comment on:
    • identification of realistic potential improvements to human or population health
    • contribution to relieving disease/disability burden and/or improving quality of life
    • identification of potential impacts of research and plans to deliver these (in the Pathways to Impact statement)

MRC Industrial Collaboration Awards (MICA)

Any research proposal involving a collaboration with one or more industrial partners (contributing either in cash or in kind) is handled by MRC as a MICA. All MICA proposals will be identifiable to reviewers as they will have the word ‘MICA’ at the start of the project title.

  • If the proposal has been identified as a MICA, it will also need to convince the relevant research board or funding panel that:
    • the planned research could or would not be undertaken in the absence of the requested funding, or that it could not be undertaken to the quality level or timescale proposed
    • the collaboration or partnership is consistent with the aims and delivery of the project and MRC funding rules and requirements for academic-industry collaborations  
    • potential conflicts of interest between the parties are acceptable and are being, or would be, appropriately managed

Research involving cohort resources

Any research proposal involving a cohort.

  • What new health research questions or hypotheses it will be possible to answer over the next five to ten years using the cohort resource?
  • Why can this science be addressed using this cohort above other resources?
  • What does this cohort offer that other cohorts do not (nationally and internationally) and how does it relate to other relevant cohorts? Applicants should either list the assets (measures, specimens, population group) as an Annex or reference the cohort website.
  • What are the plans for establishing the cohort as a resource – how is it/will it be used by the wider research community?

Resources requested

  • Are the funds requested essential and justified by the importance and scientific potential of the research?
  • If staff costs are requested, is the time estimated for each requested staff member consistent with their involvement with the project? Is the involvement of the requested staff necessary or sufficient for the successful prosecution and management of the research?
  • Does the proposal demonstrate value for money in terms of the resources requested?
  • Is any animal use fully justified in terms of need, species, number, conformance to guidelines?

Research involving cohort resources

  • Applicants must be clear which costs relate to de novo data collection, analysis of new data and/or maintenance or use of existing data