Preparation


 How to prepare an application for research funding

Where do I begin?

Preparing a research application involves so much more than simply writing a proposal. You must consider funders’ rules, your eligibility for the call, the resources you will need, your budget, any ethical or data management implications for the project, and a timeframe for the application. Good planning will pay off once the grant is up and running, and so you must ensure you have thought through your plan in detail, and involved the right people during the preparation stage.

Before starting, you must read the call guidance carefully to ensure your proposal fits with the scheme and that the costs you wish to include are eligible. Our Research Development Managers can assist with advising on eligibility, offering one-to-one guidance for researchers seeking out appropriate funding opportunities.

Once you have determined that you are eligible, and that the scheme in question fits your research well, you’ll need to contact your Research Services Officer (RSO) for guidance on how to proceed.

 

Who is my RSO?

Kathryn Morleykathryn.morley@rhul.ac.uksupporting Sciences (UK based funders and projects)

Judyta Golding - judyta.golding@rhul.ac.uk, supporting Arts & Humanities and MEL (UK based funders and projects), and studentship applications to all funders

Eliza Bailey eliza.bailey@rhul.ac.uk, supporting international applications and projects (all schools)

 

Want to get started on your proposal? Read our Costing and Pricing Policy and follow these steps:

Your RSO will...

Give advice about cost eligibility and funder requirements
Cost and price the project using pfact costing tool
Help prepare consortium budget templates
Seek internal approvals
Check final budgets

Contact Research & Innovation

Read our Costing and Pricing Policy

Consider your application timeline

How long will the application process take?

Preparing a competitive and high quality research proposal takes time, usually several months. Here is a standard timeline for a grant application:

 

Please contact your RSO as soon as you start you grant application. The sooner we know about the plans, the better - this will allow us to give more targeted support for the development of your proposal. We endeavour to get back to you within 2-3 working days.

Planning and finalising the grant budget usually involves several iterations to ensure that the resource request is appropriate, in line with the project activities and compliant with the funder guidance. The RSO will work closely with you on all aspects of budget preparation.

If your grant application includes equipment, or has complex requirements, you must contact us at earliest possible point so that we can ensure appropriate support for your project.

Read our Costing and Pricing policy for information about internal timelines for costings and approvals.

 

Plan your budget

The budget is a key component of your research project enabling you to implement the activities set out in your project plan. It is important to take time to plan your budget carefully to ensure that it appropriately supports the delivery of your research proposal.

Try to be as realistic a so you can about your resource needs. Do not exaggerate the costs but don’t undercost either. You cannot increase the budget later on.

Always check the funder guidance to ensure that the request is eligible and fits with the requirements of the scheme. Funders and schemes vary in the budget limits and what they reimbursed. Consult your Research Services Officer if unsure about what can be requested.

Top Tip: Choose a realistic starting date by finding out about the length of the review process, and factoring in the time required to recruit new staff

What can I include in my budget?

Your RSO will confirm what resources can be requested, depending on the nature of the funding call. Generally funder will support some of the following:

  • Staff Time - Staff costs are often the largest element in your budget. Start by considering how much time you will need to dedicate to the project, who else you will need to include (e.g. Co-Investigators or Technicians), and the levels of expertise required. Staff costs will be calculated  by your RSO to ensure they are correct and take into account inflation, employers costs etc.
  • Research Assistance - Will you be hiring a PDRA in your project? You will need to the start date, duration of the contract and the grade you were planning to hire them at. You may also need to factor in recruitment costs. Please bear in mind that you won’t be able to increase the budget for the PDRA salary at a later stage so it is important to plan this carefully.
  • Equipment - Please contact R&I at the earliest possible point if you are planning to include equipment in your grant application. Contact the Procurement Team to make sure you are also aware of the procurement timelines and processes in purchasing equipment.
  • Travel - You may also need to factor in travel and subsistence costs, in which case you will need to consult the college's Travel, Subsistence and Personal Expenses Policy.
  • Consumables - These costs might include consumables, access charges and minor equipment (< £10,000). 
  • Dissemination Costs - These costs might include costs of a conference, workshop or seminar (e.g. room hire, catering, travel and subsistence for speakers etc). You may also want to include costs for publicity materials or a website and, where eligible, publication costs should be included to cover open access charges.
  • Estates, Indirects & Infrastructure Technicians (lab-based departments only) - These form part of the FEC costs. They are a ‘cost’ on all projects, but whether or not they can be charged, or the rate at which they can be charged, will differ by funder. Please refer to R&I for advice on FEC reimbursement rate.

 

Understand FEC methodology

All UK universities are required to use FEC (full economic costing) methodology in costing research grant applications. This is a standardised costing metho9dology for research. FEC estimates the full cost of undertaking the research project – how much it costs the institution.

The fec amount not always the same as the price of a research project. The price is the amount the funder will pay Many funders do not pay the full fec cost of a project and pricing policies between funder types and funding schemes vary.

FEC cost categories are divided into three types:

Directly Incurred Costs  - project specific costs which arise as a direct consequence of the project (ie would not incur otherwise), charged as the actual cash value spent and must be supported by an audit record, for example an invoice

Directly Allocated Costs  - costs estimated at project level and shared by other activities. These are charged to the grant as estimates and would incur regardless of the project taking place.

Indirect Costs - estimated costs of central and distributed services shared by other activities.

Cost examples in each category include:

DIRECTLY INCURRED
  • Staff employed including postdoctoral researchers and administrators
  • Travel including conference attendance meetings and workshops
  • Consumables and software licences
  • Equipment
DIRECTLY ALLOCATED
  • Investigator time
  • Estates, facilities, utilities
  • Infrastructure technicians (lab based departments)
INDIRECTS
  • Finance
  • Human resources
  • Library

 

Costing your project

Information needed by Research Services

When you first contact Research Services for a costing, your Research Services Officer will ask you to provide the following in order to ensure all costs relating to the project are budgeted correctly:

Funder
Call and link
Start date and duration
Deadline
Title of Project
Budget Request
1. Staff

Please list the RHUL staff involved and the time they will spend on the project. Please include information about the PI and Co-I time even if this can’t be included as a cost in the grant.

  • PI
  • CoI (s)
  • Post-doctoral researcher
  • Other staff (eg technician, administrator, any casual staff)
2. Other costs Please list any travel, consumables or other costs requested from the funder
3. Equipment over £10,000
Additional resources required For example office space, lab or IT facilities, bid requires College financial contribution
Other university or industry/charity applicants Yes / No
Data management: Will your project produce any digital outputs? Yes / No