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Researcher Initiation and Researcher Enhancement Awards for Health and Care 2021

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Grow the seed of an idea or looking to grow as a researcher?

Introduction

In 2021 NIHR Applied Research Collaborations (ARC) Wessex is partnering with Health Education England (HEE) South East to invest in the next generation of researchers, providing an exciting opportunity for nurses, midwives, pharmacists, allied health professionals, social care professionals, other than doctors and dentists. These awards are in addition to the ARC Wessex internship awards.  The HEE South East - ARC Wessex awards are specifically aimed at supporting individuals who are either at the early stage of their research career and considering a pathway that involves research OR alternatively just completing or recently completed their PhD and looking to further develop their research skills and progress an applied health research career. 

The NIHR ARC Wessex strategy focuses on developing the research skills and talents of the ARC Wessex community and making a substantial contribution to fostering a world class research workforce in applied health and care research. Consequently, we have established an ARC Wessex Academy that aims to:

  • Foster growth in applied health and care research capacity and capability across the ARC Wessex region.
  • Be inclusive of different professions and disciplines providing career support activities promoting equity of access to, and relevance of, training at different phases of an academic career.
  • Attract the best investigators from the health and care professions and academic disciplines to produce the next generation of applied health and care researchers.

Award details

There are two types of award, the HEE-ARC Wessex Researcher Initiation and Researcher Enhancement Awards. These awards offer the unique opportunity to undertake an individualised, structured, three to six months’ development plan. With their host ARC Wessex/HEE South East partner, successful individuals will have the opportunity to co-develop a bespoke programme tailored to suit their career development needs and aspirations for getting research done and into practice.

These awards can be undertaken by individuals employed on either a full or part-time basis, but all costs must remain within the maximum funding envelope. 

The Researcher Initiation (RI) awards are intended to introduce individuals working within health or care organisations to research with the aim of helping them to explore what an academic career involves and begin to develop knowledge and skills in research. The RI awards offer an introduction to aspects of applied health research through gaining research experience by observing/visiting/working in a research environment and undertaking study in research in preparation for applying for a Pre-doctoral Fellowship or a Doctoral Research Fellowship. This award may fund up to a maximum of £10,000 including co-funding, to support individuals who: 

  • Can demonstrate enthusiasm for a career that involves research and possess an understanding of the role of research in informing and improving practice.
  • Are looking for an opportunity to get involved in the research process as part of an established team of leading health nd care researchers.
  • Want the opportunity to run a small self-contained project/literature review/analysis etc., that links with their area of practice/research, contributes to one of the ARC Wessex four research themes (Ageing & Dementia, Healthy Communities, Long-term Conditions and Workforce & Health Systems), and will help generate ideas for future research projects.
  • Want to work with ARC Wessex to help us understand the priorities for research and improvement in their area, and build up networks for ongoing collaboration.

The Researcher Enhancement (RE) awards are intended to support individuals working within health or care organisations with the aim of helping them make the step change from doctoral research towards becoming independent early career academics by supporting them to apply for  further funding such as an NIHR Clinical Lecturer fellowship or the NIHR Advanced fellowship (dependent on experience to date) or equivalent career development awards. This RE award may fund up to a maximum of £20,000 including co-funding to support individuals who: 

  • Are soon to be awarded a PhD, or have completed their PhD in the last 4 years but haven’t had the chance to apply for further fundings or to establish themselves as an independent researcher. Applicants must have been awarded their PhD by the time they start their RE award.
  • Have experience in applied health/social care or clinical research and aim to become a future health/social care research leader.
  • Are able to demonstrate high quality outputs from previous research experience and training relative to career stage and background.
  • Are on a trajectory to become an independent health/social care researcher.
  • Can demonstrate they have, or already posses potential to lead a research programme likely to impact on patients/service users, carers, the public and health and/or care services.

 

For further detail related to ARC Wessex, theme research programmes and HEE South East aims see the following websites:

https://www.arc-wx.nihr.ac.uk

https://wessex.hee.nhs.uk/about/

Award Length

Awards will be 6 months maximum (in terms of ARC Wessex support) and may be taken up on a part time basis of between 20% and 50% WTE; however, the maximum ARC Wessex support will still be 6 months regardless of WTE.

Eligibility

The Health Education England (HEE)  South East - Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) Wessex awards are open to nurses, midwives, pharmacists, allied health professionals, social care professionals, other than doctors and dentists, working in the health or care sector in the Wessex region. 

The researcher initiation award

To be eligible for one of these RI awards applicants will need to provide evidence that they:

  1. Have a bachelor degree in health- or social care-related subject with classification 2:2 or above
  2. Hold a substantive full or part time contract with a health or social care organisation or HEI (Higher Education Institution) in the Wessex region including nurses, midwives, pharmacists,nutritionists, dietitians, allied health professionals, social care professionals, other than doctors and dentists.
  3. Have the support of their line manager to undertake the internship.
  4. A keen interest and clear suitability for a future research focused academic career.
  5. Have a named research supervisor (identified by the applicant) who is employed within one of the ARC Wessex partner HEIs. If you are unsure how to approach this please contact us via arcwessex@soton.ac.uk for further advice.
  6. Have had a discussion with an ARC Wessex Research theme member to confirm alignment of project ideas with one of the four ARC Wessex themes. If you are unsure how to approach this please contact us via arcwessex@soton.ac.uk for further advice.
  7. Have the ability to start the programme from January 2022.

Please note: Individuals already in receipt of a research grant/fellowship from elsewhere are not eligible for this award. 

Researcher enhancement award

To be eligible for one of these RE awards applicants will need to provide evidence that they:

  1. Are nurses, midwives, pharmacists, allied health professionals, social care professionals, other than doctors and dentists.
  2. Are soon to be awarded a PhD (as evidenced by Supervisor) or have completed their PhD in health or social care research area within the last four years
  3. Have not had the chance to establish themselves as independent researchers or to apply for further funding to conduct research beyond their PhD
  4. Have experience in applied health/social care or clinical research.
  5. Are able to demonstrate a track record of publications and training relative to career stage and background.
  6. Are on a trajectory to become an independent applied health researcher.
  7. Hold a substantive full or part time contract with a health or social care organisation or HEI located in the Wessex region.
  8. Have support from their line manager to undertake the award.
  9. Have identified named research mentor(s) (identified by the applicant).
  10. Have Theme Lead confirmation of alignment of project ideas with one of the four ARC Wessex themes.
  11. Have the ability to start the programme in January 2022.

Please note: Individuals already in receipt of a research grant/fellowship from elsewhere are not eligible for this award.

How can the funding be used? 

A detailed spending plan associated with undertaking the award and justification of the resources is requested. The spending plan should include all partner organisation co-funding support. A Gantt chart for the plan must be provided with the application. Suggestions on appropriate costs are presented below:

  1. Salary backfill - it is recognised that this may form the main budget expenditure. Funds are available to cover salary backfill arrangements for one day a week over six months, however other models can be applied, for example 2 days a week over three months or other equivalent time periods. All salary backill arrangements should be negotiated and agreed by the applicant with their team/line manager. The line manager should include this agreement in their letter of support.
  2. Training – When considering the training needed to get to the next stage in your career please consider the length of the award (6 months).

It is essential to have supervision and mentorship throughout the award. Ideally the primary supervisor (research support in the case of those post doctoral) should be from a partner organisation of ARC Wessex. Information on what the supervisor(s)/ mentor(s) has committed in terms of time to provide to the applicant during the award should be included and their time costed appropriately as well as any additional Partner Organisation co-funding support and provisions such as access to library, software, laptops etc.

In addition to supervision, it may also be appropriate to access other aspects of research training such as short courses, workshops and networking opportunities. Applicants should provide an explanation of how the proposed training will benefit their current and future career. We recommend that training costs do not exceed 20% of the overall spending plan.

  1. PPIE – Please indicate the ways in which you will involve patients and public in your research plans and include costs for any planned PPIE activities. Patients, carers, service users and the public can be involved in every stage of a research project, from developing a proposal through to dissemination and evaluation. You can find further resources to support the design of your PPI as detailed in PPI (Patient and Public Involvement) resources for applicants to NIHR research programmes.

Guidance on costing PPIE activities can be found at:

https://www.nihr.ac.uk/documents/payment-guidance-for-researchers-and-professionals/27392

  1. Dissemination costs – an element of the award could be used to disseminate research findings through publications and/or conference presentations. You can include the cost of a maximum one access fee for a journal article and/or attendace to present at one conference.

NB: Please get your spending plan checked by your host organisation finance team prior to submission and ensure there is agreement that the funding can be managed by your employer (Host Trust) across the financial year end if required. The amount awarded will be paid directly to your employer.  You will be responsible for the budget and liaising with your host finance team for all your project expense claims.

Evaluation 

A report will be required at the completion of the award period (template will be provided).

Application process

Please submit a completed checklist (see Appendix 1) and all corresponding documentation to: arcwessex@soton.ac.uk by 31st October 2021, 11pm.

Key dates:

Closing date for applications:

 

31st October 2021

Notification of outcome:

December 2021

Award period:

6 months

 

For further information about the ARC Wessex training programmes, contact Professor Cathy Bowen: cjb5@soton.ac.uk or Dr Kinda Ibrahim: K.Ibrahim@soton.ac.uk

 

HEE – NIHR ARC Wessex Researcher Initiation Award 2021

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

The Researcher Initiation (RI) awards are intended to introduce individuals working within health or care organisations to research with the aim of helping them to explore what an academic career involves and begin to develop knowledge and skills in research. The RI awards offer an introduction to aspects of applied health research through gaining research experience by observing/visiting/working in a research environment and undertaking study in research in preparation for applying for a Pre-doctoral Fellowship or a Doctoral Research Fellowship

  1. Who should apply for the RI Awards?

Nurses, midwives, pharmacists, allied health professionals, social care professionals.

  1. Do I need to be employed within Wessex?

Yes.

  1. Do I have to have set project in mind?

We really do want applicants to have a good start and the scheme is aimed at supporting you to progress your ideas for your applied health and/or social care research further. What we are looking for is that you begin to develop your contacts and, of course we are looking to fund individuals who wish to undertake applied health and care research within one of our themes for which we are funded. A key aspect we are looking for is that all applicants align their research ideas with our themes and at a minimum have had a discussion with an academic who is aligned with one of the four ARC Wessex themes about your research ideas and how you will work with them. This should be stated within your application. Through the themes you should be able to see the various projects underway, publications and project leads.

  1. How many hours would I be expected to commit to?

A reasonable commitment is that you are released from your clinical and care duties to focus on your research for a minimum of one day per week over six months.

  1. I work part-time, rather than backfill my currently hours can I apply for this to fund additional hours?

Yes, as long as we have confirmed support with your line manager that they will increase your contracted hours to match the additional funding.

  1. Does the named research supervisor need to be attached to a university?

Yes. Potential supervisors can be found/contactable through our ARC Wessex. It might also be worth that you attempt to discuss the research with one of the ARC theme leads / theme project leads too to see where the research aligns with our aims and scope.

  1. How do I calculate costs for my Research Supervisor, can I also request funding for estates/indirect costs as well as staff time?

For example, given that an hour a week with a Research Supervisor is perhaps quite reasonable, then we are asking applicants to cost their Research Supervisor’s time in hours. So, for 6 months, that could be 24 hours, which would be reasonable costs. The Research Supervisor’s finance team would then cost those 24 hours in their usual way according to their salary pay scale. If the Host department is willing to support the FECs/estates then that would be classed as additional in-kind support and thus a partnership funding contribution that would support the applications being value for money. The award follows the same principles as personal development awards, so salary backfill is for the applicant and the support for supervision is awarded to the applicant according to their training plan needs.

  1. Is there any obligation to attend external events / training? Or, would it be as a self-contained project with support from my nominated supervisor?

Most of the funding goes towards your salary backfill to do this. You can also request funding for training courses that will support you in the development of your research ideas towards further funding applications. You develop your training plan to fit these needs. We are especially seeking to support applicants who wish to develop applications for NIHR clinical academic doctoral fellowships.

  1. What needs to be included in the detailed justified spending plan for the award period?

A Gannt chart and a table of breakdown for what you will be spending and why and that this should be completed with the R&D finance department at your trust.

  1. When would the funding come into the successful applicants' trust and would it be one payment managed by the R&D department?

It is up to your Trust finance team to invoice us. Usually they invoice for all of it as it is a small award. Have that conversation with your finance department.

11. Will there be other opportunities for NIHR ARC Wessex funding?

Yes.

  1. Is the response to COVID-19 likely to impact the awards and funding?

No.

  1. Can I include publication costs?

We encourage applicants to work with their mentors to find out if their host organisation covers this in the first instance. You can include the costs of publishing one article in your application.

  1. Do I need to refer to and cost for Patient and Public Involvement (PPI)?

Please indicate the ways in which you will involve patients and public in your research plans and include costs for any planned PPI activities. You can find further resources at: https://www.nihr.ac.uk/documents/payment-guidance-for-researchers-and-professionals/27392

The applicant, if successful, in collaboration with their Trust finance team, will be responsible for overseeing and administering the budget as per their proposed spending plan.

HEE – NIHR ARC Wessex Researcher Enhancement Award 2021

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

The Researcher Enhancement (RE) awards are intended to support individuals working within health or care organisations with the aim of helping them make the step change from doctoral research towards becoming independent early career academics by supporting them to apply for an NIHR Clinical Lecturer fellowship or the NIHR Advanced fellowship (dependent on experience to date) or equivalent career development awards

 

  1. Who should apply for the RE Awards?

Nurses, midwives, pharmacists, allied health professionals, social care professionals. Those who have recently completed (usually within the last four years), or soon to be awarded a PhD, but haven’t yet established themselves as an independent researcher. Applicants must have been awarded their PhD by the time they start their RE award.

 

  1. Do I need to be employed within Wessex?

Yes, you should be employed in the Wessex region.

 

  1. Do I have to have set project in mind?

We really do want applicants to progress their ideas for their applied health and social care research further. What we are looking for is that you further develop your PhD work, collaborations and networks. We are looking to fund individuals whose research is applied and aligned within one of our themes for which we are funded. A key aspect we are looking for is that all applicants have the support of a project lead who is currently working with one of the four ARC Wessex themes and how you will work with them. Through the themes you should be able to see the various projects underway, publications and project leads.

 

  1. How many hours would I be expected to commit to?

A reasonable commitment is that you are released from your clinical and care duties to focus on your research for a minimum of one day per week over six months.

 

  1. I work part-time, rather than backfill my currently hours can I apply for this to fund additional hours?

Yes, as long as we have confirmed support with your line manager that they will increase your contracted hours to match the additional funding.

 

  1. Does the named research supervisor need to be attached to a university?

Yes. Potential supervisors will be found/contactable through our ARC Wessex. It might also be worth that you attempt to discuss the research with one of the ARC theme leads / theme project leads too to see where the research aligns with our aims and scope.

  1. How do I calculate costs for my Research Supervisor, can I also request funding for estates/indirect costs as well as staff time?

For example, given that an hour a week with a Research Supervisor/mentor is perhaps quite reasonable, then we are asking applicants to cost their Research Supervisor’s/mentor’s time in hours. So, for 6 months, that could be 24 hours, which would be reasonable costs. The Research Supervisor’s/mentor’s finance team would then cost those 24 hours in their usual way according to their salary pay scale. If the Host department is willing to support the FECs/estates then that would be classed as additional in-kind support and thus a partnership funding contribution that would support the applications being value for money. The award follows the same principles as personal development awards, so salary backfill is for the applicant and the support for supervision/mentorship is awarded to the applicant according to their training plan needs.

 

  1. Is there any obligation to attend external events / training? Or would it be as a self-contained project with support from my nominated supervisor?

Most of the funding goes towards your salary backfill to do this. You can also request funding for training courses that will support you in the development of your research ideas towards further funding applications. You develop your training plan to fit these needs. We are especially seeking to support applicants who wish to develop applications for NIHR clinical academic post-doctoral fellowships.

 

  1. What needs to be included in the detailed justified spending plan for the award period?

A Gannt chart and a table of breakdown for what you will be spending and why and that this should be completed with the R&D finance department at your trust.

 

  1. When would the funding come into the successful applicants' trust and would it be one payment managed by the R&D department?

It is up to your Trust finance team to invoice us. Usually they invoice for all of it as it is a small award. Have that conversation with your finance department.


11. Will there be other opportunities for NIHR ARC Wessex funding?

Yes.

 

  1. Is the response to COVID-19 likely to impact the awards and funding?

No.

 

  1. Can I include publication costs?

We encourage applicants to work with their mentors/supervisors to find out if their host organisation covers this in the first instance. You can include the costs of publishing one article in your application.

 

  1. Do I need to refer to and cost for Patient and Public Involvement PPI?

Please indicate the ways in which you will involve patients and public in your research plans and include costs for any planned PPI activities. You can find further resources at: https://www.nihr.ac.uk/documents/payment-guidance-for-researchers-and-professionals/27392

 

The applicant, if successful, in collaboration with their Trust finance team, will be responsible for overseeing and administering the budget as per their proposed spending plan.

Question and Answer session - recorded 18 October 2021