The research commissioning process for the PRP is managed by its Central Commissioning Facility (CCF).
The PRP CCF act as the managing agent, issuing calls for research applications and managing all administrative, contractual and financial aspects of the PRP commissioning process.
All calls for research applications are advertised on the PRP Funding Opportunities page.
All applications need to be submitted on an electronic application form, available through the PRP CCF research management system. This is a secure website which requires a username and password to enter.
There are three major rounds of commissioning each year with a number of research areas addressed within each. Most commissioning ‘rounds’ involve either a one-stage or a two-stage application process (outline and full applications). In addition, there are occasional calls for applications where there is a time critical requirement for specific research. All calls for research applications are advertised on the PRP Funding Opportunities page.
All research applications must be completed and submitted electronically on the PRP CCF research management system. Applications received by other means (email, post, etc) will not be accepted.
The deadline for the submission of research applications is 1pm on the day indicated and no applications can be accepted after this time. It is advisable to submit applications on the day before the deadline, as uploading the required supporting documents can take time, especially when the site is busy.
Applicants are expected, before submitting applications, to have discussed their applications with their own or any other organisation whose co-operation will be required in the conduct of the proposed research. A hard copy of the ‘Declarations’ page in the application form needs to be signed by the relevant authorities in wet ink and returned by post to the PRP CCF within one week of the submission deadline. To access the ‘Declarations’ page (section 18), please create a PDF of your application by pressing view/print on the application summary page. The ‘Declarations’ page can be found at the bottom of the PDF.
PRP application guidance
Please note that the outline (for two-stage commissioning) and full application forms required to apply for PRP research calls are available on the secure PRP CCF research management system.
The guidance on completing a PRP application form includes advice on how to navigate the PRP CCF research management system and upload documents. It is essential that this is read carefully.
Confidentiality and disclosure: a guide for applicants, peer reviewers and commissioning panel members
Research proposals are considered confidential by the Central Commissioning Facility and all reasonable steps are taken to ensure that this confidentiality is not breached. Further information and guidance can be found in the Confidentiality Guidance Document hosted on the CCF website.
- NIHR Faculty Membership: Benefits and Responsibilities (opens new window)
- Statement on DH / NIHR funded research and UK PubMed Central (opens new window)
- Data Protection Act 1998 (opens new window)
- The NHS Confidentiality Code of Practice (opens new window)
- Medical Research Council; Personal Information in Medical Research (opens new window)
- Department of Health Research Governance Framework for Health and Social Care (opens new window)
- Governance arrangements for research ethics committees: a harmonised edition (opens new window)
- The Medicines for Human Use (Clinical Trials) Regulations 2004 (opens new window)
- Human Tissue Act 2004 (opens new window)
- Mental Capacity Act 2005 (opens new window)
- Download Mental Capacity Act Fact Sheet for Social Scientists (PDF, 50K)
- Copyright, Designs and Patent Act 1998 (opens new window)
- Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (opens new window)
- Responsibility in the Use of Animals in Bioscience Research (opens new window)
- Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986(opens new window)
- The Integrated Research Application System (IRAS) (opens new window)
- NIHR Coordinated System for gaining NHS Permission (NIHR CSP) (opens new window)
- National Research Ethics Service (NRES) (opens new window)
- Social Care Research Ethics Committee (opens new window)
- Research Register for Social Care (opens new window)
- Transparent Approach to Costing (TRAC) / Full Economic Costing (FEC) (opens new window)
Peer review of applications
All full applications are peer reviewed before being considered by a commissioning panel. The peer review process involves independent scientific referees and lay persons as well as other stakeholders (e.g. policy customers).
Criteria used by peer reviewers to assess research applications include:
• relevance of proposed research to the research specification
• quality of the research design
• quality of the work plan and proposed management arrangements
• strength of the research team
• impact of the proposed work
• value for money (justification of the proposed costs)
• involvement of patients, service users and the public.
Applications are also judged on the feasibility of delivering the research to the specified milestones and deadlines.
It is extremely important for applicants to provide a plain English summary that is accessible to lay reviewers. It will be a disadvantage if patients, service users and the public are unable to understand the nature of a research application.
PRP commissioning panels
PRP commissioning panels meet to discuss applications in detail and advise the Department of Health on which application, or applications, should be funded. Peer reviews, and any responses to peer review comments, will guide the panel in its deliberations, before it makes its final funding recommendations to the Department of Health.
PRP commissioning panels bring together expertise relevant to the research evidence-base needed for DH policymaking. Panel membership includes an independent Chair and a core panel of senior academics with multi-disciplinary expertise. This core panel is supported by high calibre and experienced individuals who act as ‘subject experts’ in the area(s) of research directly relevant to specific calls under consideration. Wherever possible, panels are also strengthened by one or more service users/carers to gain a lay perspective on the research being proposed. Representatives of the Policy Research Programme and relevant Department of Health policy directorates also attend. Members of the PRP CCF function as the secretariat to commissioning panels.
Feedback for applicants
Once an application has been considered, the PRP CCF will provide written feedback to the named lead investigator regardless of whether the bid is successful or not.
Feedback on outline applications will inform applicants whether they have been invited to submit a full application.
Unsuccessful applicants at either the outline or full application stage will be provided with comments from PRP commissioning panels via the PRP CCF. The PRP CCF is unable to enter into further correspondence once written feedback has been provided.
Contracting of projects selected for funding
In order to maximise the benefit from the findings, research projects selected for funding are expected to commence within six months of notification of funding. A contract will be issued by the Department of Health between the Secretary of State for Health and the host institution (main base of the research). Capability to start promptly will be viewed as an advantage and in some cases may be a requirement of the research specification.
Management of projects selected for funding
All financial, contractual and administrative aspects of commissioned studies are managed by the PRP CCF. The PRP CCF Programme Managers are the primary point of contact for dealing with contracts, quarterly payments (in arrears), regular financial statements, progress reports, publications and final outputs. They will also deal with any contract variations and may request that you update publically-accessible registers with details of your research.