Step 4: Funding Your Research

There is a wide spectrum of research funding and without it research rarely happens. This funding may be implicit, for example, you receive agreement from your manager to have time to undertake your research, or explicit, when you’ve successfully secured external funding for a fully costed project.

All funding bodies, and managers, will have their own expectations and requirements of your research project. Knowing what expectations and requirements your project needs to meet is important. External funding will usually be accompanied predefined guidance, though for both internal and external funding you’re likely to need to respond to any feedback you receive.

External funding comes in two forms, prospective where you have the idea that you take the funder, or responsive where the funder announces they want to commission a piece of research and you submit a proposal. Responsive funding usually has a predefined submission date, though funders of prospective funding may accept applications at any time or at fixed dates in the year.

Familiarising yourself with a funder’s terms of reference and application criteria before you start preparing your research proposal (Step 5) will save you time and effort, ensuring your project and application meet their funding remit and requirements.

Costing Your Research Project

Costing your research project will consist of three elements: directly incurred costs e.g. equipment or travel, directly allocated costs e.g. estimated costs attributable to your project such as your time, and indirect costs e.g. all other costs associated with the running of your organisation but aren’t directly attributable to your project such as IT support.

If you’re working with a university, the university will need to draw up a ‘full economic costing’ for your project. Full economic costing means that the university seeks to ensure that their overheads are met. Each university has its own procedures, and some negotiation may be required. The staff costs of research assistants or academic staff involved in the project will include overheads.

Here are some resources to help you identify the costs associated with your research project.

  • INVOLVE. (2020). Payment and recognition for public involvement. Paying users to be involved in your project can be problematic, especially if they’re in receipt of state benefits. You can find practical advice on payment and non-monetary methods of recognising the time, skills and expertise provided by members of the public here.
  • NHS Employers. (2020). Agenda for change. Details of the latest NHS national pay scales can be found here.
  • Royal Holloway – University of London. (undated). Costing checklist. This is an example of a costing checklist produced by the Royal Holloway, though most institutions will have a local costing checklist you can refer to when preparing your funding application; contact your local R&D lead or finance department for details.
  • Vitae: Realising the Potential of Researchers. (2020). Costing and pricing a research proposal. Provides an accessible overview of how to cost your research project.

Be sure to allow enough time for your costings to be verified by your local finance office before submission to your funder.

Advice on Funding Your Research

If you’d welcome some advice on seeking funding for your research project, you’ll find the following contact points helpful:

  • NHS Research and Development Forum. (2020). National Directory of NHS Research Offices. Provides full details of your local NHS research and development office.
  • National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). (2020). Research Design Service. Provides support to health and social care researchers across England on all aspects of developing and writing a funding applications. Advice is confidential and free of charge.
  • NHS Health Education England. (2020). Library and knowledge services. Your NHS Senior Library and Knowledge Service Leads are here to support you and your research in promoting innovation in library and knowledge service design and delivery.

Sources of Funding

  • CILIP: The Information and Library Association. (2020). Bursaries and grants. Primarily a list of CILIP groups offering conference bursaries, which could be useful when you start thinking about disseminating your findings (Step 9), grants are also listed to support CILIP members specifically wishing to undertake research covering the library and information sector.
  • LIS Research – The Library and Information Science Research Coalition. (2012). Research funding. Last updated in 2012, when the Coalition funding ended, their list of LKS research funders remains one of the most comprehensive available.
  • National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). (2020). Our funding programmes. The NIHR funding programmes include funding opportunities for evidence synthesis.

Suggested Reading

You may also find the following chapter helpful:

Next Steps

Once you’ve established a clear understanding of the likely costs of your research project you’re ready to pull all your preparation together when writing your research proposal (Step 5).