A summary of the main steps in preparing a grant application and the common issues for consideration, is outlined in the sections below. The majority of cases follow a standard application process however there are a number of factors which may apply in certain circumstabces which might require additional steps in the process or futher planning. Please see Non-standard factors for further information.

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Check funders guidance notes

Guidelines: each funder will have specific criteria for specific schemes. Ensure awareness of generic and scheme specific application requirements. Failure to complete basic information may lead to rejection at the first stage of funder review.

Assessment criteria: check the assessment criteria carefully to ensure all criteria can be met before investing significant time in developing the proposal. Failure to meet assessment criteria is one of the main reasons why proposals are not successful.

Eligibility criteria: check that the College (and collaborating institutions) and all Investigators (Principal and Co) are eligible for the scheme. Where no funder eligibility criteria is stated, check that the Investigator Eligibility Policy ROP-03 [pdf] criteria can be met.

Registration: establish the funder’s application process and identify / complete any pre-submission registration requirements for online submission. Where institutional registration is required by the funder, this is coordinated by the College’s Research Office.


Develop research plan and establish resources

Research plans should be developed with reference to the relevant research strategies.

The proposed activity must meet the definition of research as set out by ‘Frascati’ and the Charity Commission, and satisfy the public benefit test i.e. the research shall be conducted for the public benefit and not solely for self interest or for private or commercial consumption.

The research and associated activities expected by the funder must be adequately resourced to ensure that the project is undertaken at an appropriate level of quality and within the proposed timeline e.g.

  • Investigator input: Identify any co-investigators / collaborators and level of expected involvement
  • Staff capacity: Establish capacity of investigators and named staff to undertake the activity relative to other priorities and commitments
  • Project specific: Identify project specific resources required e.g. researchers, technicians (at a level commensurate with the skill base required) and non-staff costs e.g. consumables
  • Space: Identify internal and external resource requirements (e.g. lab space) and establish accessibility and availability. Where external space is to be used ascertain any associated costs / bench fees.
  • Owned equipment / facilities: Identify access options and establish eligibility of costs / access charges which will depend on facility categorisation i.e. FEC Charge-out or Multi-user/PI-led or External. Detailed guidance and link to the College’s Facility Directory.
  • New equipment / facilities: Establish the funder’s equipment funding policy, and where institutional contributions are required, establish departmental contribution policy
  • Funders expectations: establish the funders requirements with regard to publishing, data management, generation of impact and public engagement.

Internal peer review or self assessment can be useful in improving the quality of research proposals. The extent of review should be commensurate with the scale and nature of the research, e.g. for small projects peer review can be undertaken by a Head of Department, but for high value or complex projects peer review by a panel may be required. Reference should be made to the relevant Departmental Peer Review policy to ensure compliance with local requirements.

Associated Guidance / Policies

Costing and pricing

InfoEd is the costing tool used to calculate the Full Economic Cost (FEC), capture the price and state the financial recovery of a given project before applying for funding.

Detailed guidance for costing and using InfoEd is available. Important points to note are:

  • Inter-departmental projects: the lead department should develop their budget as the ‘main project’ within InfoEd, with collaborating departments developing their own budget as an associated subproject on InfoEd. The main project and all subprojects should be appropriately approved by the relevant Academic Department.
  • Cross-faculty projects should be managed in the same way as if there is a lead institution and an external partner. The lead Research Services team (which relates to the Principal Investigator’s faculty) will liaise with all academic departments involved in the project.
  • Partner costs (including NHS costs): must be properly costed by the partner and provided to the College at level of detail required by the Funder (including any applicable VAT), verified for accessibility and appropriately agreed e.g. the Partner’s R&D Office.
  • Professional services / fees: written quotes must be obtained (including any applicable VAT), and tendering requirements complied with.
  • New Equipment / facilities: prior to inclusion within a proposal, consideration should be given to sharing options (a Directory of College research facilities is available).
  • Equipment / facilities: only those internal facilities listed on the College’s charge-out list (FEC Charge-out facilities) can be included within the project FEC. Access charges to Multi-user / PI-led facilities may only be included in the price requested from Funders not meeting the Estates charge.
  • VAT implications of the project must be evaluated. This includes determining the appropriate Output VAT to be charged (if any) and determining whether Input VAT incurred on purchases would be recoverable from HM Revenue and Customs.
  • Pricing: The proposal should be priced in line with Funder and College / Faculty pricing policies and maintained within InfoEd.
Associated guidance / policies:

Complete the application form

General: ensure the application is completed in accordance with the Funders’s application requirements, and that all requested supporting information / statements / documents are provided in the required format.

Financing: the cost / price (developed using InfoEd) should be translated in line with application requirements e.g. costs submitted to Research Councils through Je-S should exclude indexation. Reports are available on InfoEd to assist this process.

Value maximisation: with reference to Funder terms and conditions all eligible costs should be included within the application (e.g. advertising costs for unnamed posts, project management for large collaborat ions) and staff posts should be requested at an appropriate level.

Justification of Resources: Ensure that the Justification of Resources reflects the final resources requested and that no ineligible items are included.

Associated guidance / policies:

Obtain Faculty Approval and College Authorisation

Faculty Approval encompasses the internal approvals required prior to College Authorisation to submit the proposal, including the approvals required from the Academic Department(s), Faculty Research Services and any other appropriate approvals. If the proposal is in response to a funder deadline, a minimum of five working days is required by Faculty Research Services for approval and authorisation. PIs should also be mindful of local departmental requirements which may exceed the 5 day rule.

College Authorisation is the formal administrative sign-off required before submission to the funder. The President is the recognised institutional signatory for research-related agreements, and has delegated College Authorisation to a limited number of College officers in the Research Office and Faculty Research Services teams.

Faculty Research Services will not authorise proposals for submission before Head of Department approval has been secured.

InfoEd is the tool used to manage internal approvals of research applications.

Detailed guidance is available on the Approval and Authorisation page

Associated guidance / policies:

Submit application to funder

The majority of funders require submission through their own on-line submission systems. For many this is a two stage process i.e. submission by the PI (or their delegate) is subject to Institutional Authority to submit, therefore it is extremely important that sufficient time ahead of deadlines is given for the internal checks and approvals.

Applicants are advised to clarify the submission process with their Faculty Research Services team well ahead of the deadline date.