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2. The application

On this page

2.1 The proposal form

The proposal form provides a summary of the whole project.

The main headings include the following (further guidance is available through the Je-S help text provided for each section):


Information required

Organisation where the grant should be held

This should be the lead RO responsible for administering the grant.

Project title

This should be no more than 150 characters and reflect the aim of the project.

Start date and duration

The anticipated start date should be realistic and would normally be between one month and six months after the date of the decision-making board or panel. Please refer to call guidance as this may vary.

The duration of a grant will typically be from 12 to 60 months. It should reflect the work to be undertaken and may be, restricted/specified in the call/scheme guidance.

Once a grant has been issued, grant holders are required to make every effort to start on the agreed date. The start of the grant may be delayed by up to 3 months from the start date shown in the offer letter, the duration of the grant remaining unchanged. The grant may lapse if it is not started within this period.


This should include the PI and all CoIs involved in the project.


What is the project aiming to achieve? The objectives of the proposed project should be listed in order of priority and should be those that the investigators would wish the MRC to use as the basis for evaluation of work upon completion of any grant awarded.


A plain English (layman’s) summary of the proposed work, explaining:

  • The context of the aims and objectives of the research
  • The potential applications and benefits

Official Development Assistance (ODA) transparency and reporting

As part of the government’s commitment to ODA transparency and in line with DfID ODA reporting requirements, UKRI is responsible for publishing information about UKRI ODA grants including project titles and summaries via the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) registry and via DfID’s national statistics. The purpose of publishing information via the IATI registry is to make information about ODA easily accessible to governments, stakeholders and other relevant groups in beneficiary countries. All UKRI funded projects from this programme will be published in this way. Please therefore write your project title and summary in such a way that they are meaningful and accessible to non-specialist audiences, following publication. We would be grateful if you would ensure that the project title and summary are written in plain English and avoid the use of jargon, acronyms, puns and plays on words.

Please also make clear in your project title and summary how your project is ODA compliant, for example by identifying the development challenge(s) being addressed, the aims of the project and the beneficiary countries

Technical summary*

A more in-depth summary aimed at reviewers who have some knowledge of the area of science involved.

Academic beneficiaries

How will the research benefit other researchers in the field?

Identify whether there are any academic beneficiaries in other disciplines and if so, how they will benefit? What will be done to ensure they benefit?

Communication plan

This should include potential impacts for academic and non-academic users. The MRC attaches great importance to the communication of research findings both within and beyond the academic community.

Summary of resources required for the project

Staffing, equipment and other resources required to carry out the project.

Other Support

Support on current projects from other sources. Applicants will often be already holding grants from the MRC and other funding bodies for research related to the topic for which new funds are being sought. Applicants must declare any relevant financial support which has been awarded or applied for. This should also include any funding that has been obtained or requested for any aspect of the project currently being applied for within the same research field during the past three years.

Technical and ethical considerations

Please complete each of these sections with the required information by ticking the appropriate boxes.

* These summaries, including your name and institution, will be published on publicly available sites should the project be funded. Please ensure confidential information is not included in these summaries. If you do include information on the use of animals, please be aware that this information will be freely available to all external users.

2.2 Attachments

All full applications require a completed proposal form accompanied by a number of mandatory attachments. Attachments must conform to the following requirements:

  • All attachments must be completed in a sans-serif typeface (Arial or equivalent, not Arial Narrow) and font size of 11pt, excluding text on diagrams and the use of mathematical symbols.
  • A minimum of single line spacing and standard character spacing must be used.
  • Margins must not be less than 2cm.

Failure to provide required components or information may mean that your proposal will be delayed and/or returned, or its assessment prejudiced.

Applications will be checked soon after the closing date. Any component(s) of an application which do not meet these rules will be returned for amendment before being validated for peer review. A late response in amending returned elements of the application will result in the application being withdrawn from the round.

When uploading PDF documents, please ensure they are given a logical file name and description so that information can be found easily. Also ensure that all pages of each document are numbered.

Mandatory attachments Conditions
CVs* A maximum of two sides of A4
Publications One side of A4 per named person
Case for support Length varies, see case for support table for more information
Justification of resources A maximum of  two sides of A4
Data management plan Length varies, see section 2.2.8 for more information

*For New Investigator Research Grants the NIRG CV and Salary Template must be used

In addition each call may specify additional attached components, which will be specified on the call guidance. For example:

Additional attachments Conditions
Covering letter

A maximum of  two sides of A4 using a sans-serif typeface (Arial or equivalent) and font size of 11pt

For more information see 2.7 Covering letter
MICA form For more information see MRC Industry Collaboration Agreement (MICA) 
Heads of terms For more information see MRC Industry Collaboration Agreement (MICA) 
Schedule of Events Cost Attribution Template (SoECAT)


Upload as ‘letter of support’

For more information see 3.5.1 excess treatment costs of studies involving human participants


Letters of support

A maximum of  two sides of A4 or equivalent on headed paper or sent by email

Technical assessment

A maximum of  two sides of A4

For more information see 2.3 Research Council facilities

Final/Interim Report Programme Grant renewals only. For more information see Programme Grant renewals: additional requirements
Gantt Chart/Work Plan

A maximum of one side of A4

Only allowed as a separate attachment on certain calls eg DPFS.
Additional questions on the use of rodents overseas (DOCX, 117KB)

A maximum of two sides of A4

See section

All outline applications should only include:

  • Outline proposal form
  • Case for support
  • CVs and publications
  • Any additional attachments that are requested in the specific guidance for the relevant call 

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2.2.1 CVs

Please note that CVs and publications should be uploaded as separate attachments.

CVs should be a maximum of two pages.

 The CV should cover:

  • Employment history:
    • A description of your current post and the source(s) of funding for this post (including dates)
    • List and description of previous posts (including dates)
    • Educational qualifications (including dates)
  • Please also state whether you are:
    • Clinically qualified
    • Clinically active

The CV should only include information relevant to the application. Unnecessary personal data (eg home address, date of birth, personal phone numbers and emails) should NOT be included.

In the CV applicants can make clear any substantive periods of absence from research or career or research disruption resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The CV is your opportunity to explain any breaks in employment or publication record, for example as a result of a career break or parental leave.

You may also use it to highlight how the COVID-19 pandemic has specifically affected the individuals involved in the application. We will assume all researchers have experienced general disruption.

Further details on the nature of the absence or COVID-19 disruption, what mitigations have been possible and how it has affected track record, productivity and career progression may be provided if desired. For example:

  • Illness or shielding either for applicants or their families
  • Caring responsibilities
  • Restricted access to facilities and normal work environment
  • Clinical responsibilities
  • Impact on research and the production of preliminary data, development of collaborations or methodological/technique training and experience
  • Impact on publications or other outputs, including markers of esteem

Information provided will be used only to make appropriate adjustments when assessing an individual’s track record, productivity and career progression.

The MRC is committed to eliminating unjustified discrimination and promoting equal opportunities as detailed in our equality and diversity policy.

For New Investigator Research Grants the NIRG CV and Salary Template must be used.

When attaching multiple CVs to an application, please include separate CVs and list of publications for each of the following:

  • Principal Investigators
  • Co-Investigators
  • Named individual research staff

2.2.2 Publications

Please note that CVs and publications should be uploaded as separate attachments.

The publications list should highlight relevant and recent publications and should be a maximum of one side of A4.

The MRC welcomes the inclusion of preprints in publication lists. For more information please see ‘MRC supports preprints’.

As part of our commitment to support the recommendations and principles set out by the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA; https://sfdora.org/read/), UKRI reviewers and panel members are advised not to use journal-based metrics, such as journal impact factors, as a surrogate measure of the quality of individual research articles, to assess an investigator’s contributions, or to make funding decisions.

The content of a paper is more important than publication metrics, or the identity of the journal, in which it was published, especially for early-stage researchers. Peer review and panel members are encouraged to consider the value and impact of all research outputs (including datasets, software, inventions, patents, preprints, other commercial activities, etc.) in addition to research publications. We advise our peer reviewers and panel members to consider a broad range of impact measures including qualitative indicators of research impact, such as influence on policy and practice.

More information on peer review at the MRC can be found on our Peer review webpages.

As part of our commitment to support the recommendations and principles set out by the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA; https://sfdora.org/read/), UKRI reviewers and panel members are advised not to use journal-based metrics, such as journal impact factors, as a surrogate measure of the quality of individual research articles, to assess an investigator’s contributions, or to make funding decisions.

The content of a paper is more important than publication metrics, or the identity of the journal, in which it was published, especially for early-stage researchers. Peer review and panel members are encouraged to consider the value and impact of all research outputs (including datasets, software, inventions, patents, preprints, other commercial activities, etc.) in addition to research publications. We advise our peer reviewers and panel members to consider a broad range of impact measures including qualitative indicators of research impact, such as influence on policy and practice.

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2.2.3 Case for support General guidance

The case for support should be a self-contained description of the proposed work with relevant background, and should not depend on additional information. MRC reserves the right to withdraw proposals that contain links to additional information which extends the case for support.

Please note: justification of resources is not required in the case for support. This is a separate document which should be attached to each Je-S application.

The contents of the case for support will depend on the specific funding scheme. The guidelines below list general points that should be addressed when writing the case for support. There is additional guidance for Programme and Partnership grants. However, each proposal is unique, and it is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that all the reasonable questions that the reviewers and MRC research boards need to address are answered in the proposal – especially if the plan or resources are unusual or complex.

The scientific case should be set out under each of the headings specified in the guidance notes for the specific funding scheme. 

This guidance should be read in conjunction with the information on the assessment criteria, which provides detailed information on what reviewers, boards and panels are looking for. All information that the applicant wishes to be considered as part of their research proposal (within the page limits stipulated) must be attached with their proposal form. The proposal cannot be supplemented by further information beyond the deadline for submissions.

The proposal and case for support will be sent out to a number of reviewers to read. Feedback from reviewers has shown that they are keen to see clarity, succinctness and accessibility.

Proposals which do not meet the following requirements will be returned unprocessed, for submission to a subsequent board meeting:

  • Use sans-serif typeface (Arial or equivalent), font size of 11pt (this includes any references listed within the case for support) and margins of 2cm on all sides
  • Only include one PDF document for the case for support, which must be within the page limits stipulated below
  • The only acceptable annexes are:
    • Reproducibility and statistical design (see section
    • Research disruption COVID-19 pandemic (see section
    • Limited additional annexes may be allowed in exceptional circumstances for proposals addressing large population studies, including clinical trials

Proposals containing additional annexes which have not been previously discussed with the relevant Programme Manager will be rejected

  • Any unpublished data must be included in the case for support. For applications submitted to closing dates on or after 1 April 2017 preprints may be included in publication lists. Manuscripts in press or submitted to journals should not be included. Page length

Each scheme has its own limits on the number of pages in the case for support. In the case of specific call for proposals, you must adhere to the specific call guidelines produced.

Your proposal will be returned if you submit a proposal over the maximum page limit.

Page limits in case for support PDF documents:


Page limit

Centre grant – outline


Centre grant – full

Size will reflect the complexity of the grant – please refer to the relevant programme manager for further guidance

Developmental Pathway Funding Scheme – outline and full

N/A – Please refer to the Case for Support Form for details of the character limits

Global health – outline and full

Please refer to the call guidance for details

New investigator research grant award


Partnership grant – three years or less


Partnership Grant – more than three years or involves large facilities


Programme grant – full


Research grant – three years or less


Research grant – more than three years


These page limits include references, but not allowable annexes. Case for support content

  • The case for support must not exceed 10MB. All other attachment types have a 5MB size limit. Avoid the use of large colour figures as these will increase file size.
  • Please attach as a PDF document, especially if mathematical symbols are used in the content.

Please note that specific areas need to be covered in the case for support for Programme Grants and Partnership Grants. Please see our guidance on Programme Grants and Partnership Grants for more information.


The title of the proposed project


Explain the need for research in this area, and the rationale for the particular lines of research planned.

  • Justify the research, either through its importance for human health, or its contribution to relevant areas of basic biomedical science.
  • Give sufficient details of other past and current research to show that the aims are scientifically justified, and to show that the work will add distinct value to what is already known, or in progress.
  • Where relevant, explain how plans benefit, fulfill unmet needs or contribute to current plans in the health service or industry.
  • Where the research plans involve creating resources or facilities, or forming consortia, networks or centres of excellence, the case will need to address the potential added value, as well as issues of ownership, direction and sustainability.


Scientific potential


People and track record

  • Each of the CVs will be uploaded separately as attachments in Je-S. If it is not obvious, the applicant may elaborate on why the group is well qualified to do this research in the case for support.
    • Each of the CVs will be uploaded separately as attachments in Je-S. If it is not obvious, the applicant may elaborate on why the group is well qualified to do this research in the case for support.
    • Explain how each of the investigators named in the proposal will work together and outline other major collaborations important for the research.
    • The applicant should acknowledge any previous or current MRC funding and describe progress-to-date on delivery of this research. If progress has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic please explain this. For applications involving a clinical trial, the track record of the applicant(s) in registering and publishing previous trials will be considered before making further awards.


  • Describe how the scientific or clinical environment(s) in which the research will be done will promote delivery of the proposed research.
  • Explain how the research will benefit from facilities provided by the host RO.
  • Describe any clinical, commercial, or organisational dependencies necessary to support the research, or to help translate it into practice.

Research plans

  • Give details of the general experimental approaches, study designs, and techniques that will be used (the one-page annex ‘Reproducibility and statistical design’ annex should be used to supplement information in this section, where necessary and as appropriate. See below for further details). It is not necessary to describe each experiment, but give enough detail to show why the research is likely to be competitive in its field. For example:
    • Highlight plans which are particularly original or unique
    • Describe plans to reduce bias such as blinding or randomisation (or a justification of why such measures are not possible/appropriate). A justification of the proposed sample size must be given (where appropriate) along with details of the planned statistical analyses.
    • Describe all foreseeable human studies and animal experiments (in as much detail as possible at this stage)
    • Explain in greater detail how new techniques, or particularly difficult or risky studies, will be tackled, and alternative approaches should these fail
    • Identify facilities or resources you will need to access
    • Give sufficient detail to justify the resources requested
  • If this is a pilot work or proof of principle proposal, give a brief description of likely subsequent proposals if the work is successful. Please note that any proposals that are intended to lead directly to a clinical trial must be discussed at an early stage with the relevant MRC programme manager
  • Explain opportunities or plans for pursuing commercial exploitation

Ethics and research governance

  • Describe briefly the ethical issues arising from any involvement of people, human samples or personal data in the research proposal. Please give details of how any specific risks to human participants will be controlled, and of any new animal research the MRC would be supporting. Please refer to Ethics section for further guidance.
  • Describe the ethical review and research governance arrangements that would apply to the work done.

Clinical Trials involving human subjects

  • Where a project involves a clinical trial involving human subjects the case for support should include plans to publish the project’s findings and/or make them publicly available without unreasonable delay (usually within 12 months of trial completion). Applicants should also confirm that they will regularly update the clinical trials ISRCTN registry and provide a link to their protocol and main results.

Exploitation and dissemination

  • Is the proposed research likely to generate commercially exploitable results?
  • What arrangements and experience does the research group or the host research organisation have to take forward the commercial exploitation of research in this area?
  • Other than publication in peer reviewed journals, indicate how any results arising from the research will be disseminated so as to promote or facilitate take up by users in the health services.

Project partners (see also section 2.2.7)

  • All partner contributions, whether in cash or in-kind, should be explained in detail, including the equivalent value of any in-kind contributions
  • In-kind contributions can include staff time, access to equipment, sites or facilities, the provision of data, software or materials.
  • The financial value of the contribution should be included on the Je-S form. Where the input is important to the project but has no significant financial value, a nominal sum of £1 may be entered as the value of the contribution.


Additional requirements for New Investigator Research Grants:

A signed statement of support (maximum of 2 sides of A4) from a senior authority within the host RO on headed paper should be attached to all applications. For more information please refer to our guidance on NIRGs.

It will be important for the proposed host organisation to demonstrate its commitment to the applicant as a potential future PI. The suitability of the environment and the organisation’s commitment are significant factors in the Boards’ consideration of NIRG proposals.

All NIRG proposals must also include a declaration that the applicant has originated the research question and written the research proposal. This should be in the form of a letter to be uploaded separately as a ‘Letter of Support'. Impact

From 1 March 2020 a Pathways to Impact attachment and Impact Statement are not required. This change is designed to simplify bureaucracy at the point of application as well as to help streamline our systems for applicants. It also enables impact to be truly embedded throughout applications as appropriate.

The impact agenda remains incredibly important. UK Research and Innovation exists to fund the researchers who generate the knowledge that society needs, and the innovators who can turn this knowledge into public benefit. Impact remains a central consideration in how UKRI makes funding decisions. Applicants should continue to consider how they will or might achieve impact throughout their projects and include this as part of their Case for Support.  Appropriate resources to facilitate this impact within applications should be requested. These should be justified in the Justification of Resources attachment

Academic impact:

The demonstrable contribution that excellent research makes to academic advances, across and within disciplines, including significant advances in understanding, methods, theory and application.

When applying for research council funding via Je-S, pathways towards academic impact are expected to be outlined in the academic beneficiaries and appropriate case for support sections. An exception to this is where academic impact forms part of the critical pathway to economic and societal impact.

Economic and societal impacts:

The demonstrable contribution that excellent research makes to society and the economy. Economic and societal impacts embrace the diverse ways in which research-related knowledge and skills benefit individuals, organisations and nations. These include:

  • Fostering global economic performance, specifically the economic competitiveness of the United Kingdom
  • Increasing the effectiveness of public services and policy
  • Enhancing quality of life, health and creative output

Public engagement:

Public engagement is included within the above definitions. Engaging the public with your research can improve the quality of research and its impact, raise your profile, and develop your skills. It also enables members of the public to act as informed citizens and can inspire the next generation of researchers.

Well planned public engagement activities related to the research within the grant are encouraged.  If public engagement activities are proposed the case for support should detail:

  • which group(s) will be targeted
  • how will they benefit
  • How will activities be evaluated Reproducibility and statistical design (recommended annex)

The purpose of this annex is to provide important additional information on reproducibility, and to explain the steps taken to ensure the reliability and robustness of the chosen methodology and experimental design. Please note in this context, methodology refers to the rationale for choosing which method to use and not the provision of detailed descriptions of the methods to be used.

It is strongly advised that a one-page annex to the case for support is included, in addition to the page limits in Section, to provide additional information specifically relating to the statistical analyses, methodology and experimental design aspects of the proposal (beyond that contained in the main case for support). Please note that you should not duplicate information presented elsewhere in the application.

This information must be provided as a clearly marked annex at the end of the main case for support, entitled ‘Reproducibility and statistical design annex’ and should not be added as a separate attachment. Standard formatting guidance applies. Applications not adhering to these conditions will be returned unprocessed.

Applications that do not provide sufficient detail to convince peer reviewers and Research Boards and Panels that the proposed experiments will be carried out appropriately to produce robust and reproducible research will be rejected for funding on these grounds and subject to the usual limits on resubmission.

To see worked examples of experimental design: https://mrc.ukri.org/documents/pdf/worked-examples-experimental-design/.

The NC3Rs have developed a free online tool to guide researchers through the design of their experiments, helping to ensure that they use the minimum number of animals consistent with their scientific objectives, methods to reduce subjective bias, and appropriate statistical analysis. The NC3R’s Experimental Design Assistant can be found on the NC3R’s website.

What to include in the annex

It is expected that professional statistical (or other relevant) advice would be sought in putting this section together. Each experiment does not need to be described in detail, but sufficient information must be included that reviewers are readily able to understand the experimental plan. Where appropriate, the use of figures, tables and/or diagrams is encouraged.

The following table highlights the key points you should include in the annex.

Experimental approach to address objectives.


This information may be provided in diagrammatic or tabular form if appropriate.

  • Primary and secondary experimental outcomes to be assessed (e.g. cell death, molecular markers, behaviour change) and how these relate to experimental objectives
  • Number of experimental and control groups
  • A clear definition of the ‘experimental unit’ in the analysis and the implications thereof (i.e. there is a difference between N samples from one animal, as distinct from one sample from each of N animals, or combining samples from multiple animals)
  • Number of 'experimental units' in each experimental group.
  • Total number of  'experimental units' to be measured
  • Number of times each 'experimental unit' will be measured
  • Number of independent replications of each experiment.
  • Steps taken to minimise the effects of bias (e.g. blinding, randomisation) or an explanation of why this would not be appropriate
  • Breeding strategies may be included here, if applicable.


Justification of model(s) chosen (e.g. animal model, cell line etc.

  • How and why the models and/or methods are appropriate to address the scientific objectives



Sample sizes

  • Show clearly how effect sizes have been calculated and justify how they are biologically relevant
  • Demonstrate that statistical power calculations are grounded in justifiable and explicit assumptions about both anticipated effect size and variability of the experimental effects
  • If statistical power calculations cannot reasonably be applied, applicants should provide a principled explanation of the choice of numbers
  • Explanations based solely in terms of ‘usual practice’ or with reference solely to previously published data will not be considered adequate.


Planned statistical analyses and their relation to the choice of sample size

  • Overview of the planned statistical analyses in relation to the sample size
  • Details of any statistical/methodological design advice sought (you may cost a relevant expert, e.g. statistician, into your proposal if necessary and justified). A letter of support from the expert involved is permitted, but not mandatory



If your proposal includes the use of animals, please also refer to Section 4.1.4., in addition to the guidance above, for more information on the key points you may wish to include in the annex.

What not to include in the annex

The annex should not to be used as a simple continuation of the methods set out in the case for support; please do not include detailed descriptions of the methods. Applications misusing the annex in this way will be returned. The case for support should be a self-contained description of the proposed work with relevant background, and should not depend on additional information.

For proposals involving animal use, information on the rationale for using animals, choice of species, information about the animals used (e.g. weight, sex), animal costs and procedure severity information should be provided elsewhere in the application as detailed in the table at Section 4.1.8). Research disruption caused by COVID-19 pandemic (optional annex)

The purpose of this annex is to provide additional information, of relevance to the application and the research case, when needed to explain specific disruptions to previous or current research caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. For example;

  • Restricted access to facilities and normal research environment
  • Impact on research and the production of preliminary data, development of collaborations, loss of research resources, restrictions to research approaches
  • Impact on publications or other outputs

An annex to the case for support may be included for this purpose, in addition to the page limits in Section Although up to one page is allowed a short summary is preferred. You should not describe general disruptions that all researchers will have experienced or duplicate information presented elsewhere in the application such as in CVs or in a programme grant progress report. Although we expect all researchers to have been affected this annex is NOT a requirement.

This information may be provided as a clearly marked annex at the end of the main case for support, entitled ‘COVID-19 Research Disruption Annex’ and should not be added as a separate attachment. Standard formatting guidance applies and applications not adhering to these conditions will be returned.

2.2.4 Justification of resources

Cross council guidance on writing a good justification of resources (JoR) document is available on the Je-S help pages.

The role of the JoR is to aid reviewers when assessing proposals so that they can make an informed judgement on whether the resources requested are appropriate for the research posed.

The JoR is a mandatory attachment to the proposal and should be no more than two sides of A4. It should take into account the nature and complexity of the research proposal. It should not simply be a list of the resources required (already defined in the Je-S form). All items requested in the Je-S form must be justified in the JoR.

The JoR is a free text document. We recommend that you match the costs to the proposal headings below (where appropriate) so that you do not miss any costings from the Je-S form or any justifications for the items requested.

Cost to the proposal

Justification needed

Questions to consider and answer in the justification

Staff – directly incurred posts

Justify why a researcher/technician is needed for the proposed work and why the proposed time input is appropriate.

Is the work of appropriate scientific technical difficulty to warrant employing a research assistant? Why has the level requested for the RA been asked for?

Staff – directly allocated posts
Principal investigator (PI), co-investigator (CoI) and research co-investigator time (unless working 100 per cent of their hours on the
grant eg fellows)

Justify the time that the PI and CoI spend on the grant.

A PI or CoI cannot request time for supervising postgraduate research students, writing publications after the end of the project, writing grant applications or peer review.

How much time do you intend to dedicate to the project? Will you be doing all the research yourself? What work packages are the PI and CoIs involved with and why? Have you factored in enough time to work with project partners or visiting researchers and collaborators? Are you managing the staff on the project only?

Travel and subsistence

Give a full breakdown of the costs in the Je-S form. For example how many people are travelling, where are they going and why?

If you are planning to visit people to discuss your research, you should explain why those are the right people to talk to and how they can contribute to you meeting your objectives. If you plan to attend conferences, you should comment on the advantages of conference attendance. Give an indication of the number you want to attend during the grant, who will attend these and the type you want to go to e.g national/international/ general/subject-specific.

Travel costs incurred when using facilities should be included where necessary.

Other directly incurred costs

Give a description of what has been requested and why?

Justify the need for any item requested. Explain what the item will be needed for and also justify the cost. For example if you are asking for a desktop and a laptop, then justify why both are needed.

We expect that the university will provide computers and laptops for the PIs and CoIs and other research staff on continuing contracts.

You must provide a breakdown of any costs which are incurred for bulk items.

Directly incurred equipment  Why is the item needed? Why can the item not be used/borrowed
from elsewhere.
Impact Justify any resources requested to support realising impact. For example:
  • staff time, travel and subsistence
  • consultancy fees
Full justification (what it is and why you need it) of each item requested.
Please note: patent costs and other IP costs are not eligible; Universities already receive funding for these from HEIF.
Also estate and indirect costs should not be requested for Technology Transfer Officers (TTOs). These are project-specific resources.
Other directly allocated costs Justify the need for resources. Explain what these are and why you need to use them. In some cases, such as internal facilities and shared costs, the basis of costing does not need to be justified.
Estates and indirect costs Does not need to be justified. Must not be included for technicians, research support staff, or staff employed at MRC units/ institutes
Research facilities (at research organisations) Justify time only. Explain what you are using the facility for and why you need to use this particular facility.
Pooled technicians  For example workshop or laboratory technicians based at the university. Usually not named.   We would expect these costs to be included  in the estates/indirect costs for the RO. Where the technicians used are of a specialist nature and not included in the states/indirect costs for the RO, they should be fully justified in the JoR as to why they are required and why the costs are not included in the ROs estate/ indirect costs.
Infrastructure technicians For example health and safety officer at university. Cost should be displayed separately to estate and indirect costs in the other directly allocated costs box. Where the post is to fulfil a legal requirement, then the post does not need to be justified.
eg PhD student

Justify why a PhD student is needed for the proposed work. 

Please see section 3.2.5

Will a student be skilled enough to tackle the research problems? Will it be feasible  for  them to produce a  thesis?

Costs for PhD studentships can only be requested on centre grants.

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2.2.5 Covering letter

A covering letter may be included as part of an application. It should be no more than two A4 pages using sans-serif typeface (Arial or equivalent) and font size of 11pt. The covering letter can be used to cover details such as conflicts of interest and names of conflicted experts that you request not to be used as reviewers. If detailing conflicted experts, the following information must be provided in the covering letter:
1.    The name of the person not to approach
2.    The RO(s) they are based at
3.    A clear reason why the person would not be able to provide an unbiased and evidence-based review

The decision on whether or not to honour a request to exclude a reviewer lies with the MRC following consideration of the justification provided. Requests submitted without a justification will not be considered.

If the application is a resubmission it should also include details of how this application differs from that submitted previously. It must not be used to cover anything which should be included in the proposal form, case for support or other required attachments.

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2.2.6 Project partner letter of support

Each project partner must provide a project partner letter of support, a maximum of two sides of A4 (or equivalent) on headed paper or by email. The letter must be an integral part of the application and must focus on the proposal it accompanies. The individual named as contact for the project partner organisation cannot also be named as staff, for example co-investigator on a grant proposal. 

Applicants should: 

  • Include the letter or email as an attachment to the grant on submission via Je-S. Please note that the Project Partner Letter of Support should only be added to the Project Partners section of the Je-S application form and should not be uploaded to the attachments section of the application as document/attachment type ‘Letter of Support’.
  • Draft the letter or email when the proposal is being prepared; it should be targeted specifically to the project and must therefore be dated within six months of the date of submission of the proposal. 
  • Get the letter or email signed by the named contact, stating the capacity in which they are providing the sign off to provide assurance that the project partner has authorised the proposed contribution or commitment (project partner letters of support that merely indicate that an organisation is interested in the research are not permitted).

A well written project partner letter of support will confirm the organisation’s commitment to the proposed project by articulating the benefits of the collaboration, its relevance and potential impact. The project partner letter or email should also identify:

  • The value, relevance and possible benefits of the proposed work to the partner
  • One or more names of key experts / investigators
  • Where relevant to the project, details should be provided of the projected market size, customer sales and how the organisation will commercialise the technology beyond the project. 
  • The period of support
  • The full nature of the collaboration/support. Project partner contributions, whether in cash or in-kind, should be explained in detail. in the case for support (see section 2.2.3) Detail of how this support relates to the proposal as a whole should be included in the case for support. 
  • How the partner will provide added value. 

The project partners should not submit any other ordinary letters of support unless in exceptional cases and where this has been agreed to with the research council. The research councils reserve the right to remove all other letters of support from the proposal. Applicants should refer to the research council or call guidance for additional information regarding acceptable letters of support.

Additional information requirements where human tissue/participants are being provided:

Where the project partner (whether an individual or organisation) is responsible for recruitment of people as research participants and/or providing human tissue,  list them as a project partner on the proposal form and enter a nominal sum of £1 for the value of the contribution. Details should be included in the case for support. A letter of support must be attached to the application and include the following information:

  • Agreement that the project partner will recruit the participants/provide tissue
  • That what is being supplied is suitable for the research being undertaken
  • That the quantity of tissue (where relevant) being supplied is suitable, but not excessive for achieving meaningful results

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2.2.7 Data management plans (DMP)

All applicants submitting funding proposals (research and fellowship grants) to the MRC must include a data management plan (DMP) as an attachment to their application on Je-S. This includes applications for the renewal of existing funding. The DMP should comply with the MRC’s policy on research data sharing (PDF, 108KB). MRC institutes and units are required to submit a DMP as part of the Quinquennial Review (QQR) report.

The DMP should demonstrate how the PI will meet, or already meets, their responsibilities for research data quality, sharing and security. It should refer to any institutional and study data policies, systems and procedures and be regularly reviewed throughout the research cycle. Where the organisation is ISO 27001 compliant, the registration number should also be included.

The DMP is reviewed by peer reviewers alongside the case for support. It is advisable that all DMPs use the template (DOC, 98KB) to ensure consistency and make it easier to review. Carefully read and adhere to guidance; the quality of the DMP may have an impact on peer review and whether the application proceeds to board/panel.

For population and patient based studies the DMP should indicate how the study meets the requirements of the MRC’s detailed guidance on data sharing for population and patient studies, particularly around access criteria and independent oversight ( the means for ensuring the study and its variables are readily discoverable) and specifically about use of formal data standards.

For intervention studies involving human participants (such as clinical trials, clinical intervention studies, and studies of public health or behavioural interventions) the DMP should indicate how the study meets the requirements of the MRC’s policy on Open Research Data: clinical trials and public health interventions (2016), which include:

  • Registration in the ISRCTN registry within 12 months of the trial starting
  • Addition of the trial protocol (or a link to it) to the ISRCTN registry within 12 months of the trial starting,
  • Timely public reporting or publication of trial results within 24 months of study completion,
  • Preparing data for sharing or re-use.

Partnership grants reliant on sharing and/or reusing research data must include a brief summary of how access to existing data will be managed and how newly generated data will be accessed and preserved throughout the duration of the award.

For MRC institutes and units a DMP is developed as part of the Quinquennial Review (QQR) report (directors may choose to develop more than one DMP, specific to particular programmes).

Level of risk

Where the research involves human participants, their data or tissues or where the research team holds identifiable data about these research participants, the level of risk regarding data management is much higher. In these instances, the DMP should be more detailed and include information on how these risks will be managed.

Length of data management plan 

Type of study Page length

Population cohorts, genetic, omics and imaging data, biobanks, and other collections that are potentially a rich resource for the wider research community.

Up to three A4 pages

Longitudinal studies, involving a series of data collections

Up to four A4 pages (unless agreed otherwise with the MRC prior to submitting the application)
All other research

For less complex research the DMP may be as short as quarter of a page up to a maximum of 3 x A4 pages

How should it be written?

The DMP should be written for two audiences: (a) scientists in the broad field of the area of science covered in the application; and (b) technical experts who are familiar with the prevailing data management practices. Most of the readers will be of type (a).

The information must be concise. The detail should be proportionate to the complexity of the study, the types of data being managed, their anticipated long-term value, and the anticipated data security requirements.

What to include

The DMP template should be used to develop a plan to accompany a research proposal. If you do use the template, ensure to address all the topics listed on the template.

For studies with a history of active data sharing, the DMP should include brief summary statistics on the performance and outputs of sharing (see section on reporting on data sharing)

We expect you to seek advice from data management experts in your organisation and use other sources of good practice to improve and innovate data management. If this means your DMP departs from some aspect of this guidance (or that on data sharing), explain succinctly why and how this is more appropriate. It will aid your DMP if you can show that the infrastructure and good practice is already in place at your RO. 

Custodians of previously collected/generated research data (‘legacy data’), applying for funds to use legacy data as part of a new funding request, should ensure that the DMP covers both existing and new data collection/generation.

Multiple funding agencies

Where research is co-funded between the MRC and another organisation, our data sharing policy and these guidelines on the DMP will still apply. The relevant policies of the major UK funders of biomedical research are aligned on principles and most of their detailed requirements. Any apparent conflict in co-policies should be discussed with your programme manager, or by emailing MRCdatasharing@headoffice.mrc.ac.uk.

Cost of data sharing

You should include the costs related to your data sharing in the resources section of the proposal form. This may include people, equipment, infrastructure and tools to manage, store, analyse and provide access to data.

Where the costs of managing legacy data and sharing are substantial, the proposal should differentiate the resources and funding for the following activities:

  • Collecting and 'cleaning' new data
  • Own research on newly-acquired and legacy data
  • Ongoing data curation and preservation
  • Providing access and data sharing

2.2.8 Additional requirements for New Investigator Research Grants Statement of support

A signed statement of support (maximum of 2 sides of A4) from a senior authority within the host RO on headed paper should be attached to all NIRG applications. For more information please refer to our guidance on NIRGs.

It will be important for the proposed host organisation to demonstrate its commitment to the applicant as a potential future PI. The suitability of the environment and the organisation’s commitment are significant factors in the Boards’ consideration of NIRG proposals. Declaration

All NIRG proposals must also include a declaration that the applicant has originated the research question and written the research proposal. This should be in the form of a letter to be uploaded separately as a ‘Letter of Support'.

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2.2.9 Additional requirements for GCRF and Newton Fund calls Gender Equality Statement

It is mandatory for all applications to GCRF and Newton Fund calls/competitions announced and published after the 1st April 2019 to provide a Gender Equality Statement. This statement must outline how applicants have taken meaningful yet proportionate consideration as to how the project will contribute to reducing gender inequalities, as required under the International Development (Gender Equality) Act.

This should be no longer than one page, and should be attached as a ‘non-UK Component’ through Je-S.

It is expected that some projects will have less impact on gender and gender relations and professional judgement of the applicants should be exercised to ensure appropriate consideration of the context and intended aims of the project. Applicants are able to reference other parts of your application within this statement, if relevant. Applicants are required to address the below criteria, with an understanding that, depending on the nature of their research and innovation, not all questions will be applicable.

Criteria to address while considering gender impact:

- Have measures been put in place to ensure equal and meaningful opportunities for people of different genders to be involved throughout the project? This includes the development of the project, the participants of the research and innovation and the beneficiaries of the research and innovation.

- The expected impact of the project (benefits and losses) on people of different genders, both throughout the project and beyond.

- The impact on the relations between people of different genders and people of the same gender. For example, changing roles and responsibilities in households, society, economy, politics, power, etc.

- How will any risks and unintended negative consequences on gender equality be avoided or mitigated against, and monitored?

- Are there any relevant outcomes and outputs being measured, with data disaggregated by age and gender (where disclosed)?

Please refer to the UKRI Gender Equality Statement Guidance.

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2.3 Research Council Facilities

Should they be required as part of the research project, applicants can choose one of two Research Council national facilities.

  1. Ion Beam Centre - University of Surrey, Guildford
  2. Solid-State NMR Facility - The University of Warwick

If you are planning to use a national research council facility as part of the proposed research, you'll be asked to provide a technical assessment from the service provider. You are required to contact the facility before applying to the MRC to check if your proposed research is feasible and obtain a technical assessment which needs to be attached to the application.

When you have completed the ‘Research Council Facilities’ section of the Je-S form and added either of the above detailed two facilities, you will then be required to attach the ‘Technical Assessment’ form completed by the service provider.

Please note that the ‘Technical Assessment’ attachment type is added via the attachments section of the Je-S application. This attachment type is only made available to select following the addition of either NMR Facility or Ion Beams Centre to the Je-S form.

The technical assessment is required to detail the outline discussions that have taken place with the research facility, to ensure the facility will be available to you at the required time. Please also confirm the start and end date of use of the facility, support requirements and a brief summary of the facilities use and importance of their use for the project. Please include any other information you consider relevant. 
Please ensure the technical assessment attachment does not exceed a maximum of 2 pages.

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2.4 Application checking - common reasons for returning applications to research offices

  • Attachments over permitted page length (eg CV, publication list, Case for Support, Justification of Resources)
  • CV and publications uploaded as one attachment
  • Missing CV for researcher named on grant
  • Letter of support not dated
  • Letter of support not signed
  • Letter of support for human tissue use not provided (see Ethics and approvals section)  
  • Publishing/open access cost requested
  • Equipment costs requested at 100 per cent - with no justification
  • Equipment broken down into component parts to avoid £10K limit
  • Unauthorised attachments (eg Gantt chart in separate document rather than in case for support)
  • Track changes on document
  • Insufficient animal use justification
  • NIRG RO letter of support does not include salary details
  • NIRG CV not on template
  • MICA Heads of Terms or MICA Form missing

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2.5 Peer review

When the application is received, it will be peer reviewed by independent scientific experts from the UK and overseas.

UKRI recognises that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused major interruptions and disruptions across our communities and are committed to ensuring that individual applicants and their wider team, including partners and networks, are not penalised for any disruption to their career(s) such as breaks and delays, disruptive working patterns and conditions, the loss of on-going work, and role changes that may have been caused by the pandemic.

Reviewers and panel members will be advised to consider the unequal impacts of the impact that COVID-19 related disruption might have had on the track record and career development of those individuals included in the proposal and will be asked to consider the capability of the applicant and their wider team to deliver the research they are proposing. Where disruptions have occurred applicants can highlight this within their application, if they wish, but there is no requirement to detail the specific circumstances that caused the disruption.

More information on Peer review at the MRC can be found on our Peer review webpages.

2.5.1 Nominating peer reviewers

Applicants can nominate up to 3 independent reviewers whom MRC may approach for assessment of the research proposal.

Please note only one of the three nominated reviewers will be approached and we may decide not to approach any of the applicant’s nominated reviewers.
  • Nominated reviewers must be experts in the research field and/or be able to provide an expert view on the value and benefits of the research proposal.
  • Investigators shall not provide reviewers from their own organisation, or from current or proposed project co-funders, or where any possible conflict of interest may arise.
  • International reviewers can be included.
Please note the MRC considers possible conflicts of interest when selecting experts to review a proposal. Reviewers are asked to identify any possible conflicts of interest before they begin reviewing a proposal and to decline to review a proposal if there are any. The MRC treat any such disclosures appropriately and fairly. The covering letter can be used to name conflicted experts that you request not to be used as reviewers (see section 2.2.6).

2.5.2 Applicants' response to reviewers’ comments

When a research grant application has been shortlisted for a Board Meeting, Principal Investigators have up to 3 pages (A4) within which to respond to the comments given by the reviewers.

When a programme grant application has been shortlisted for a Board Meeting, Principal Investigators have up to 4 pages (A4) within which to respond to the comments given by the reviewers.

The response should be clearly presented, concise and should not exceed the page limits listed above, irrespective of the number of reviews / additional points made by the triage/shortlisting panel that applicants should respond to (e.g. with reference to experimental design). Additional page(s) will only be granted if the triage panel have requested e.g. a Gantt chart, flow chart, diagram that requires additional space. Use an A4 format with Arial typeface and a minimum font size of 11pt. The response is to all reviews received. A subsequent response to any late reviews must also retain response text on all earlier reviews and not exceed the specified page format. If the response needs to be amended e.g. because of further later peer review comments, the existing copy will need to be removed and a new version uploaded.

You may like to read our blog post on 10 expert tips for responding to peer review comments.

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