First steps: idea to application
An idea for a research project can strike at any time - but
people often get stuck at the "what to do next" stage. The
following points are put together from comments and talks by
funders and researchers; with links to some useful presentations at
the bottom of the page.
What to do first
- You will need to do a literature (background) search to find
out what other research has been done in similar areas, or if the
idea is for a new product/device, to find out what is already
library (Level 5, Education and Research Centre) can
provide training on literature searching, and can also conduct
searches for you.
- Talk to colleagues about your idea - do they think it's worth
- You can also talk to patients (and or friends/family)
informally about your idea - do they think it's worth doing?
Patient and public involvement is needed for grant applications,
and will need to be developed more as your application
- Think about who you can collaborate with - if you are
inexperienced in research, you will need to collaborate with more
experienced people - these may be within or outside of UH Bristol.
One of our experienced consultants advises potential new
researchers to "lash yourself to the mast of a successful research
- Write down your ideas. Help is available, but if you want to be
successful in research you will need to learn the skill of writing
- Think about who you will need to involve, and what you will
need (funding, equipment)
- If your idea is for a new device/product, do not talk to any
commercial companies without first discussing with the Research
& Innovation team (the company and you will have to sign
non-disclosure agreements before discussions can take place).
Things to be aware of
- It takes time to develop a good application, and only the very
best get funded
- You will need the right team in order to carry out any
research; this is one of the key things funders look for.
- Start small; there are local funding schemes
available that allow you to undertake preliminary or feasibility
work, or to backfill clinical time.
- If you have an idea for a larger (and expensive) study, you
will need to talk to experienced colleagues and get their help and
advice - be aware that they may need to be the named Principal
Investigator on large applications.
- People who succeed are those who take time to prepare the
application, get the right people involved (relevant expertise) and
have regular team meetings to discuss the project. You should not be the only person to have
seen your idea before applying for funding.
Support and Advice
Talk to colleagues and the clinical teams in your department.
You will need their support in order to carry out any research.
Information on methodological support in developing NIHR and some
other applications is given on the preparing your funding
application page. Contact the UH Bristol Research Grants
Manager if you'd like to discuss your idea and how to proceed: email@example.com.
You may find it useful to use the following form as guidance for
the type of things you need to consider, and to start writing down
your ideas. Available here.
Library and Information Services and
- The librarians offer critical appraisal skills training,
workshops and tools. These help you find and check research
for trustworthiness, results & relevance.
- The library team could support all stages of the research life
cycle such as finding legislative information at beginning to
helping researchers decided which appropriate journal to publish
- Information retrieval, books, journal articles, grey literature
etc. If you have a question/query/information need we'll find the
Links to presentations on grant
Research Design Service: http://www.rds-sc.nihr.ac.uk/trainingevents/rds-masterclasses/masterclass-in-writing-rfpb-grant-applications-presentation/
David King, NIHR: http://www.profbriefings.co.uk/registration/eastmidlands/presentations/nihrEMDavidKing1.pdf
Alan Bundy, University of Edinburgh: http://homepages.inf.ed.ac.uk/bundy/how-tos/rsg-how-to-get-funding.html
And how not to... http://chronicle.com/article/How-to-Fail-in-Grant-Writing/125620/