The process of applying for research funding is called 'pre-award'.

The Basics

All research and research-related funding applications where the funder requires costs to be submitted must be costed on Worktribe and approved by the Head of Department (HoD) and a central team - Research Grants Operations, RGO - before they are submitted to the funder. Some applications require additional approvals, so make sure you allow time for these processes to take place and approach Research Support as soon as you think you will be applying. Research Support will support you through the pre-award process, in particular costing your project, checking eligibility, and navigating the internal approvals.

Most of our funding applications need to go through internal approvals 6 working days before the funder deadline.

Some funding schemes require proposals go through university-level selection processes (sometimes called 'sifts' or 'demand management') prior to submission to the funder. Any internal selection processes required will be advertised by email in advance of the funder deadline.


How to Cost Research

Research Support can do the Worktribe costing for you, and also advise on cost eligibility and suitability. You are welcome to do your own costings, but there are situations when Research Support will need to do it for you, e.g. when the eligible costs don't match the funder template or when the funder requires day rates. The lead on the project will need to complete the Ethics, Risk and Split tabs on Worktribe, and submit for approvals.

Research costings and what to consider when looking for grants (Feb 2023)

Worktribe Support Wiki

Top tips:

  • Match the Worktribe cost headings to the funder guidance. For instance, UKRI don't use the 'Consumables' heading and consumables are classed as 'Other Directly Incurred' costs. Putting costs in the right place makes them easier to input into the funder portal
  • Choose feasible project dates. Sometimes funders will say when they want projects to start, but if you have flexibility allow time for both the review period and any recruitment for the project. It's not unusual for outcomes from UKRI research applications to take 6 months, and recruitment usually takes at least 2 months
  • Consider costing for impact activities. It's easier to budget for them now rather than try to find funding retrospectively
  • When sending costs to collaborators, make clear whether or not your costs have been approved by the University. Download the budget from Worktribe rather than typing it into an email.

Using E&G Laboratory Equipment and Facilities

Our list of key departmental laboratory equipment, facilities, costs and contacts should be used to assist with the planning and costing of research projects.

You should contact the relevant member of staff named in the document, so that they can provide an estimate of the technician time that will also be required to support your proposal.

Please also note that the prices in the document do not include VAT and are cost for direct access to the instruments only. As a general rule we do not charge members of the department for technician time. Technical support spent training and supporting departmental users on the equipment does not need to be costed for. The exception is if we have been specifically included on a research project team (with prior agreement) to perform a substantive amount of work as part of that project.

We may, however, charge equipment users from outside of our department for technician time (e.g. training or support) if deemed to be justified and depending on the level of support given. In all cases, we would encourage people to discuss their requirements with us if they are thinking of costing instrument use into their grant proposals. We can advise on the amount of instrument time they will require for a given number of samples as well as whether the techniques we have available are applicable to their samples.

Developing your Application

Never written a research application before? The BRIC team run courses on writing grant proposals, data management plans, managing research projects, and other skills that you need to be a research leader.

Check our Grant Applications Library for examples of successful applications. If there aren't any relevant applications in the Department, Research Support can approach colleagues in other Departments for you.

All competitive funding applications worth >£20k - where the Principal Investigator (PI) is in Environment & Geography - need to undergo Departmental Peer Review. This should be completed before the internal deadline, and proof of review uploaded to the Documents tab on Worktribe. Research Support can do lay review of applications when that would be helpful.

Read the funder guidance:

  • Ensure you and your project fit their requirements, and tailor your proposal to what they are looking for
  • Ask 'Why?' Why should you be funded by this funder, for this research, at this time?
  • Check what documents the funder expects you to submit
  • Note any formatting requirements; sometimes funders can be specific about the type and size of fonts you must use
  • Look at the funder's assessment criteria/peer reviewer guidance, and critically assess your proposal against them.

Make it easy for reviewers:

  • Create a compelling narrative; make sure that the story of your research has a 'start', 'middle' and an 'end'
  • Break up the text using bullet points, subheadings and 'white spaces'
  • Use consistent terminology. Make sure that activities and objectives have the same name across all your application documents
    • People often forget this when last minute changes are made to their application
  • Include a Gantt chart if you can. This may include:
    • Objectives and sub-objectives
    • Visits to collaborators
    • Key milestones
    • Anticipated publication dates
    • Key conference dates
    • Key impact activities.

Writing your lay summary:

Some funders require a lay summary so that non-experts can understand what the project is about.

  • Use websites like Hemingway to assess how hard your text is to read
  • Look at project Abstracts on Gateway to Research for inspiration (some are better than others!)
  • Consider attending training courses on writing for non-expert audiences.

Submitting your Application

  • Log onto the funder submission portal at an early stage. Sometimes there are additional questions that aren't mentioned in the call guidance and you may need to get the HoD or reviewers to complete sections before you can submit
  • Allow time to complete your application on the funder submission portal. It always takes longer than you think!
  • Research Support can input costs onto some funder portals to you - add to the proposal. Costs should match Worktribe
  • Do a final check to ensure your Justification of Resources matches the costs that have been put onto the portal; this is especially important if you have made last minute changes to your costs
  • Aim to submit your application on the funder submission portal 3-5 working days before the funder deadline. This allows time for it to go through institutional approval. Note, you need internal approval before submitting.

A Beginner's Guide to the UKRI Funding Service - The Funding Service (TFS) guidance created by Chemistry Research Support. Aimed at EPSRC applicants but also useful for other funders.

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