National Institute for Health and Care Research

Co-Develop Research

Two women with baby

Some research sites may want to be more actively involved in setting the research agenda, by co-developing a research application alongside researchers.

This often involves someone from within the service or setting becoming involved in the research process at a much earlier stage, before a funding application has been submitted. The research funding application would then include the service as a partner organisation and/or the named person as a co-applicant.

Becoming a co-applicant often requires more time, greater responsibilities and additional resources than being a research site for a research study or project.

However, these are not intended to be off-putting as co-developing a research project can bring significant advantages to your organisation.

1) How will this research study / project impact in the long-term on services and the field?

As a co-applicant, you will want to ensure that the research findings can contribute to yours and other’s services as well as the body of knowledge within the field in a meaningful way, whether that’s through professional practice, policy or further research opportunities. You should think about the ‘what next?’ questions even before a research study / project begins.

2) What will you contribute to a research funding application with others?

Everyone who is named on a research funding application must have a clear role and meaningful contribution to make to the prospective research study / project. This may include participating in the development of the research design, ensuring or carrying out data collection and analysis, or having oversight in some way. As you will be a co-applicant with researchers, it is likely you will bring significant clinical expertise and experience and you may need to draw on this throughout the research study / project lifecycle.

3) Do you have the time to be able to commit to a research study / project from start to finish?

It’s important to consider and evaluate the time commitment required as a co-applicant on your existing working day and other responsibilities. The time commitments may vary throughout the research study / project lifecycle.

4) What legal and contractual obligations will I need to agree with and adhere to as a co-applicant?

When becoming a co-applicant, you will at some point sign a document (or documents) to agree on legal and other contractual obligations. These may include confidentiality agreements, data sharing agreements and intellectual property.

5) What funding responsibilities might I hold as a co-applicant?

Not all research funders are the same but generally speaking the responsibilities that the funders place on co-applicants is shared across the team, especially with regard to financial management. This will include having oversight of the research budget, the spending within the budget, and the necessary reporting to the funder, in accordance with the grant agreement. You will need to make sure that your organisation or service has the necessary financial systems in place to manage the research budget (or proportion of the research budget).

6) How will I ensure that the research study / project complies with the necessary governance?

As a team of co-applicants, you will have a shared responsibility for ensuring that the research study / project complies with internal and external governance including the relevant laws, regulations and ethical approvals. It is common for co-applicants to share out the specific tasks that relate the study management and oversight.

7) What will be expected of me in terms of collaboration and communication with the other co-applicants?

In order for a research study / project to be successful, effective collaboration and communication across the co-applicant team is required. You will need to attend and contribute to regular channels of communication including meetings and emails with the other co-applicants or designated researchers with management responsibilities.

8) Am I able to handle potential conflict in a constructive way?

When working with others, especially other co-applicants, potential conflict may arise which you will need to be prepared to engage with. Co-applicants need to be able to work through conflict in a constructive manner to address any issues.

9) Do you have capacity to contribute to the dissemination of the research findings?

Funded research will always have some kind of mandated reporting generally including a final technical report for internal audiences. Often there will be public dissemination through other channels as well, such as via publications and presentations.

10) How will being a co-applicant impact on my career and professional development?

Being research active whilst remaining in clinical practice is a great destination point in one’s career – that is, of course, if being part of research aligns with your career goals. Being research active means you can provide the best care to your patients / clients / service users whilst also contributing to tomorrow’s evidence base through research activity. Being part of a successful research study / project can have many benefits for your career, future employment opportunities and raising your professional profile in the field.

11) How will risk be managed in the research study / project?

The research team should consider how all risks as assessed and managed that may arise before, during and after the research study / project. Risks may include operational risks, financial risks and reputational risks. As a co-applicant, you will be expected to contribute to the development of risk assessments and strategies to manage them.

Are you ready?

If you think you might be ready to be part of a research funding application let us know your clinical or research interests so we can link you up with potential partners. You can also get in touch if you have any queries on:

Back to Top