These pages provide information, tips and information about other resources that can help your research team to plan an effective study. Follow the links on the right to access specialist advice on specific aspects of a study.

Please note that Research Design Service South Central does not endorse all or any of the content or opinion expressed in the sites listed below.


Get started with our Information Pack for Health and Social Care Researchers

To get you started, we would highly recommend that you read through our newly updated Information Pack. This highlights some of the key issues to consider when making a research grant application, including:

  • Refining your research idea
  • Examining the current literature
  • Getting your methodology right
  • The usual structure of a grant application, and what a reviewer would expect to see in each section
  • Logistical issues to consider, including time and money
  • Types of costs typically requested
  • Ethics and governance procedures required of all NHS research
  • What Patient and Public Involvement is, and how to do it well
  • Other organisations which may be useful to you

This list is not definitive; your Research Advisor can provide advice specifically tailored to your application.

Download the Information Pack for Health and Social Care Researchers

Guidance for Researchers Applying for Grants – Map of Southampton Support Services

For information and details of support services that are available to researchers in Southampton when applying for a research grant, please see the Guidance for Researchers Applying for Grants – Map of Southampton Support Services.

This document was created by the Southampton NIHR Local Working Group and it includes contact details, information on the remit, cost of service, time before submission to be contacted and details of what service each unit provides to support researchers.  Information about the following units is provided in this document:

  • NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN): Wessex
  • NIHR Research Design Service (RDS) South Central
  • NIHR Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Facility (CRF)
  • Southampton Clinical Trials Unit (CTU)
  • University Hospitals Southampton (UHS) Research & Development (R&D)
  • University of Southampton Faculty of Medicine Finance
  • University of Southampton Research and Innovation Services

Download the Guidance for Researchers Applying for Grants

Ethics and governance

National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) overview

Overview of initiatives to streamline administrative and regulatory procedures governing research trials and studies. Includes:


Medical Research Council (MRC)

Alongside the NIHR, the MRC is the second main route through which the Government funds health-related research in the UK.

National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)

A UK government body that coordinates and funds NHS research.  To view an overview of the NIHR’s goals, structure and processes, click here

National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) online Funding opportunities booklet

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Funding opportunities booklet is available to view or download online.  The booklet provides information about NIHR research funding and career development opportunities available to researchers who are concerned with health, public health and social care.

Between them, CCF and NETSCC manage the majority of the NIHR research funding programmes.

NETSCC checklist for research proposals to help describe health service interventions in UK research programmes

Programme Grants for Applied Research review

Guidance on what makes a successful PGfAR application. The NIHR have published a review of the first six competitions and 100 awards granted by this prestigious programme. The review includes:

  • Programme and application process overview
  • Review of competition outcomes
  • Eight case studies from funded researchers, illustrating the broad range of health research funded by PGfAR
  • Information on Patient and Public Involvement, including a case study and quotes from lay reviewers describing their experiences of participating in the programme
  • Advice and guidance on applying to the programme from the Programme Director, Adrian Grant and a foreword from Professor Dame Sally C Davies, Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Department of Health.

Research Professional (Website)

Research Professional is a website with a powerful search facility that enables you to search for and browse the latest funding opportunities and research news. Access is by institution – in the RDS South Central region, the universities of Oxford, Portsmouth and Southampton all have access.  To begin using the site, click on the link and select register from the top right hand corner of the page to set up your own account.


National Centre for Research Methods (NCRM)

News and research about the latest development in research methods and current best practice for the social sciences.

Public and Patient Involvement


A national advisory group which supports greater public involvement in health and social care research.

Research areas

British Society of Gastroenterology (BSG)

The BSG has a research committee which advises on research matters and promotes clinical research into improving patient safety and services.

Wessex HIEC

A partnership organisation that brings together NHS Trusts, local authorities, higher education institutions, voluntary and commercial organisations to deliver improvements to health and social care. Current workstreams include telehealthcare, community solutions and public health.


Centre for Review and Dissemination (CRD)

Provides access to information on available reviews and studies on clinical and cost effectiveness.

Cochrane Centre

The UK Cochrane Centre carries out and updates systematic reviews of the research evidence on healthcare intervention.


An international database of prospectively registered systematic reviews in health and social care. Enables comparison of reported review findings with what was planned in the protocol.


Royal Statistical Society

The UK’s professional society for statisticians.

Support with writing/reporting

Masterclass in writing RfPB grant applications (Document)

EQUATOR network

The EQUATOR network promotes responsible reporting of health research studies, mainly through the wider use of reporting guidelines.

SQUIRE guidelines

The SQUIRE guidelines provide a framework to help authors developing proposals or writing articles.

Tools and support for researchers

Adults lacking capacity to consent to research – resource page

This on-line toolkit is a useful resource to guide the design of recruitment procedures for research involving adults lacking capacity to consent for themselves.  The toolkit covers the provisions of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and the separate provisions for medicinal trials under the Medicines for Human Use (Clinical Trials) Regulations 2004.  It includes a specific module on research in emergency medicine.

Patient-Reported Outcomes (CONSORT PRO) – guidance for authors of trials that include patient-reported outcomes

Descriptions of patient-reported outcomes (PRO) in Randomised Controlled Trials (RCTs) is often poor.  The 2013 CONSORT-PRO (Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials Patient-Reported Outcomes) journal article and checklist provides guidance for authors of trials that include such outcomes.  Specifically, five additional checklist items are proposed to facilitate optimal reporting of RCTs in which PRO’s are primary or secondary end points.

UK Clinical Trials Gateway App

The UK Clinical Trials Gateway (UKCTG) app is free and includes a portfolio of clinical trials running in the UK.  The app allows you to filter your trial search by the public title, trial identifying number, health condition, location, interventions, recruitment status, registration date, and who the study is funded or sponsored by.  The app also contains info about what the listed trials are about, what health conditions are being investigated, what they are aiming to achieve, who can and cannot get involved, and crucially, the recruitment status of the trials.  Lastly, another function of the app is that it gives you the opportunity to get in touch with the trial team directly if you would like to find out more about a specific trial.

NIHR RDS North West’s clinical trials essential links resource

This resource, developed by NIHR Research Design Service North West (RDS NW), aims to help you ensure an application for funding for a trial includes key considerations at each stage e.g. trial design, costs, conduct, reporting and analysis. The focus is to support clinical trials but many aspects of the guidance are common to other research studies.

SampSize (Sample Size) App

SampSize is an application to assist in the design of clinical trials by calculating the required sample size for a desired power, or the power of a trial for a given sample size.  It allows users to specify inputs such as significance level, power, mean difference (or limit), standard deviation, and the allocation ratio. The application features calculations for the following:

  • Normal and binary endpoints
  • Parallel and crossover designs
  • Superiority, Non-Inferiority, Equivalence, Bio-equivalence and Precision objectives

RfPB Masterclass powerpoint presentation

SPIRIT (Standard Protocol Items: Recommendations for Interventions Trials)

SPIRIT is an international initiative to improve the quality of clinical trial protocols by defining an evidence-based set of items to address in a protocol. It currently includes a SPIRIT checklist; a web-based tool to make protocol drafting easier will soon follow.

Get help to navigate through the clinical trials journey

Ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements in the setting up and management of clinical trials can be complex. The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) has launched a new website tool to help.  Using a design that will be familiar to all – the tube map – the Clinical Trials (CT) Toolkit uses an interactive colour-coded routemap to help researchers plot their ‘journey’ from trial set-up to delivery. It explains legal and good practice requirements on the way.

Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC)

A membership organisation of leading UK medical and health research charities. Offers workshops, advice on intellectual property, surveys of recently funded research and useful guides to the UK research landscape, including regulations

DIRUM: new resource for health economics research

A new database of resource use instruments to help trial health economists, including questionnaires and diaries based on patient recall. Funded by the Medical Research Council, this database is open-access and easily navigable.

National Institute for Health Research Clinical Research Network

Provides the infrastructure to support NHS research. Services include: support to run clinical studies quickly and effectively; research training for health professionals; working with patients and the public.

NIHR Clinical Research Network Portfolio

The NIHR CRN is a valuable source of support to enable researchers to conduct high quality hospital studies. their work includes:

  • Providing the NIHR Coordinated System for gaining NHS Permission (CSP), to minimize bureaucracy in obtaining permissions, and running clinical studies
  • Funding research support posts in the NHS, and providing training, funding for facilities and practical help to identify and recruit patients into CRN Portfolio studies, so that researchers can be confident of completing the study on time, and on target

Research studies are deemed high quality if they meet the Department of Health Eligibility Criteria for NIHR CRN Support