Working Agreement - NIHR Research Support Service (RSS) Hub and Specialist Centre for Public Health delivered by the University of Southampton and Partners

This page describes the role of the NIHR Research Support Service (RSS) Hub and Specialist Centre for Public Health delivered by the University of Southampton and Partners, detailing in particular how we can advise and support you in developing grant applications. It describes both what you can expect from the RSS, and what we anticipate from you in return.


The NIHR Research Support Service (RSS) Hub and Specialist Centre for Public Health delivered by the University of Southampton and Partners is funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) to assist researchers preparing research proposals for submission to national, peer-reviewed funding competitions for applied health or social care research. Priority will be given to supporting proposals to be submitted to a NIHR scheme.

Nature of support provided

RSS staff have the knowledge and expertise to advise on a wide range of research-related issues, including in particular all aspects of research design and methodology. We can also advise on issues such as involving patients and public, identifying resources and dissemination plans. Although one RSS adviser will take the lead in coordinating support, other RSS staff may become involved to bring complementary skills, and we have a wide range of other contacts in academic and clinical disciplines to facilitate any necessary additional input where required.


We provide support to people who are intending to apply to national, open and peer-reviewed health or social care research funding competitions. Our services are free of charge, but it is useful to give some examples of situations where we are not able to provide support free of charge:

  • the development of projects for which there is no intention to submit a grant application to a recognised funder as described above
  • actually doing the research; if required this would need to be costed into the project grant bid, and it would also depend upon available research capacity and the interests of host institutions
  • formal supervision or informal support for students
  • any aspect of activities that are not research, e.g. audit, satisfaction surveys
  • conducting unfunded analysis on data already collected.

If you are in any doubt about eligibility, please contact us to discuss your situation:

Mutual Understandings

You can expect to gain access to a professional service in a timely manner. You may approach the RSS at any stage of development of a research proposal: from simply wanting to discuss an initial idea through to requesting input on a specific issue relating to a well-developed proposal. The earlier you approach us, the more comprehensive our advice can be. There may be occasions when capacity issues mean we cannot cater for requests with short turnaround times.

You can contact the RSS in person, by telephone, by email or by post to discuss the services we offer. In order to access our support, you will need to submit an online support request.

If eligible, you can expect the following from the RSS:

  • Professional advice about aspects of developing a grant application and practical support for such development, free of charge. Advice will be given to all projects that have potential to achieve funding and advice will be provided throughout the submission process
  • Face-to-face meetings at a mutually convenient time and venue and/or other forms of communication as appropriate
  • Support in co-ordinating the process of proposal development, as required
  • Advice on drafting relevant sections of proposals, as required
  • Support in identifying and approaching other potential lay and professional collaborators, as required
  • Support in identifying a suitable NIHR funding stream and advising on its application processes. If not eligible for NIHR funding we will try to provide advice on other potential funding bodies depending on local knowledge
  • Support for obtaining appropriate user and carer involvement in project development
  • In the case of unsuccessful applications, support with deciding what to do next
  • All discussions regarding the proposal to be treated with appropriate confidentiality

In return, the RSS expects that you will:

  • Use the RSS only for eligible purposes
  • Carefully consider proffered advice, discussing as necessary and accepting such advice except where there are compelling reasons not to do so
  • Ensure that the research team includes input from NHS staff and lay person(s)
  • Where RSS staff are invited, and agree to be grant co-applicants, include appropriate costs in the grant to cover any work they will undertake in the conduct, analysis and reporting of the project (please note that there is no expectation that RSS advisers will be co-applicants on the applications RSS supports)
  • Accurately reflect the nature of RSS involvement and support in the relevant section of the grant application (RSS staff can provide you with a reminder of input given by RSS)
  • Provide RSS with a copy of any completed, submitted application in which RSS support has been involved
  • Inform RSS of the funding committee’s decision.


Updated 29 September 2023