Residential Grant Writing Retreat

Monday 4 September to Friday 8 September 2017
Dillington House – near Ilminster, Somerset

About the Retreat


IntroductionAbout the retreatRetreat activitiesConditions of entryApplication form
Assessment criteriaFAQsEnquiriesThe venuePrevious success stories


A Residential Grant Writing Retreat has been run for many years by the RDS SW, and has become a highlight for local health and health services researchers. For 2017 we are running the retreat as a collaboration between RDS SW and RDS SC. The teams selected to attend will benefit from:

  • protected time dedicated to the development of research projects away from the distractions and demands of clinical practice
  • the experience of working as part of a professional research team
  • the opportunity to have their skills in writing research proposals honed and polished
  • ‘hands-on’ experience of the methodological, technical, and practical issues in planning and conducting research.

The achievements of the Retreat are reflected in the success of research projects developed there and the continued involvement of the alumni of the Retreat in the local research community as research enthusiasts and advocates.

The Retreat has changed from year to year - reflecting our experience of running the event, the particular needs of the participants each year, and shifts in NIHR policy. However, there are three consistent features that have contributed to its success:


1. Research teams

Participants come to the Retreat as a project team of three members. Team-working is an important aspect of modern practice in high quality applied research. Teams improve their skills together but they also develop their individual skills through the division of labour within the team. Moreover, teams work (and live) together for the week of the Retreat. The commitment of the individuals to the shared task and to the other members of the team is an important element in the Retreat experience - and in the success of the resulting project.


2. Competition for places - choice of participants

Selection to participate in the Retreat is competitive. Although the standards are high – and have become more rigorous over the years - this does not mean that the Retreat is exclusively for experienced researchers. Projects will be selected as much on the suitability of their ideas and their appropriateness to the NHS as the experience or methodological expertise demonstrated by the research team. Some of the Retreat’s greatest successes have come from teams with little previous experience of research who have had a great research idea and the commitment to see it achieved. Teams are asked to submit their research ideas using the Retreat application form (available via this website).

Applications are assessed for quality and potential using the criteria described elsewhere on this website. The assessment will include an explicit evaluation of the potential of the proposal to make a successful application for national peer-reviewed funding. This open competition has had benefits both for the individuals who apply (winning a place is an achievement in itself), and for the research culture in the area as the interest generated by the competition has heightened the profile and status of research within the health community.


3. Applied experience

The task that forms the focus for participants of the Retreat is to plan a research project and to write a high quality, fundable proposal. This task is a real one: participants are planning their own research project for which they will seek funding and ultimately carry out. During the Retreat they work as professional researchers with the professional advice and support of the advisers on the Retreat staff. The absolute requirement that the teams work to the highest standards of creativity and intellectual rigour for an extended period provides participants with an experience of what it takes to succeed in the competitive world of contemporary research.

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