Residential Grant Writing Retreat

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

Frequently Asked Questions


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What is the Residential Grant Writing Retreat?

The Residential Grant Writing Retreat is a unique initiative developed in the NHS for health and social care researchers in the South West and South Central areas. It is organised and facilitated by the Research Design Services South West (RDS SW) and South Central (RDS SC).

The aim of the Retreat is to produce proposals to undertake high quality applied health research which will be competitive in seeking national peer-reviewed research funding. This is achieved through a residential practical programme led by a team of advisers in specialist fields. The participants at the Retreat work as teams on their own research proposals. The team of advisers works with the research teams in developing the project into a high quality research proposal.

Teams are selected to participate in the Retreat based on the quality of an initial application and an assessment of the potential of the research proposal to succeed in competitions for national peer-reviewed funding.

Who is it for?

The Residential Grant Writing Retreat will appeal to health, public health and social care professionals and academics within the RDS SW and RDS SC areas who are keen to pursue the development of an idea into a high quality research proposal. Teams can also include service users and carers working with project teams. At least one of each team’s three members must be employed in a health, public health or social care organisation in the RDS SW/SC areas.

Can we attend as a team of three academics?

No, not unless one of you also works as a practitioner in a relevant field. That can include someone working within the NHS, or within public health or social care in a local authority for example. The NIHR supports applied health and social care research and it is important that practitioners from the relevant fields are involved at all stages of such research.

Can I attend with an application for a Fellowship?

No. Although the RDS in general can and does support individuals developing applications for individual training awards such as fellowships, these proposals do not lend themselves so well to the team working for which the Retreat is designed. Potential team applicants should be working on a proposal for an individual research project or programme.

When and where is the Residential Grant Writing Retreat?

The Residential Grant Writing Retreat 2017 takes place between Monday 4 September and Friday 8 September 2017 inclusive at Dillington House near Ilminster, Somerset. The period of the Retreat is fully residential and accommodation and all meals are provided.

How do I apply?

Applications for the 2017 Retreat must be made using the application form available via this website.

When is the deadline?

Full applications must be submitted by 1pm on Wednesday 26 April 2017.

When will I hear the result of my application?

You will hear the outcome of your application by the end of May 2017.

What does the Residential Grant Writing Retreat cost?

The Retreat costs £2,850 for a team of 3 people.

Where can I obtain funding to attend the Retreat?

Most teams attending the Retreat in previous years have obtained funding from their NHS Trusts, which have been very supportive of the event.

Who should I include in my team?

The Retreat is open to health and social care researchers in the RDS SW/SC area. Each team must comprise three individuals, at least one of whom must be employed in a health or social care organisation in the South West / South Central.
Ideally, the team needs to reflect the varying input necessary for the success of the proposal and the research project itself. You don’t need to worry about methodological disciplines (statisticians, health economists, etc.) for the present purpose since such expertise will be available from the adviser team at the Retreat. But certainly a variety of other disciplines/professions is important – e.g. some combination of doctor, nurse, therapist, psychologist, manager as appropriate – rather than the team only comprising one such discipline. It should be noted that the individuals named on the application form must be the people who would actually attend the duration of the Retreat if the application is successful.

What is included in the Retreat?

  • Full board accommodation in an en-suite room at Dillington House (breakfast, lunch and evening meal).
  • Refreshments throughout the day (tea, coffee & biscuits).
  • Free internet access.
  • Free parking at Dillington.
  • All activities of the Residential Grant Writing Retreat.
  • Conference facilities and rooms to work in.
  • Access to advisers in the field of epidemiology, statistics, health economics, qualitative research and health services research, data management, governance, public and patient involvement, funding and ethics.
  • Critique of proposal at senior level.
  • Continued support in the development and delivery of your project.

What is not included?

  • Travel costs to and from the Retreat venue at Dillington.
  • Personal travel insurance.
  • Any equipment insurance as required.
  • Personal spends.
  • Personal care for service users cannot be provided by either the Retreat staff or the other members of the research team. If you have a team member with particular care requirements please contact us to discuss.

How are the teams chosen?

Selection for the Retreat is by open competition. Teams are asked to submit their research ideas using the Retreat application form. The proposals are reviewed using assessment criteria similar to those typically used by funding bodies, but in particular the value and importance of the question that your proposal addresses, and the feasibility of delivering the project.

Scientific quality is also important but we recognise that your submission will obviously be ‘work in progress’, and we are more interested in the potential of the project to be successful in attracting national peer-reviewed funding. Using the review, decisions are therefore based on this potential for funding and the likelihood of realising that potential through the team attending the Retreat.

What support is available to me to make an application?

We strongly advise that if you are thinking of applying for the Residential Grant Writing Retreat you make early contact with your local RDS SW or RDS SC office whose staff will be able to help with early development of your proposal.

What is expected of participants?

  • Personally - it might seem obvious but it’s worth stating that as a participant of the Retreat you will be expected to conduct yourself in a professional manner at all times. Participants of the Retreat including teams, the adviser team and the support team are employees of health and academic organisations and are representatives of those organisations during their time at the Retreat.
  • Professionally - participants are expected to give their full commitment to the Retreat. This means before, during and after the residential part of the Retreat and confirms your obligation to your team that you are serious about ‘doing research’. Each team member will have different qualities to bring to their team and the Retreat overall and active involvement is crucial to your learning experience and what you take away from the Retreat. Additionally, the curriculum for the Retreat is arranged specifically for a specific number of attendees and a change in numbers can cause considerable logistical difficulties. Each member of the team named on the application form, therefore, is required to commit to attending for the full duration of the Retreat.

Can some members of the team come for just part of the Retreat?

No. The way the Retreat works would make this problematic because of various activities taking place at different times. It is important that all team members are committed to the residential nature of the Retreat and attend for the entire duration. If there are exceptional circumstances which make this particularly difficult for you, then please get in touch to discuss. As stated above, the individuals named on the application form must be the people who would actually attend for the duration of the Retreat if the application is successful.

Who are the ‘advisers’?

Collectively the advisers have a wide range of knowledge and experience of health and health services research methodologies. All have considerable experience of seeking and obtaining high quality research funding and individually have their own areas of expertise.

What is the 'Retreat support team'?

The Retreat support team is responsible for making sure everything goes according to plan – that is the application procedure, all the arrangements for the Retreat, looking after the teams and advisers whilst on the Retreat and providing support throughout the whole experience. The team will also ensure your dietary and access requirements are met as far as possible during your time at the Retreat.
Both the Retreat support team and the advisers are responsible for the Retreat curriculum, allowing for a certain degree of adaptation where necessary, and will endeavour to make your experience of the Retreat a thoroughly enjoyable one.

What research resources are available at the Retreat?

Access to research resources whilst at the Retreat will be in the form of books and papers that the Retreat support team bring with them and access to the internet. Please note however that you will get more out of the Retreat if you have made as much use of the internet in advance. You should think ahead and be prepared to bring all relevant research related information you might need (e.g. literature searches).

What expenses will I have?

Costs that you must meet yourselves include travel costs to and from the residential venue, personal spends throughout the Retreat and any travel and/or equipment insurance as required.

Will I need to purchase travel insurance?

This is really up to each individual and the insurances you already have in place, however if you are driving to the Retreat then you may well need ‘business use’ car insurance to cover this.

Will I need to purchase insurance to take equipment?

If you bring your own personal equipment to the Retreat (e.g. a laptop) you will need to have your own insurance to cover personal items. If you bring any equipment owned by your employing organisation it may be covered by your organisation’s insurance.
Where do I join the Residential Grant Writing Retreat?
Full details of enrolment procedures will be made available to the successful research teams nearer the time, however the Retreat will probably start with registration on the morning of Monday 4 September 2017; we expect to commence activities at 10.30 am.

Will I get my own room?

Yes – each delegate will have their own room with en-suite facilities.

I have specific dietary requirements – will these be catered for?

The Retreat support team will inform the venue of individual dietary requests as early as possible. We cannot guarantee these will be fully met but we will work with the catering staff to address any special dietary needs and if necessary suggest options.

Why is the Retreat a residential event?

We recognise that research and indeed general NHS funds are currently restricted and that taking a group of staff out of their workplace for an entire week may seem an unnecessary extravagance. However, there are some particular - and we believe unique - benefits to running the Retreat this way. In particular, the relative isolation of the Retreat from domestic concerns and day-to-day workload means a much greater focus on the teams’ research projects; it is this protected time (with methodological advice constantly available) that captures the epitome of the Retreat. In addition, holding the Retreat at an external venue generates greater interest and enthusiasm for the competition for places.

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