NIHR Research Design Service South West    

Residential Research Retreat
26th to 28th November 2019. Dillington House - Somerset. Now closed to applications.

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Assessment criteria


Places on the Residential Research Retreat 2019 are limited and this inevitably leads to the need to make choices amongst applications to attend. Your application will be assessed by a panel who are experienced reviewers for national peer-reviewed funding streams. Where necessary, the panel will seek further advice on technical aspects of your proposal, for example on issues of biological or clinical plausibility.

Your application should be submitted using the Retreat application form. The structure of the form and the associated advice reflect the criteria the panel will have in mind when they assess your application.

We appreciate that the application form may look a little daunting but it is recognised that your project will not yet be the ‘finished article’. Please try to complete each section even if your ideas on that issue are not yet fully developed.

The main criterion for the assessment panel will be whether the project you describe in your application has the potential to make progress towards an early application to one of the national peer reviewed funding streams, ie. does your application describe a good research question or idea? Within that overarching concern, the assessment panel are asked to consider the five broad questions below. The questions under the main headings are indicative of the kinds of issues members of the panel will have in mind but should not be seen as a comprehensive list.

Is what is proposed a good research idea?
This is probably the most important criterion and will be assessed in terms of questions such as:

  • Are the issues to be studied important in health, economic and societal terms?
  • Is the research needed to fill gaps in the current knowledge or understanding of key questions in the field?
  • Are the issues framed in such a way as to make them amenable to research?
  • Do the aims and objectives of the study clearly address the issues described?

Are the methods sound and appropriate?
This will be assessed in terms of questions such as:

  • Will the design and methods of the study deliver the aims and objectives?
  • Are the design and methods of the proposed study the most efficient way to deliver the aims and objectives?
  • Will the results of the study be generalisable or transferable beyond the immediate research setting?
  • Does the proposed study design take account of issues of representativeness?
  • Does the proposal describe and explain the approach(es) the study will take to avoid potential sources of bias?
  • Will the proposed study meet the relevant legislative and regulatory requirements?

Is the study practical and feasible?
This will be assessed in terms of questions such as:

  • Is the study described in enough detail for an assessment of its feasibility to be made?
  • Is it possible to complete the study to the timescale and with the resources described in the proposal?
  • Will the study be able to recruit the required number of eligible participants?
  • Does the team of investigators incorporate the range of disciplines and experience needed to carry out the study?
  • Does the proposal describe the benefits and limitations of the proposed setting for the study?

Can the proposed study be tailored to fit the terms and conditions of an NIHR funding stream?
The various NIHR funding streams cover a very broad range of applied health, health-services research and social care research. The assessment panel have extensive experience of working with applications for these streams. Although you are not expected to have fine-tuned the description of your project to the requirements of a particular funding stream, details of the schemes are to be found on the NIHR website.

Applications to attend the Retreat will be assessed in terms of questions such as:

  • Do the issues addressed in the proposed research fall within the scope of any of the NIHR funding streams?
  • Are the likely costs of the proposed research within the funding limits of the relevant stream(s)?
  • Is it possible to complete the proposed research within the time limits of the relevant stream(s)?

Study team
It is understood that your entire project team may not be fully formed, however the following issues will be considered:

  • Does the team contain a mix of disciplines?
  • Does the team contain a mix of clinical and academic expertise and knowledge?
  If you would like further clarification about the way applications will be assessed or any further explanation of any of the issues noted here, please get in touch with your local RDS office or email Sue Anderson at  
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