Wellcome Trust – on schemes, remits, developing competitive applications & the application review process

RKEO was invited to a Humanities and Social Science (HSS hereafter) Research Offices Afternoon, organised by the Wellcome Trust, with a view of establishing relationships and improving the strength and diversity of research they receive and fund.

We were briefed on the HSS funding remit and available funding schemes; on developing competitive applications; the application review process, etc.

Some of the highlights include the following:

ᴥ Wellcome trust funds health, social, cultural and economic research.

ᴥ Theme-based seed awards help researchers to develop compelling and innovative ideas that will go on to form part of larger applications.

ᴥ When applying for funding, it’s important to state:

  1. Your experience & contribution
  2. What you want to achieve
  3. How your planned activities link to achieve the overall aims
  4. Who – partners, stakeholders, etc
  5. Your budget

ᴥ When developing your funding proposal, it’s important to work Wellcome Trust key messages and strategies into it.

ᴥ Funding decisions and recommendations are decided by multi-disciplinary committees. It is therefore important to ensure that your proposal can be understood outside of your field/ discipline.

ᴥ It is highly recommended for proposals to have pre-submission input from colleagues within and beyond your own field.

ᴥ Small grants, seed awards and studentships go through a one-stage application process.

ᴥ Research fellowships and research awards for health professionals go through a three-stage application process:

Expression of interest → Triage → Full application

ᴥ There is currently no requirement for the pathways to impact statement/ document on grant applications.

ᴥ Non-academic impact is viewed positively on applications.

ᴥ Wellcome funds ambitious, innovative and high quality research. Innovative and ambitious means:

  1. The use of interdisciplinary methods
  2. Genuine interdisciplinary research

ᴥ At the preliminary stage, it’s important that applications/proposals be treated as a summary of the full application, with careful considerations for research ethics and data management (avoid depending on generic text)

ᴥ The use of generic text is strongly advised against – the letter of support from the Uni should be personalised to better fit the context of the proposed research

ᴥ What makes a successful application from a reviewer’s point of view?

  1. Innovative
  2. Unusual project
  3. Methodologically rigorous
  4. Sound
  5. The right person doing the right project at the right place
  6. A project fails when jargons and key terms are not explained successfully
  7. Must detail = why this is an important project; why they are the right people to do it; why the location
  8. Research ethics carefully considered; timetable is realistic; costing not outlandish