Tagged / collaborative research

Research Fundamentals: In conversation with…the BU Clinical Research Unit

This week on the BU Research Blog we are considering bid quality and how to make a bid as good as it can possibly be. I set off on a quest to speak to members of the BU Clinical Research Unit to understand how they contribute to improving bid quality.

How can the Bournemouth University Clinical Research Unit (BUCRU) support researchers to enhance the quality of their external funding application?

BUCRU is here to support academics and clinicians to develop high quality health and social care research applications. BUCRU’s mission is to improve the quality, quantity, and efficiency of research across the university and National Health Service (NHS). We provide a research advice service to support funding applications and can continue providing support in funded research projects.

As a team, BUCRU has a range of expertise spanning intervention development, trial design, behaviour change, qualitative research, mixed methods, research governance, and patient and public involvement.   Our support is available to both BU staff and local clinicians in the NHS. There are no restrictions on project topic area or professional background of the researcher.

As we’re a hub of the National Institute for Health Research – Research Design Service South West (NIHR RDS SW)  (part of the national Research Design Service) we’re fortunate to have access to other methodological expertise (such as statistics and health economics) as well as popular NIHR SW events and services (for more detail about the NIHR RDS SW see below).

What type of support does BUCRU offer researchers?

We can provide advice on all aspects of preparing a grant application from the initial research idea, including:

  • identifying and refining the research question
  • designing a study
  • research methods (qualitative and quantitative)
  • identifying suitable sources of funding
  • involving patients and public in research design (the NIHR RDS SW has a public involvement fund to support public and patient involvement activities)
  • identifying potential academic, clinical, and public collaborators
  • medical statistics
  • health economics
  • impact and dissemination plans
  • grant writing skills
  • advice on common pitfalls
  • interpreting feedback from funding panels
  • support resubmissions

Which funders will BUCRU support applications to?

We’re keen to help researchers to develop applications for any national external funding bodies with an external peer review process. This includes many funders including NIHR funding schemes, research councils, charities, etc. If you’re applying for seed corn funding to do some initial work to help you to apply for larger scale funding then we can support you with this. If you’re unsure about whether we can help, please do get in touch with us.

If you’re interested in finding out more about NIHR funding and hearing top tips for getting funded, the NIHR RDS SW runs regular online Grant Applications Seminars. The next one of these popular events is on the 9th November 2021. You can find out about it here: http://www.rds-sw.nihr.ac.uk/research-funding-seminar.htm  and book a place here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/rds-south-west-nihr-grant-applications-seminar-tickets-177003420997

Can BUCRU support researchers in designing and implementing public and patient involvement (PPI) in bids?

Absolutely, Helen Allen is our PPI lead for the unit, with Louise Ward supporting and they work closely alongside the PPI team within NIHR RDS SW as well as BU PIER.

The recent development of VOICE@BU (a BU PIER and BUCRU initiative) has helped us work closely together in supporting researchers at the university.  We can help with plain English summaries, advise on recruiting and managing patient advisory/consultation groups, assistance with public involvement funding for national peer reviewed applications and advice with involving the public in all stages of the research cycle.  We can provide advice on engaging marginalised groups in research, collaborating with community organisations, developing participatory and user-led research, and delivering user-led public involvement training.  With PPI now such a core part of funding bids we strongly recommend that you sign up as a member to VOICE and look at how the platform can help involve the public in your research.  We have a previous blog here: https://blogs.bournemouth.ac.uk/research/2021/05/25/voicebu-2/ that explains VOICE including access to a recorded demonstration that we ran for researchers back in May.

How is the NIHR Research Design Service linked to BUCRU, and what advantages does this offer researchers?

The NIHR RDS-SW Research Design Service South West  is one of 10 regional services across England making up a national network of advisers. NIHR RDS advisers support health and social care professionals and academics in all aspects of developing a grant application (including research design, research methods, funding sources, involving patients and the public) to NIHR and other national peer-reviewed funding streams.

The Bournemouth hub of the NIHR Research Design Service South West sits within BUCRU and is one of four regional hubs (the others are Bristol, Exeter, Plymouth). Dr Sarah Thomas is lead for the Bournemouth hub and staff members include Helen Allen and Louise Ward.  We work regionally across the South West and this has the advantage that it gives us access to a wide variety of additional expertise (such as statistics, health economic, qualitative approaches etc.).  We work in accordance with the RDS charter.

We also offer a monthly NIHR RDS SW Project Review Committee. This offers researchers a fantastic opportunity to have their draft applications critically reviewed by a mock funding panel and detailed feedback provided. This brings the benefit of having an application looked at with ‘fresh eyes’ – the panel includes senior NIHR RDS advisers and public contributors. The committee replicates as far as possible the way a real funding committee will consider a funding application. The panel will also provide helpful feedback on an application that was submitted but not funded, to help you revise the application for a future submission. You can find out more about this service and the submission deadline dates here: http://www.rds-sw.nihr.ac.uk/project_review_committee.htm

How far in advance of a deadline should researchers make contact with BUCRU?

As early as you can!  It’s never too soon, even if you only have a vague idea of a research question. We suggest you contact us ideally at least 4-6 months ahead of a submission deadline. We generally need a minimum of 2-3 months to provide good input. Obviously, it depends on the stage of your application. If it is well-developed and you just require advice on a particular aspect then likely it would need less time. Please see our charter and get in touch with us if you are unsure or have any questions.

What is the best way to make contact with BUCRU?

 You can email us at bucru@bournemouth.ac.uk or wardl@bournemouth.ac.uk or call on 01202 961939.  We are based in BG117 (gradually returning).

Website: https://www.bournemouth.ac.uk/research/centres-institutes/bournemouth-university-clinical-research-unit

Our Twitter is: @BU_CRU

An enormous thank you to Louise Ward and Dr Samuel Nyman from BUCRU for their time to answer my questions. 

What makes a good grant application?

It’s the age old question, ‘what makes a good grant application?’ Wellcome Trust have recently issued guidance on how to write a good Wellcome grant application, and the good news is that their guidance is useful for almost all grant applications regardless of the funder.

The guidance is summarised below, but you can find the full guidance on the Wellcome Trust website here: https://wellcome.org/grant-funding/guidance/how-to-write-wellcome-grant-application 

Before you start to write

  • Check you are eligible – Read all guidance, considering information about eligibility and suitability, what is being offered, how to apply and deadlines.
  • Gather all the information you need – Get as much advice as you can, ask other people if they are willing to share their successful and unsuccessful applications with you, contact Research Development and Support early in the process so we can guide you through the application and internal approval processes.
  • Make sure your proposal is competitive – Discuss your ideas with your sponsor, mentor, and/or senior colleagues. Get input from colleagues who are inside and outside your research field. You should think about the following, and take it into account when you write your application:
    • Your research proposal including the importance of the research question(s), the quality and feasibility of your proposal, how creative your idea is, your knowledge of the research area, teamwork and why a collaborative approach is the best one.
    • You as an applicant including the timing of your application for the stage of your career, your track record and experience, your contributions to the research area, your career development, your autonomy and ownership of the project.
    • Your research environment including how the research environment will support you to do the research, any opportunities for development the host will provide, how you will contribute to a positive and inclusive research culture.

Writing your application

  • Give yourself plenty of time – It’s really important that you avoid rushing your application. Allow plenty of time ahead of the deadline.
  • Other timings that matter – Allow enough time for your application to be approved and submitted by the ‘authorised organisational approver’ at the host organisation. Make sure you’re aware of any deadlines at your organisation that could delay this.
  • Make your application easy to read and understand:
    • Aim your proposal at people who have specific expertise in your field as well as those who have broader research experience.
    • Provide a balanced overview of the background, rationale and supporting evidence. Refer to appropriate studies by others and use preliminary data, pilot studies and/or scoping research to support your research question(s).
    • Give enough detail that reviewers can understand what you’re proposing, how it will be carried out and whether it’s feasible.
    • Request research costs that are necessary for your project. Make sure you’re aware of what you can and cannot ask for.
    • Use a title that is specific and reflects the importance of your proposal. Structure your writing with clear headings and subheadings.
    • Write in clear English and avoid technical jargon where possible. Keep abbreviations and acronyms to a minimum – define them when they’re first used.
    • List all references consistently, using the format requested.
    • Use diagrams and figures where appropriate.
    • Check your spelling and grammar

The above has been amended from guidance originally published on the Wellcome Trust website 

Health Research Authority – new final report requirements

Please see below for an update from the HRA –

Changes to the way you submit your final report

The Health Research Authority has implemented changes to final study reporting requirements. The changes apply to all studies across the UK which require ethics approval and which have not yet submitted a final report.

The Make It Public strategy set out our commitment to make transparency easy, make transparency the norm and make information public. We have now developed a standard dataset on research transparency which will be collected in the study final reports. Coupled with changes we have already made to help you plan at the start of a study how you will inform participants at the end, these changes are steps towards fulfilling that commitment.

In the future we will be able to see more clearly what proportion of studies are fulfilling transparency requirements, including information about study registration, publication of results, informing participants of the outcome of the study and the sharing of data and tissue (if applicable).

In standardising the information we request from you and the form for collecting this, we hope it will be easier for you to know what is expected.

If you have any questions, please email research.transparency@hra.nhs.uk

BU hosting Free Webinar on VR Games for Stroke Rehabilitation

As a part of EU Interreg Project AiBle, Bournemouth University is running this workshop webinar on VR Games for Stroke Rehabilitation on Thursday 16th September 2021 from 1-4.30 pm, see further details below:

https://www.euaible.com/event/vr-games-for-stroke-rehabilitation-workshop-webinar/

The workshop objective is to create a discussion platform on intersections between the fields of rehabilitation, robotics, and human-computer/robot interaction. We have host of international experts as speakers for this event. Please register for this Webinar at the link below if you are interested to attend.

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/eu-interreg-aible-vr-games-for-stroke-rehabilitation-workshop-webinar-registration-163487905727

NIHR Research Design Service – Starting Research Workshop

Please see below for the following training opportunity:

Date: 15 September 2021
Time: 09:15-13:30
Location: Online

Funded and hosted by the NIHR Research Design Service (RDS) South Central, discover how to move from thinking about doing research to taking your first steps in the getting support, dedicated time and funding to actually do it. Sign up to the workshop on Eventbrite.

Health Research Authority’s new student research eligibility criteria – live from today

New eligibility criteria for standalone student research go live today (1 September 2021). These changes are designed to ensure that students’ experience of research reflects how modern health and social care research is conducted.

This new criteria encourages innovative approaches to student research like group research, mock Research Ethics Committees (REC) or shadowing a range of people in an existing project.

The changes mean some master’s students will now be eligible to apply for approval to carry out their research.

To help students plan their research we have created a new student research toolkit. The toolkit has been designed to pull together the resources a student will need to understand what approvals are required and whether they are eligible to carry out their research in the UK.  It contains links to existing decision tools as well as some new ones developed especially for students. It uses a simple question and answer format and will provide answers to the following questions:

  • Is my study research?
  • Is my research taking place in the NHS and will it need NHS approval?
  • Do I need NHS REC review?
  • What type of NHS ethics review do I need?
  • Can I carry out my research?

Completing the tool will provide students with an understanding of what activities they can do and ensures that they do not waste time applying for approval for research that they are not able to carry out under the new student eligibility criteria. Through completion of the toolkit, students can access supplementary declarations that need to be completed by their academic supervisor, confirming that they meet the criteria for the type of approvals they need for their research. There are three separate declarations depending on the approvals needed – the toolkit guides the student to the right one based on their responses.

Please share this update and new resource with colleagues and students who might benefit. Further details about the new eligibility criteria can be found on the HRA website.

Please see our question and answer section for further information. If you have any other queries about the eligibility criteria, please contact queries@hra.nhs.uk.

Please contact Suzy Wignall, Clinical Governance Advisor in RDS if you have any queries or concerns.

Risk of kidney problems in migrant workers

Congratulations to Dr. Pramod Regmi, Lecturer in International Health & Global Engagement Lead, Department of Nursing Sciences, and Dr. Nirmal Aryal, formerly of the Centre of Midwifery, Maternal & Perinatal Health (CMMPH), whose editorial “Kidney health risk of migrant workers: An issue we can no longer overlook” has been published today in Health Prospect [1].  Further co-authors (Arun Sedhain, Radheshyam Krishna KC, Erwin Martinez Faller, Aney Rijal, and Edwin van Teijlingen) work in India, Nepal, the Philippines and at BU.  The study was funded by GCRF.

This editorial highlights that low-skilled migrant workers in the countries of the Gulf and Malaysia are at a disproportionately higher risk of kidney health problems. The working conditions are often Dirty, Dangerous and Difficult (referred at as the 3Ds) include physically demanding work, exposure to a hot environment, dehydration, chemical exposures, excessive use of pain killers, and lifestyle factors (such as restricted water intake and a high intake of alcohol/sugary drinks) which may precipitate them to acute kidney injuries and subsequent chronic kidney disease.  

References

  1. Aryal, N., Regmi, P.R., Sedhain, A., KC, R.K., Martinez Faller, E., Rijal, A., van Teijlingen, E., (2021) Kidney health risk of migrant workers: An issue we can no longer overlook. Health Prospect 21(1): 15-17.

Horizon Europe collaboration tools and novelties

Collaboration tools

Following the recent Horizon Europe (HEU) Cluster 1 Health Brokerage Event, the online partnering system remains open to book partnering video meetings and publish new collaboration profiles until 31 October 2021. The UK National Contact Point provides further materials from UK-focussed events on a dedicated website and via a newsletter, which you can subscribe to for free.

Following the recent Horizon Europe Cluster 2 Culture, Creativity and Inclusive Society Brokerage Event, the online partnering system for 2021 calls has been reopened and remains available to book video meetings and contact registered users until 5 October 2021. The UK National Contact Point provides further materials from national events on a dedicated website. The ‘Sustainable future for Europe’ information and brokerage event (Cluster 2 “Culture, Creativity and Inclusive Societies”) for 2022 calls will be held virtually on 30 September.

Horizon Europe Novelties

The Online Manual for EU Funding Programmes 2021-27 states that all EU-funded actions, including Horizon Europe projects, should have a maximum of 10-15 major deliverables.

This is to make the proposal concise, moving away from the 70-page limit in H2020 to the new 45-page limit in Horizon Europe for RIA/IA projects and about giving the proposal a good structure, not limiting work/outputs. There can be many internal deliverables within the project, but they should be structured to no more than 15 major deliverables in the list itself. Minor sub-items should not be included (internal working papers, meeting minutes, etc.).

The recently published Horizon Europe Programme Guide includes useful information on the novelties and horizontal aspects of Horizon Europe.

HEU Work Programme Update

The Horizon Europe Work Programme for 2021-22 will be updated in the autumn to accommodate some important changes, which were not included in the original version, published in mid-June. The first Horizon Europe Work Programme may include several elements related to the implementation of the new programme, for example:

  • Information about topics which will be part of the ‘blind evaluation’ pilot
  • Information about topics which will use the lump sum funding model
  • Information about countries that will be subject to new restrictions on participation in the Cluster 4 Work Programme
  • Further information on the implementation of the Horizon Europe Missions

Funding briefings

As announced earlier, Funding Development Briefings for BU academics will resume in September. RDS Research Facilitators still are updating the Major Opportunities pipeline on a weekly basis, so you have access to the latest funding opportunities on the I Drive here: I:\RDS\Public\Funding Pipeline

Health Research Authority Releases Question and Answers: Student Eligibility Criteria

The Health Research Authority have published some questions and answers in relation to student research – this is in relation to the recent update regarding the upcoming changes to eligibility criteria.

You can find the Q&As here.

If you have any queries please contact Suzy Wignall, Clinical Governance Advisor in Research Development & Support.

BU conference presentation on migration and COVID-19 in Nepal

Yesterday Dr. Pramod Regmi, Dr. Shovita Dhakal Adhikari, Dr. Nirmal Aryal and Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen, all based in the Faculty of Health & Social Sciences, presented at the tenth Annual Kathmandu Conference on Nepal & the Himalaya.  Their paper ‘Moral panic and othering practices during Nepal’s COVID-19 Pandemic (A study with returnee migrants and Muslims in Nepal)’ was co-authored by Dr. Sharada Prasad Wasti from the University of Huddersfield and Shreeman Sharma (Department of  Conflict, Peace & Development
Studies, Tribhuvan University, Nepal).  The presentation was partly based on research funded by the British Academy.

 

Funding Development Briefings – back in September

The RDS Funding Development Briefings have occurred weekly, on a Wednesday at 12 noon since January 2021.

Thank you to those of you who have joined us to discuss the latest funding opportunities, ask questions, and share your research ideas. We will be taking a break over August, with the briefings returning in September.

Over August, we will still update the Major Opportunities pipeline on a weekly basis so you have access to the latest funding opportunities. The pipeline is available on the I Drive here: I:\RDS\Public\Funding Pipeline. The Research Facilitators will still be available over the summer to discuss your research bidding plans, so please do get in touch when required.

Details of the Funding Development Briefings for 2021/22 will be available shortly. Please email RKEDF@bournemouth.ac.uk to receive the Teams invite for these sessions.

We hope you have a restful summer, and look forward to seeing you in September!

Pilot studies paper reaches 90,000 reads

Today ResearchGate informed Prof. Vanora Hundley and I that our paper in the Nursing Standard of 2002 had reached 90,000 reads.  This short methods paper called ‘The Importance of Pilot Studies’ [1] was one of our earlier attempts, nearly two decades ago, to publish more of our work in practitioners journals.  This approach has been highly successful in terms of reaching a wider audience.  We have written longer, more sophisticated research methods papers on pilot studies over the years, including in the Journal of Advanced Nursing, Social Research Update, and the SAGE encyclopedia on research methods [2-6], but none of these has been read or cited as often as our short paper in the Nursing Standard. 

The term ‘pilot studies’ refers to mini versions of a full-scale study (also called ‘feasibility’ studies), as well as the specific pre-testing of a particular research instrument such as a questionnaire or interview schedule. Pilot studies are a crucial element of good study design. Conducting a pilot study does not guarantee success in the main study, but it does increase the likelihood of success. Pilot studies fulfill a range of important functions and can provide valuable insights for other researchers. There is a need for more discussion among researchers of both the process and outcomes of pilot studies.

 

References:

  1. van Teijlingen E, Hundley, V. (2002) ‘The importance of pilot studies’ Nursing Standard 16(40): 33-36. Web: nursing-standard.co.uk/archives/vol16-40/pdfs/vol16w40p3336.pdf
  2. van Teijlingen E, Rennie, AM., Hundley, V, Graham, W. (2001) The importance of conducting & reporting pilot studies: example of Scottish Births Survey, Journal of Advanced Nursing, 34: 289-95.
  3. van Teijlingen E, Hundley, V. (2001) The importance of pilot studies, Social Research Update Issue 35, (Editor N. Gilbert), Guildford: University of Surrey. Web:  http://www.soc.surrey.ac.uk/sru/SRU35.html
  4. Hundley, V., van Teijlingen E. (2002) The role of pilot studies in midwifery research RCM Midwives Journal 5(11): 372-74
  5. van Teijlingen E, Hundley, V. (2005) Pilot studies in family planning & reproductive health care, Journal of Family Planning & Reproductive Health Care 31(3): 219-21.
  6. van Teijlingen E, Hundley, V. (2003) Pilot study, In: Encyclopaedia of Social Science Research Methods, Vol. 2, Lewis-Beck, M., Bryman, A. & Liao, T. (eds.), Oregon, Sage: 823-24.