Research Design Service: East Midlands

How we can help 

Project advice, RDS Public Involvement Fund (PIF) award and RDS events

Face-to-face advice (2 heads)Face-to-face advice is available for local researchers, supported by telephone, email and website contact. Investigators are asked to complete our online support request form. Upon receipt of your request, we will allocate an adviser to work with you. A current research search is carried out for each project to give teams an overview of the range and depth of research that exists and to discover on-going studies. Other members of the RDS team will then be brought in to provide more specialised advice as needed. It is preferable to contact the RDS EM at an early stage to discuss your ideas, although we will try to help at any stage in the development of your research proposal.


Reviewing panel (table discussion)Reviewing panel This is a mock application reviewing panel attended by the RDS EM team together with public contributors. The idea is that the panel will review your nearly-ready funding application, replicating as far as possible how the funding panel will consider the application. It is a great opportunity to have your project seen with fresh eyes and to be given detailed attention by a range of experts. Our panel runs monthly and researchers can specifically request that their bid be considered or your adviser may suggest that it would benefit from this process. Use our application review form to book a slot. 


Public contributors (clip art people)Public contributors' service is available to all researchers in the East Midlands. The service provides confidential reviews of grant applications by our panel of public contributors. The public contributors assess the plain English summary and advise on the project's public involvement plans and on any ethical issues to help improve the quality of the application. To access this service please contact our public involvement lead.



Information service (pile of books)Information service provides current research checks to projects supported by the RDS and, on request, provides literature searching guidance, one-to-one advice and training and advice on how to conduct systematic reviews. Help can be given via email, telephone and - in some cases - via face-to-face meetings at the George Davies Centre, University of Leicester. The aim of the service:

- To ensure no similar research is currently being carried out
- To identify any systematic reviews on the topic
- To highlight research priorities
- To provide background information and justify the proposed project
- To review proposals prior to submission and to consider how literature and evidence has been used to support the case for research

All requests to access this service should be made through your assigned RDS EM adviser.
Or, if you are a researcher eligible for RDS support, please contact our research advisor in health research information, Christine Keen.


Post award support (signpost)Post-award support The RDS can provide post-funding advice to researchers experiencing difficulties. This support may relate to study set-up, delivery or analysis, but will be advisory only, including signposting to other groups. The RDS cannot provide support to fill gaps in the expertise of research teams.


Public involvement fund (speech bubbles)Public involvement fund (PIF) These are small awards to support service-user engagement where it will contribute to the development of a funding application. Any team being supported by RDS EM is eligible for financial support. One application for a PIF can be made per project for the maximum amount of £300 (£150 for fellowship applicants). All requests for an award should be submitted using the application form which needs to be filled out with support of your project adviser giving a detailed and accurate breakdown of all costs included. Once submitted by your project adviser it will be peer-reviewed and the outcome of the application will be made available within two weeks of submission.

application workshop (mindmap) Application workshop are full-day events which run several times a year (in Leicester and Nottingham). The workshops generally focus on elements of the application process, covering key aspects including what makes a proposal fundable, framing research questions and objectives, the NIHR standard application form, stakeholder involvement and building suitable research teams. The workshop is built around practical presentations paired with group activities and culminates in a mock funding panel or Q&A panel session. Each event includes an external presentation providing insights into the application process. Please consult our events calendar for the date and specific content of the next application workshop.


public involvement workshop (blackboard with word cloud) Public involvement workshop  These are designed to help researchers plan meaningful and appropriate public involvement in their research proposals in order to improve the overall quality of a bid. The workshop will give researchers an opportunity to consider public involvement during bid development and how to capture this within their applications. The session includes a combination of teaching, information giving and group discussion. Each session will last two hours followed by bookable one-to-one sessions. The workshop runs three times throughout the year. For the date of the next public involvement workshop consult our events calendar.


funder focus seminar (jigsaw) Funder focus seminars RDS EM runs a programme of funder focus seminars that provide an overview of specific NIHR programmes, outlining how they work (e.g. how research is commissioned and funding decisions made) and any recent changes that have been made. The events provide an insight into what makes a successful application together with insider tips on what the funding panels are looking for. The seminars include speakers from the funding streams, previously successful researchers and RDS staff. It is a good opportunity for networking and initial one-to-one meetings with RDS staff. Seminars are run several times thoughout the year. For the dates please consult our events calendar.

partnership (two linked clip art people)Partnership RDS EM works closely with local partners
- Clinical Research Network East Midlands (CRN EM): Supporting researchers with the development, set-up and delivery of high quality research to time and target. Contact for more information. CRN Flyer
- Clinical Trials Unit (CTU): Academic unit providing expertise and support for the management of multi-centre randomised controlled trials and other complex studies. For more information contact Leicester CTU:;  Nottingham CTU: or Derby CTU: