How the Joint Funding Scheme works: The details
HRCI members inviting applications
Once funding procedures and a timeline for the scheme have been agreed by the HRB and HRCI, HRCI member charities are permitted to invite applications from researchers. Many charities use social media, their websites and direct approaches to alert researchers to the call and HRCI also keeps an up-to-date open calls page.
Applications to the charities must be made using standard forms (with supporting documentation), which are typical of research call documents used by the HRB. The charities, receive the documentation via HRCI and share it with interested researchers. The individual charities select their own closing date for their research call, ensuring that this will leave them sufficient time to assess the applications through their internal processes and to undertake the peer review process.
The peer review process
Having ensured that any applications are in line with their research strategy or priorities, charities seek peer reviews by three international reviewers. They use experts in relevant research areas and ensure that these international reviewers have no conflicts of interest with the applicants or their research. The applicants are then given the right to reply to the peer reviews.
Following the peer review process, the participating charities use their own internal processes (e.g. research/medical/scientific committees) to assess the peer reviews, the applicant’s reply to the peer reviews and to make a final determination on which projects to submit to the HRB. See HRCI’s research governance guide for more info on peer review, conflicts of interest, research committees and charity research strategies.
Submission to the HRB
At the agreed deadline, the charities submit their chosen applications, and all associated documentation, to the HRB via an online portal. For each application they submit, they include an endorsement, detailing their reasoning for supporting that application. Each charity is entitled to submit the number of applications that they can afford to co-fund, up to a max of three, as well as a ‘plus one’ application. The plus one refers to the fact that charities may submit one more application than they can afford to fund. In this scenario, should all submitted applications be recommended for funding by the Panel, the lowest ranking application will not be funded.
Assessment by Panel
The HRB, with input welcomed from HRCI members, appoint a panel of experts to review applications to the scheme. The panel is populated in response to the types of research in the applications and operates in a similar way to other HRB research funding panels. Applications are assessed by both scientific and PPI reviewers. One representative from each participating charity is invited to attend the panel meeting. See a short HRB video here on what happens at a funding panel.
Projects are ranked in order of priority for funding, with the top projects being recommended for funding until the money allocated to the scheme is used up. In some rounds, there is not enough funding for all highly ranked projects but, relative to other HRB schemes, the Joint Funding Scheme has a very high success rate. The recommendations of the Panel are then brought to the Board of HRB for approval.
Outcomes and contracts
Following HRB Board approval, participating charities are issued with outcome letters and applicant feedback for each of their submitted projects, which they then share with the applicants. For successful applications, contracts between the HRB, the charity(s), the host institution and the clinical institution (where applicable), are then issued, setting out the respective roles and responsibilities of the parties and governing the research project. The HRB terms and conditions govern the award but additional special conditions requested by the charity may also apply.
Funding and grant management
Funding, as agreed in the contract, is issued to the approved host institution annually. Successful charities pay their portion of the funding to the HRB annually. The HRB manages all successful grants but the successful charities receive all grant reports and may have included special conditions for the researchers, which they might have contact with the applicants on.
Participating charities: see our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page
Research applicants: see our video overview of the scheme and what you need to know
More information can also be found on the HRB website
If you can’t find what you are looking for, contact the HRCI Research Support Officer, Dr Sarah Delaney: email@example.com / 01 479 3234.
As charities announce calls (see open calls here), interested researchers should contact the designated contact point at the respective charity.