Frequently Asked Questions (HRCI member charities)
How the Scheme works – overview and initiation
1. How does the Joint Funding Scheme work?
The key stages of the Scheme are as follows:
*Charity opens call
- Charities publish calls and engage with prospective applicants
- Applications submitted to the relevant charities
*Charity reviews and shortlists
- Charity manages international peer review process [and public review, where applicable]
- Charity offers applicants right to respond to peer reviews
- Charity undertakes internal process to select applications to go forward for consideration by HRCI-HRB Joint Selection Panel.
* HRCI / HRB Joint Selection Panel
- Applications considered at a HRCI-HRB Joint Selection Panel meeting
- Each application assessed by assigned scientific + PPI reviewers
- Scored for scientific merit and also for quality of PPI
- Charities can be observers at Panel meeting
*HRB Board approval
- HRB Board approves successful projects and contracts are issued
2. How do charities initiate participation in the Scheme?
Any charities interested in participating in this round of the Scheme must contact HRCI to receive all relevant documents. A full list of the documents is provided in the Instructions to Research Charities. Charities will be alerted when these documents are ready.
3. Is it necessary for a charity to open a formal call for applications to the Scheme?
Although member charities are encouraged to open calls for the purposes of openness and to attract researchers that they may not already be aware of, charities may have valid reasons for not opening a call and in that case can invite applications from principal investigators (PIs) already known to them. There is no necessity to open a formal call for applications.
It is possible to resubmit an application made to the scheme in a previous round. In this case, new peer reviews would need to be conducted because it is expected that there would have been a change in the state of knowledge in the time since original submission. It is acceptable to use the same reviewers, but it would be expected that the reviews would have reference to new research or the absence of progress in the field.
Funding arrangements in the Scheme
4. What is the maximum award made by the HRB for each successful project?
Charities with an annual gross income (or reserves) of less than €150,000 can request up to 75% co-funding from the HRB, while charities with an annual gross income (or reserves) of €150,000 or over can request 50% co-funding. Charities qualifying for 75% co-funding will have to provide further information within the applications forms. They should note that the HRCI levy (see question 9) on the HRB portion of funding will be payable on 75% of project costs, should they select this option.
The total maximum value of each project funded is €300,000 over 3 years with the maximum award made by the HRB for each successful project being €150,000 in the case of projects where the charities co-fund 50% of the costs, and €225,000 in the case of projects where charities co-fund 25% of the project costs. The HRB’s contribution to each successful project is paid directly to the Host Institution.
5. What is the total maximum funding that any one charity can receive?
Each charity is permitted to submit up to three projects to the HRB, as well as a ‘plus one’ (see below for what a plus one project is). This means that the maximum value of funding that any one charity can receive is €450,000 for charities seeking 50% funding for successful projects, and €675,000 for charities seeking 75% funding for successful projects.
6. What is a ‘plus one’ project?
In the event of a charity receiving more highly rated applications than they can afford to fund, it may submit one additional application more than it can afford to the HRB (e.g., you have 3 applications with a high score, but you only have funding for 2). In this scenario should all submitted applications be recommended for funding at Joint Selection Panel stage, the lowest ranking application, as judged by the Joint Selection Panel, will not be funded.
7. If a project is successfully funded for 2 or 3 years, does the charity have to frontload their portion of the funding (i.e., pay the full amount of their contribution to the project up front)?
The charity is not required to pay their total contribution up front. The charity portion is split across each year of the duration of the project.
8. Are there any restrictions on the sources of funding raised by charities towards their contribution to finding successful projects under the Scheme?
There are no restrictions so long as the funding contributed by the charity comes through the charity’s own accounts and not directly from industry. For example, a charity may receive funding from the pharmaceutical industry as part of its fundraising activities and this is processed through the charity’s own accounts. This would not be restricted. There are, however, exceptions to this. Charities receiving research grants from sources that would not be considered appropriate for ethical reasons (such as grants from the tobacco industry) will be restricted from participating in the Scheme. This is a general condition applying to charities as a whole, not just to specific applications to the Joint Funding Scheme.
9. What is the HRCI-HRB Joint Funding Scheme Levy?
HRCI charges charities who are successful in receiving funding under the Scheme a 5% levy on the funding for each project received from the HRB. This is to cover the extensive amount of administration undertaken by the HRCI in managing this Scheme. This applies to the 75% project funding awarded to charities whose annual income is than €150,000 and reserves of less than €150,000, and the 50% project funding awarded to charities whose annual income and reserves are €150,000 or over. Charities will be asked to tick a number of boxes indicating agreement with the levy prior to commencing the application process via GEMS. These are provided in the Instructions to Research Charities.
10. What project costs are covered under the Scheme?
Eligible costs which are funded under the Scheme are personnel costs (excluding tenured staff), student stipends and fees, direct running costs, PPI costs, equipment and dissemination costs.
11. How are overheads calculated and paid?
The HRB will contribute to the indirect costs of the research through an overhead payment of 30% of Total Direct Modified Costs (TDMC – excludes student fees, equipment, and capital building costs) for laboratory or clinically-based research, and 25% of TDMC for desk-based research. Overheads are paid by the HRB in addition to the funding available for the successful project. These are added by the HRB at contract negotiation stage.
Allowed duration of projects funded under the Scheme
12. What is the allowed duration of projects funded under the Scheme?
The duration of projects funded under the Scheme is between 12 and 36 months.
Eligibility criteria for participation in the Scheme
13. What are the eligibility criteria for charities applying to the Scheme?
Charities who wish to submit applications must be full members of HRCI (not associate members) and be approved as a Co-funding Partner under the HRCI-HRB Co-funding policy. If you are new to the scheme or you have not participated in the scheme for 5 years, you will need to make a first application/apply for re-approval. The link to the updated HRB Co-funding policy will be provided after the forthcoming round of the scheme has been approved by the HRB Board. Applications/renewals will be invited from the launch of the scheme in September 2023. You will be informed if you need to apply/renew. The deadline for receipt of applications is 28th February 2024. Charities must be in “good financial standing” and a specific definition of this will be provided post-HRB Board approval. Charities can either be:
- A company established under the Companies Acts
- A charitable trust
- An unincorporated body of persons e.g. an association
- A body set up by statute or charter
- Or another legal entity
Charities must be registered with the charities regulator and be able to provide confirmation of charity legal form, governing documentation, certificate of incorporation of the company (if applicable), up-to-date financial statements, and a valid tax clearance certificate.
14. What are the eligibility criteria for research teams applying to the Scheme?
Research teams should be led by a Lead Applicant who either:
- Holds or will hold a post that covers the duration of the award
- Has at least 3 publications of original research in peer-reviewed journals
- Has secured at least 1 peer-reviewed research grant for a research project(s), as either the Lead Applicant or a Co-Applicant.
Only one application per Lead Applicant will be considered. If a Lead Applicant submits an application to more than one charity and is shortlisted by both charities for submission to the HRB, she or he will have to choose one of these to submit. However, it is possible to be a Co-Applicant or Collaborator on other applications. In this case, the total time commitment across all applications should be considered and will be taken into account by the Joint Selection Panel. Further information on the requirements for Lead Applicants, Co-Applicants and Official Collaborators is available in the Instructions to Applicants document.
15. Does being awarded a research fellowship qualify as a peer-reviewed research grant for the purposes of Lead Applicant eligibility?
Yes, a research fellowship award counts as a peer-reviewed research grant when assessing the eligibility of an individual to be a Lead Applicant on an application to the scheme.
16. Can a Lead Applicant apply to the Joint Funding Scheme while they have the same proposal under review with the HRB under a different scheme?
The HRB asks in the application if the project has been submitted to other HRB schemes in the last three years, and, if so, to briefly describe the changes that have been made to the application since the original submission. If the applicant has submitted the current application to any other schemes concurrently with this round of the Joint Funding Scheme the HRB asks that the applicant lets them know if they are successful in the other call so that they can be withdrawn from consideration in the Joint Funding Scheme. The HRB generally doesn’t need to know that the applicant has applied elsewhere until they know the outcome.
Co-Applicants and Collaborators
17. Is it necessary to have a Co-Applicant on an application?
While it is not explicitly stated that applications must have Co-Applicants, it is very much expected and is implicit in the Guidance Notes, where it states that applications should be made on behalf of a team made up of researchers and PPI contributors and where appropriate knowledge user(s). Applicants must have a suitable track record and demonstrate clearly that the research team contains the necessary breadth and depth of expertise in all the methodological areas required in the development and delivery of the proposed project. Appropriate multi and inter disciplinary involvement in the research team is essential and where relevant, experts in statistics, health economics, health service research, behavioural science, qualitative research methodologies, psychology, sociology etc. should be included as Co-Applicants or as Collaborators.
18. What is the maximum number of Co-Applicants allowed on an application?
Up to 6 Co-Applicants are allowed on an application.
19. What is the maximum number of Official Collaborators allowed on an application?
Up to 10 Official Collaborators are allowed on an application.
20. Can an individual be a Co-Applicant on more than one application to the Joint Funding Scheme?
Yes, it is possible for an individual to be a Co-Applicant on more than one application to the scheme, however the total time commitment across all applications for the Co-Applicant would be considered by the Joint Selection Panel.
21. Can representatives from industry be Co-Applicants or Collaborators on an application?
Industry representatives can be Collaborators, providing materials or expertise, on an application. It is more likely that they would be Collaborators rather than Co-Applicants due to concerns over ownership of intellectual property rights and commercialisation interests. As the HRB is not a commercialisation funder, it would be very unlikely that a commercial entity (seeking to exert some control over project direction) with competing commercial interests would be involved as a Co-Applicant.
22. Is it possible to have a Co-Applicant who is a funded researcher (a PhD student) on the application?
It is expected that a Co-Applicant has a critical and substantial role in directing the project, they should be involved throughout the project and not just with a specific piece of work. The HRB will not support applications planning to include PhD candidates in the Joint Funding Scheme. This is because the HRB expects that a PhD training programme should last for 4 years and minimise the risk for the PhD candidate as far as possible. All PhD programmes should be fully supportive of the needs of the PhD candidate. As the Joint Funding Scheme projects have a maximum duration of 3 years, there isn’t enough time to give to a PhD student with due concern for their formation and training.
23. Can a post-doctoral researcher who plans to spend 100% of their time on a proposed project be a Co-Applicant?
Co-Applicants are expected to have a critical and substantial role in directing the project. They should be involved throughout the project and not just with a specific piece of work. Reviewers look at the expertise of the team and the post-doctoral researcher would need to demonstrate the necessary expertise. They would need a track record of peer reviewed publishing, and it would be advantageous to demonstrate success in securing peer reviewed grants.
24. Can charity representatives and/or PPI contributors be Collaborators on an application to the scheme?
Yes, it is possible for charity representatives/PPI contributors to be collaborators on an application. In this case it is important to ensure that there are no conflicts of interest and that the collaborator has no say in shortlisting which applications go forward to the HRB. Individual PPI contributors who are not part of an organisation can be collaborators on an application.
25. Can charity representatives and/or PPI contributors be Co-Applicants on an application to the scheme?
Charity staff/PPI contributors can be Co-Applicants on an application, where their involvement is appropriate and justified. The charity needs to be clear that none of their staff or members of their PPI networks named on the application would have any part in the selection of peer reviewers for their application. They should not sit on any internal selection panel or be involved in any way in the process of selecting applications to go forward to the HRB.
26. Should research groups who are giving samples for a proposed project as their only contribution be listed on an application?
Yes, they should be listed as Official Collaborators on the application, and complete Part C1 of the application.
International participation in the Scheme
27. Do Lead Applicants have to be based in the Republic of Ireland?
Lead Applicants can be based outside Ireland in the case where there is limited or no research capacity in Ireland (for example in the case of rare diseases). Researchers from these universities should be aware that the funding is in euro and that any currency exchange rate fluctuations may affect their budget. Where the Lead Applicant is based outside of Ireland, where possible they should seek Co-applicants or Collaborators in Ireland in order to build capacity here.
Please note that researchers in Northern Ireland can be lead applicants on applications to the Joint Funding Scheme even where there is research capacity in the Republic of Ireland. In other words, Northern Irish lead applicants are not treated as international applicants.
28. Can an Irish-based Lead Applicant collaborate with international researchers?
Yes, Lead Applicants based in the Republic of Ireland can collaborate with international researchers as Co-Applicants or Official Collaborators. It is recommended that applicants demonstrate the necessity and contribution international researchers make to the proposed research. Researchers from international institutions should be aware that funding is in euro and that any currency exchange rate fluctuations may affect their budget.
29. Are universities based in Northern Ireland on the list of current approved HRB host institutions?
Universities based in Northern Ireland are on the list of HRB approved host institutions. Research teams from these universities are eligible to apply to the Scheme.
30. Where should international applicants seek ethical approval for the proposed project?
If a Lead Applicant and/or research team is based outside Ireland, they can seek ethical approval from the country that the work is to be carried out in, but this is not needed at application stage. The only stipulation is that it must be in place before the work is carried out. Authorisations for animal use should be detailed in the Approvals Declaration even though it will not be from the HPRA.
31. How should international applicants refer to FAIR data management and relevant regulations?
The applicants will be asked separately about how they will manage the data under the FAIR data management section of the application. This is where they should refer to any relevant regulations if applicable.
32. What salary scale should international applicants use in their application?
If the applicants do not use the IUA scale, a link to the salary scale that is to be used should be provided.
Collaboration with other charities
33. Is it possible to collaborate with other charities in the Scheme?
Co-funding of a single project between up to 4 charities with common interests is allowed. In this scenario the combined charity contribution will be 50% of the project costs regardless of the charities’ gross annual income. Charities will agree themselves the division of funding contributed by their organisations. All charities will be partners in the multi-party contract. This may include arrangements where Irish charities co-fund with an international charity which is not a member of HRCI. All Irish charity partners must be HRCI members. All charities who are contributing funding under the Scheme must be approved as a Co-funding Partner. This does not apply to charities who are not contributing funding. International charities who are contributing funding will need to be approved as Co-funding Partners with the HRB. They can apply to the HRB for approval as Co-funding Partners.
Types of research funded under the Scheme
34. What types of research are supported by the Scheme?
Almost all types of research are supported by the Scheme, including patient oriented research (research that focuses on better results for the patient, for example new therapies, testing for early detection of diseases, improving treatments for diseases), health services research (research focusing on delivery of healthcare services in Ireland, for example, self-management of chronic illness, configuration of health and social care services for older people, transitioning from child to adult services), and population health research (focusing on prevention of ill health and promotion of well-being, for example, prevention of diseases such as those linked to obesity, inequalities in access to primary care). Psychological and social research on health and qualitative health research are also supported by the Joint Funding Scheme and we encourage high quality health research proposals of all types to be submitted to the Scheme.
Evidence supporting the case for the project must be gathered systematically, i.e., as systematic reviews or other evidence synthesis formats. Simple literature overviews are not sufficient. Evidence synthesised systematically should include evidence of (1) a systematic identification of previous work, (2) critical appraisal, (3) synthesis of the evidence and (4) interpretation of findings.
35. What types of research are not funded under the Scheme?
The following types of research are not funded by the Joint Funding Scheme:
- Applications which are solely literature reviews, audits, surveys, needs assessments or technology development (although these elements may be part of an integrated research study).
- Studies evaluating full-scale, definitive interventions (e.g., clinical trials) to provide high quality evidence on the efficacy, effectiveness, cost and broad impact of the intervention, and stand-alone feasibility studies conducted in preparation for a future definitive intervention. These studies are supported through the HRB Definitive Intervention and Feasibility (DIFA) Scheme.
- Applications which are solely or predominantly developing infrastructure for biobanking, databases or patient registers without a predominant research element.
- Applications which are solely or predominantly health service developments or implementation of an intervention without a predominant research element. The HRB will not fund the cost of providing the service or intervention itself, only the research element.
- Applications from individuals applying for, holding, or employed under a research grant from the tobacco industry
- Research intended to create human embryos solely for the purpose of research, or for the purpose of stem cell procurement, including by means of somatic cell nuclear transfer
However, it should be noted that applicants can propose work to develop a health care intervention. Such work may include some initial testing of the intervention in order to generate proof of concept data and thus have the basis for developing a feasibility study. This would mean that applicants could then apply to the HRB or another funder to support a feasibility study as a next step. In such cases, applicants must consult with the appropriate clinical research infrastructure supports (such as the Clinical Research Facilities) to ensure that the work done will allow them to develop a feasibility study subsequent to the HRB/charity-funded research.
36. Is it possible to fund research infrastructure such as biobanks or patient registries under the Scheme?
Applications which are solely or predominantly developing the infrastructure for biobanking, databases, or patient registers without a predominant research element will not be funded by the HRB in the Scheme.
Timeline of the Scheme
37. What is the timeline for this round of the Scheme?
The overall call duration is aligned to the academic year. Charities still have flexibility to open and close calls on dates of their choosing while being cognisant of the call timeline. The timeline for the Scheme will be updated as dates are confirmed. The 2023 call of the Joint Funding Scheme is formally open from 6 September 2023; however, charities have the option to open their calls in advance of this during July and August. The indicative timeline for the Scheme is provided in the table below. Most dates are meant to guide charities in setting their own timetable, however, those in italics have been agreed with HRB and may not be missed if you wish to participate in the call.
HRB call opening
6th Sept 2023
Charity information session
11th Sept 2023
Charity call open
Varies (from Summer 2023)
Charity peer review
20th Oct 2023-26th Jan 2024
Submission of peer review conflict of interest check to HRB
20th Oct 2023 – 12th Jan 2024
Charities forward abstracts of all applications to HRB for finding panel members
Mid Jan 2024
Right-to-reply phase (suggested dates)
29th Jan – 9th Feb 2024
10 working days
Charity selection panel (suggested dates)
1st Feb – 28th Feb 2024
HRB GEMS system open for submission of charity applications
28th Feb 2024
HRB application deadline
27th March 2024
PPI induction session
W/C 19th April 2024
Joint Selection Panel meeting
W/C 27th May 2024
HRB Board meeting
Research project start date
From October 2024
International peer review
38. How many international peer reviewers are required for each application?
Three international peer reviewers are required for each application. It is allowed to have reviewers review more than one application, or to have unique reviewers for each application. The time commitments for reviewers should be taken into account if they are being invited to review more than one application. Please note that all peer reviews received by the charity (especially if more than three peer reviewers are invited to review an application) must be submitted to the HRB.
39. How do you decide who should be an international peer reviewer?
For the purpose of this call an international reviewer is an active researcher (not e.g. a charity administrator) based outside of the Republic of Ireland. The potential reviewer must not:
- Have co-published with the lead applicant or co-applicants in the past 5 years.
- Currently or recently been working in the same organisation/department as any member of the applicant team.
- Be industry employees or have any apparent links with the pharmaceutical industry or commercial organisation.
Peer reviewers must have a strong publication record and be either a senior author (i.e. last author) or co-published a sufficient number of articles (~6) in the area of interest in the last 5 years. They may also have written books, book chapters, reports or any other health-related publications. In the areas of Health Services Research and Population Health Sciences Research a minimum of 3 publications in the last 4 years is sufficient.
Peer reviewers should explicitly disclose whether they have a conflict of interest or not on the reviewers’ form. Those that declare a conflict of interest should not take further part in the review process.
Charities must submit all peer reviewers with completed Conflict of Interest check to HRB for validation of Conflict of Interest by 12th Jan 2024. Peer reviewers selected after this date will be checked prior to the Joint Selection Panel stage. Where a Conflict of interest is identified the review will not be shared with the Joint Selection Panel.
The HRB’s Confidentiality and Conflict of Interest Policy for international peer reviewers can be found in Appendix I of the Guidance for Charities, and further guidance on selection of peer reviewers can be found in Appendix II of the Guidance for Charities.
40. Can an international peer reviewer be a co-author of a conference publication with a member of the applicant team?
Yes, so long as the peer reviewers is not a lead author along with any member of the applicant team. A conference publication would rarely involve any contact between authors beyond lead authors. However, the charity should double check with the peer reviewer that they did not have direct contact with any member of the applicant team.
41. Can an international peer reviewer be a collaborator of a collaborator named on an application to the scheme?
Yes, an international peer review can be a collaborator of a collaborator on an application, this is not considered a conflict of interest by the HRB.
42. If a member of the applicant team is an international leader in the field who works with large teams of researchers, is there flexibility in recruiting international peer reviewers for this application?
There are a number of options available in this scenario. If a potential peer reviewer co-authored with a member of the applicant team more than five years ago then they are eligible. If a potential peer reviewer is listed as a co-author on a conference abstract or publication with a member of the applicant team then they are eligible so long as neither were a senior author (within the first 2 or last 2 names) or corresponding author (usually a senior author).
It is always advisable to ask the potential peer reviewer as they will have the best knowledge of any interactions with the applicants.
43. Can applicants suggest potential peer reviewers?
Once it is clear that there is no conflict of interest, applicants can suggest potential peer reviewers to the charity. It is important to take into account relationship criteria such as a supervisor/student relationship in the conflict of interest checks which would not always be obvious through a database search.
44. Do peer reviewers always have to be based outside the Republic of Ireland?
Peer reviewers should be based outside the island of Ireland unless the host institution for the research project is based outside of Ireland. In this case peer reviewers in Ireland may be used.
45. Can the same peer reviewers be asked to review more than one application received by the charity?
Yes, this is possible so long as the peer reviewers have the time to review multiple applications
46. Are there email templates available to use when inviting and communicating with international peer reviewers?
Yes, Appendix III of the Instructions to Research Charities provides email templates for peer review.
47. What documents need to be sent to international peer reviewers?
Peer reviewers should be sent Part B1 (the application form), Part E (the peer review form), and a copy of the charity’s strategy, if applicable.
48. Can a charity submit more than 3 international peer reviews with an application?
Yes. In this case all the peer reviews will be taken into consideration. Please note that all peer reviews received by the charity (especially if more than three peer reviewers are invited to review an application) must be submitted to the HRB.
49. Is there an average score for the peer reviews that an application must reach to allow it to be submitted to the HRB?
Yes. Applications must receive an average peer review score above 6 to be eligible to be put forward to the joint selection committee. Where the average peer review score has been skewed by an outlier these applications can be brought forward as well. In this scenario the HRB should be contacted to confirm the application meets the scoring threshold.
50. Are international peer reviewers obliged to give a reason for their score?
International peer reviewers are asked to comment on the strengths and weaknesses of the scientific quality and innovation, the research team and environment, and the potential of each application. They are also asked to give a general summary of the application relative to the final score given to the application. These comments are taken into account in combination with the final score and carefully reviewed by scientific panel members at the Joint Selection Panel meeting.
51. Do researcher applicants have the right to respond to peer review?
All applicants have the opportunity to respond to anonymised reviewer comments. Guidance on this process is provided in Appendix IV of the Instructions to Research Charities.
52. Should the applicants’ responses to peer review be sent back to the peer reviewers so that they have the chance to amend their original scores and comments?
No, the original peer reviews and the applicants’ responses are submitted to the HRB for consideration by the Joint Selection Panel. The Joint Selection Panel will not only take the peer reviewers’ comments into account but give a lot of attention to how the applicants responded.
53. What is the word count for applicants’ response to peer review, and what is included in this word count?
The word limit for the applicants’ response is 2,000 words. This includes the copy-paste of peer reviewers’ comments, so it is recommended not to transcribe the full comment from the reviewer. While figures themselves are not included in the word count, the footnotes describing them will be included. References are also included in the word count. The word limit is inclusive of the applicants’ response to all peer reviews – one document (max 2,000 words) should respond to all peer reviews.
PPI/public review of applications received by the charity
54. Can a charity use a PPI reviewer who is also on a PPI panel for another charity’s call?
If a charity is using a PPI contributor to provide a written review on the application, and this individual is also a member of another charity’s selection panel and all other Conflict of Interest requirements are met, then this does not represent a Conflict of Interest.
55. Is it a conflict of interest if one of the PPI reviewers of an application is a patient of a co-applicant on that application?
Yes, this constitutes a conflict of interest and the PPI reviewer should not review that application. An alternative PPI reviewer should be sought.
Shortlisting applications for submission to the HRB
56. Who is responsible for selecting the final applications to go forward to the HRB?
Each charity is responsible for organising its own final selection process to choose the applications which will be submitted to the HRB. The decision about which applications should go forward to the HRB is made by the charity based on both the peer review feedback and the applicants’ response to this feedback. Normally the charity convenes a selection panel (this can either be the research committee or equivalent, or the charity Board) to prioritise and select the applications for submission to the HRB. Charities are encouraged to include the perspective of the public, patients, or carers as relevant into their selection process. The HRCI research governance guide (https://bit.ly/HRCI_ResearchGovernanceGuide) can provide you with more guidance on how to manage this.
57. Is it necessary to hold a charity selection panel to shortlist applications to go forward to the HRB Joint Selection Panel?
Charities are not obliged to arrange a panel meeting to shortlist applications, especially when they intend to submit all applications received to the HRB. However, the applications do need to be endorsed by the charity, normally by the Chair and charity CEO. It is recommended that charities organise selection panels wherever possible and appropriate.
58. How do charities submit full applications to the HRB?
Following the charity internal selection process, applications to the HRB will be submitted by the charities via the HRB online grants system, GEMS (https://grants.hrb.ie). Guidance on using this system will be provided at the HRCI/HRB information session on September 11th 2023 and more information will be provided via a GEMS guidance document which will be circulated. Applications sent to the HRB via email will not be accepted and will be deemed ineligible.
Completing and uploading applications
59. Is there specific guidance on how to complete applications for submission to the HRB?
Yes, specific guidance is given to both charities and researchers in the Instructions to Charities and Instructions to Applicants files sent to all participating charities.
60. What file formats should be used when uploading application documents to GEMS, the HRB’s Grants e-Management System?
Files should generally be uploaded as pdfs, however some of the application documents can be uploaded as word files. Full guidance on this is available in the Instructions to Charities sent to all participating charities
61. Appendix 2 of Part A2 and Part G of the application documents are the same: a declaration of conflict of interest for charity committee members. Should both be signed and uploaded to GEMS?
Yes, both Part A2 and Part G should be signed by charity committee members (or by the charity Chair and CEO where applicable) and uploaded. This refers to the selection process undertaken by the charity to shortlist applications for submission to the HRB.
62. In Part A1 of the application (completed online via GEMS), is the abstract requested the lay abstract or the scientific abstract?
This refers to the scientific abstract.
63. Are electronic signatures acceptable on application documents?
Yes, electronic signatures are allowed.
The Joint Selection Panel meeting
64. Can charities suggest potential members for the Joint Selection Panel to the HRB?
Charities who intend to participate in this round of the Scheme should confirm this via email to the HRB and include the title of all applications that they have received to the HRB by early February (the precise date and time of this deadline is yet to be confirmed by the HRB). This is to help the HRB get a sense of the balance of research expertise necessary to cover the spectrum of applications. The HRB fully acknowledges that this does not represent any commitment from the charity to submit these applications and appreciates that the strategic review in the charity will go on beyond this time point. In addition, participating charities will be given an option to propose appropriate panel members to the HRB.
65. How many reviewers are assigned to each application at the Joint Selection Panel?
Each application will be reviewed by a primary and secondary scientific panel member and by two PPI panel members
66. What criteria are used for the scientific review of each application?
Scientific panel members will review the strengths and weaknesses of the application according to the following assessment criteria:
- Scientific quality and innovation (50% of marks)
- Research team and environment (30% of marks)
- Impact (20% of marks)
Comments as well as a score are provided by scientific reviewers.
67. What criteria are used for the PPI review of each application?
PPI panel members will review each application, provide comments, and assign a rating according to the appropriate level of PPI for the proposed research. The rating system is provided in Appendix III of the Instructions to Research Charities. The PPI rating will be used to adjust the consensus scientific score. PPI panel members are asked to comment on the following:
- The plain English summary (lay summary)
- Relevance of the proposed research question
- PPI in the development of and throughout the project
- Making it straightforward for research participants
- Dissemination of the proposed work
68. If a charity is conducting its own PPI review of applications it has received, will the relevant PPI review forms and scores be made known to the HRB PPI panel members?
No, the charity PPI review forms and scores will not be shared with HRB PPI panel members.
PPI in the Scheme
69. How is PPI incorporated into the Joint Funding Scheme?
PPI forms a core element of the Scheme, and it is expected that applicants incorporate PPI (as appropriate) throughout their application form as an integral part of the research life cycle. In addition, there is a specific question on PPI in the application form as follows:
Are you using public involvement in your application? If yes, please described all public, patient and carer involvement at each stage of the research cycle:
- Identifying and prioritising the research question
- Design, conduct, analysis, oversight, dissemination
For each stage, please include the purpose of this involvement and (where applicable) how PPI has influenced/changed what work has been planned.
At the Joint Selection Panel meeting, PPI in applications submitted by researchers will be reviewed and assigned a rating according to the appropriate level of PPI for the proposed research. HRCI have prepared three case studies of excellence in PPI in the last round of the Joint Funding Scheme, and these can be found here.
70. How can charities engage in PPI during the process of applying to the scheme?
Patients, carers and the public can get involved in the application process in a number of ways including deciding upon strategic research priorities, developing the funding call, and prioritising and shortlisting applications for submission to the HRB. There can be a wider role for PPI contributors regarding the research process itself but this is generally the responsibility of researchers to manage. Some charities help out researchers with their PPI activities (facilitating access to people living with illness or caring for others, contributing to advisory committees etc) but this is not mandatory. Wherever charities have engaged in PPI in the application process for the scheme, this should be documented in Part A1 of the application – the Charity Endorsement. Questions 2 and 5 of Part A1 ask for charities to include any PPI activities they are engaged in to help shape research priorities and/or the funding call, and to engage in the process of shortlisting of applications to go forward to the HRB. PPI reviewers will take the responses to these questions into account at the Joint Selection Panel meeting. However it is important to note that a key criterion for PPI reviewers is how appropriate the PPI approach is for the type of research being proposed, as this will vary.
71. Can a charity read and provide feedback on an applicant’s lay summary prior to submission of the application?
Yes, in principle there is no issue with this so long as the charity representative who reads and reviews the lay summary is not then involved in the selection of the applications for submission to the HRB.