Grant application checklist: eight checks to do before you submit

Making a few adjustments to the code

New year, new grant application. Ready to submit? Read our checklist to make sure you maximise your chance of success by ticking all the right boxes first time.

It’s that time of year when you’re almost ready to submit your application. You’ve spent ages perfecting your case and ensuring you’re submitting to the right opportunity (our 12 top tips for writing a grant application can help with this). And now it’s time to do your final checks.

Ensuring you get it right first time stops our admin team from returning or potentially rejecting your application. It also gives your application the best chance at peer review and provides board and panel members with everything they need to make good funding decisions.

Our board and panel programme managers and admin teams check applications following the deadline. They take great pride in their work and ensure that only applications fit and ready to be reviewed go ahead. Here we’ve compiled their advice into eight steps to check before you submit.

1. Include a realistic start date

Unless specified in the funding opportunity, we expect your proposed start date to be realistic and normally one to six months after the funding decision meeting. You can find meeting dates listed in the grant deadlines table.

2. Use the right formatting and templates

Check your attachments are within the specified page limits and that you’ve removed any tracked changes. Upload attachments in the right way, as outlined in the specific guidance for your chosen funding opportunity. Upload CVs and publications separately but include documents as optional annexes within the ‘case for support’ for:

Make use of the templates we provide. These are available for the:

3. Take care over ethics

If your research involves animals, human participation or human tissue, check you’ve included all requested details about your methods, experimental design and any necessary approvals. We scrutinise these applications carefully to make sure they follow best practice and meet welfare standards.

4. Check you’re eligible to resubmit

If you’ve had a previous application rejected, you can resubmit. Though unless we’ve invited you to resubmit earlier, ensure it’s over 12 months since your last submission. Strengthen your proposal by addressing previous weaknesses flagged through the review process.

Make it easy for us to see these improvements by including a cover letter explaining what you’ve changed and referencing the previous related grant. For some opportunities we cap the number of resubmissions so best to check the specific guidance, especially for fellowships and new investigator research grants.

5. Show you’ve got support

Letters of support show us you’ve got strong backing and cover all manner of collaborations. All should be on headed paper, dated and signed. The type and number we require varies by application and the nature of your project. This includes letters for:

  • project partners to show us the commitment, nature of the collaboration and the value of the project partner’s contribution
  • fellowships to show support from your head of department, a mentor, a second centre or confirmation of degree registration
  • new investigator research grants, which demonstrate the research organisation’s commitment to developing the early career researcher through mentorship, guidance and career support
  • human tissue or participants to confirm the project partner will provide tissue or recruit participants and that the quantity supplied is suitable for the research and achieving meaningful results
  • unit and partnership institutes to explain the relationship between the proposed work and core support, showing it distinct from existing support
  • use of animals overseas (from the UK and overseas principal investigator) to show they will adhere to relevant national and local regulations, approvals and follow appropriate guidelines
  • researcher co-investigators (who should be based with the principal investigator or one of the co-investigators) to detail how they will be supported by the principal investigator and relevant research organisation.

6. Fill out an industry agreement (if relevant)

If your project partner is from industry, you’ll need an MRC Industry Collaboration Agreement (MICA). This encourages and supports collaborative research projects between academic and industry researchers. By following the MICA checklist, you show agreement between the commercial and academic partners to undertake collaborative research.

7. Describe your costs

Justifying your resources helps reviewers assess your proposal and decide whether the costs are good value for money. Check the costs in your application form match your justification of resources document to make it simple and clear.

Your research office will be able to help ensure that you’ve captured all allowable costs and under the right headings. Take care not to duplicate costs if they’ve already been funded. And if you’re NHS resources, complete a schedule of events cost attribution template.

8. Tell us about you

We welcome flexible working across your team and appreciate individuals may have had less traditional career paths or slower career progression, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. Highlight any breaks in employment or publication record in your CV.

You can also include relevant information to explain specific disruptions to previous or current research caused by COVID-19 in an optional annex.

Find out more

Access our guidance for applicants.

Read 12 top tips for writing a grant application.

See common reasons for returning applications.

For general enquiries regarding remit, funding policy and eligibility contact: rfpd@mrc.ukri.org

For peer review queries contact: peer.review@mrc.ukri.org

Get support from the joint electronic-submission system (Je-S) helpdesk.

Give feedback to the UKRI simpler and better funding service, working to create a better funding service and helping tackle some of the common reasons applicants don’t get it right.

Top image:  Credit: Delmaine Donson, Getty Images

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