Researcher co-investigator - MRC

What is a researcher co-investigator?

Researcher co-investigator (RCoI) status is aimed at researchers who are currently not eligible to be a principal investigator (PI) or a co-investigator (CoI) on a grant but who provide significant intellectual input to grant writing and design.

A RCoI has worked with the PI and CoIs to design and write the project, will spend up to 100% of their time working on the proposed research and will be involved in the management of the project. They will be based either at the research organisation (RO) of the PI or of a CoI for the duration of the project.

This route provides recognition for the contribution a RCoI has made to the proposal and to the research. Their involvement in acquiring research funding and the role they have played in the leadership of the project can be used as evidence in pursuing future funding and career opportunities.

Intellectual ownership is expected to be reflected through corresponding authorship on publications or similar acknowledgements.

The significant contributions and their recognition differentiate a RCoI from a named researcher. For the RCoI, the PI and RO need to clearly commit to mentorship and support for the researcher (see ‘research organisation support’ below).

Who can be a RCoI?

To be considered suitable for the status of RCoI, applicants are expected to not be eligible as a PI or CoI of a research grant in their own right (for example, because they do not have a contract of employment with any of the participating ROs for the duration of the grant prior to application). This could include, but is not limited to:

  • postdoctoral researchers
  • technology specialists
  • clinical fellows.

Individuals can be named as a RCoI on several grant applications, however, MRC’s expectation is that under normal circumstances a RCoI would be named on only one active award. This award should allow the RCoI to progress towards the next stage in their career with the support of the PI and RO during the term of that award. Therefore, the individual would not normally be expected to be included as RCoI on further applications once one application has been successful.

Research organisation support

Partnership with the RCoI’s host RO is a cornerstone of this approach, which recognises the importance of the host’s commitment to developing individuals at this stage in their career.

A signed statement of support (two sides A4 max) from the PI or a senior authority within the host RO on headed paper must be attached to all applications involving a RCoI, clearly detailing:

  • the contribution by the RCoI to the proposal
  • the RCoI’s identified next stage in and long term aspirations for their career
  • how the PI and RO will provide the RCoI with assistance and support in ensuring success for the research project, and their professional and career development. This includes, but is not limited to:
    • guidance and training on managing research funds, building partnerships and collaborations, or with public engagement
    • access to career development support and advice to enable future career transitions.

Any proposals involving a RCoI submitted without this signed statement of support will be rejected.

How to apply

RCoIs may be included on any research grant application to MRC unless stated otherwise in the opportunity guidance.

RCoIs need to engage with an eligible PI to lead the application.

To apply, check which of the MRC’s research boards or panels awards grants in your research area and check application deadline dates. Applications may be submitted to any of the available deadlines in the year.

Read our guidance for applicants which will guide you through preparing a proposal, including:

  • eligibility
  • case for support
  • costing your proposal
  • any ethical and regulatory requirements that may apply to the research.

Contacts and guidance

If you have a query about scientific aspects of your proposal, contact the relevant MRC programme manager for your area:

For any other queries please contact: rfpd@mrc.ukri.org.

Last updated: 20 December 2021

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