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Writing a grant application

Diabetes UK only funds the highest quality research. The selection process for our research funding is independent and decisions are based on the views of world-class researchers and people affected by diabetes.

Below are some tips for writing your grant application.

Essential pre-application reading

Write a good lay summary

The Grants Advisory Panel (a group of people affected by diabetes) will review your lay summary. While they're not asked to comment on the quality of science, they bring the valuable perspective of people living with diabetes. Their recommendations influence the funding decisions made by Diabetes UK’s Research Committee.

Researchers may not have a personal experience of diabetes and therefore may not consider some of the issues that affect people living with the condition. This is why the input of the Grants Advisory Panels is so important. 

Lay summaries must be written in plain English and be understandable to a non-scientific audience, as the panel will use this when reviewing your application.

The panel don't always use the main proposal to review your application, so the lay summary should clearly describe the aims of the research. Applicants should NOT NOT cut and paste from the main proposal.  

Please refer to the guidelines on writing a lay summary for examples and helpful tips. 

Demonstrate how your research relates to diabetes 

Diabetes UK funds research that has the greatest chance of improving the lives of people with diabetes. It is therefore important that you clearly communicate how your research relates to diabetes and fulfils this criteria. Please consider the following tips when writing your application:

  • Basic science applications must clearly demonstrate how their research relates to diabetes and how it could provide valuable insight for future research and/or translation into clinical practice.
  • Applicants whose expertise primarily relate to another field should seek to collaborate with relevant experts in diabetes, and people with diabetes where necessary. Your application should clearly indicate how your proposal is relevant to diabetes.
  • It is helpful to explain how your proposal relates to and furthers existing research. 

Ensure your research proposal is clear

  • Explain why your research is important. Provide preliminary data if appropriate.
  • Make sure your hypotheses are clear and are reflected in the methodology.
  • Consider how you can involve patients throughout the research. Please refer to the Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) page for more information.
  • Explain what the outcome measures will be.
  • Identify and address any potential challenges or pitfalls – what will you do if your first aim doesn’t result in the outcomes you expected? Do you anticipate any challenges with recruitment or retention of participants? Have you considered a contingency plan?
  • Provide sufficient detail on the experiments and how they will be carried out to demonstrate understanding of what you are doing. 
  • Give realistic sample sizes and power calculations based on evidence, including a statistical analysis plan. Ensure that your design and analysis is optimal for your research study. This applies equally to studies in human diabetes as well as for animal models.  Ask a statistician to review the study design, analysis and power calculations.
  • Clearly describe the future clinical benefits and timescales of practical improvements that could result from the research. Be realistic in these estimates.
  • Ensure that the costs associated with the research and staff time allocated to the research are realistic as these will be questioned by the Research Committee.

Applications that require statistical analysis 

  • Details of the power calculations and derivation of sample size: applicants should ensure that this includes all of the information needed to replicate the calculations, details of which software or equations were used and which hypothesis test is being used. Details on where the information used in the calculations came from is also required.  
  • Data Management: applicants should ensure that responsibilities relating to data collection, storage, verification and security are assigned to an individual with appropriate expertise in data management. 
  • Staff on applications: we advise that support from a statistician is sought during the preparation of your application. Where support has been provided, the individual consulted should be named within the application. If continued support with analyses is provided during the lifetime of the grant, appropriate costs may be included for statistician time.

Before you click submit….final check

  • Ask at least one independent person to proof read your application – reviewers dislike typographical and grammatical errors because they could lead to reduced clarity and risk the reader misunderstanding your text.
  • Ensure the main research proposal is typed in the correct section of the online portal.
  • Ensure figures make sense and are correctly referenced in the text. Attach figures as an appendix, as the online portal will not allow embedded figures.
  • Make sure your research proposal is correctly referenced. 

Helpful resources

  • Research Design Services is part of a network of regional support services funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). The service provides support to those preparing research proposals for submission to peer-reviewed funding competitions for applied health or social care research.  The service requires at least 6 weeks to review an application once submitted.
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