Developing a Research Idea


Is it Research?

The first question to ask when setting up a study is: ‘Is it research?’

Research-type methods are often used in projects that are not always themselves regarded as research; these could include clinical audits, service evaluations or public health surveillance.

The Health Research Authority (HRA) have developed a Defining Research Leaflet and Decision Tool to help to categorise project as research, clinical audit or service evaluation.

Research is governed differently from the other types of studies, and will usually require regulatory approval and formal approval by the Trust R&D Office.

Clinical audit’s should be registered with the trust Audit department.

Service evaluations should be registered with the Trust’s  R&D department. by completing a Service Evaluation Application Form

If you are unsure how to categorise your project please contact the RD&I department on

Research Funding

All research will have a cost implication which will need to be covered before the research can open.

This cost could include the following:

  • The time of the research team and other NHS staff involved in the project
  • Additional diagnostic tests and procedures over and above normal clinical practice
  • Additional hospital visits over and above normal clinical practice
  • Increased lengths of stay over and above normal clinical practice
  • Additional software or equipment
  • Data analysis
  • Course fees for research degrees
  • Travel to conferences
  • The use of NHS buildings and facilities
  • R&D and departmental set up fee/s


It is essential that all costs associated with the project are identified at the planning stage to ensure these costs can be added to the funding application. If you require assistance with this please contact the R&D department.

 Where can you apply for funding?

There are a number of different funding steams to consider including charities, pharmaceutical companies or professional bodies. Possible funding routes can be found at keep in mind that funding will need to be secured before you are able to proceed with study set up. Therefore apply for grants that fit within your timescale.

Another opportunity for funding is available from the National Institute of Health Research, NIHR that have a number of different grant programmes;

  • Research for Patient Benefit
  • Invention for Innovation
  • Programme Grants for Applied Research
  • Programme Development Grants

R&D are able to work with develop and complete your grant application, this includes support for cost attribution. Please contact the R&D team for advise and support.

Additional support is also available from the Research Design Service (RDS) who have a wealth of experience on advising on research grants and research design.

Research Sponsorship

In accordance with current legislation and guidelines, all research projects require an organization to act as sponsor who will take the legal responsibility for the management and the conduct of the trial.

The Royal Surrey County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust is able to take on sponsorship for the following types of research;

  • Research that has been developed by a Royal Surrey County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust member of staff
  • Funding available to cover the cost of the study including a discretionary Trust sponsorship fee of £3000.
  • Funding obtained from an NIHR partner and therefore eligible for NIHR portfolio status. Note- if this is not possible researcher will be required to give explanation as to why and also demonstrate ways in which the research within the department is engaged with the NIHR portfolio
  • Multi-center studies will be considered if study management has been confirmed/identified.

The Royal Surrey County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust is not able to take on sponsorship for the following types of research studies

  • Research with an investigational medicinal product
  • Research using a non licensed device

To apply for trust sponsorship researchers must submit the following documents to the RD&I department in order to trigger a sponsorship review committee meeting.

Sponsorship requests are to be submitted to the R&D department at the email address below;

Developing a Research Protocol

For trust sponsored studies you are required to develop your protocol using the trust Protocol Template.

The protocol template has been developed using the guidance from the HRA.

Things to remember:

The Research Design service is able to support with research protocol design and research grant applications.

It is important to consider how the protocol will be delivered within the current NHS infrastructure within your own department and the supporting departments to ensure the study is feasible. It is advised that you seek advice from the relevant support services as you develop your protocol so that experts can provide guidance to ensure that the study is deliverable within the NHS.

To arrange a meeting to discuss your project email the R&D office on

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