Having identified the best method to answer your research question, you’re ready to look into funding your research

Jump to section

Costing your research project

Advice on funding your research

Sources of funding

Suggested reading


You may need to fund your research.  There is a wide range of research funding.  It may be:

  • Implicit, for example, you receive agreement from your manager to have time to undertake your research
  • Explicit, when you’ve successfully secured external funding for a fully costed project.

External funding will usually come with predefined guidance.  For both internal and external funding you’re likely to need to respond to any feedback you receive. External funding comes in two forms:

  • Prospective where you have the idea that you take to the funder
  • Responsive where the funder announces they want to commission a piece of research and you submit a proposal

Responsive funding usually has a predefined submission date.  Funders of prospective funding may accept applications at any time or at fixed dates in the year.

Knowing what expectations and requirements your project needs to meet is important. Familiarise yourself with a funder’s terms of reference and application criteria before you start preparing your research proposal (Step 5). Ensuring your project and application meets the funding remit and requirements will save you time and effort.

Costing your research project

Costing your research project consists of three elements:

  1. Directly incurred costs, e.g. equipment or travel
  2. Directly allocated costs, e.g. estimated costs attributable to your project such as your time
  3. Indirect costs, e.g. all other costs associated with the running of your organisation but aren’t directly attributable to your project such as IT support

If you’re working with a university, the university will need to draw up a ‘full economic costing’ for your project. Full economic costing seeks to ensure that the university’s overheads are met. Each university has its own procedures, and some negotiation may be required. The costs of research assistants or academic staff involved in the project will need to include overheads.

In addition to how you plan to undertake your study (Step 3) funders will usually want to know how you plan to disseminate your findings (Step 9) e.g. conference presentation, peer reviewed article etc. In most instances, funders will have explicit guidance on their open access, publication and data archiving policies.

Sherpa Fact – provides clear guidance on whether a journal complies with a funder’s open access policies

Sherpa Juliet – lists the open access requirements of over 150 worldwide funding bodies

Some publishers have signed transitional agreements with national bodies to facilitate ‘read and publish’ deals. This means that if you’re a corresponding author for a paper and affiliated with a participating institution e.g. based in an NHS trust affiliated to a university, you may be eligible to access funds to cover your article processing charge to provide open access to your work.

The ESAC Initiative – provides aggregated data on the progress of transitional agreements with major publishers

If your preferred journal is not open access, you may choose to include the article processing charge to make your article open access within your project costings and research proposal (Step 5). You’ll need to check the specific costings of your preferred journal, but article processing charges typically cost £1500-£2500.

Here are some resources to help you identify the costs associated with your research project.

INVOLVE. (2020). Payment and recognition for public involvement. Paying users to be involved in your project can be problematic, especially if they’re in receipt of state benefits. Find practical advice on payment and non-monetary methods of recognising the time, skills and expertise provided by members of the public.

NHS Employers. (2020). Agenda for change. Details of the latest NHS national pay scales may be found here.

Royal Holloway – University of London. (undated). Costing checklist. A costing checklist example produced by the Royal Holloway.  Most institutions will have a local costing checklist you can refer to when preparing your funding application.  Contact your local R&D lead or finance department for details.

Vitae: Realising the Potential of Researchers. (2020). Costing and pricing a research proposal. An overview of how to cost your research project.

Be sure to allow enough time for your costings to be verified by your local finance office before submission to your funder.

Advice on funding your research

For advice on seeking funding for your research project,  the following may be helpful:

NHS Research and Development Forum. (2020). National Directory of NHS Research Offices. For details of local NHS research and development offices.

National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). (2020). Research Design Service. Provides support to health and social care researchers across England on all aspects of developing and writing a funding applications. Advice is confidential and free of charge.

NHS Health Education England. (2020). Library and knowledge services. NHS Knowledge and Library Service Leads support you and your research by promoting innovation in knowledge and library service design and delivery.

Sources of funding

CILIP: The Information and Library Association. (2020). Bursaries and grants. A list of CILIP groups offering conference bursaries may be useful when you start thinking about disseminating your findings (Step 9).  Grants  to support CILIP members specifically undertaking research covering the library and information sector are also listed.

LIS Research – The Library and Information Science Research Coalition. (2012). Research funding. Last updated in 2012, this list of KLS research funders remains one of the most comprehensive available.

National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). (2020). Our funding programmes. NIHR funding programmes include funding opportunities for evidence synthesis.

Suggested reading

You may also find the following chapter helpful:

Moore, N. (2006). Obtain financial support for the research. In N. Moore (Ed.), How to do research: a practical guide to designing and managing research projects (3rd ed.). London: Facet Publishing. Outlines general categories of responsive funding, approaching your prospective funder, and responding to calls for tender.

Page last reviewed: 15 June 2021