Grants panel and internal peer review
An increasing number of funding bodies require reassurance that research grant applications have been through an internal review process that ensures only high quality applications are submitted. We also have to verify that applications are costed correctly, and that we have the facilities and expertise to execute the grant if successful. The University hence requires that each faculty have a Grants Panel to oversee and support the submission of high quality funding applications that have the best possible chance of success.
To facilitate this process, all internally led applications with an income over £10,000 will be assigned an academic reviewer who will complete an ‘Internal Peer Review Form’ as advised by the respective Research Lead, with a view to help identify areas that could further improve the application. This internal review process is fundamentally important as it serves to:
- help applicants further refine their funding applications where appropriate,
- help reviewers frame their feedback in line with the assessment criteria most commonly used by funding bodies,
- help Research Leads maintain an overview of bids being developed in their areas,
- help the Research Office maintain a record of how the Grants Panel operates and highlight trends in applications that can be facilitated further.
Please note that the Research Office will be unable to approve and progress funding applications that have not been reviewed internally and documented on the required form.
The approval pipeline
The process of costing, approving and archiving funding applications is managed via Worktribe. It is not expected that most researchers will learn how to use Worktribe for themselves but it is essential that proposals are properly costed before they are submitted. In a nutshell, the funding journey unto the submission of an application entails:
Notify your Research Grants Officer and Research Lead
If you are looking to find funding calls, or have already identified one you wish to apply to, please contact your Research Grants Officer (RGO) and Research Lead (RL) to lodge your intention to submit along with a short note outlining:
- What? - The funding body/ call and its deadline.
- Who? - Who will be the lead applicant (i.e. is the bid internally or externally led).
- How much? - A ball-park budget estimate (e.g. rough staff and consumable requirements).
- How? - Any key requirements your HoD/ RL would need to authorise as they affect your workload planning (e.g. teaching release, or a substantial time commitment to project), or the availability of office/laboratory space/facilities.
HLS Research Officer
Ricardo de Sao Joao
Colonnade, COL2.11, Gipsy Lane
Faculty Research Leads
- BMS: Alistair McGregor, firstname.lastname@example.org
- PHPD: Mark Burgess, email@example.com
- SHSSW: Johnny Collett, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Oxford School of Nursing and Midwifery:
- Nursing: Helen Walthall, email@example.com
- Midwifery, Community and Public Health: Jane Appleton, firstname.lastname@example.org
Set-up a budget on Worktribe
Once you have confirmed your eligibility for the funding call with the RGO and RL, please get in touch with the Research and Business Development Office (RBDO). They will assist with the costing of your research grant and setup a Worktribe costing for you. The sooner you can define your budget the better as different funders allow for different costs which will have a direct impact on the project’s total income level (e.g. charities rarely allow for the recovery of permanent staff salary costs or overheads while Research Councils do).
RBDO can also assist with making the financial data available in the format you need to complete the application form itself (such as the employer costs, salary spine points, etc). If you have been on Worktribe training, you can set up your own project proposals but certainly run past RBDO before proceeding to the Research Manager approval stage.
Please submit all requests for costing assistance to the RBDO hub e-mail address: Research@brookes.ac.uk
That said, you are likely to work with the following colleagues depending on the source of funding you are looking to apply to:
Charities and all other funders
If you are based in OxINMAHR or the OSNM
Peer Review: Your Research Lead will allocate an internal reviewer to your project. Please provide them with a draft of your application at least two to three weeks ahead of the external deadline. The reviewer’s responsibility is to complete the Internal Peer Review Form and send it to yourself and the RL in time for any pertinent suggestions to be incorporated into the final draft.
Research Office Review: When submitting a copy of the draft to your peer reviewer please also send it to the RGO (Ricardo de Sao Joao) who will similarly provide advice on general readability and ensure that the application meets the requirements of the funding body and/or other call specific criteria. The Research Manager (Lorraine Williams) will deputise in the RGO’s absence. To facilitate this process, please assign the RGO read-only access to the online application where possible (e.g. if submitting via platforms such as JeS or GrantsTracker).
‘Preparation’: Up to this point, your application’s status in Worktribe will be at ‘Bid development’ stage. When the project budget is finalised it will be progressed to ‘Bid approval’.
’Research Manager Approval’: At this point the RGO will check that the Internal Peer Review Form has been received, review the application form and supporting documents (e.g. Case for Support, Justification of Resources etc.), and cross-reference the Worktribe budget with that on the application form. Following these checks the RGO will progress the Worktribe to ‘Faculty Finance Approval’. Please note that the project budget cannot be altered after this point.
‘Faculty Finance Approval’: The Faculty Finance Office will review the costings in Worktribe and set up the finance journals that will be used to assign costs to overheads or direct costs if the grant is successful. They will also work out what residual benefit there is to the Faculty after the direct costs of running the project and University overheads have been deducted. Following these checks, they will seek ‘Faculty Management Approval’.
‘Faculty Management Approval’: Faculty Management review and approval will be sought from the Chair of the Grants Panel Prof. David Evans (Associate Dean, Research & Knowledge Exchange), who will subsequently seek ‘University Approval’ from RBDO.
‘University Approval’: RBDO MUST have receipt of the full, final, application including all attachments, and the corresponding pFACT at least five working days ahead of the external deadline. This deadline is not within our Faculty control and failure to reach it in time may result in the bid being either declined or deferred to a subsequent funding round. Please note that bids with a full economic cost (fec) over £250,000 have to be referred to the Director of Finance for approval, and that this additional step requires time too.
If you are preparing your application online via platforms such as JeS, please make sure to give RBDO access to it and submit to the ‘pool’ so that RBDO can validate the application. Following this final check ‘University approval’ is given and Worktribe status changes to ‘submitted’. When this status is achieved, RBDO will release the bid to the funder electronically or you can submit the application, depending on the funding body being applied to.
In instances where the application requires wet signatures: It is the applicant’s responsibility to secure the signatures but the Research Office will facilitate where possible and sufficient time is given. If the application needs the signature of Sarah Taylor as admin/finance representative for the University, all other signatures should be in place first.
Exceptionally an opportunity may arise to be involved in a grant application where the 3 week timescale is not feasible, such as funding calls released with close deadlines, or external partners inviting colleagues onto bids on short notice. In this case, please contact the Chair of the Grants Panel (David Evans) to secure faculty permission for a late submission as soon as possible and contact the RGO to agree a timetable that meets the university deadline. It is important that this fast track approval process is not used as the norm – otherwise it will be withdrawn from individuals.
Outlines, preliminaries, expressions of interest or otherwise stage 1 bids
In the majority of cases, funding bodies will not permit major changes (including budgetary) when progressing from outline to full application, therefore all outline bids must follow exactly the same process as full bids, including costing and approvals in pFACT. The faculty permits a reduced timescale for faculty approvals as there is less documentation to review, but please ensure that the outline bid is ready for review no less than 2 weeks before the external deadline.
Bids under £10,000
These bids must go through the same review and approval process as bids over £10k, with the exception that a reviewer will not normally be assigned unless requested by the applicant.
Bids led by a different faculty at Oxford Brookes University, or by another institution
As ownership of a bid lies with the Principal Investigator, it is expected that the lead faculty/institution will be responsible for assuring the overall quality of the bid, and these are hence not subject to our internal peer review. The researcher should though have their portion of the application costed separately as each faculty involved will need to produce their own pFACT record for the application and seek the usual internal approvals. Upon receipt of the draft the RGO will carry out a light touch review of the bid with a view to specifically checking the HLS researcher’s involvement in the project and the associated portion of the budget. As with internally led bids, RBDO cannot approve an external bid without the final version of the application form and its associated costings.
A reduced timetable for review and approvals is possible, though no less than 2 weeks before the external deadline.
The terms and conditions of a tender are legally binding and cannot normally be changed post-award so that, once accepted, the faculty is obliged to deliver the project as described. It is, therefore, important that you allow sufficient time for Kevin Henderson (E: email@example.com), Contracts Manager in RBDO, to read over the tender as soon as possible.
Commercial / contract research bids
These bids have a separate process. No reviewer is assigned but the project needs to be costed by the applicant and moved to Research Manager approval in pFACT. The RGO will push the bid on to finance approval in pFACT. The Grants Panel Chair will then review and approve the bid in pFACT on behalf of the faculty.
Congratulations you’ve won a research grant! There is a lot of help and support available across the Faculty and University to get your project up and running, all of which can be found in the comprehensive Guide to Managing Research Grants and Research Staff.
As a quick start overview, when you are awarded a grant you will need to follow the following first steps:
Please forward the award letter and the start certificate (if relevant) to Paul Carolan, Post-award Processes Officer in RBDO who will arrange for the official University acceptance of the award and request that a new finance activity code is set up for your grant.
If the award involves signing a contract with the funder or collaborating institutions please forward the documents to Kevin Henderson, Research Contracts Manager in RBDO. The Contracts Team will then review the contract and arrange University signature.
Please note that no data gathering should take place until research ethics approval has been granted. Please refer to the following link for full details of faculty Ethics procedures. Kellie Tune is the Faculty Research Ethics Committee Chair and can provide advice on any issues raised by the research and the ethics approval process. Please also see:
We would strongly encourage you to arrange a brief meeting with our Faculty Finance Team before your project begins, and then quarterly to discuss the financial administration of your grant. They will deal with all aspects of preparing and posting overhead journals, raising invoices to the funder, and coding and paying supplier invoices.
Please arrange a brief meeting with your Research Engagement Officer. They will discuss your new research grant award with you with a view to publicising the project in our Faculty Newsletter and other promotional materials, such as the University’s Research Forum or the @hls_research Twitter feed.
Converis is the University’s Current Research Information System (CRIS), which is used to store and manage details of research undertaken at Oxford Brookes. When the grant is awarded all award documents will be available in the Documents tab of the Projects screen, including the contract. Once available the project activity code will also be notified via an e-mail alert from Converis.
Further information on Converis, your role in managing the grant, recruiting and selecting researchers, staff induction, on-going management, career development of contract research staff, end of staff contract and key contacts can be found in the Guide.
Archiving research data
The University has an offsite storage contract with Restore Data Management. This service offers a secure way of storing hard copy records which are not accessed regularly. The faculty guidance reviews what to archive, what Restore offers and the process from set up to end of life. Restore also provides a webportal guide.