Applying for research funding

You've chosen your funder(s) and now it's time to put your research proposal together.

We're here to help with the entire submission process, from putting the application form together, to working out the budget and getting Faculty approval.

The application form

Competition for external research funding is becoming increasingly fierce, so how do you maximise your chances of success?

We've designed a comprehensive guide to help you navigate the application process, as well as a guide to good research practice. These will help you unpick the application form and understand what funders want from you.


The timescales for research applications can be quite short, extremely long or anywhere in between! Once you've decided to apply, the best first step is to contact us in Research and Innovation Funding Development (email [email protected]) and your Head of Department or institute's director as soon as you can. This way everyone's on board at the same time.

If you're applying to a UK funder, we need to be in contact at least five days before the funder's deadline. This means that we can get the project properly peer reviewed, and put a robust budget in place with plenty of time for Faculty approval. (Please check with your Faculty to see how quickly they can usually give approval.)

For European proposals please contact as far in advance as you can.

If you're joining a proposal as a partner you'll need to follow the proposal coordinator’s timeline, but you still need to produce a fEC and obtain Faculty approval. Allow five working days for this, as with UK funding.

If you're coordinating a proposal you should start working on your application at least three months before the deadline, and have a draft that can be circulated for approval at least one month before the deadline. Final approval should be done five days before the deadline.

If you're applying to an international funder, please contact the Research and Innovation Funding Development team (email [email protected]) as soon as you start working on your application. Most international funders use their own submission systems and we might need to register with a system in order to submit you application. Once you let us know that you're working on an application, please make sure you send us your proposal and budget five working days before the deadline. This is to allow time for it to be peer reviewed, and to make sure your budget and proposal are approved by your Faculty. (Please check this timescale with your Faculty; some may need more than five working days.)

Peer review

We want to make sure that your proposal is excellent and give you constructive and informative feedback so that it has the best chance of success.

Most funders assume that your project will have been peer reviewed. Ideally, all applications should have been internally or externally peer reviewed. Even if you're only applying for a small pot of money it will still be beneficial.

It’s easy to get confused about what we offer in Research Services and what we ask faculties to do. Here's a quick overview.

  • Peer review, a review of your expertise, the research and those involved, is best done by your Head of Department, Research Leader or Income Manager. If they're unable to peer review, they should recommend someone who can. You need them to review the capacity and resource to complete the project, the scientific (or otherwise) merit of the project and any other research in the area and its relevance. Comments on how well you've described the project (such as research methods and questions) are really beneficial. It’s best to give your reviewer plenty of time to make comments; you may even ask them to look at several different versions. Some of our faculties like the Director of Research to be involved in both peer and project review, too – check with your Head of Department.
  • Here in Research Services, we'll do a project review. This means that we'll look at all the other aspects of your application such as the budget and the lay summary to check they're OK.

How to cost your research proposal

We use a full economic costing (fEC) tool to cost all research projects. This Transparent Approach to Costing (TRAC) is the standard methodology used in all universities and is designed to help us understand the full cost of research so that it can be sustainable. 

Unlike the old system of approximating overheads using a set percentage of staff costs, fEC specifically calculates all the costs of conducting a research project, including internal services and space.

When we use fEC we use different headings:

  • estates costs (the cost of space and maintenance during a project)
  • indirect costs (the University's administration costs, such as HR and Finance)
  • directly allocated (the costs of the relevant time of permanent academic staff
  • directly incurred (the direct costs on a project such as research assistants, equipment, consumables, travel etc).

Different funders will fund some or all of the costs above and it can be difficult to work out what you can and can’t apply for. It’s important to remember that your Faculty will need to know the full economic cost of your project, no matter the funder, as they'll be supporting any costs the funder doesn't give you. This is why the fEC tool accompanies every project sent for approvals.

Full economic costing, as a principal, only applies to UK funders. However, we still use it to calculate costs for European and international funders.

UK funders

If you're applying to a UK funder, your application will fall in to one of these categories:

  • full 100% fEC - Government bodies
  • full 80% fEC - Research Councils, some Government bodies and some charities
  • combination of fEC and non fEC - some charities
  • non-fEC - most charities.

We'll help you work out a budget to fit using our fEC tool.

EU and international funders

Horizon 2020 funding covers 100% of personnel costs, 100% of direct costs, and 25% of indirect costs. Other funders cover different costs at different rates, so it’s always best to look at the call or programme guidance and discuss with your Faculty if the reimbursement rates are acceptable. Get in touch with us if you have questions and we'll help you find the answers.

With so many differences in reimbursement rates and costs covers, how do you make sure your project has all the resources it needs? Our full economic costing tool helps you to consider all aspects of the project for the budget, so you should always begin by producing an fEC. Here’s a guide to what to include.


Who will be working on your project? Include yourself and any team members already working at Anglia Ruskin. If you need to recruit new team members include that too.

How much of their time will everyone spend on the project? Team members can contribute to all or some of the project, some might spend 5% of their time on the project for the whole duration, and others might work 100% for a few months.

Have you included administrative or managerial staff? This is particularly important if Anglia Ruskin will be leading the project. A project manager can take care of all administrative and financial aspects of the project so you can focus on your research.


Do you need any equipment or consumables that will be solely used for the project? Is the equipment already at Anglia Ruskin? Is there a cost associated with using it?

Will you have publications costs? Don’t forget that for European projects all publications must have open access


Will you need to travel during the project? Who else in the project will need to travel? How long and when will you travel? Where will you go?


Will your methodology or approach include fees, licences or any kind of consumable?

Once you have a complete fEC sheet, get in touch with the Research and Innovation Funding Development team. We can ‘translate’ your budget into the format for the European funding scheme you’re applying for.

Our frequently asked questions page answers some of the more detailed queries you might have, or please email [email protected].