Research on Research Awards (Closed)

These awards are for researchers who use a range of interdisciplinary methods to understand and improve how research is funded, practiced and evaluated, also known as research on research.

Scheme at a glance 

This scheme is now closed

Lead applicant career stage:
Administering organisation location:
UK, Republic of Ireland, Low- or middle-income countries
Funding amount:

Between £50,000 and £250,000

Funding duration:

6 to 24 months

Who can apply

You can apply if you have a proposal on the funding, practice or evaluation of research. Your proposal should investigate key questions or explore knowledge gaps.

You must:

The award is open to applicants with or without established academic posts.

Research proposal

Research on the practice of research (known as research on research) is an evolving discipline that uses a range of interdisciplinary methods to understand and improve how research is funded, practiced and evaluated. It takes an evidence-led approach that seeks to maximise the efficiency, effectiveness, fairness and impact of research.

We are inviting proposals that will investigate key questions or explore knowledge gaps on the funding, practice or evaluation of research.

We particularly encourage projects and activities that promote all or some of the following:

  • interdisciplinary approaches
  • applying findings to funding policy or practice
  • innovative methods.

We welcome proposals across a range of activities, including but not limited to:​

  • pilot and scoping studies
  • preliminary data gathering
  • proof-of-principle studies
  • systematic reviews.

Research on Research Awards are between £50,000 and £250,000 and can last from 6 to 24 months.

We'll pay your salary if you don’t have an established academic post or other salaried role.

All costs must be fully justified. Support can include:

  • If you don’t hold an established academic post, we’ll pay your salary.

    If you do, you can ask for funds for research or teaching replacement to cover the cost of a temporary replacement lecturer. Costs:

    • can cover up to 40% of your contracted time
    • are usually for someone more junior than you
    • can be spread across the full period of your grant.
      • You can ask for salary costs of all staff, full or part time, who will work on your project and whose time can be supported by a full audit trail. Staff members typically include research assistants, public engagement officers or a consultant employed on your grant. If you’re doing fieldwork or clinical studies in a low- or middle-income country, we’ll consider requests for more research staff.


        • Staff salaries should be appropriate to skills, responsibilities and expertise. You should ask your host organisation to use their salary scales to calculate these costs, which should include:

          • basic salary
          • employer's contributions, which should include any statutory obligations (eg National Insurance contributions if they’re based in the UK) and pension scheme costs
          • Apprentice Levy charges for UK-based salaries
          • any incremental progression up the salary scale
          • locally recognised allowances such as London allowance.

          Find out more about people working on a Wellcome grant.

      • Visa and work permit costs

        If you have named people on your grant whose salaries will be funded by Wellcome, you can ask for visa or work permit costs to help them take up their posts at the host organisation. You can also ask for:

        • visa costs for the person's partner and dependent children
        • essential associated costs, such as travel to attend appointments at a visa application centre or embassy if you can justify these
        • Immigration Health Surcharge costs for the person, their partner and dependent children if they will be in the UK for six months or more.
    • We will pay for the materials and consumables you need to carry out your proposed research, including:

      • archival photocopying
      • printing associated with fieldwork and empirical research
      • materials directly related to hosting workshops and interviews.
    • You can ask for funds to buy animals if they are essential to your project. We will also fund the charge-out rates for animal house facilities if your organisation uses full economic costing methodology. These costs include:

      • running costs (including animal maintenance, any experimental procedures, licences and relevant staff training)
      • appropriate estates costs
      • cage and equipment depreciation costs, but not building depreciation costs.

      We may not pay the full charge-out rate for an animal house facility if we've provided significant funding towards the infrastructure and/or core support of the facility.

      If your organisation doesn’t use full economic costing methodology to establish charge-out rates for animal house facilities, you can ask for funds to cover:

      • the cost of buying animals
      • running costs (including animal maintenance, any experimental procedures, licences and relevant staff training)
      • staff costs, eg contributions towards the salaries of animal house technicians.

      We won’t provide estates or depreciation costs.

    • Equipment purchase

      You can ask for smaller items of equipment that are essential to your proposed project. Costs may include purchase, delivery, installation, maintenance and training, where necessary.

      If you want to request larger items, please contact us before applying.

      We will cover VAT and import duties if:

      • the usual UK exemptions on equipment used for medical research don’t apply
      • you’re applying from a non-UK organisation, and you can show these costs can’t be recovered.

      Equipment maintenance

      We will cover maintenance costs for equipment if:

      • you are requesting it in your application
      • it is existing equipment that is:
        • funded by us or another source
        • essential to the proposed research project
        • more than five years old
        • cost effective to keep maintaining it.

      We won’t cover maintenance costs for equipment if there is a mechanism in place to recoup these costs through access charges.

      Computer equipment

      We will cover the cost of one personal computer or laptop per person up to £1,500.

      We won't pay for:

      • more expensive items, unless you can justify them
      • installation or training costs.
    • You can ask for the cost of access to shared equipment or facilities if they’re essential to your research project. These may include materials and consumables, plus a proportion of:

      • maintenance and service contracts
      • staff time costs for dedicated technical staff employed to operate the equipment or facility.

      We don’t cover the costs of:

      • estates and utilities
      • depreciation or insurance
      • other staff eg contributions towards departmental technical, administrative and management staff time.

      If the facilities or equipment were paid for by a Wellcome grant, you can only ask for access charges if:

      • the grant has ended
      • any support for running costs and maintenance contracts has ended.
    • We've changed our overheads policy for grant applications submitted from 1 October 2019. Read our updated policy and the 'How to ask for these costs' section below.

      How to ask for these costs

      This process applies if you’re now eligible to ask for overhead costs.

      In your application you must:

      • give a full breakdown of costs (you can't ask for a percentage of the research costs)
      • explain why these costs are necessary for your research
      • include a letter from the finance director of your host organisation, confirming that the breakdown is a true representation of the costs incurred.

      Our previous policy

      This information applies to grant applications submitted up to 30 September 2019.

      We cover research management and support costs if:

      • your host organisation is in a low- or middle-income country and your grant will be directly awarded to that organisation,


      • part of your grant will be sub-contracted to an organisation in a low- or middle-income country.

      We don't cover these costs if your host organisation will include the sub-contracted funding in its annual report to the UK Charity Research Support Fund.

      They can include:

      • training costs, eg transferable skills and personal development training for you and any other people employed on your grant
      • costs for short-term professional training for administrative, technical and support staff
      • administration, eg grant management, technical and administrative services
      • other costs which are necessary for your research, eg computing and internet access costs, access to electronic resources, facility and running costs such as utilities, furniture, waste disposal and incineration, and building maintenance.

      The total research management and support costs should not be more than 20% of the direct research costs you're requesting.

      See a list of low- and middle-income countries.

      • Travel costs

        Collaborative travel

        You can ask for travel and subsistence costs for collaborative visits for you and any staff employed on your grant. You’ll need to justify each visit and its duration.

        Other travel

        We may also pay for:

        • essential visits to facilities, archives and libraries
        • sample collection and fieldwork.

        You can include subsistence costs. You’ll need to justify these costs.

        Carbon offset costs

        This is a new policy. It applies to all types of travel costs Wellcome provides.

        You can ask for:

        • the cost of low carbon travel where practical, even if it's more expensive (for example travelling by train instead of flying)
        • project-related resources or activities that provide an alternative to travel, such as video conferencing, communication and file-sharing software
        • costs to offset the carbon emissions of the journeys you make.

        We won't pay for the core infrastructure that your host organisation should provide, unless you're eligible to ask for these costs under our overheads policy. Examples of these costs include:

        • organisation-wide video conferencing packages
        • high-speed broadband
        • HD screens.

        See our carbon offset policy for travel for information on what you and your organisation need to do.

        Subsistence costs

        If you’re away for up to one month you can ask for subsistence costs. These include accommodation, meals and incidentals (eg refreshments or newspapers).

        If your administering organisation has a subsistence policy, use their rates.

        If your administering organisation doesn’t have a subsistence policy, please use the HMRC rates.

        If you’re away for more than one month and up to 12 months, we will pay reasonable rental costs only, including aparthotels. You should discuss appropriate rates with your administering and host organisations, or Wellcome, as appropriate. We expect you to choose the most economical options, booked in advance where possible.

        If you’re from a low- or middle- income country and will be working in a high-income country for more than one month and up to 12 months, you can also ask for up to £10 a day to cover extra costs, such as transport and incidentals.

        If you’re away for more than 12 months, we will pay the costs of your housing. You should discuss your needs with your administering and host organisations.

        The allowance we provide will be based on family and business need. We will set the maximum allowance we pay for each location. This will be based on current market data or, where data is unavailable, in consultation with your administering organisation, using equivalent market rates. Please contact us if you need help calculating the costs.

        We will cover the direct expenses you have to pay to find and rent a home. We will not cover the cost of utilities or any refurbishment.

        Overseas research

        If you or any research staff employed on your grant will be doing research away from your host organisation, we'll help with the additional costs of working on the project overseas. Please see the 'Overseas allowances' section for details.

    • If your organisation receives block funding, you can ask them to cover your open access article processing charges.

      If you're at an organisation that doesn't receive block grant funding, we’ll supplement your grant when your paper has been accepted for publication.

      You can't ask for these charges in your grant application.

    • Costs you may ask for (you will have to justify these costs in your application):

      • fieldwork costs, including survey and data collection and statistical analysis
      • specialist publications that are relevant to the research and not available in institutional libraries
      • consultancy fees
      • expenses for subjects and volunteers – includes recruitment of participants, their participatory fees and travel, as well as interviewee expenses
      • reasonable research-associated costs related to the feedback of health-related findings but not any healthcare-associated costs
      • costs associated with developing an outputs management plan
      • questionnaires, recruitment material, newsletters etc for clinical, epidemiological and qualitative research studies
      • public engagement materials where dissemination (including printing and publishing) is a key activity of the project
      • recruitment, advertising and interviewee travel costs for staff to be employed on the grant
      • purchase, hire and running costs of project-dedicated vehicles
      • computing, including recurrent costs dedicated to the project (eg software licences)
      • formal transferable skills and personal development training, including the International Funders Award, in addition to what we'd expect your organisation to provide.

      Costs we won’t pay:

      • estates costs – such as building and premises costs, basic services and utilities. This also includes phone, postage, photocopying and stationery, unless you can justify these within a clinical or epidemiological study.*
      • page charges and the cost of colour prints
      • research, technical and administrative staff whose time is shared across several projects and isn’t supported by an audit record*
      • charge-out costs for major facilities* – departmental technical and administrative services, and use of existing equipment
      • cleaning, waste and other disposal costs*

      *We will fund these costs in the case of animal-related research.

      • indirect costs – this includes general administration costs such as personnel, finance, library, room hire and some departmental services
      • office furniture, such as chairs, desks, filin cabinets, etc.
      • clothing such as lab coats, shoes, protective clothing
      • non-research related activities, eg catering, room and venue hire for staff parties, team-building events and social activities
      • indemnity insurance (insurance cover against claims made by subjects or patients associated with a research programme)
      • ethics reviews, unless you are in a low- or middle-income country
      • radiation protection costs.
  • You can ask us to cover the costs of attending relevant scientific and academic meetings. Costs can include registration fees and travel expenses.

    You can also ask for costs to cover caring responsibilities if you or any staff employed on your grant attend a conference or research meeting. This includes childcare and any other caring responsibility you have, provided:

    • Wellcome is paying your salary
    • the conference is directly related to your research
    • the caring costs are over and above what you'd normally pay for care
    • the conference organiser and your employing organisation are unable to cover the costs.

    You can ask for up to £1,000 per person for each conference.

    We will provide a contribution towards the cost of hosting a conference (or a session within a conference), symposia or seminar series, if it’s for research purposes (eg data gathering) or to disseminate the findings from your research. Costs can include:

    • travel and accommodation for keynote speakers
    • room hire and catering
    • event publicity
    • conference pack publication, including name badges
    • any reasonably justified associated expenses.

What we don’t offer

Research on Research Awards cannot be used to:

  • top up existing grants
  • fund part of a PhD or Master’s course
  • write up publications from previous awards and qualifications.

We don't fund overheads.

This scheme has now closed.


  • Concept note deadline

    30 May 2018

  • Full application deadline (by invite)

    8 August 2018

  • Decision

    October 2018

Grants awarded

Find out about some of the people and projects we've funded for this scheme.