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Attracting research funding

Who to approach depends on the size of your research project, the type of research and subject of your research.

Some organisations will fund research projects whilst others might support research training through bursary, studentship or fellowship schemes.

It is also important to think about how you will disseminate your research findings. Some organisations offer dissemination awards, for example, to cover the cost of attending conferences.

An organisation relevant to your area of research may not be able to offer you funding but may be able to support the dissemination of your research through their website, newsletters and other communication tools.

Databases of funders

A good starting point for finding potential funders is to look at a database of research funders. A comprehensive database can be found by consulting the RDFunding list.

The database can be searched using different criteria:

  • Funding type – eg. projects, equipment grants, dissemination awards
  • Research area or speciality
  • Activity code – eg. underpinning research, development of treatments and interventions, evaluation of treatments and interventions, prevention of diseases and conditions and promotion of well being, health and social care services research
  • Funding streams – eg. National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), government, research councils, professional bodies

There are special editions of the database including one for the Allied Health Professions.

Additional information about CSP Charitable Trust funding

The CSP Charitable Trust has a Physiotherapy Research Foundation which has an annual funding round.  There are different funding schemes for both novice and experienced researchers.

The Trust also offers Educational Awards for academically accredited courses, education and development placements as well as conference and presentation awards:

Finding other sources of funding

Some sources of funding will not be listed in databases and may not be advertised widely. This often applies to smaller amounts of funding or more local sources of funding. 

It is useful to keep in regular contact with any local research & development services in your hospital, Trust, region or organisation.

If you belong to a CSP Professional Network check their website for details of any funding they offer. Funding opportunities are often promoted on relevant iCSP networks.

Your local Allied Health Professions Research Network (AHPRN) hub is also a good source of information. 

Researching potential funders

Once you have identified potential funders you need to find out as much about them as possible.Search their website for information about their research strategy and priorities, the funding schemes offered, amounts funded and eligibility criteria for applying for funding.

It is useful to look at what research they are currently funding and any published research they have funded. There are two types of funding:

  • Commissioned research funding where calls are made for research proposals for specific topics or themes
  • Researcher led funding where the applicant proposes the research topic

Approaching funders

Most funders have well defined processes for applying for funding, with application forms specifying the information required. Make sure you follow any application guidelines precisely.

Find details for the funding manager or administrator. It can be useful to contact them for advice and additional information.

Why should you be funded?

It is vital that you sell your research question to the funder:

  • Why is it important?
  • What impact will it have and who will benefit?
  • How does it align to the funder’s research strategy and priorities?

It is very helpful to know who sits on the funding selection panel and their research interests and expertise, but this information is not always made available. 

If there are physiotherapists or other AHPs on the panel they will probably understand the benefits of your research more easily than other healthcare professionals, who may be unfamiliar with the value of physiotherapy or the research methodologies you wish to utilise. 

There will almost certainly be patient, service user or public representatives on the selection panel. It is important to take into account who will be reading your application and to write your proposal in a way that enables all panel members to understand the importance of your research and how you will undertake it.

Using the CSP research priorities

  • Refer to a CSP research priority to help demonstrate the importance of your research question
  • Highlight that the topic has been identified by a rigorous research methodology by national experts including service users, clinicians, research managers, commissioners, educators and policy makers
  • Emphasise that the topic has been prioritised because of its potential impact on quality of care, patient experience, clinical, risk and cost effectiveness and also its impact for managers, commissioners and healthcare policy
  • Demonstrate how it fits within the funder’s research priorities
  • Reference the publication detailing how the CSP research priorities were identified: Rankin G, Rushton A, Olver P, Moore A. Chartered Society of Physiotherapy's identification of national research priorities for physiotherapy using a modified Delphi technique. Physiotherapy 2012; 98:260-272

Further information


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Last reviewed

18 June 2013

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