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NIHR funding series: how can I develop my mental health research idea? Part 3 – Research Design Service

NIHR funding series: how can I develop my mental health research idea? Part 3 – Research Design Service
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Do you have a great idea for a mental health research project but aren’t sure how to take the next step? Look no further than your regional NIHR Research Design Service – free, confidential, expert advice for researchers on all aspects of developing and writing a research funding application.

In Part 3 of our funding series, we’ll look at what the Research Design Service is and how it can help you develop your mental health research.

The Research Design Service (RDS)

The RDS supports health, social care, and public health researchers to develop and write high quality funding applications. Whether you’re stuck on turning your research idea into a funding application, looking at different funding opportunities or personal awards, or you’d like a bit more guidance on involving patients and the public in your research, you can take advantage of the free advice at your regional Research Design Service. Advice is available in-person at meetings and research clinics, and by phone or email.

Who can access the RDS?

The RDS can support anyone who is considering an application to

  • Fund a project in applied health, public health, or social care research
  • Personal funding awards and fellowships
  • National, open, peer-reviewed funding competitions

What the RDS can do for mental health researchers

RDS advisers can help with specialist advice on:

  • Developing and refining your research idea
  • Feasibility and ethical considerations
  • Engaging a multidisciplinary research team and collaborating with clinicians/practitioners, policy-makers, academics, businesses, and patients and the public
  • Methodology and research design choices
  • Identifying sources of funding, including both NIHR research programmes and national funding competitions for applied health or social care research
  • Patient and public involvement in research
  • Preparing for interviews for fellowships and other personal awards
  • Research impact and dissemination
  • Embedding equality, diversity, and inclusion in research design and best practice for EDI in research

RDS can also help with access to:

  • Seminars and workshops on NIHR funding opportunities
  • Events about developing research proposals
  • Reviews and feedback on draft funding applications
  • Other centres with specific expertise

What will I discuss with an RDS adviser?

Check out the infographic for questions that you might work through with an RDS adviser to develop a strong research proposal.

Find your regional RDS

There are 10 regional RDS centres located across England. Follow the links below to find out more about your local centre.


For further information on the NIHR Research Design Service, visit the website or browse the RDS Resources.

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