Call for Applications for Developing Research Leaders Awards


  • The NIHR School for Social Care Research (NIHR SSCR) invites Stage 1 applications to support individuals to develop their careers as research leaders in adult social care research in England. This is part of NIHR SSCR’s commitment to build research capacity in adult social care.

    Stage 1 Applications received by 16.30 on Tuesday 5 July 2022 will be considered by the NIHR SSCR’s Commissioning Panel. Shortlisted applicants will be invited to a Stage 2 interview and presentation in early September 2022. Institutions are not limited to one application.

    Applicants are asked to provide an intention to submit by 16.30 on Tuesday 21 June 2022. This is to support NIHR SSCR in estimating the number of applications and does not commit any individual to submit an application.


Launched in May 2009, NIHR SSCR is funded by the National Institute for Health Research until April 2024 (Phase III, 2019-24). NIHR SSCR aims to develop the evidence base for adult social care practice in England by commissioning and conducting high-quality research.

Over the last 13 years the School has commissioned research studies, and numerous methods and scoping review papers across the scope of adult social care. Further information is available on our website. Our business plan for this third phase can be found here.

We are developing a programme to build research capacity in adult social care in England. Details of our activities can be found on our website.

The Developing Research Leaders Award (DRLA) Scheme aims to address the need to support individuals at a more advanced level in their research careers by providing tailored and targeted support to develop further as the next leaders for adult social care research. This is particularly where individuals would benefit from resources to help them to accelerate their progression.

We use a broad, inclusive description of adult social care, encompassing the wide range of care and support available to and used by adults; the diversity of services and service providers of adult social care; and care and support provided through and with unpaid care, communities, self-care and self-funded care. We are interested in all aspects of this plurality of care and support arrangements, and their development in the current context of adult social care in England. Areas of overlap and/or integration with other sectors also fall within our remit.

2021 Call Awardees

The School appointed five Leadership Fellows from the last round of the Developing Research Leaders Award Scheme. Details of our first cohort can be found here.


With support from the Department of Health and Social Care and NIHR Academy, we are seeking high-quality applications for DRLAs from individuals who have a commitment to developing the evidence base to improve adult social care practice in England.

The DRLA Scheme is targeted at exceptional individuals working to develop adult social care research and capacity by leading significant research projects or programmes and managing other researchers.

These individuals would not necessarily need to currently be in adult social care research but would have the potential to apply their expertise to adult social care research. For example, they may be established university-based researchers working with specific methods or in children’s social care which they believe can translate into the adult social care context.

These individuals will – through the School’s additional support – be well positioned to apply for professorial-level positions. Applicants will need to make a strong case to NIHR SSCR for the proposed plan for their career development with a clear commitment to developing their career as a leader in adult social care research.

These awards focus on individual career development and are not suitable for research projects.

The support required is expected to be specific to each individual. As such the use of funding is to be determined by the applicant with their host institution to ensure it is tailored to their needs. Awards may cover, for example, support to:

  • buy out time to focus on developing an application for an NIHR Professorship or NIHR Global Health Professorship
  • buy out time to develop a specific research proposal for a Centre, Programme or significant research project
  • buy out time to focus on specific activities to enhance their personal CV, such as writing further papers, research implementation activities, which may also possibly support institutional promotion applications
  • fund support for the individual to help to develop applications, proposals or write papers
  • fund development activities that lead to larger programme applications, such as developing partnerships and collaborations at a senior

In all cases, applicants should clearly set out how their plans align with their future research career trajectory and describe the steps they would expect to take following the award.

DRLAs will need to be hosted by an appropriate organisation. This may be the applicant’s current organisation (such as a university, local authority or service provider), or it may be elsewhere; this should be set out in the application form and confirmation of relevant organisation support provided. Awards can be held jointly (for example, if the applicant is a professional with one employer but the award will be held by another such as a university, or vice versa). NIHR SSCR will be reviewing the strength of the support provided by the hosting organisation as part of the commissioning process. The School will also be considering how planned activities through an NIHR SSCR award add value to existing institution support and time allocations for research.

Successful applicants will be required to participate actively in the life of NIHR SSCR and wider NIHR activities to build capacity in adult social care research.

Applicants are advised to check if they would be more suited to the School’s Individual Research Career Development Award Scheme if they are unsure if their career track would be suitable to the DRLA Scheme; the next call will be open in summer 2022.


Selection criteria

Applications will be reviewed using the following criteria:

  • Strong individual applicant
  • Clear alignment with the remit of NIHR SSCR
  • A strong case for personal development through this award, linked to development as a research leader in adult social care
  • A proposal clearly in line with the applicant’s current career stage
  • Clear training/development plan that is integral to the award
  • Clear end-point and objectives for the award
  • A long-term commitment to a research career in adult social care
  • Strong and appropriate support in the applicant’s environment that will be sustained beyond the award to continue to support the applicant’s research career
  • Value for money.

Duration of awards

Successful applications can start on or after 30 September 2022 but must commence no later than 1 December 2022. Awards must finish no later than 31 March 2024.

The duration of the award should reflect the nature of the development plan and be fully justified.

Funding available

Funding is available for awards of up to £50,000. Applicants applying at the higher end of these awards will need to make a strong case for this level of funding. We expect to make awards across a range of budgets and do not anticipate making all awards at the higher end. (The School recognises that salaries for individuals at higher-level positions may be at the higher end of the budget available.)

Costs for the applicant’s salary, training (formal or short) courses and events, and direct costs linked to the Award are eligible. It is for the applicant and relevant host organisation to determine whether to apply overheads. NIHR SSCR will only fund up to 25% of staff costs as overheads. These should be included as part of the budget requested.

Funding will be paid to the host organisation.


For queries about these awards please email and the most appropriate person will reply as soon as possible.

Should an applicant wish to do so, a meeting can be arranged with a member of the School to discuss their application prior to the Stage 1 submission deadline.


This is a two-stage process: a summary application form (Stage 1), followed by an oral (presentation and interview) application (Stage 2) for shortlisted candidates.

Intentions to submit should be completed using the “Intention to Submit” form on the School’s website by 16.30 on Tuesday 21 June 2022. This will enable us to plan our administrative work for processing the award.

Stage 1:

The deadline for Stage 1 applications is 16.30 on Tuesday 5 July 2022. Completed applications should be uploaded and submitted through the School’s website.

All applications will be initially assessed to ensure that they are within the remit of this call, meet required criteria and that the form has been fully completed.

All applications successfully passing this triage will be reviewed by the NIHR SSCR Commissioning Panel for these Awards.

Applicants will be informed of the outcome of their Stage 1 proposal in late July 2022.

Stage 2

Shortlisted applicants will be invited to an application meeting with the Commissioning Panel which will include a presentation and discussion of their application.

Applicants will be required to submit their presentation to NIHR SSCR one week in advance of the meeting. Further details will be provided to shortlisted applicants.

A contract for successful awards will be issued by LSE to the main host institution for the award based on standard NIHR SSCR terms.