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Child Development - RESEARCH





About the applicant (organisation and PI)

Yes, anyone with a PhD is eligible to apply as a PI. Indeed, we encourage applications that will help strong junior researchers progress in their fields (for Post-docs we would assume that either their salary is included in the proposal or it is already funded elsewhere for the duration of the award - please make this clear if this is the case). However, as part of the review process, applications will be judged on the expertise of the team and many of our applications will be submitted by Professors and highly experienced researchers. Please bear this in mind when putting together your proposal. Whether you choose to be a PI working with experienced co-applicants or are a co-applicant on the grant alongside a more experienced PI is up to you.

Yes, although we would expect any new proposal to be unrelated and not dependent on the outcomes of the active grant (the latter would be considered as an extension rather than a new project, if the active grant were still on-going). Please also ensure all of your reporting is up to date with the active grant. We will not consider new requests from PIs who have outstanding paperwork from active grants. Also, please bear in mind that we only fund 2/3 projects per call. Whilst we are very much guided by our external reviewers as to the strength of applications if you were successful recently (i.e. in the last year's call) and there were other applications of a similar rating then in this instance, with an active award, it is likely that more weight would be given to proposals from applicants currently not in receipt of a TWF grant. Of course, if your application was a clear front runner after the review process, then this would take priority.

Unfortunately not. We ask that if you have a number of possible proposals that align with our interests, you select the proposal that you believe to be strongest / aligns best with our interests. Unfortunately, for 2019, we do not have the capacity to provide feedback on proposal ideas so this decision will need to be made by you.

Yes, this is fine!

Yes, we appreciate different lab groups at the same organisation might fit within the same research call but be coming at their research from completely different perspectives, and with different approaches to their research. Applications from different PIs at the same university are therefore eligible.

Yes, we appreciate that research undertaken within a charity context, rather than within an academic institution, can offer particular benefits in ensuring that practical research is relevant to service users and indeed will be disseminated to the general public. In the past we have funded research projects through charities rather than directly through a university. However, these have tended to be the exception to the rule; it remains our preference for the PI to be based within a university and to include links with charity organisations and workers as co-applicants.

Yes - we are absolutely interested in any proposed project that fits our main research interests and accept (and encourage) applications from researchers based at any university.

As a slight caveat, it should be noted, that when judging applications, we take into consideration how well the proposed project fits with our key themes, the track record of the researchers and institutions at which the research is based and the value for money the proposal offers. Applications from within the UK can recover the capital costs of research elsewhere and therefore this cost does not make up part of the proposed grant budget. With all other things being equal, this can have the effect of making UK based applications appear more attractive through better cost efficiency (although this is certainly not always the case).

We also have a preference for research that will have direct benefit to children and families in the UK. We would expect certain projects to have global implications and therefore the location of the research is not a question (i.e. genetic studies, brain imaging etc). However, for intervention studies or those employing more qualitative methods this might not be the case so please make clear in your application how this research would be applicable to a UK setting - if a particular intervention is not available in the UK or is based within a context too dissimilar to UK systems then an application is unlikely to be successful without good justification.


About the proposal

The main priority in assessing our research calls is the topic of the research project proposed. We appreciate that some projects lend themselves better to PhD studentships, particularly due to budget restraints which might prevent a post-doc being employed for a longer period of time. Having said that, we also know anecdotally from speaking to our grantees and other researchers that there is a bottle neck of funding from PhD to Post-doc; with a lack of funding for junior scientists to establish themselves post-PhD. So, whilst the project takes precedence, we do favour support for helping early career researchers with their transition into Post-doc research careers. Therefore, proposals incorporating Post-docs are preferred to those requesting support for PhD students. If you have good justification for a PhD studentship please do still apply, but bear in mind that in these instances we request that the studentship is match-funded (by the university or other source and that this is confirmed prior to an application being submitted to TWF).

Please also bear in mind that we do not release funding for an award until ethical approvals are in place for a project. This can be more complicated when considering PhDs since they tend to start at specific times within the calendar year. Our preference is that all ethical approvals are in place prior to the student starting so please consider this in your timelines. However, if the university is prepared to underwrite the project until ethical approval is granted and thus our payment received, then in this instance the student would be free to start the project before the approvals are finalised.

Please also see information under the timeline section for planned start dates that might affect PhD studentships more so than other awards.

We do not have any stipulations as to the length of an award and instead are led by the applicants and our reviewers as to what length of time is appropriate and necessary for each individual project. Because of budget restrictions most of our awards tend to be between 12 - 36 months in length. 18 months is a common study duration, for example.

Yes! We fund a mixture of projects that involve new data collection and those that use already existing data (e.g. ALSPAC) to answer research questions.

Given our main research interest is around improving our understanding of the brain in relation to neurodevelopmental disorders and their co-occurrences, quantitative studies tend to lend themselves much better to our goals and indeed account for the majority of our awards. We have, however, previously funded qualitative studies and although our preference is for quantitative research we will consider applications of a qualitative nature if the proposal is in fitting with our research call and has good justification.

Given our interest in Child Development and specific neurodevelopmental disorders and our preference for research which is closest in transition to helping people directly, the majority of our research focuses on children and adolescents. We do however appreciate that in some situations animal models may offer the most appropriate way of exploring a research question and will consider applications when this is justified and appropriate. We anticipate that this is likely to be limited to our diet/microbiome call and is unlikely to be successful within the other funding calls.

Given our interest in Child Development and specific neurodevelopmental disorders and our preference for research which is closest in transition to helping young people directly, the majority of our research is in children and adolescents (EDIT!!!25 years). Proposals involving adults are welcome to be submitted when there is good justification but please bear in mind that given the quality of the applications we receive, it is unlikely a project based solely within the adult population would be successful.

Unfortunately, we do not have the capacity to give feedback on how well a proposal fits with our funding criteria prior to proposal deadlines. We hope the increase in information now available on the website will help guide your application. Please do read all pages related to our Child Development Research awards to ensure you are in the best position to put a strong proposal together.


About the budget

We prefer to fund discrete research projects. However, we would absolutely consider match-funding a project with another funding body (but this funding would need to be in place already/have already been applied for at the point of applciation). It is unlikely we would consider a donation towards a much larger study that is still a way off its overall target. We would prefer to be approached to fund a discrete specific part of a larger project.

Yes, conference attendance (fees and travel costs) can be included in the budget; if possible please identify the intended conference within the budget. Of the total budget, a maximum of 5% can be used for conference attendance. The purpose of any conference attendance should be to disseminate data generated through our grant.

We encourage open access publishing and would like you to consider publishing in open access publications. We will consider paying for one such article per project. When costing this please provide the journal name for which the cost is related to - if you have in house funding to cover these costs already please let us know about this within the application.

Yes, please do! We are very keen to see applications seriously consider how they intend to disseminate research to the general public and encourage applications to include budget to enable this. For example, we have previously supported costs towards public engagement events, workshops, website development and public engagement material (e.g. handy leaflets, policy recommendation articles etc).

Yes, if your application is successful in going out to be externally reviewed you will be given the opportunity to amend your proposal based on the reviewers' feedback. This includes changes to the budget (although our maximum budget guidelines still apply).

We prefer not to cover the costs of an already permanent member of staff (i.e. salary costs for a research assistant/post doc position is fine but not for time commitments of already existing members of staff). This policy is in common with the long-established policies of many other charity research funders and the precedent advocated by the Association of Medical Research Charities.


About timeframes

We expect proposals to have a planned start date within 12 months of our advertised decision month. The majority of our awards plan to start within 6 months of the decision date and if indeed you plan to start between 6-12 months after the decision date we would expect the reasons for this to be clear and justified within the proposal. We understand that this might be needed to enable ethics to be approved, coincide with school term/holiday times for recruitment purposes, coincide with a return from leave (e.g. maternity leave etc) or to enable recruitment of a strong candidate, but please state the reason for this delay within your proposal.

Applications are initially assessed according to general scientific quality and in relation to The Waterloo Foundation's scientific strategy and interests as laid out here. Applications successful at this stage are then peer reviewed. Applicants unsuccessful at this stage will be notified promptly. Please see below for the annual submission schedule for the different topics.

Our peer-review process involves external reviewers and internal reviewers. External reviews are carried out by practising scientists or clinicians, who are expert in the area. Our internal reviews are carried out by our Chair of Trustees and Child Development Fund Manager, both of whom have backgrounds in scientific research. Applicants will have the opportunity to respond to points raised by reviewers, which reviewers can then comment on. Consultation will be taken where necessary, and then recommendations will be made to our Trustees about which projects to fund.

We review our research calls annually and hope to have information relating to the next year’s calls available on our website by the end of September.