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Accessing study support and advice services

Last updated on 20 Nov 2018

Studies involving the NHS in England

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Clinical Research Network (CRN) offers a range of services across the research pathway that will help study feasibility, set up and delivery to time and target.

These services are available to any study that is eligible or applying for CRN support and which involves the NHS in England. This service is available to both commercial and non-commercial sponsored studies regardless of location, study type, study size or therapy area of the research. Visit the NIHR CRN Study Support Service for more information.

You should complete and submit a Portfolio Application Form (PAF) in IRAS to request inclusion on the NIHR CRN Portfolio. A PAF will be generated when your responses to questions in the IRAS filter question indicate that the study is led from England and you wish to apply to the NIHR CRN for support.

For commercial contract studies it is important that you request study support service through the NIHR CRN website before you apply for HRA Approval. Currently, this submission is separate from, and in addition to, the PAF in IRAS.

As part of HRA Approval, the HRA will share information about your application with the CRN to allow them to make a decision on NIHR CRN Portfolio eligibility.

If you have any questions please contact the NIHR Study Support Service.

Seeking advice and support

Toolkits and Decision Tools

The Integrated Research Application System (IRAS) contains a wealth of guidance and links to help you complete your applications. This guidance is provided within the data sets, through clicking the question specific guidance buttons (green i buttons) and through the help section. If you are unclear about the application or review process for a particular review body, please contact them for advice, as this could save you delays in addressing issues later in the review process.

You are strongly advised to contact the lead NHS research and development office for advice on setting up your study.

If you are running your study through the clinical research networks  you should contact the relevant network as early as possible to seek advice on the support available and get up to date news on how to run your project efficiently in the UK.


Decision tools

  • Is it research? Use this to check whether your project is categorised as research.
  • Do I need NHS REC approval?  This tool will help you work out whether your study needs approval from an NHS REC. You can print the answer as evidence.

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