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25 resources to help you develop a great population research proposal

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by Cancer Research UK | Research Feature

27 April 2018

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Population Research

Designing a population research proposal is a complex task, with many practical and regulatory hurdles to cross. The resources below cover a range of research areas and methods relevant to population research. You may not need to refer to them all, but some may help you find advice to develop your proposal.

Our Expert Review Panels will look at the quality of the research proposed and how this fits with our research strategy. You should try to make sure your research design is clear and addresses your questions using the best methods and data available.

General advice on study design

The best thing you can do to develop a great application is seek advice from and build collaborations with the experts in delivering this research. The UK has a strong infrastructure for clinical and population research with many resources to consider. 

Clinical Trials Units

Use for: Expertise in centrally coordinating multicentre clinical trials, as well as in trial design, costings, data management and analysis. Here are some starting points for finding Clinical Trial Units which, if appropriate to your research, could support you.


NCRI Clinical Studies and Advisory Groups

Use for: Advice from trials experts — including clinicians, scientists, statisticians and people affected by cancer — on study design, recruitment and management.


NIHR Support Services

Use for: Support with development and/or delivery of your research proposal.

NIHR CRN Study Support Servicestudy support for public health and social care research.
NIHR Research Design Service – funding application support for health and social care researchers.

Clinical Trials Toolkit

Use for: An interactive route map to help you navigate the legal and practical requirements for the design and conduct of clinical trials in the UK.


Core Outcome Measures in Effectiveness Trials

Use for: Ensuring you’re using appropriate, standard outcome measures in your study.


MRC Guidance on complex interventions

Use for: Advice for developing and evaluating complex interventions.


CONSORT Guidelines for reporting trials of non-pharmacological treatment interventions

Use for: Advice for reporting trials of non-pharmacologic treatment interventions. The guidelines also provide information on how to clearly present trial objectives and design.


Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA)

Use for: Advice for conducting meta-analyses, or considering the validity of systematic reviews and meta-analyses that you intend to use as an evidence-base.

Patient involvement and recruitment

PPI Toolkit

Use for: Understanding how involving people affected by cancer can add value to your research, and practical advice to get you started.


Research Nurses

Use for: Practical advice and support with recruitment, including patient involvement and insight into issues faced by people affected by cancer.

Using human tissue and biological samples

If you plan to use human tissue or samples in your study, you’ll need to demonstrate that your use is within ethical guidelines. We also encourage you to maximise the value gained from human samples by reusing existing sample sets where possible, and making the samples you collect available to others.

Guidelines on human tissue and biological samples

Use for: Ensuing your use of human tissue or samples meets statutory regulations and ethical guidelines.


UKCRC Tissue Directory and Coordination Centre

Use for: Discovering if existing suitable sample sets exist, and how to register your own sample sets.


Attributing costs of research associated with the NHS

The NHS facilitates research by covering the patient care and treatment costs involved in provision of experimental treatments. You must correctly attribute these costs in your application.

Use for: Understanding which costs to apply to CRUK for and which to attribute to NHS treatment and support costs.

Data access and sharing

Our committees will expect you to have thought seriously about how you will manage your data and maximise its value to the research community.

Our data sharing guidance

Use for: Information on structuring your data sharing plan and inspiration for how to manage and share data within the operational and regulatory constraints of clinical research. (CSDR)

Use for: Sharing clinical trial datasets. Researchers can also apply to CSDR for access to anonymised patient-level data and supporting study documents for further research. More information on the benefits of CSDR and how to use the site can be found here:


UK Biobank

Use for: Access to data collected from 500,000 people aged between 40-69 years in 2006-2010 across the UK. Participants consented to providing blood, urine and saliva samples, additional information and measurements and agreed to have their health followed up over time.


The Cohort Directory

Use for: Information on and links to over 40 UK population cohorts. The Medical Research Council has put together a searchable directory of UK population cohorts which provides links out to the individual study webpages.

Our research priorities

We support a broad portfolio of population research, and we aim to fund research that has the potential for practical impact on clinical practice or public policy. We will always judge applications first and foremost on the quality of the proposed science and its potential impact for people affected by cancer, but we’re also increasing our funding in targeted areas that we believe will help us achieve our vision of 3 in 4 patients surviving their disease by 2034.

Use for: A deeper understanding our research priorities, from cancers with substantial unmet need to the optimisation of treatments.

Our Research Funding Managers

Our Research Funding Managers are here to advise on eligibility for our funding schemes and guide you through the application process, so explore our population research opportunities now and get in touch with the relevant Research Funding Manager to discuss your proposed research.