Applying for a grant

How to apply

All applications for Versus Arthritis funding must be received through our online grant management system Grant Tracker.

Grant tracker not only manages applications but also enables grantees to manage their grants more easily. If you've not yet registered as a Versus Arthritis grant tracker user, you'll need to do this before applying for funding. Please note the following points when creating a grant tracker account with us:

  • Applications are only accepted from recognised academic organisations in the UK.
  • Details within the principle investigator’s CV stored securely on Grant Tracker will automatically populate a new application for funding.
  • Co-applicants/sponsors of fellowships will be able to input into the application process prior to submission.

Before your application reaches Versus Arthritis you must obtain the necessary signatories. After you submit your application, the automated signatory process will begin, which needs to be completed and your application received by Versus Arthritis prior to the deadline. No changes can be made to your application after submission.

Upon saving and closing the form, you can view your application by clicking on the “view” the application button to generate the application as a PDF.

Resources for applicants

Essential information

It's important that before applying for funding you read the conditions for award (PDF, 299 KB) and our research policies.

Our Peer Review Process

All our funding applications are subject to peer review. This helps us assess the quality and relevance of a research funding application and help us to decide what to fund. This is done in line with AMRC guidelines .

Peer review allows us to support the best research and researchers in order to maximise the impact of our funding and deliver the changes that really matter to people with arthritis and ensure that they benefit from the results of the research.

The call document for each round will specify the peer review process for that round. However, our general peer review process is as below:

Following internal validation, all submitted applications are subject to review by external expert peers and patients. Some funding rounds are subject to triage ahead of peer review and this is carried out by the relevant subcommittee or a sub-group. It will be made clear in the call document if a round will be subject to a triage process. Applicants will be informed at an early stage if their proposal has been triaged out of the process and feedback provided.

Peer reviewers are asked to consider several aspects of the application:

Technical reviewers (typically scientists, clinicians, methodologists)

  • Relevance
  • Importance of hypothesis
  • Research design and methodology
  • Ability to deliver
  • Feasibility
  • Impact
  • Value for money
  • Strengths and weaknesses
  • Candidate track record and future potential (PhD and fellowships only)
  • Applicant’s standing within the field (fellowships only)
  • Quality of supervision ((PhD and fellowships only)

Patient reviewers (our Patient Insight Partners)

  • Clarity of the language used for a lay audience
  • Relevance of the proposed research
  • Involvement of patients and the public
  • Quality of proposed work
  • Patient benefit and the impact of the proposed work
  • Value for money

Peer reviewed applications are considered finally at the sub-committee meeting where funding recommendations are made. Some rounds, particularly fellowships, may go through an additional interview stage.


All collaborators associated with an application who are not co-applicants are required to provide a letter of support with the application.

Experimental animals

Versus Arthritis is committed to the principles of reduction, replacement and refinement in animal studies. For further information please read our research policies.

Industrial support

Versus Arthritis will accept industrial support if it is directed towards our strategic goals and is based on a genuine research collaboration with the industrial partner(s) or an independent untied donation.

Any individual seeking Versus Arthritis support for any research or educational activity with industrial support is required to complete a disclosure form providing details of:

  • the nature of the industrial support
  • any industrial links of relevance to the project either by the applicant(s) or their department or group.

All such material received by Versus Arthritis will be treated in strictest confidence.

Multiple applications

We will not accept overlapping applications of the same research proposal to more than one Versus Arthritis funding scheme. We will accept an application that has been submitted to another funding body, however, please check the eligibility criteria of the other funding body before making an application.

Previously submitted applications

Applicants must contact the research team at, before submitting a similar application that has been previously submitted to Versus Arthritis or elsewhere. Please email a covering letter detailing the original proposal, its outcome and explaining how the revised application has changed from the original submission before submitting your proposal. This should be no longer than one side of A4.

Frequently asked questions

What conditions are eligible for research funding?

Please consult our conditions we fund document (PDF, 72 KB) for guidance on our remit.

Do you publish your award funding rates?

Yes, these can be seen for awards made between 2018 – 2021 in the research funding rates table (Word, 44 KB).

Can a personal referee be a head of department?

Yes as long as they're not personally involved in the day-to-day running of the project.

How long is a "session" in respect of protected research time?

1 session = half a day

Does preliminary data have to embedded in the text or can I add it as an appendix?

This should be included within the research proposal although if diagrams are involved, we would accept additional appendices.

Do I attach copies of papers in press relating to the application?

Don't send papers that are in press, although if a reviewer asks for them we may request these at a later date.

Can I apply for travel to a conference to present Versus Arthritis - funded research?

Versus Arthritis grant holders are eligible for travel support which is an additional discretionary allowance on a grant. Some exceptions may apply on larger research grants.

My secretary would normally complete sections of an application on my behalf, how do they access the application?

Access can be granted to an application by adding a person as a pre-award administrator.

How do I see an application to which I've been added as a co-applicant?

When a lead applicant has added a co-applicant an automated email will be sent to the address used to add a person enclosing a link to follow.

Can a finance office use a generic email address to be used for final sign off?

Yes, we allow the use of a generic email, on the understanding that a list of approved users are forwarded to the research department.

Can I use multiple email addresses to sign into Grant Tracker?

No, you must use the same email address each time you log in. Grant Tracker uses the email address as a unique identifier by logging in with a different email address you will create duplicate contact details.

Can I amend my contact details once I have registered with Grant Tracker?

Log in using your current details and go to the ‘my details’ section.

Do I need to complete my CV online before I can submit an application?

All applicants named on an application MUST complete their CVs before final submission can take place.

Why do my attachments not show when viewing the PDF?

If you've uploaded any PDF documents these won't be embedded. However, they do show as an attachment to the final submitted application. GIF, JPG and word docs will also be embedded to the final application PDF.

Can I add images to the text boxes on the online screens?

All images must be uploaded as an attachment. Where an image corresponds to text a figure legend should be added within the text field.

How to cost your application

Costs must show sufficient detail to enable peer reviewers and recommending committees to make an informed decision. There are costs that applicants are able to apply for and costs that will not be accepted within applications, details can be found below.

Eligible costs within an application:

  • The stipend for a PhD studentships can be applied for within schemes where stated
  • The percentage of inflation used must be the same as the most recent pay award agreed by the Institution and no more than 2% (as at February 2023 and this will be periodically reviewed)
  • Any requests for computers must be fully justified and an integral to the success of the research proposal
  • Fully justified items of equipment of up to £30,000 can be requested, requests for items of equipment included in applications with a cost greater than £5,000 must be supported by an estimate
  • Lead applicants and co-applicants can apply for their salaries as long as they don't hold a tenured position. Please note all applications must have a lead applicant or another co-applicant that is tenured
  • Training and supervision of staff costs by non-tenured applicants within the project must be justified
  • If costs for animal experiments are included then a detailed breakdown, including the species and models must be provided for consideration of the committee
  • Animal maintenance and purchase costs should be separated and not included within the animal costings
  • London weighting applies to any applicant applying from an institution in London
  • Additional expenses/consumables need to be fully justified and will be assessed by the recommending committee
  • Requests for external consultancy costs should be included in expenses for consideration by the recommending committee
  • Access charges for use of specialist equipment may be applied for within expenses

Ineligible costs within an application:

  • Student tuition fees aren't provided on grants unless it's specifically stated that these can be applied for
  • Costs relating to staff recruitment
  • Apprenticeship levy
  • Personal license fees and home office license
  • Funding to provide maintenance of equipment
  • Office stationery costs unless required for the project and justified accordingly
  • Travel support and open access are not to be included within standard grant applications, these are additional awards that can be applied for by a Versus Arthritis grant holder
  • Interview and staff relocation costs
  • Miscellaneous costs within consumables

Lay case for support

We require applicants for all of our funding schemes to provide a lay case for support with their application. The lay case is the main source of information for our patient insight partners and, should your application be successful, will also be used by our communications and fundraising teams to provide insight into the value of the research we support; this knowledge is passed on to the media and to the general public.

Lay case guidelines

The lay case must answer the specific questions set out in the application form. Unless unavoidable, we advise against the use of jargon and encourage detailed explanations. However, there's no need to explain the generic importance or impact of the disease area you plan to investigate, or to summarise complex methodology.

The use of simple, non-scientific analogies to explain complex ideas is encouraged. Images and diagrams are also acceptable as an aid, not an alternative, to narrative explanation. Your lay case should be written at the level of a science feature in a broadsheet newspaper.

It's crucial that your lay case conveys relevant information in a form comprehensible to a lay readership. We will request resubmission of any lay cases that fall short of this standard, and funding decisions may be delayed pending an adequate lay case.

We suggest that you test your lay case with an informed lay reader before submission.

PhD Stipends

We set our own rates for PhD scholarship stipends. The tax-free stipend rates with effect from March 2015 and until further notice are as follows.

PhD scholarship stipends within London:

  • Year 1 £23,860.00  
  • Year 2 £24,337.20 
  • Year 3 £24,823.94 
  • Year 4 £25,320.42

PhD scholarship stipends outside London:

  • Year 1 £21,309.00
  • Year 2 £21,735.18
  • Year 3 £22,169.88
  • Year 4 £22,613.28

In addition to the stipend, successful PhD Scholarship applicants can apply for £10,000 per year expenses, as well as UK-rate tuition fees.

Grant application roles

All applications for Versus Arthritis grants must be submitted via our online system Grant Tracker.

A number of roles are available within the application some of which are compulsory (*) and others as required or wanted by the applicant to be included.

The roles available are:

Principal/lead applicant*

This is the individual who will lead the work on the grant and be responsible to Versus Arthritis to ensure the conditions of award are met.

They'll be based in a UK university, hospitals or recognised academic research institutes in the UK.

The principal/lead applicant must open the application form on grant tracker and add the other key personnel who can then add information.


Individual who will have had intellectual input into the application and is expected to be involved in the project.

There's no limit to the number of co-applicants who can be involved in the application.

A co-applicant who's based outside the UK may be included in the application.


An individual named in the body of the application who will supply research materials, specific expertise or access to patients, but won't be involved in the day-to-day execution of the project.

Pre-award administrator

This individual can enter the data into an application on behalf of the principal/lead and is also the point of contact person for administrative issues. Their details will not show on the application once it's been submitted.


All fellowship applications require one or more sponsors to be added as a signatory. The sponsor must hold a tenured position at the host institution, or in the case of an NHS employee, an honorary academic appointment, with tenure beyond the duration of the proposed fellowship. The sponsor should give an undertaking that if an award is made, they will negotiate with the host institution to ensure that the fellow is granted status and prerogatives of other academic staff of similar seniority. Sponsors are also encouraged to view their support and mentorship of the fellow as part of the longer-term committee to assist the fellow to realise their future career aspirations in research.


Supervisor roles are only required for PhD scholarship applications. Applications should be made by the proposed supervisor at an eligible institute and should include a named student.

Finance officer*

All full applications (not outline or intent applications) will require a finance officer to be included on the application as a signatory. They'll approve the finance details in the application once the applicant has pressed submit. Once the finance officer approves the application will then require the head of departments approval.

Head of department*

All applications require a head of department to be added as a signatory. The head of department needs to guarantee facilities and resources for the tenure of an award and where applicable, also guarantee that the award holder will be granted status and prerogatives of other academic staff of similar seniority. The head of department can also be a sponsor on a fellowship application. Only when the head has approved the application will it be submitted.

How to appeal a decision

What is an appeal?

An appeal is defined as a request for a review of a decision taken by Versus Arthritis if you believe Versus Arthritis did not follow the correct procedures as set out in our approach to funding or that there was an administrative error. We cannot consider information that was not included in the original application form.

How to make an appeal

If you wish to appeal a decision made by Versus Arthritis in relation to your research funding application, you must follow the appeals procedure below.

Appeals may be made in writing by downloading and completing the Versus Arthritis research funding decision appeals form (Word, 48 KB). Your completed form should then be emailed to with subject “For the attention of the Head of Awards Operations” and the feedback letter you received attached. This should be done within 10 working days of receiving the feedback letter.

If the appeal is sent to any other member of Versus Arthritis, you will be asked to resubmit to the research inbox as above.

We will always give you notification of the appeals timescale when communicating a decision. We aim to acknowledge your appeal by return email within three working days.

Please ensure that you are using the correct version of the guide for the relevant call for the project under which you applied.

We aim to reply fully to you with the appeal decision, by email, within 10 working days of the acknowledgement. Appeals that are more complex may take longer to deal with. In these cases, we will keep you updated on the progress of your appeal.

When is an appeal actually a complaint?

If an appeal documents non-specific evidence or simply notes dissatisfaction with the outcome of an application, this will be treated as a complaint, not as an appeal, and will be processed accordingly.