Back to top anchor

How to get funding fit

A strong application is pivotal to gaining Health Research Council (HRC) funding. Preparation, and a complete vision for your research, is key. 

Professor Ed Mitchell

Professor Ed Mitchell had HRC support for his research into sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and in 2015 was awarded the prestigious HRC Beaven Medal for his contribution to saving thousands of young lives.

The HRC annually offers funding for Master's and PhD students, emerging researchers, frontline clinicians and established research leaders via our Career Development Awards. We also offer funding for a range of research endeavours, including projects and programmes, with grants ranging from $150,000 through to $5 million. To prepare your application, please note the following:

Read latest application guidelines and related documents

Always read the guidelines for the specific funding opportunity you're applying for. In the guidelines, you'll find more detailed information about the funding parameters, eligibility criteria, requirements for submitting an application, and how the HRC assesses applications.

On the relevant funding round page in Gateway, you'll also find other documents relating to your application (including updated HRC Rules and Peer Review Manual). Further general information about our contractual requirements and processes is available in the Funding Information section in our Resource Library.

Seek ethical approval

Determine if you need ethical approval for your research and, if so, where to apply. Research using animal or human participants, animal or human materials, personal information, or involving clinical trials, or combinations of such studies, requires special consideration. 

We believe that ethical approval is best sought before submitting an application to the HRC, but we accept that this may not always be possible. All HRC-funded research must have, where necessary, ethical approval from the appropriate regulatory agencies before the research begins.

The HRC Ethics Committee (HRCEC) will ensure that independent ethical assessment of proposed research has been carried out by an ethics committee approved by the HRCEC. The HRC Data Monitoring Core Committee ensures that trials which require data and safety monitoring are adequately monitored.

To read more about ethical research requirements, visit our Resource Library and look for documents in our Ethics categories.

Consider research impact

Dr Moana Theodore

Dr Reremoana (Moana) Theodore from the University of Otago received a 2018 HRC Māori Health Research Emerging Leader Fellowship, to examine the link between educational exposures and health outcomes for Māori.

Applicants for some of our key funding rounds, including Projects, Programmes, Emerging Researcher First Grants, and Feasibility Study grants, are required to consider the potential impact of their research right from the planning stages.

The Research Impact criterion centres around two sections: (1) a description of how an applicant's research might be used and the anticipated benefits for New Zealand; and (2) an action plan to maximise the use and benefits of research.

Applicants are encouraged to respond to these sections relative to their specific research context. We advise you to reference your line-of-sight to eventual impact, but focus the discussion on what is realistically achievable within your sphere of influence. Keep it relevant and keep it credible.

The slideshow below was created to assist applicants and reviewers in their interpretation of the HRC’s Research Impact criterion. Further information is also available in these slideshow notes.

Plan ahead for Māori health advancement

The HRC recognises that all health research, to different degrees, has the ability to advance Māori health and reduce inequities. So as part of our assessment process, the HRC now scores a research proposal’s potential to advance Māori health.

Māori health advancement, in the context of health research funded by the HRC, is defined as positive contributions to, and improvements of, Māori health and wellbeing, and/or reduction in health inequity.

Alignment with the Māori Health Advancement criterion as well as other assessment criteria will strengthen an application. Our Māori Health Advancement Guidelines are designed to help you describe how your proposed research will fit within this criterion. Though your research may focus on communities or populations other than Māori, you will still be required to consider how your research will also advance Māori health.

This short video on our Māori Health Advancement page also offers insights and views from well-known researchers regarding this criterion. More detailed interviews with each researcher are available to watch.

Pursue research excellence

Excellent research needs to be both methodologically sound and scientifically robust. It also identifies genuine knowledge gaps or needs, as well as being ethical, well-performed and well-reported. The principles of excellent research should underpin all research proposals. Read more here on what the HRC considers excellent research