Commissioning FAQs and responses

This page contains answers to frequently asked questions. We have also published our responses to enquiries received about previous commissioning calls. This page is constantly updated – see the date at the bottom to check if it has changed since you last visited.

General Enquiries

Where can I find the terms and conditions?
You can find them here: https://crestresearch.ac.uk/commissioning/terms/ Applicants should ensure that they and their organisation are able to meet the conditions of this agreement prior to applying for funding.

What format should my application be in?
Details about submission format can be found in Section 4.3 and details about content can be found in Appendix A and B of the Call Specification document.

When is the deadline for applications?
15:00 GMT on 13 November 2019 is the deadline for applications.

I have a question that is not covered here, who do I ask?
Please contact Nicola Ronan, Centre Manager at commissioning@crestresearch.ac.uk.
The deadline for questions and queries is 15:00 GMT on 5th November 2019.

I notice there is a newer version of the call specification now available, what changes have been made?
We noticed that the date for questions was incorrect so have corrected it to 5 November 2019 15:00 (GMT).  This is the only amendment.

Questions from Previous Calls

The following questions have been adapted from enquiries from previous commissioning calls.

Collaborators

Multiple Bids

Is it possible to go as a co-I on one application to CREST but a PI on another?
Eligible applicants may submit more than one proposal.

Are we able to name more than one principal investigators and co-investigators?   If yes to the question above, can one PI or CI be based abroad if the others are in the UK?
Yes you are able to name more than one principal investigator and co-investigator.  However, for contracting purposes, we will only contract with one lead institution.  There are no restrictions for any of the investigators to be based at a UK institution.  Further details can be found in Section 4.2 about eligibility.

Collaborator Eligibility

We have a couple of collaborators for our proposal idea in mind but not all of them (including ourselves) are based at UK universities. Is it a requirement to have a UK institution involved?
No, it is not necessary to have a UK Institution involved. The Call is open to Higher Education Institutions, research organisations, charities, commercial companies, and individuals from the UK and overseas who can demonstrate a capability to deliver a high-quality programme of research.
 
Related to the previous question: Are CREST members allowed to co-apply for funding calls (as Co-Investigators)? Some of our collaborators would fall under that category.
Yes, CREST Researchers are allowed to apply for funding providing they are able to meet the eligibility criteria.  In particular, all applicants and named research staff must be able to meet the time commitment to the project as stated in the proposal (i.e., their joint contribution cannot exceed 100 per cent of their time [FTE]).

If possible from an administrative side, could this even be beneficial or more of an impediment since CREST members are already part of the CREST project?
Existing involvement in CREST is neither beneficial nor an impediment to the success of applications. It is not considered during the commissioning process.

Whether there is a preference for named researchers to be targeted for hiring in the proposal?
There is no preference.

I note the call specification stipulates this: “We also encourage proposals that are interdisciplinary and that involve collaborations between stakeholders and researchers.” Our question is whether these can be collaborations between stakeholders and researchers across different institutions and whether there is a preference.
There is no preference for the type of collaboration.

Can we offer just our capability or is it possible for us to team, with say a University, and offer a team?
This is covered under the eligibility criteria 4.2 in the specification.  Yes, you can submit individually or in conjunction as part of a team.  You may also find the FAQs in response to this question

Principal Investigators

 Are there specific requirements for the eligibility of Principle Investigators? Would they need to be current PI’s or could it be someone at the post-doctoral level?
There are no specific requirements for Principal Investigators.

I am member of a core CREST programme. Am I eligible to be PI on a CREST Commissioning call?
Yes, CREST Researchers are allowed to apply for funding providing they are able to meet the eligibility criteria.  In particular, all applicants and named research staff must be able to meet the time commitment to the project as stated in the proposal (i.e., their joint contribution cannot exceed 100 per cent of their time [FTE]).

Principal Investigators

Are there specific requirements for the eligibility of Principle Investigators? Would they need to be current PI’s or could it be someone at the post-doctoral level?
There are no specific requirements for Principal Investigators.

I am member of a core CREST programme. Am I eligible to be PI on a CREST Commissioning call?
Yes, CREST Researchers are allowed to apply for funding providing they are able to meet the eligibility criteria.  In particular, all applicants and named research staff must be able to meet the time commitment to the project as stated in the proposal (i.e., their joint contribution cannot exceed 100 per cent of their time [FTE]).

Reviewers

Is it possible to name someone already funded by CREST one of the reviewers?
Yes, you are able to nominate reviewers currently funded by CREST.

Who should these reviewers be?
Your reviewer should be a researcher or user with a strong understanding of the topic area and no conflicts of interest (e.g., not a regular co-author, departmental colleague, etc).  Reviewers will be asked to consider the application against the assessment criteria outlined in section 4.5 of the call specification.  Applicants should ensure they seek the reviewer’s permission before nominating them.

Someone who is part of CREST or it could be any academic?
This has been partially answered under 4.4 and in the frequently asked questions.  For clarity, applicants are invited to nominate up to 2 academic peer reviewers and it does not have to be someone who is part of CREST.

Dissemination

I am costing for a dissemination workshop which would be hosted by CREST for 25 people, in our central London venue, which would be free but I need an estimate from you for how much I can cost, do I need to cost for administrative time for CREST to organise it e.g. Do the invitation list, perhaps organise catering etc.?
Although CREST does have centralised support for workshops, any commissioned proposal for a workshop would be expected to cost into their bid appropriate support from a local supplier. If at the time it turned out that CREST could directly deliver a better service to you, then we’d discuss this with you then.

How many CREST-organised events with stakeholders (in particular law enforcement) have already been planned or are likely to be planned that we could use to disseminate the findings of our proposed project, if funded?
We anticipate projects costing for the dissemination of their project findings within the bid.  CREST would work with you to ensure that the most appropriate audience are aware of your event.  If we identified synergy with another event or project we would discuss this with you during the course of your project.

Follow on question, Does CREST expect that we include CREST’s costs for supporting/working with our project team on dissemination events into the bid?  Or does CREST expect that we only include our own costs?
In terms of the support, identified above for us publicising your event and potentially having CREST representatives attend we would not anticipate you needing to included CRESTs costs only your own.  You may wish to include costs to attend CREST events (such as BASS20, etc).

If we produce CREST guides as one of our deliverables, are there existing CREST templates that we can use for this or will we be expected to fund the production of these?
CREST guides are produced in conjunction with the CREST Communications Teams who would discuss the headings and template with you.  The only cost we would anticipate if you required a specific number of guides printed into hard copy for an event or if you had a specific element that would take a considerable amount of design work.

Eligibility

We are interested in putting in a bid proposal to CREST, however we need to establish whether, being a public body, we would be eligible for funding?  If it is the case that we are not eligible, and we partner with a University, would our bid then be acceptable?
Public bodies are eligible to apply providing you are able to meet the criteria laid out in the specification and subaward then they would be eligible to receive funding.  The Call is open to Higher Education Institutions, research organisations, charities, commercial companies, and individuals from the UK and overseas who can demonstrate a capability to deliver a high-quality programme of research. Interested partners without such experience should consider partnering with established research institutes. We strongly encourage applications from researchers in all disciplines of the economic and social sciences, conceived broadly.

After reviewing the relevant documents, we are not sure that as a private, non-profit institution of higher education we are eligible to apply?
We have no reason why you would not be eligible providing you are able to meet the criteria laid out in the specification and subaward then they would be eligible to receive funding. The Call is open to Higher Education Institutions, research organisations, charities, commercial companies, and individuals from the UK and overseas who can demonstrate a capability to deliver a high-quality programme of research.

I’m planning a proposal for the call and I was wondering whether it was within the rules to submit two variants of the same proposal, a 6-month version and a 12-month version?
There are no restrictions in the commissioning call that would prevent you from doing this.

Could you let me know if research proposals that are currently under review with ESRC are eligible for submission to the 2019 competition?
Yes, though of course the proposal will need adapting to fit our submission formatting requirements. Should you be successful, we will require confirmation that you are not taking up funding for the same project directly from the ESRC.

Finance

General finance questions

Are there any costs we should anticipate and include?
Projects may be invited to participate in events and conversations with CREST colleagues, other projects and stakeholders and we would anticipate costs being built into the bid.

How indicative is the budget amounts for the projects?
As stated in the Call Specifications, the budget outlines given for projects are indicative.  As with all bids to the Call, we will consider the budget requested in light of the quality and the scope of the bid as a whole, and also in light of the overall budget for the commissioning call.  The panel will also have regard to the costs stated in the budget given and how they appear to fit with the research outlined in the bid.

Can the requested funds be used to buy out our time and also to hire an RA, if it is within the available budget?
HEI researchers should cost their projects using the same process as they would cost an ESRC grant.  We would anticipate that your research support office will be able to advise on this.

Foreign exchange fluctuation. We are an Australian based organisation. If there is a significant fluctuation in the GBP-AUD exchange rate, this would affect the scope of the project and what could be achieved – we would either have to reduce the output, or seek additional funding from CREST to cover the fluctuation. Is there any advice/requirements around FX for call specifications? Should we be including a line item in our grant costing that allows for a 10% FX movement?
Unfortunately, as an ESRC centre, our awards are for a fixed price and we are unable to adjust deliverables or provide additional funding to compensate for exchange rate fluctuations. We recommend using an exchange rate in calculating your GBP costings that manages the risk effectively. Outside of this formal practice, informally CREST will work closely and in good faith with PIs if there is a large-scale shift in exchange rate that puts project progress at risk.

Is it enough to send a final invoice including a table with budget vs actual? Or do we have to send more documents?
We will require a breakdown of costs per budget heading including the 100% actual cost and the 80% claimed for.  You will also be required to submit information regarding the deliverables of the project as outlined in Section 5.3 of the call specification

Full Economic Costing questions

The Call states that “All other applicants must recognise that an application to CREST’s commissioning programme requires a commitment to provide the remaining 20% of full Economic Cost from their own resources”   Which kind of resources may be used to provide the remaining 20% besides cash money?
Most research council grants, including CREST are funded 80% of the full costs of the grant (including overheads and directly incurred costs such as salary and travel) the remaining 20% of the costs are covered by the applicant’s institution. When it comes to claiming the funds the applicant’s institution incurs the full costs and then invoices us for 80% of those costs. The remaining 20% has to be covered by a cash contribution from the applicant’s institution.

Could you please confirm to me if the sentence “…the remaining 20% has to be covered by a cash contribution from the applicants institution” means that the remaining 20% cannot be covered by working hours of internal staff?
80% of the total costs of the project will be covered, the remaining 20% is covered by the applicant’s organisation, meaning that the applicant cannot claim for 100% of the costs and offset that against working hours of internal staff.

We understand your funding only covers 80% of the full economic cost. Are we required to fund the remaining 20% ourselves, or can we seek additional funding elsewhere?
We would normally anticipate organisations funding the remaining 20% themselves.  With regard to specific additional funding we would not be able to comment on this as it would depend on individual terms and conditions of that funding.  However, we would highlight the importance of ensuring clarity in relation to deliverables and outputs and that the funding complies with the terms and conditions of the main CREST contract that the applicants organisation will be signing.

Partner organisations questions

How would we do the costing for the company’s side? Could we include the construction of a paid research internship at the company or a joint RA position between company and university? Or would it be advisable to do standard FTE costing using the company’s salary structure?
We encourage cross-sector collaborations so yes, it is possible for you to include a joint RA position or internship. How you cost that is a matter for discussion between you and the company. From CREST’s perspective it will be acceptable for you to have the company as a sub-contractor who receives funding to support their FTE rates (bearing in mind they will receive 80% of whatever rate is quoted). Or, equally, it would be acceptable for the RA to be seconded to the company and costs associated with that included in your bid (i.e., so the salary continues to be paid by the university). Many universities have a research services department who would be able to help with the development of these costings. From the point of view of your bid you should do what makes most sense and, if necessary, include a short justification.

Will a university based in a country outside of the UK be funded at 100 % or 80 % rate?
All projects will be funded at the 80% rate.

I was wondering how US partner institutions are costed. Is this done the same way as UK HEI? Or do they receive the full cost of what is asked for?
This is addressed in Section 3 of the specification.  Specifically: “All other applicants must recognise that an application to CREST’s commissioning programme requires a commitment to provide the remaining 20% of full Economic Cost from their own resources.”

As part of our project, we have got some co-investigators from the USA. How are their cost written into the bid? Is their cost separated between salary and overheads or can we add the full figure in? Also are they subject to the 80% of the full economic cost? The partner institution takes 52% for their overheads, that is why we are asking.
How costs are included into bids are down to the lead institution to define; we would anticipate many universities providing the costs in a similar way to how they cost other research council proposals utilising directly allocated and directly incurred category headings.  With regard to the 80% query, this is in answered in Section 3 of the specification and in response to previous questions.

Format of submissions

In Appendix A the use of San Serif font is requested – can I use a dyslexic friendly equivalent please e.g. Arial or Calibri.
San Serif is a type of letterform rather than a specific font. Both Arial and Calibri are san serif font.

Appendix A, Capabilities and Relevant Expertise (1 page maximum) – If there is one PI and several Co-I’s can we provide 1 page per PI and Co-I or does the 1 page maximum have to include all PI’s and Co-I’s ?
No, it is a 1 page maximum for all PIs and Co-Is.

In the Call specification the section on Funding, refers to the document: https://www.ukri.org/files/funding/tcs/fec-questionnaire-pdf/ . Do we need to fill out this document in addition to the application that will include the 1-page on the resources required/grant costing?
You do not need to complete this document as part of the application process unless you find it useful to do so.  It is included for guidance only.

Suitability

Can you comment on the suitability of my project/research for funding?
Unfortunately, we are unable to comment on individual projects.  However, we strongly encourage applications from researchers in all disciplines of the economic and social sciences, conceived broadly. We also encourage proposals that are interdisciplinary and that involve collaborations between stakeholders and researchers.

We have recently been turned down for a 3 year ESRC grant application – can we apply to CREST for a pilot of the same study?
Yes, however, applicants should propose a programme of work that addresses one of the Requirements identified in Section 2.2 of the funding specification.

At the concept level the project will be somewhat related to several of the topics but do not necessarily fall squarely under one topic. I will highly appreciate to hear your feedback. Especially whether any proposal should strictly be aligned with a topic focus or if there is a certain flexibility.
Unfortunately, we are unable to comment on individual projects and their suitability.  However, I would draw your attention to Section 2.1 “Applicants should propose a programme of work that addresses one of the Requirements identified in Section 2.2. It is anticipated that applications which simultaneously address multiple requirements will be too broad in scope to be effective.”  Hopefully this will assist you in the assessment of your project’s suitability.

Terms and Conditions

I read in the terms and conditions that all data would be made available via the UK data archive unless an exception was granted. As I work with police data and other sensitive information I would not be in a position to publish my raw data (even though I can publish findings from it). I thus wanted to ask what the procedure might be to apply for an exemption from this rule?
We would anticipate this being flagged within your proposal.  Following on from this we would expect you to provide details the reason for the exemption within your ethics applications to Security Research Ethics Committee (SREC).

There are a number of documents (attached) with this call, do they need to be approved and signed by our Legal office or are these for information and submitted if awarded?
These documents are for information and would be submitted if awarded.  We have provided them as they would be the contracts involved and feel it is important for transparency for them to be available.

In clause 7.4 of the subaward the Arising Intellectual Property generated by the Contractor will be owned by Lancaster, why is this?
This is included as it is a grant special condition of our award.  You can find this here: https://crestresearch.ac.uk/commissioning/terms/  in clause 5.  It is worth noting at this point that commissioned partners would not be a member of the Hub, nor an Academic Partner within the meaning of the Award Letter

Would you consider an alternative subaward agreement?
Our position is that these terms and conditions are not negotiable and hence, why we ensure they are available for viewing prior to application and encourage applicants to share with the appropriate internal department.  We are not able to enter into negotiations on an individual basis.

The guidance on your website for the above commissioned research states that applicants should ensure that they and their organisation are able to meet the conditions of the subagreement prior to applying for funding. The subagreement refers to a requirement that applicant’s institutions comply with the ESRC Head Contract Please can you provide a copy of the latter so that we can confirm we can comply?This document is on our website https://crestresearch.ac.uk/commissioning/terms/ marked as CREST offer letter.

Miscellaneous

Is the list of previous grantees available and which percentage of funded projects were proposed by a non-UK university/entity?
Details can be found on our website.  However, please note that the topics commissioned in each round of research are not the same as this round.

Do we have to fill in timesheets?
There is no requirement to complete timesheets.

Last updated: 17/10/2019