How to make a successful application

We fund research that makes a clear link with our research priorities and look for the best researchers in their field.

Below is some simple advice from our research funding team that will help you make a great application. Each funding scheme has its own application guidelines so it's vital that you read these too before submitting an application. If you have any questions about these specific guidelines then you should get in touch with the person who manages that scheme. If you'd like to know more, you can also read advice from our current grantees.

What you will be judged on

  • Relevance to our research priorities - read our Research Strategy and clearly state how your research relates to cancer research. Make sure you read the eligibility information for your chosen scheme.
  • The originality of your ideas and proposal - make sure your research is answering an important and valid research question.
  • Your knowledge of relevant literature and developments in your area.
  • The quality of your experimental design – think about feasibility and identify what could go wrong. Show preliminary data if relevant.
  • Value for money – your funding panel will want to know that the money we invest will be spent well. Make sure you leave enough time to budget accurately and that your costs are realistic. You should also justify all your costs.
  • Your research team – make sure the people you choose have the right expertise. Check if there are other areas they can help with outside of the obvious scientific requirements of the project. For example, do they have a background in public policy that will help you share your findings?
  • You – it’s important the funding panel trust their investment in you. Identify your unique strengths and draw on your previous successes.

Remember, it helps to know your audience. Find out who sits on the funding committee relevant to your scheme and what they’re interested in. They may even be a member of your current institution and you’ll be able to speak to them directly. Take a look at our funding committee pages.

Advice from our decision makers (funding committees)

1. Show clearly how the application builds on existing knowledge

Your research must be based on solid principles.

2. Spend time on the abstract

  • Include all aspects of the study so the reviewers can immediately see everything you plan to do.
  • Make sure it’s clear, concise, and thorough.

3. Make every step of the methods 100% clear

  • Including the procedure, sample size, why you have chosen that sample and how you will collect and analyse the data.
  • Make sure you clearly show how your objectives or research questions will be addressed.

4. Tell a coherent, easily understood story

  • Why you are doing the study.
  • What you plan to do.
  • How you will go about this.
  • When you plan to do it and timings.
  • What the impact will be.
  • Who your team are.
  • How you will resource the work.

5. Remember that simple ideas appeal

If your plan includes too many studies with too many components the research questions can become lost.

6. Take time on the analysis section

Some grant applications fail through imprecise descriptions of analysis of the data. Make sure you demonstrate your understanding of data, whether it’s statistical or qualitative.

Filling in the online form

  • Read our guide to filling in your application.
  • Work with the grants/research office at your host institution – they can offer support and advice, particularly around costing your research proposal.
  • Gather relevant additional information, such as ethical/regulatory approval, equipment quotes, letters of support, commercial interactions and other awards. 
  • Contact the grants helpline if you have questions about our online grants management system:

Contact the grants team

Find funding

Find a funding opportunity that suits your career and research area.


Search all funding