Journals Library


Programme Grants for Applied Research (PGfAR)

Programme Grants for Applied Research final report submissions 

The final report for the Programme Grants for Applied Research (PGfAR) programme differs in structure and content from those used in other NIHR programmes, reflecting the complex nature of the research undertaken within this programme, and the numbers of publications achieved by the time a final report is presented to the NIHR Journals Library (NJL).

In recognition that researchers supported by PGfAR are actively encouraged to publish findings and developments over the course of their research, unlike other NIHR programmes that form part of the NJL, PGfAR award holders are asked to submit a summary style final report. The PGfAR summary style final report requirement is designed to utilise these published articles to support the account of the research that you submit to the NJL.

Although of a summary style, the final report still needs to be a considered, well-prepared account; hence the work needed to produce the final reports for these complex and extensive programmes of research should not be underestimated.

This guidance has been prepared specifically for researchers in receipt of funding from the PGfAR Programme. Please ensure that you follow it in conjunction with the rest of the Information for Authors guide.

From October 1st 2019, all researchers funded by the PGfAR programme should submit a final report using the summary report guidance as below.

Summary style final report guidance

The summary style final report format is as follows:

The synopsis

The total word count for the synopsis may vary depending on your research but it should be a maximum of 15,000 words (authors will be asked to reduce their word count where it exceeds this) and consist of numbered sub-sections – not chapters. It should only describe the research supported by the programme.


The synopsis is the core of the report; it must summarise what you did and what you found out.   It should succinctly ‘tell the story’ of the work undertaken as a result of the programme grant – its development, key findings, successes, challenges, recommendations for future research and conclusions.  As such, it should provide an accessible synthesis of the entire programme showing clearly how each element relates to and, where appropriate, builds on another. It should be possible to read and make sense of the synopsis as a stand-alone document without referring to other information.

The synopsis needs to include:

  • A Research Pathway Diagram of the stages and development of the interconnecting work packages that contribute to the whole programme. Good examples of the type of suggested diagram can be found here:

  • A summary of any alterations to the programme's original aims/design. By the nature of PGfAR, it is common that there are changes between the original proposal and the work actually done.  If there have been any substantive changes, please address these specifically and include the scientific justification, plus evidence that these changes were approved by the programme steering committee, the funder, and, if appropriate, the relevant research ethics committee.

  • A short sub-section for each work package, briefly summarising its research aims, methods for data collection and analysis, limitations, key findings, and its interrelationship with the other parts of the Programme. Summary tables, boxes or figures should be included only if they help to ensure that key points in the synopsis are clear. More detailed information (e.g. protocols, tools, details of interventions, consent processes, and detailed figures, boxes and tables) should be presented as appendices rather than breaking the flow of the text in the synopsis. Please use URL links in each of the sub-sections to direct readers to relevant papers you have published.  If part(s) of your programme do not have a published paper, please append a brief summary of this work so readers have a complete view of the work undertaken during the programme (see appendices below). Please refer to the appendices from the synopsis, where relevant.

  • An account/discussion of the involvement of patients and/or the public.

  • Reflections on what was and what was not successful in the programme.

  • Limitations relating to the method or execution of the research.

  • Conclusions from the whole programme.

  • Recommendations for future research.

  • Implications for practice, decision makers and any lessons learned. For further guidance, please see Implication for Decision makers.

Publications list

You should list publications (e.g. articles, letters, conference abstracts, blogs etc. related to the programme) in a separate section of the report, before the references, to show the breadth of impact of the work. Wherever possible, URLs should be added to this list.


The NIHR Journals Library is an Open Access publication and any content used or linked to will need to have the same open access or appropriate permissions (See

The appendices will be an important part of your final report containing a full description of methods, tools, details of interventions and outcomes.

If you are unable to link electronically from the synopsis to necessary Open Access papers these should be provided in your appendices once relevant copyright permissions have been obtained. 

Details of any part of the project that is not already published, or unlikely to publish should be reported concisely in an original appendix.  Each appendix of this type should take the form of a 2000 word summary of the relevant work.  Draft papers will no longer be accepted as appendices.

All appendices should be referred to in the main body of the report.  

Points to consider about articles used to support your synopsis:  

  • Be selective about the use of articles as links/appendices, avoiding linking to articles of similar content, and ensure that the publications chosen as links provide appropriate content that best describe the research undertaken.

  • PGfAR reports will rely on published papers to give a completely detailed account of the research, so it is important that readers have access to all the information they need. You will need to establish that links from your report to other peer reviewed journals provide open access to the published journal article. Access via subscription or through an institution’s OVID/Athens gateway is not acceptable. You should consider whether there is another suitable ‘open’ source that would provide the detail for the particular section of the synopsis.

  • If your only option is to reproduce a whole article as your appendix, you will need to confirm with the article publisher that this is acceptable. You may require copyright permission to do so.

  • If you have placed a proof copy of your article in your institution’s repository and the document is available as an open access item, you may wish to use this as your link if the published article is only available through journal subscription or pay per view.

    All of the main results of the study must be provided for review when the report is submitted.

    To re-emphasise, ultimately, your PGfAR report should bring together all of the strands of the programme in a single place, such that the final report, as a whole, is greater than the sum of the individual parts. It will also act as an archive for the whole research programme.

Before your final report submission deadline

Approximately three to six months before your final report due date, you will receive an email from your PGfAR programme manager alerting you to not only the expected submission date of your final report but also, instructions about the further information and documents that you will need to submit alongside it. This will be followed up with a telephone call to give you an opportunity to discuss the final report requirements further.

At this point, it would be extremely helpful if you could supply a Research Summary recording any changes from the original proposal that have affected the direction of your research programme. This summary will help the NJL team prepare editors and peer reviewers for the changes and developments since the start of your research as planned in your funded application.

You will need to keep your PGfAR programme manager contact updated regarding the actual date that you plan to submit your final report so that they, in turn, can inform the Journals Library team to enable appropriate allocation of resources.

Additional documents to submit alongside your final report

  • If you have not previously provided one, we will require a Research Summary recording any changes from the original proposal that have affected the direction of your research programme.

  • Reviewer recommendations (if not already submitted). Please suggest potential reviewers for consideration. In order to avoid conflicts for reviewers, you should also provide information about membership of any advisory groups or programme associated committees such as Trial Steering or Data Management committees where appropriate.

  • Reports of all main findings. If your final report relies on any papers that are still in press or have been published in non-open access sources, these need to be provided in full on first submission. A final report will not be sent out for peer review if reviewers cannot access all the relevant information. 

  • A completed Editorial Criteria Checklist and a completed Permissions checklist.

Report submission

Before submitting your final report please check that:

  • it is complete – there are no sections which are labelled ‘to follow’, ‘to be completed’ or similar;

  • it complies with the guidance shown above;

  • it is navigable – page numbers are sequential and the structure is consistent and coherent;

  • the version submitted is a ‘final version’ which is acceptable for publication;

  • it is contained within one complete Word (not pdf) document which contains all sections and appendices and that the file is less than 10MB in size;

  • it contains a title page with a complete author list, a contents list, an abstract, a plain English summary and a scientific summary, in that order;

  • all URLs are active;

  • reports of all main findings are included.

Funding acknowledgement

When acknowledging funding you should use the wording as below:

This project was funded by the NIHR Programme Grants for Applied Research programme and will be published in full in Programme Grants for Applied Research; Vol. X, No. X. See the NIHR Journals Library website for further project information.You should submit your draft final report and accompanying documentation as requested by your PGfAR contact and not via the NETSCC MIS system.

Once satisfied that your final report can go forward for editorial review, a member of the NJL Editorial Office will check the submission and notify the editors that they have received the final report. After this, the NJL Editorial Office will be your main point of contact through the stages of review and revision and will advise on how you should submit revisions and additional documentation.

Editorial review

The editorial review process for the PGfAR report submissions differs slightly from the standard process. Because of the scope and diversity of the PGfAR research programme, reviewers will only be approached to review the final report after it has been submitted. Editors are assigned once the report has been checked by one of the NJL team. The editors will review the final report and may ask for early revision prior to peer review. Once the editors consider the final report ready for peer review, they discuss the relevant types of reviewers with the NJL team in order to secure the most appropriate reviewers for the subject matter. This will add a minimum of 2-4 weeks to the editorial review process. 

PGfAR editorial review timeline