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Study within a Trial (SWAT) Funding

To date, the HRB-TMRN has funded twelve SWATs investing €150,000 in developing this initiative nationally. In 2024 the network will provide further funding for one SWAT award. This award is worth up to €10,000 (25% institutional overheads of direct project costs also available) and will provide for the implementation of a self-contained methodological research study in a planned or an existing randomised trial. This funding is available to research teams in University College Cork, University of Galway, Trinity College Dublin, University of Limerick and University College Dublin.

Scope of the current call

The scope of the current call is to facilitate the embedding of a methodology research study within a planned or ongoing trial. The SWAT should address a methodology research question on any aspect of the trial, for example: design, conduct, analysis, reporting or dissemination of trials, for which there is current uncertainty. Novel methodology questions are welcome, however applicants may also choose to repeat a SWAT in a new trial setting. A full listing of published SWAT protocols are available on the MRC-HTMR All-Ireland Hub website.

Number of awards

One award of up to €10,000 (25% institutional overheads of direct project costs are also available) for up to 12 months in duration will be awarded in 2024. Applicants must be from one of the five eligible institutions; University of Galway, UCC, TCD, UL and UCD.

Who should apply?

Trial investigator teams working on a planned or ongoing randomised trial are invited to apply. There are no eligibility restrictions for the lead applicant (e.g. previous grant holder) and early stage career researchers are welcome to apply, provided that the trial Principal Investigator for the host trial within which the proposed SWAT is embedded supports the application and appropriate mentoring arrangements are in place.

Eligibility criteria

  • The application must include evidence from host institution of provision for funding for the ongoing trial (letter from research office). In the case where a trial is not funded and does not need funding to proceed, this will need justification.
  • Lead applicants must not have received HRB-TMRN SWAT funding in the previous round of funding. Applicants successful in any other HRB-TMRN funding stream are eligible to apply;
  • Applications must provide evidence of mentoring arrangements (where appropriate) to provide academic and clinical/practice-based support.
  • Applicants must have a collaborator from the MRC/NIHR- Trials Methodology Research Partnership (MRC/NIHR-TMRP) (assistance in identifying suitable collaborators can be provided).


Opening Date: September 22nd 2023 | Closing Date: March 22nd 2024

Queries relating to this application can be submitted by email to, please include SWAT FUNDING 2024 in the subject line. All application forms must be submitted by email, along with relevant documentation to by the deadline listed above.

SWAT Repository

Condition of award: The successful SWAT must be registered on the MRC Northern Ireland Hub for Trials Methodology SWAT Repository, which is an online database of ongoing SWATs.

Available Downloads

Below you will find all relevant forms for this call.

Recommended Reading / Resources

Undertaking Studies Within A Trial to evaluate recruitment and retention strategies for randomised controlled trials: lessons learnt from the PROMETHEUS research programme.

Parker A, Arundel C, Clark L, Coleman E, Doherty L, Hewitt CE, Beard D, Bower P, Cooper C, Culliford L, Devane D, Emsley R, Eldridge S, Galvin S, Gillies K, Montgomery A, Sutton CJ, Treweek S, & Torgerson DJ.

Prioritised recruitment and retention strategies for testing using a randomised Study Within A Trial (SWAT) design

Parker A, Way R, Okanlawon A, Mongelli G, Coleman E, Arundel C, Gkekas A, Shiely F, Patetsini E, Sutton C, Boxall C, Love S, Meakin G, Torgerson D, Piccolo-Lawrance C, Treweek S, on behalf of the Prioritisation Working Group of Trial Forge SWAT Network and Implement SWATs. 

Guidelines for reporting embedded recruitment trials

Vichithranie W. Madurasinghe and Sandra Eldridge on behalf of MRC START Group and Gordon Forbes on behalf of the START Expert Consensus Group.

SWAT-1: The effectiveness of a ‘site visit’ intervention on recruitment rates in a multi-centre randomised trial

Valerie Smith, Mike Clarke, Cecily Begley and Declan Devane

Trial Forge Guidance 1: what is a Study Within A Trial (SWAT)?

Shaun Treweek, Simon Bevan, Peter Bower, Marion Campbell, Jacquie Christie, Mike Clarke, Clive Collett, Seonaidh Cotton, Declan Devane, Adel El Feky, Ella Flemyng, Sandra Galvin, Heidi Gardner, Katie Gillies, Jan Jansen, Roberta Littleford, Adwoa Parker, Craig Ramsay, Lynne Restrup, Frank Sullivan, David Torgerson, Liz Tremain, Matthew Westmore, Paula R. Williamson.

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