Definiton of Costs in Research

Costs in research for non-commercial studies are defined as either research, support or treatment costs.
  • Research Costs - the costs of the research itself that end when the research ends. They relate to activities that are being undertaken to answer the research questions. These costs should be funded by the research grant. 


  • NHS Support Costs - the additional patient care costs associated with the research, which would end once the R&D study in question had stopped, even if the patient care involved continued to be provided. Funding for these costs should be applied for through the clinical research networks.


  • NHS Treatment Costs - the patient care costs, which would continue to be incurred if the patient care service in question continued to be provided after the research had stopped. These costs should be funded through the NHS. 


  • Excess Treatment Costs - If the treatment costs of an intervention for a research study are higher than  the standard care treatment costs for that group of patients, this difference is known as an Excess  Treatment Cost (ETC).

If your study is expected to incur ETC, you need to speak to the research office for the organisation(s) who will be incurring the ETC as soon as possible.  It is expected that where Trusts have made savings on research-related patient care costs, the Trust should use these savings to offset ETCs incurred by other research studies.  Only where there is a material increase or decrease in ETC would a business case for funding need to be submitted to CCGs.


  • ETC in primary care should be discussed with the Research Office in the first instance.
Further details about the attribution of costs in research can be found in the AcoRD guidance. AcoRD details the principles of attribution, some examples of activities, the type of costs they will fall under as well as some FAQs.