Delivering our research


We are committed to ensuring all the research that we fund has maximum impact for people with arthritis and our ambition is to ensure this happens as rapidly as possible. To achieve this, we follow a number of key principles:

  • We only fund world-class research.
  • We fund musculoskeletal research across the continuum from basic science to health service and policy research.
  • We help support and build an environment in the UK that facilitates rapid translation of ideas to patient benefit.
  • We encourage the brightest individuals in the UK and beyond to help us deliver our research agenda.
  • We ensure that we're clear about the research need and our role in meeting that need, whether it be to fund the research ourselves, or in partnership with others.
  • We provide strategic leadership and facilitate collaboration when needed.
  • We involve people living with arthritis in all stages of the research assessment process.

How we make awards

We are a member of the Association of Medical Research Charities and adhere to their principles of peer review to ensure we fund research of the highest quality.

Applications are subject to a rigorous assessment process that consists of scientific and lay expert peer review. Applications are assessed on the following criteria:

  • originality and richness of the ideas
  • relevance to our mission and strategic focus
  • applicants’ ability to deliver the proposed research
  • quality of the research design and methodology
  • feasibility and potential to deliver the stated outcomes
  • potential for long term impact on the quality of life for people with arthritis
  • value for money.

We use both UK and international external expert reviewers to avoid bias and ensure the research we fund is benchmarked internationally.

Applications along with the external assessments are considered by one of three charitable subcommittees or their associated funding panels, who make recommendations for funding either our executive or Board of Trustees depending on the value of the award.

We also have an appeal process if you believe that Versus Arthritis did not follow the correct procedures. To read more about this, please see our 'How to appeal a decision' section.

How we monitor awards

We're committed to ensuring that every penny we spend on research has the maximum impact for people with arthritis. We actively monitor and evaluate the outputs and outcomes of the research we fund, using a system we call portfolio management.

Each award is assigned to a portfolio team who oversee the full life cycle of each award, from the issue of the letter of award through to the point where no further research outputs are expected. This team monitor budgets, expenditure, governance, progress, outputs, as well as looking for opportunities to facilitate the next stages of research.

An important part of portfolio management is reporting and assessing the outputs and outcomes of research using mechanisms such as Researchfish. Some of our strategic awards also have additional evaluation mechanisms such as annual meetings, site visits, progress review committee assessment and annual reports. Where the research that fund can provide a valuable resource, our research translation manager can provide help and advice.

In addition to developing new treatments for patients, a key strategic goal is to ensure implementation of research, changing patient and healthcare professional behaviour, as well as influencing national policies and processes. We aim to work with our researchers where possible to take a piece of research and translate this into a tangible change for people with arthritis. This is a cross-organisational strategy and can only be realised with the help of our colleagues from the policy & public affairs team , our health promotion team, our communications team and others. This can be relatively simple such as using new information from research and including it in our patient information, or it can involve new programmes of work such as advocating and influencing for the national provision of a health intervention. We believe that research has the power to transform the lives of people with arthritis and we are committed to making this happen as an organisation.