The research commissioning process

We commission various types of research to inform the direction and development of our activities and their subsequent evaluation.

Quick links for this page:

Expression of Interest
Invitation to Tender
Assessment of Tender
Notification of the Tender Decision
The Briefing Meeting
The Contract

Most often research is commissioned by way of a restrictive tendering process. This is where a select number of researchers who have expressed interest in a particular project will be invited to submit a tender for a contract on the basis of a research brief setting out the project specification for the research.

An overview of this process is set out below. Researchers should be aware that this process might be adapted to respond to special circumstances.

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1. Expression of Interest

  • Research contracts are advertised on the NHS Health Scotland website and on the Public Contracts Scotland-Tender (PCS-T) portal (external link).
  • Active members of the research contractors´ database will be alerted by email when research contracts are advertised and are available for submission of expressions of interest.
  • Researchers who wish to be considered for NHS Health Scotland research contracts are asked to complete a European Single Procurement Document (ESPD) for each new contract advertised.
  • ESPDs will be assessed against minimum criteria and the assessment methodology as set out in the ESPD Guidance Note specific to the research contract.

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2. Invitation to Tender

  • An invitation to tender (ITT) containing the research brief will be issued via the PCS-T portal to the Researchers invited to tender.
  • The ITT sets out the background to the research, the aims and objectives, budget, expected outputs,  timetable, tender assessment and, what information Researchers are expected to provide in their tender.
  • Submission of a tender is taken to indicate acceptance of the terms and conditions.
  • Submitted tenders will not be opened and considered until after the specified closing date.

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3. Assessment of Tender

  • Overall assessment of tenders will be concerned with identifying the most economically advantageous tender. 
  • Tenders will be assessed against the criteria, and in accordance with the methodology set out within the ITT.
  • All tenders submitted will be assessed by a research commissioning panel comprising appropriate representatives from NHS Health Scotland and where appropriate external partner organisations.

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4. Notification of the Tender Decision

  • The tender assessment process normally results in the selection of a preferred tenderer, although NHS Health Scotland is not bound to accept any tender.
  • Occasionally, some or all tenderers may be invited to a clarification meeting depending on whether there is a need to clarify aspects of their tender.
  • All tenderers will be notified in writing of the outcome of their tender as soon as possible after completion of the tender assessment process. 
  • The preferred tenderer will be invited to meet with the project group at the briefing meeting.

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5. The Briefing Meeting

  • The purpose of the briefing meeting is to discuss and agree the research design and approach to be taken as well as operational aspects to move toward finalisation and award of the contract.

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6. The Contract

The contract sets out the terms and conditions for commissioned research services, and covers the following areas:

  • the scope and design of the research
  • research timetable and payment schedule
  • copyright and ownership of the research data and outputs
  • sub-contracting arrangements
  • which country’s law applies.

While NHS Health Scotland work from a template contract, individual contracts are drawn up for each research contract and mutually agreed by both parties.

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Updated 17 February 2017..

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