Compile a research budget

Get started with your grant application budget plan.

TOP TIP: Each call has different guidelines for what may or may not be included within the budget for your project.
Read your call guidelines carefully.

Where to start

Research Design = List resources that you need to conduct the project. Include your time, staff and non-staff resources such as field work, travel, research assistance or software.

Decide on a start date and project duration = The project start date (if your application is awarded) will depend on when you plan to submit your application and the assessment cycle of the funding body.

Consider the time required to recruit staff = If applicable, do you need staff at the start of your awarded project?

Devise a realistic budget plan according to the funder’s requirements and LSE’s financial regulations. Your Research Development Manager will help you compile your budget.

Contact us to compile your budget

Email your Research Development Manager.


8 costs to examine when preparing your project budget:

1. Staff salaries

Staff salaries are often the largest cost of the budget.

Allocate enough money for staffing costs and think about what staff roles the project requires.

How do I determine which level is appropriate?

Consider the amount of time you wish to spend on the project as well as the amount of research assistance and expertise required.

You may need administrative support if you plan on sending out a large number of questionnaires and have a lot of data entry to do. If the study is complex, you may want a senior research fellow with previous experience. It will cost more but it will be an expense worth paying for.

View research staff role profiles

View salary scales

Extra staff costs

In addition, there will be extra costs to include, such as:

  • recruitment advertising 
  • redundancy expenses
  • pension costs
  • national insurance contributions

Named staff

Follow School procedures for including named staff in proposals. If you have a specific person in mind, contact your Research Development Manager.

Check local practice with your Department/Centre Manager as additional procedures on staffing salary levels may apply.

2. Indirect costs

Indirect costs can include:

  • estates costs and institutional overheads
  • the cost of using an office
  • facilities such as HR, IT support and library services

Often a funding body will only pay a contribution towards these. Research and Innovation will calculate these costs based on a standard full economic costing.

To add these costs to your budget, email the Research Development Team

3. Equipment

This could include items such as a digital recorder or a laptop for carrying out field work.

Some equipment may not be eligible depending on the funder’s regulations.

For example, the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) will normally expect a computer to be provided by the host institution. 

There are some exceptions - funding may be considered if a standard computer is not adequate for processing vast amounts of data.

Justify equipment explicitly in your proposal. Contact us for further advice.

4. Consumables

Examples of standard project running costs include:

  • printed brochures for dissemination events
  • tea, coffee, lunch for meetings etc.
  • postage and stationery
  • photocopying
  • computer supplies (toner)

5. Travel and subsistence

A project may require travel costs to allow you to:

  • carry out field work
  • attend a conference
  • present findings for dissemination purposes
  • meet co-investigators working on the project

Example travel costs

Estimate your budget with LSE's example cost guidelines.

Calculate travel rates to cover the cost of subsistence and accommodation as well as flights and train costs. 

Some funding bodies have set criteria of what they are prepared to cover and may apply funding caps. For example, no business class flights; economy travel only.

Tell your Research Development Manager:

  • total number of trips needed
  • number of people who need to travel
  • year in which each trip will be taken 

6. Justification of resources

A common component of a project is the ‘justification of costs’, sometimes referred to as ‘resource allocation’. It's essential to spend time making this section clear. 

Expensive items

If an expensive item of equipment is crucial for the project, state how it will be used and why alternative options are not viable.

Staff costs

The same rule applies for the inclusion of those people who have specialised expertise – please state:

  • what these staff will be doing
  • why less costly options are not viable

Discuss your costs with the Research Development Team.

7. Research Grants Policy (formerly Research Incentives Policy) 

The Research Grants Policy provides financial rewards for staff who win research funding – to enhance their salaries, to buy out their time from teaching and/or to provide unencumbered research funding – and research funding for the departments and research centres which host them. 

It came into full effect from 1 August 2021 and applies partially to awards falling prior to this date but after the suspension of its predecessor, the Research Incentives Policy, in June 2020. View the Research Grants Policy

The Research Incentives Policy was suspended in June 2020 and remains active only for eligible legacy projects. It has been replaced by the Research Grants Policy. View the Research Incentives Policy


8. Ineligible costs

Each call has different guidelines for what may or may not be included within the budget for your project. 

Read call guidelines. If in doubt, check details with your Research Development Manager in the Research Development Team.



Further guidance