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New Researcher

Resources for those who are embarking on research.

Defining research in terms of ethics

Virtually all research projects require ethics committee approval. Sometimes this approval is already in place, for example in the case of an ongoing project that you might be joining, or where it involves data analysis relating to a project was done in the past (though it is necessary to check that permission to do the analysis has not expired). Recently, there has been an increasing use of data from audit, quality improvement projects, and other work conducted as part of clinical practice in presentations at conferences and article submissions to academic journals. In many cases this work is not classed as research requiring of ethics committee approval. To help determine this there is a decision tool available at the NHS Health Research Authority website here. If a new ethics application is required, it is important to seek advice from experienced researchers as well as local research support offices. This advice and support should be sought at the beginning of the process of determining the main research questions and drafting the protocol. This will allow questions of whether the research is likely to be given ethics committee approval, as well as other important factors such as feasibility, to be considered. Once the main questions and draft protocol been written, the specific application for ethics approval can begin. Ethics applications are complex and often time-consuming. Ongoing close involvement of both experienced researchers and research support officers will likely greatly cut down on the time required, as well as ensuring that basic mistakes are not made. It usually takes 6-12 months from starting to write the protocol and ethics application to achieving full approvals to start the study. Because of potential hitches, such as delays in getting approvals, and/or requiring time for corrections to be made, it is safest to allow 12 months. 

In addition to research ethics approval, NHS management approval (Research and Development) is also required for most projects. Recently, the process of applying for ethics and research and development approval has been combined in NHS England. The main source of information on the processes required is the NHS Health Research Authority website. This website contains highly detailed and critical information on all stages of the application process. Researchers should be familiar with the website before embarking on protocol writing and an ethics application. The section, Before you apply for approval is particularly valuable. Some of the information on the main HRA website relates to the application processes in NHS England. Contact details for Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland ethics committees can be found here. Local research support offices will be able to provide information the details of the application processes. 

Original 2010 version updated in January 2017

Guide to Comprehensive Local Research Networks

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What is a CLRN?

First things first; CLRN stands for Comprehensive Local Research Network. The aim of this article is to give you a better understanding of how these came into being, how they are organised, how they assist research and how they may influence you, as a geriatric medicine trainee.

Where did the CLRNs come from?

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) was set up in 2006 by the Department of Health. Central to the NIHR is the Comprehensive Clinical Research Network (CCRN).  Its primary goal was to create a world-class research infrastructure within the NHS. This infrastructure is designed to support participation in high quality clinical research and hoped to subsequently improve both the health and the wealth of the nation. The CCRN is made up of 25 Comprehensive Local Research Networks (CLRNs) which divide the UK into regions (see downloadable MSWord document).

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How to get funding and fellowship applications

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So you’ve decided that you want to become involved in research – well done, this is the beginning of an exciting and rewarding journey! After the initial steps of finding a research area, supervisor and designing a research project you will need to think about funding. The author is not an expert in funding or fellowship applications but does have experience as a junior researcher finding small pots of money and (after a failed attempt) finally securing a fellowship.

The best piece of advice is to find an enthusiastic and well connected mentor to provide guidance through this process. If you are struggling with this then the BGS academic section will be able to help match you up according to geography and subject area.

Types of funding

The great news is that there is a lot of money out there – you’ve just got to look for it. Broadly speaking funding is available as follows:

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Guide to literature searching

This short guide to searching for scientific literature is divided into different sections:

  1. Introduction
  2. Defining a search question
  3. Choosing database(s) and a search system
  4. What goes into the search: subject headings and keywords
  5. Limits and reviewing results
  6. Conclusion

1. Introduction

Literature searching has many uses. You might use it if to find evidence related to a particular clinical case or presentation that you're due to give. Moreover, you might use it if you're writing a review of evidence on a particular topic. Particularly in the case of systematic review, where the process has to be reproducible, then a clear and well-conducted literature search is very important.

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