The British Geriatrics Society supports new/early career investigators in research through a number of opportunities. The aim of this resource is to provide existing and new information in the form of a pathway for investigators to follow and experience the development of their ideas to outputs. Here we cover:
- Overview of research methods
- Formulating research questions
- Research governance and ethics
- Research Funding
- Public and patient involvement
- Reporting and publication of research
- Presenting research
- Systematic review and meta analysis
Overview of research methods
There are many different research methods available, but deciding on the most appropriate one for you can be difficult. Below are some resources to help guide you on research methods available with particular reference to research with older adults, choosing the research method for you and further information on these methods.
- Feature research: Outside the lab; getting involved in research as a junior doctor. Tweedle J and Isherwood J. Royal College of Physicians Commentary October 2017 pages 26=27
- Methodologic issues in conducting research on hospitalized older people. Berkman CS(1), Leipzig RM, Greenberg SA, Inouye SK.
J Am Geriatr Soc. 2001 Feb;49(2):172-8
- Qualitative research in age and ageing: enhancing understanding of ageing, health and illness. Godfrey M. Age Ageing. 2015 Sep;44(5):726-7. doi: 10.1093/ageing/afv096. Epub 2015 Jul 25. No abstract available.
- Planning trials in older patients with stroke: data from the International Stroke Trial. Niewada M, Sandercock PA, Lindley RI, Członkowska A. Age Ageing. 2011 May;40(3):395-8. doi: 10.1093/ageing/afr030. Epub 2011 Mar 28. No abstract available.
- A road map for the recruitment and retention of older adult participants for longitudinal studies. Bonk J(1). Am Geriatr Soc. 2010 Oct;58 Suppl 2:S303
- Missing data: a special challenge in aging research. Hardy SE(1), Allore H, Studenski SA. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2009 Apr;57(4):722-9.
- Using quality assessment tools to critically appraise ageing research: a guide for clinicians. Jennifer Kirsty Harrison, James Reid, Terry J Quinn, Susan Deborah Shenkin; Age Ageing 2017; 46 (3): 359-365.
The following links include research methodology courses that run throughout the year. Note: the BGS does not endorse any specific course.
Formulating research questions
Following your decision to undertake a research project, logical next step is to formulate a question. This will involve comprehanesive survey of literature specific to the question, chosing theoretical/methodological direction and considering the perspective of older adults .
- Older care-home residents as collaborators or advisors in research: a systematic review. Backhouse T, Kenkmann A, Lane K, Penhale B, Poland F, Killett A. Age Ageing. 2016 May;45(3):337-45. doi: 10.1093/ageing/afv201. Epub 2016 Jan 19
- A critical analysis of the methods used to develop explicit clinical criteria for use in older people. Marriott J, Stehlik P. Age Ageing. 2012 Jul;41(4):441-50. doi: 10.1093/ageing/afs064. Review.
- University of Manchester’s website about how to undertake Qualitative Research
Research governance and ethics
When conducting a research project you will need to consider whether or not you need to consult the ethics committee. In some instances, the project may have already been granted ethical approval, in other cases you will need to consider this.
To help determine this there is a decision tool available at the NHS Health Research Authority (HRA) website. If a new ethics application is required, it is important to seek advice from experienced researchers as well as local research support offices such as R&D team. This advice and support should be sought as early as possible in the process of determining the main research questions and drafting the protocol. 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 avoided. It often takes 6-12 months from starting to write the protocol and achieving full research ethics committee approvals, required to start the study.
- World Medical Association Declaration of Helsinki: ethical principles for medical research involving human subjects. World Medical Association. JAMA. 2013 Nov 27;310(20):2191-4.
- Challenges to conducting research with older people living in nursing homes. Hall, Sue, Susan Longhurst, and Irene J. Higginson. BMC geriatrics 9.1 (2009): 38.
- Informed consent for research participation in frail older persons. Jeremy S. Barron, Patricia L. Duffey, Linda Jo Byrd, Robin Campbell, Luigi Ferrucci, Aging Clinical and Experimental Research, 2004, 16, 1, 79 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15132296
- Including older people with dementia in research: challenges and strategies. Hubbard, Gill, Murna G. Downs, and Susan Tester. Aging & mental health 7.5 (2003): 351-362.
Undertaking research projects may require external support to undertake the work proposed. There are a number of research council, NIHR and charitable organisations who provide research project support. This can be either be via a responsive mode (not specified) or call focused (such as care homes patient focused). It again is extremely useful to engage with senior colleagues with experience to navigate the process. It is critically important to chose funder and call having read the detailed information provided, especially about eligibility; total available; exclusions; submission deadlines. The benefit of funding can not be underestimated to support the research activity and demonstrate ability in personal portfolios
- Wellcome Trust – Research Awards for Health Professionals. Awards for researchers of all stages of their research career. Applicant need to have an appropriate sponsor and supervisor in place to apply for this funding.
- National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). This website details the funding and support available for health research by NIHR and show to apply for it.
Public and patient involvement
Research on the health of older adults should always directly involve them. The benefits older adults bring to relevant research includes; advice of research questions; protocol development; reviewing proposals; acting on study advisory committees; participating as research team member. Engaging with older adults at the outset is vital and suitable contact organisations widely available
- Improving recruitment of older people to research through good practice. McMurdo ME, Roberts H, Parker S, Wyatt N, May H, Goodman C, Jackson S, Gladman J, O'Mahony S, Ali K, Dickinson E, Edison P, Dyer C; Age and Ageing Specialty Group, NIHR, Comprehensive Clinical Research Network. Age Ageing. 2011 Nov;40(6):659-65. doi: 10.1093/ageing/afr115. Epub 2011 Sep 11. Review.
- Involving older people in health research. Fudge N, Wolfe CD, McKevitt C. Age Ageing. 2007 Sep;36(5):492-500. Epub 2007 Mar 29. Review.
- Guide to Comprehensive Local Research Networks.
- UK Clinical Trails Gateway
This database contains a list of clinical trials being undertaken in the United Kingdom and would be helpful to check prior to commencing research to establish if other researchers are attempting to answer the same clinical question.
Reporting and publication of research
It is essential that at milestones or completion of research project the study team report their findings and experience. Publishing research outputs is essential part of the process allowing knowledge sharing. As with other points, the support of senior and experienced published colleagues is vital. As with previous sections choice of target output or journal is crucial, as is following specific guidance and attaining deadlines. Despite challenges, successful reporting and publication is highly rewarding personally.
- Preparing reports for publication and responding to reviewers' comments. Guyatt GH(1), Brian Haynes R. J Clin Epidemiol. 2006 Sep;59(9):900-6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16895811
- How to present statistics in medical journals. Cheek E, Rajkumar C. Age Ageing. 2014 May;43(3):306-8. doi: 10.1093/ageing/afu015. Epub 2014 Mar 13. No abstract available.
- The Strengthening the Reporting of Observational Studies in Epidemiology (STROBE) statement: guidelines for reporting observational studies. von Elm E(1), Altman DG, Egger M, Pocock SJ, Gøtzsche PC, Vandenbroucke JP; STROBE Initiative. BMJ. 2007 Oct 20;335(7624):806-08.
- CONSORT 2010 Statement: updated guidelines for reporting parallel group randomised trials. Schulz KF, Altman DG, Moher D, for the CONSORT Group BMJ. 2010 Mar 23;340:c332.
- The CARE Guidelines: Consensus-based Clinical Case Reporting Guideline Development. Gagnier JJ, Kienle G, Altman DG, Moher D, Sox H, Riley D; the CARE Group. BMJ Case Rep. 2013 Oct 23;2013.
Presenting research outputs is a foundation of advancing knowledge. Experienced advice is important as is appreciating the format. The experience of presenting research requires additional skills to other forms of reporting and is formative
- Accepted standards on how to give a Medical Research Presentation: a systematic review of expert opinion papers. Blome C, Sondermann H, Augustin M. GMS Journal for Medical Education. 2017;34(1):Doc11. doi:10.3205/zma001088.
- American College of Physicians - Preparing the Research Presentation This webpage includes a generic outline about how to prepare a research presentation.
Systematic review and meta analysis
Critical appraisal of information and evidence has developed substantially over recent decades. This has led to development of more systematic, comprehensive and analysed conclusions from literature than before. These provides knowledge researches to support evidence based medicine.
- The Cochrane Collaboration and geriatric medicine. Stott DJ, Young C, Howe T, Quinn TJ, Langhorne P. Age Ageing. 2013 Nov;42(6):677-8. doi: 10.1093/ageing/aft137. Epub 2013 Sep 17. No abstract available.
- Meta-analysis of observational studies in epidemiology: a proposal for reporting. Meta-analysis Of Observational Studies in Epidemiology (MOOSE) group. Stroup DF(1), Berlin JA, Morton SC, Olkin I, Williamson GD, Rennie D, Moher D, Becker BJ, Sipe TA, Thacker SB. JAMA. 2000 Apr 19;283(15):2008-12.
- University of Oxford – Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine. This site contains lots of helpful about how to ask focused questions, refining search strategies and critical appraisal of research papers. The website’s reading list also includes a link ‘Statistics Toolkit’ by R Perera, C Heneghan & D Badenoch which explains how to interpret quantitative data.
Other useful information sources
This section contains a collection of helpful sources that fall outside of our framework
Research Councils UK – Becoming a Researcher and Developing a Research Career
This webpage explains the different stages of a research career with links to organisations with research opportunities
Medical Research Council - How MRC supports research careers
This webpage provides an overview of the research career pathway with links to the type of support which can be offered to researchers by the Medical Research Council
NIHR – Clinical Trials Guide for Trainees
This document provides step by step guidance for the stages trainees will need to navigate whilst setting up a clinical trial. It contains many helpful links with further information whilst aim to avoid some of the pitfalls which can occur during trial development.
Feature research: Outside the lab; getting involved in research as a junior doctor
Tweedle J and Isherwood J. Royal College of Physicians Commentary October 2017 pages 26-27
Ten Years on: adapting and evolving to new challenges in developing tomorrows health research leaders
NIHR Trainees coordination centre June 2017