Introduction to research

Whether you’re an aspiring researcher or someone keen to keep up-to-date with the latest evidence relevant to your role, having a basic knowledge of research methods will help to improve your understanding of the literature, and assess its usefulness to you.

The ability to search for, appraise, and evaluate research findings are core skills for anyone looking to use clinical research in their role. These skills can be developed over time with support from colleagues with research experience or if you have access to library services within your organisation. Alternatively, there are many good introductory textbooks and resources available online to help you (e.g. critical appraisal skills programme templates).

 The following tips might be helpful if you’re starting out with an interest in research:

  1. Find out if anyone has research knowledge or experience in your department
  2. Check if your organisation has its own medical library or access to one elsewhere
  3. Register for your own OpenAthens account (links below)
  4. Check whether your local libraries can offer training on database searching
  5. Use standardised appraisal tools when assessing the quality of research

For many, being able to successfully harness the above skills to review the literature with confidence will be sufficient in their role. However, if you’re reading this and feel you already have a good understanding of research methods and wish to develop this, enquire within your organisation to see whether you have a research lead to discuss opportunities to support existing or new research studies in your organisation. In addition, look out for local or regional research networks, which may be affiliated to higher education institutes, and consider subscribing to bulletins and newsletters from national research bodies.

Remember, if the thought of reading research papers or participating in a study feels daunting don't panic… help is available. Why not ask your colleagues first to see if they have any experience, or contact the nominated research lead in your organisation who may be able to help? Finally, you can also contact the CSP and ACPPLD for advice.

Please check this page throughout the year for new resources.

David Standley

Research & Education Officer, ACPPLD