Develop a research question and methods

By being very specific about what is being tested or observed, research questions allow you to determine the methods, the number of participants required, what data is collected and how it is analysed.

Getting advice from experts and the public

Getting input from experts, service providers and/or public and patients in the area of interest will aid in developing sound research questions and methods.

Advice can be given by the Research and Design Conduct Service and by clinical trials units (CTUs). Accessing specialist expertise, e.g. in health economics, can also greatly enhance the strength and credibility of the research proposal, while involving patients and public is critical to outcomes-focused research and effective research delivery.

Getting advice from NHS and social care organisations

Researchers planning to access NHS patient records or recruit NHS patients or staff to a study, should contact the NHS research & development (R&D) office within the organisation where they plan to do the study.

Early engagement with the local R&D office ensures that the right staff, resources and access is available. This includes whether the NHS organisation offers the treatments or services required for the study, the availability of research nursing staff to deliver a study etc.

Social care organisations can provide similar support. If you're uncertain if your project is social care research, these what is social care research? guidelines may help.

Impact and sharing your findings

It is important to consider how you will share your findings from the planning stages of your project and not leave it until the research has been completed. 

Sharing information on research should not be limited to the end of the study - often raising awareness of the study when it starts and sharing interim findings are useful to support engagement and build momentum. Read more about impact and sharing your findings.