Your first research experience can likely start where you are now. Map out the research that’s happening in the organisation you are based in and make links with the people who are doing it. You will find opportunities to assist in current studies and in so doing get a crucial first taste of what real world-applicable research is really like.

  • Approach the R&D department where you are.

Research happens within NHS Trusts, local authorities, universities and communities. Research networks also exist to connect practitioners working in these contexts with researchers who are based within universities. If you are employed by an organisation where research is not happening at the moment, it’s a good idea to approach the applied research collaboration (ARC) nearest you to establish links with people who are carrying out research. Through these organisations and the connections you will develop, you will start to hear about research that is happening in your area, opportunities you can take advantage of, and funding calls which could support your own research ideas.

NIHR Applied Research Collaborations

NIHR ARCs support applied health and care research that responds to, and meets the needs of, local populations and local health and care systems. They have a focus to work across the NHS, public health, social care and the voluntary and community sector.

NIHR Schools

Each national school is a unique collaboration between leading academic centres in England, carrying out outstanding research in their respective fields. Research funded or supported by NIHR Schools is applied across the country to meet the needs of policymakers, practitioners and the public.

School for Social Care Research: Its focus is to develop the evidence base to inform and improve adult social care practice in England by commissioning and conducting internationally leading research.

School for Public Health Research: Its aim is to increase the evidence base for cost-effective public health practice.

School for Primary Care Research: It collaborates on cutting edge, topical primary care studies that have an impact both at policy level and in general practices around the country.

Right from the earliest stages it’s important to start demonstrating a track record for publishing. Read around the research in your area of interest. Once you are familiar with the main themes and priorities relating to your experience as a practitioner (or a trainee),  you’ll be in a great position to start writing. You can publish case reports, service reviews, focus groups or opinion pieces. It doesn’t have to be in the big journals – even a piece in the newsletter of the organisation you are working for now can demonstrate your aptitude for this aspect of the research career.