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Getting Started in Research

  1. Have a clear question

    • Look for a gap in the literature

    • Carry out a literature review (if possible, a systematic review) to identify gaps or disagreement in published work. See the CRD and website for more details.

    • Ask your local NHS librarian or use the CSP library and information services for assistance with literature searching

    • Think about what your research will add to your department and the hand therapy community

    • Think about how your research can add to, develop or challenge the existing literature

    • Consider trialing an intervention/measure in a different environment or with a different population

  2. Think of the best and most practical way to answer it

    • Be pragmatic – what will be feasible in your setting?

    • Select the most appropriate outcome measures – have they been validated for use with your population?

    • Will your study be observational, or will you be introducing an intervention?

    • Do you have access to the patients and/or the medical records you need?

    • Is your plan manageable within your timeframe and budget?

  3. Find out what support you have locally

    • Do you have access to an audit department, affiliation with a university or links to other therapists with previous research experience?

    • Are there other individuals within your department, or other units who could become involved?

    • Are there research courses run by your trust, such as Good Clinical Practice, statistics etc?

  4. Write a research proposal

    • This should include: A brief review of the literature and the rationale for your study, the key research question and any secondary questions, your planned methods, your planned analyses and how the results will be used to inform practice.

  5. Obtain ethical approval

    • Is your research for service improvement? If so you will usually need to obtain approval through your department manager and/or your Trust R&D department

    • Other types of research are likely to require NHS research ethics committee approval and completion of the integrated research application system (IRAS) form

  6. Identify any funding needs

    • Will funding be required to cover staff time, equipment, reimbursement of patients travel expenses etc?

    • What funding is available – Hospital charity, disease specific charities, BAHT, CSP, COT?

    • Consider applying for a research grant from BAHT

    • Persuade possible funders of the importance of the work and why you are the right person/people to do it

  7. Give yourself enough time to recruit and carry out your project

    • Think about how you will advertise your research

    • If you are recruiting patients for your project, have a strategy to make sure you don’t miss eligible patients

  8. Let BAHT know about your project

    • The Clinical Evidence Committee would like to keep a record of the clinical research and audits being conducted by BAHT members – with the aim of creating a database of research questions, methods, analyses and key findings

  9. Give your self enough time for data analysis

    • Double check your data entry for errors and be thorough with your analysis

  10. Don’t forget to write up and disseminate your findings

    • Who is the target audience for your research?

    • Remember to feed back your findings to your team and department

    • Remember to write a report for your funders and write a summary report/poster/leaflet for your participants

    • Consider presenting your work at your local BAHT interest group and/or BAHT conference

    • Submit to the Hand Therapy journal – BAHT is soon to announce a mentorship programme for members needing assistance writing up their work for publication, so check out the website

  11. Additional resources

    • BAHT Clinical Evidence Committee presentations from the 2016 BSSH/BAHT Autumn Scientific Meeting:

    • A selection of external research resources including suggestions for: keeping up to date, literature reviewing, outcome measurement, planning research and clinical academic careers.