Trainees participation in child health research - survey report

Paediatric trainees in the UK are keen to participate in and develop skills in research. But, results from the RCPCH Trainee Research Network's survey in 2021, highlight that only a minority of trainees are involved in research - and a small group have dedicated time for research. Our report presents the survey results and our conclusions.


The RCPCH Trainee Research Network created an online survey about trainee involvement in research, which was shared with UK paediatric trainees between June and October 2021.

The aim was to explore the research experience of current paediatric trainees and identify how the College can better support trainees. The survey specifically set out to determine the proportion of trainees undertaking any research activity, the number of academic paediatric trainees, time spent undertaking research activities, regional variations and motivators/barriers to being involved in research.

You can download the full survey report and survey questions below.

Key findings

I feel [research] can benefit so many more children than I am able to see clinically on an individual basis.

One survey respondent

  • Less than half of respondents (38.0%) were at that time participating in any research project. But 95.4% indicated a desire to be involved in research in some capacity in the future.
  • 9.2% of respondents reported being in an academic training post and 14.2% stated they had protected time for research in their post.
  • Almost one-third (29%) committed personal time to research. This ranged from one hour to more than 18 hours a month, with those in academic training posts more likely to commit a higher number of hours.
  • Regional variation in trainee involvement in research was apparent. Two regions had no respondents in an academic training post. 
  • A key motivator for pursuing research was altruistic intent. Many cited a desire to advance science and make a difference to patients. 
  • The barriers highlighted by respondents included time for research, training structures and difficulties accessing opportunities.
  • Over half were not aware of what type of academic support was available to them.

Overall, respondents were keen to be involved in research and perceived many benefits. But they committed a significant amount of personal time and struggled with accessing opportunities. These factors should be considered when developing strategies to promote trainee involvement in research.


This survey identified that - despite a strong enthusiasm among the UK paediatric trainee respondents to participate and develop skills in research - just over a third were involved in any research project at the time.

A small minority were in an academic training post or had dedicated research time. A significant amount of personal time was being dedicated to developing a research interest.

Results also showed a possible disparity in access to research opportunities across the four UK nations. This can be seen by the number of respondents in academic training posts in each region. Among most respondents there was a lack of knowledge of and access to research support structures.

Key stakeholders, including the RCPCH, NHS postgraduate medical training organisations and research support structures, need to increase collaboration in the future. This will support the development of the next generation of child health researchers and bolster the UK’s child health research capacity to benefit the health of the paediatric population.

Getting involved with the Trainee Research Network (TRN)

The TRN facilitates collaborative working and support across existing trainee research networks. It aims to increase the opportunities for trainees to do research and provides peer support.

Find out more about the Network and current opportunities on the TRN page.