Research roles

Paediatricians have an essential role in research, though their contributions will vary; some will become research leaders, some will collaborate in research, and for some the principal contribution will be through offering children an opportunity to participate in research studies.

All paediatricians should aim to continually improve their ability to appraise research critically, utilise the results of systematic reviews and meta-analyses in day-to-day practice, and ensure that their knowledge of research organisation and regulation are up to date. They should recognise that clinician bias may be detrimental to objective evaluation of treatments and do their best to guard against this. They must be confident to explain research to parents, children and young people.

Working in research

Paediatricians working in research should have a good knowledge of how new treatments are developed and tested, and equip themselves with translational and methodological skills to implement research findings and evaluate services, outcomes and patient experiences reliably and rigorously. By the time of award of the Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT), CESR Combined Programme (CESR CP) or Certificate of Eligibility for Specialist Registration (CESR), all paediatricians should feel confident in the core research skills summarised in the RCPCH Curriculum sections 18 and 25 and set out in the research competencies section of the trainee ePortfolio.

The Integrated Academic Training Pathway provides a clear framework for trainees. Trainees, who may or may not have had a prior appointment to an academic foundation post, apply in open competition for an Academic Clinical Fellowship, in which 75% of their time is spent in clinical training and 25% in research training. This provides the opportunity to acquire preliminary data, skills and knowledge to apply for a Research Training Fellowship leading to a PhD, or research MD, and subsequently an Academic Clinical Lectureship. 

For those not aiming for a research-active career, there are several routes to securing research experience, though these may not always be straightforward. Career grade paediatricians may wish to undertake a higher degree (MD (research) or PhD), or participate in a Masters of Research (MRes) or MSc in a Paediatrics/Child Health programme. 

Alternatively, career grade paediatricians may wish to spend a short period with an established research group. Joining a research society is a good approach, as this can be both educational and enjoyable.

RCPCH survey into research activity

The College also conducted a survey in 2015, the key aims of which were:

  • To establish changes in the level of paediatricians’ involvement in research from 2011 to 2015.
  • To identify any regional differences in research involvement.
  • To identify any differences in involvement in research across staff groups.
  • To establish attitudes towards - and ability to carry out - patient and public involvement (PPI) in research.

The results are now available.

Useful links

The RCPCH's Training in Research for the Benefit of Children is aimed at trainees but is also a useful guide for career grades. Options may also be discussed with RCPCH Academic Regional Reps. Ideally, research experience should be integral to training and extend into lifelong career development.

Sources of funding for consultant Programmed Activities for research are available (please refer to pages 56-57 of Turning the Tide).

The College and the British Paediatric Surveillance Unit provide advice on undertaking research for current and prospective researchers.

Research opportunities are also listed on the College website.