From the outset, it’s worth highlighting that since the inception of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), specialist units now exist to promote good quality medical research by assisting in its design. In England, NIHR Research Design Services (RDS) have been commissioned in eight strategic health authority (SHA) regions, whilst the original Research and Development Support Units (RDSUs) in the other two SHA regions (North West and East Midlands) will continue to provide a similar service. The main purpose of these units is to help researchers develop and design high-quality research proposals for competitions for applied health or social care research. They have been developed with a focus on NHS based researchers applying to the NIHR Research for Patient Benefit Programme, however they also provide advice on other funding schemes. They are also supposed to off er access to a range of expertise in research design, including advice on research synthesis, study design and methodology (quantitative and qualitative), statistics, and economics, and to refer to other sources of expert advice on the applied health and social care research system. In summary these services should be a first port of call for most NHS-based researchers looking to develop a clinical research proposal into a substantial grant application. As many of the regional RDSs have only recently become operational, it is difficult to provide much information on how each RDS works. The general principle, however, is that these services should provide telephone, email, and face-to-face advice to researchers looking to develop a proposal. Many RDSs will provide face-to-face advice in hospitals across their region, or in other sites which should not be too far from where NHS staff are working. These services, which are free of charge, are provided by a variety of individuals with experience of NHS research, statistics, or health economics, some of whom will be active researchers who have been successful with grant applications. A telephone contact number or email address for each RDS can be obtained via the web link: http://www.nihrccf.org.uk/site/programmes/rds/default.cfm. Furthermore each RDS has a website which can be accessed via this link.
Keywords: cluster sampling, dimensional sampling, eligibility criteria, evaluative research, face validity, information sheet, judgmental sampling, leading questions, null hypothesis, outcome research
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