UCL DClinPsy trainees are required to undertake a Service Related Research Project (SRRP) in their first year. An SRRP is a project which is relevant to service provision, and usually takes the form of an audit or service evaluation of some aspect of their current placements. Guidance on the difference between research, audit, and service evaluation can be found from the National Patient Safety Agency- National Research Ethics Service leaflet Defining Research. Essentially ‘research tells you what to do and audit tells you if you are doing it and if it works’.
Guidance for the SRRP is available on this website in the training handbook: see http://www.ucl.ac.uk/dclinpsy/trainee-research/Research_documents/res_srrguidelines.
Trainees conduct their SRRP during either of their first two six month placements in their first year. They are advised to talk to their supervisor about possible projects which are relevant to the service. Supervisors may have projects already in mind, or may approach the team or managers to identify projects currently relevant to the service. Trainees then work with their supervisor to develop an appropriate and feasible design of the study. It is helpful if the project, with its methodology, is discussed with the service staff to ensure support for the project (in terms of completing questionnaires/interviews or in terms of recruiting service users).
Once an SRRP has been agreed between supervisor and trainee, it is expected that the trainee will discuss it with their UCL course tutor to ensure that it is feasible and that the methodology is appropriate to the study. If there are any concerns raised by the course tutor, they can be discussed with the SRRP coordinator Janet Feigenbaum <email@example.com>.
Placement supervisors are expected to provide the main supervision for the trainee on the SRRP. Supervisors can read and comment upon a draft of the written report (no more than 4000 words) before submission. Course tutors can provide advice but are not permitted to read a draft of the report to be submitted.
Trainees are expected to feed back the results of their study to the service in which the project was conducted. They are required to indicate in their report the method of feedback and any suggestions/comments which arose from their presentation. The feedback could be at a service meeting or can be by a brief written summary of the findings circulated to staff.
Sample size and Statistics
The guidelines in the training handbook suggest sample sizes depending upon the type of project undertaken. The main issue for trainees and supervisors is to consider how to increase the participation rate of staff or service users so that the project can make some meaningful contribution to the improvement/development of the service. When designing the project it is important to consider how many potential participants are available and the likelihood of participation (response rate).
The majority of SRR projects employ quite straightforward statistical analyses. If qualitative data is collected (e.g. from open ended questionnaires or interviews) then trainees typically use thematic or content analysis. Trainees have access to their course tutors and the statistic demonstrator at UCL for advice. Many projects have sample sizes too small to conduct meaningful statistical analysis, and in such cases descriptive analyses are acceptable.
Most Trusts do not require ethical permission for audit (or service evaluation). Trainees and supervisors are advised to seek advice from their local Research and Development department on local policy of registering audit projects. If a project requires full NHS ethics approval (via IRAS), it will not be feasible to do within the SRRP timescale.
Additional support for supervisors
Supervisors are welcome to contact Janet Feigenbaum if they would like advice on identifying a suitable SRRP on their placement. Questions about methodology for the project are expected to come from the trainee to their course tutor. However if there are any queries which cannot be resolved in this way, again supervisors can contact Janet.
There may be supervisors who primarily receive trainees in their second or third year who wish to have an SRRP conducted in their service. If you are in this position, please contact Joshua Stott <firstname.lastname@example.org> who can facilitate identifying first year trainees who are on placement in your Trust. Trainees are only allowed to conduct their research in another service with the permission of their current supervisor.
The three North Thames courses provide a series of workshops for supervisors in the region. There is a half day workshop available entitled ‘Supervising Service Related Research Projects (SRRP)’. Information on the dates of the next SRRP supervisors workshop can be obtained from the administration staff at UCL or on this website at http://www.ucl.ac.uk/dclinpsy.