Undertaking research

Undertaking research as a clinician or healthcare professional can have a huge range of benefits. Not only does it help inform improvements for patients and service users, but also provides opportunities for professional and personal growth. Acting as an investigator on a research study that is of interest to you will only improve this growth and development further.

Should the opportunity of being an investigator be of interest to you, please feel free to have a look at some of the Frequently Asked Questions by Investigators who have previously taken up research at the Trust. 


An investigator could be you. If you are interested in conducting research then the following could be really helpful to start you off.


Before you can begin your project, you will require a number of authorisations in line with the Research Governance Framework.

The Integrated Research Application System (IRAS) is the first requirement for obtaining NHS R&I approval. This system helps to administer the appropriate level of authorisations depending on what a research study looks to investigate, or how it is going to go about researching a topic.

For guidance on how to complete an IRAS form, please visit the IRAS Website. Through an IRAS application, you can also apply approvals the appropriate Research Ethics Committee (RECs). Once the study document has been generated by IRAS, you will need to send this to the R&I office.

Once the subjected checks are satisfied, the R&I office will issue you with a formal letter of approval that has been signed by the Director of R&I. only once all of this has been completed will you be able to begin research at the Trust.

Register for an IRAS Account here


RECs are NHS Research Ethics Committees that safeguard the rights, safety, dignity and well-being of any research participant in order to determine whether a research study is ethical. With approximately one-third of the committee made up of lay members (of a non research profession), Research ethics committees are completely separate to the research sponsor. With over 6000 applications a year being submitted to the 80 research ethics committees in the United Kingdom, expect to hear back from a REC within a maximum of 60 days. Research ethics committees put participants in the centre of their ethical review.

RECs cover a wide range of research topics. These include:

  • Clinical Trials of Investigational Medicinal Products               
  • Research involving Medical Devices     
  • Research involving Prisoners
  • Research involving Adults Lacking Capacity
  • Establishment of Research Tissue Banks
  • Projects funded by the US Department of Health and Human Services
  • Qualitative Research
  • Questionnaire Research
  • Establishment of Research Databases

Applicants for Research Ethics Committees include:

  • Pharmaceutical and medical device companies
  • Healthcare professionals in the NHS
  • Academic researchers, including students
  • Prison health researchers


1. Complete Research Ethics Committee form in IRAS (you must register an account to access this)

Relevant documentation will be requested as per the options selected on IRAS. 

2. Book the application for ethical review 

Telephone your local REC to book a meeting date for discussion of your application. You should be given the name   of an REC, a Reference Number and submission date.

3. Submit your application                

You must submit your application within 4 working days of booking an appointment.


The Proportionate Review Service provides a review for studies which are proven to raise no material ethical issues. The process seen to follow this format is much shorter than a review from a  Research Ethics Committee. A sub-committee is formed in order to attempt to inform the applicant within 14 days of the application being submitted.

Guidance on what consists of a non material ethical issue can be found at the following link.

This provides a ‘No Material Ethical Issues Tool’ (NMEIT) - which acts as a screening tool for the Proportionate Review Service Applications.



If you are interested in conducting your own research, the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) can provide you with funding for research studies.  

The NIHR regularly updates the current funding opportunities that it has to offer regarding research studies. All information regarding NIHR’s funding opportunities can be found below; 

Current UKRI Funding Opportunities: 

Current Funding Opportunities

Southern Health: 

Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust’s Research and Innovation are also engaged in looking for opportunities to act as a sponsor within research studies. Recently, Southern Health have acted as sponsor for studies such as L.O.S.E Weight (Liraglutide and the management of Overweight and obesity in people with Schizophrenia: a pilot study).

Innovate UK 

Current Funding


The National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) funds the Research Design Service (RDS) to provide free expert advice and support to researchers (clinicians and academics) who are applying for research funding to national peer reviewed open competitions.

RDS operates in 10 regional centres across England. The local RDS in South Central region has sites in Portsmouth, Southampton and Oxford. RDS advisers are methodologists and can offer a breadth of expertise.

The advice is free and confidential and covers all aspects of developing a grant application, including:

  • research design
  • research methods
  • identifying appropriate funding sources
  • involving patients and the public
  • identifying potential collaborators (academic, clinical, lay)
  • identifying and refining the research questions
  • methodological expertise  covering: medical statistics, health economics, qualitative , mixed methods, clinical trials
  • advice on common pitfalls
  • interpreting feedback from the funding panels

RDS offers support tailored to the needs of the research team and can be contacted as early as necessary. Advice is available at face-to-face meetings, by telephone or email.

You can get in touch with a RDS adviser,

By Email: rds.sc@port.ac.uk

By clicking here to visit the website and filling in a request form

By Phone: 02392 822968


Students who need to conduct a research study as part of their degree course. Below are the stages to go through to get a student research project up and running:

  • Determine whether your study falls under the UK Policy Framework for Research in Health & Social Care:  A handy tool is published on the HRA website. The outcome can be populated with your project title and can be printed off for submission to your University Ethics.
  • Visit the Student research page on the HRA website to familiarise yourself with roles and responsibilities by clicking here  
  • Assuming that the outcome is classified as research, you will need to complete an IRAS application form which will need to be submitted to HRA and if involving patients, to an NHS Research Ethics Committee (REC).  For more information on this process, click here.  Don’t forget to put the names of the NHS organisations in which you wish to undertake your research project into Part C of the IRAS form. 
  • Please also visit the advice on preparation of study documentation by clicking here
  • Following HRA (and REC review if required) you will need to send the pack of documentation to the NHS R&D offices for their capacity and capability review. 
  • On receipt of the NHS organisation email confirming capacity and capability you are good to start recruiting!

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