Research Design Service
National Institute for Health Research

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Time to Write?

Time to Write?

01 May 2018

Claire Rosten, Research Methodologist, RDS South East

Finding time for research can be challenging. For many health, social care and public health professionals, research is something that is done in their ‘free’ time. They recognise the value of research and believe passionately about delivering evidence-based care to their service users, yet it is not something they can necessarily dedicate time to during their working week. Heavy workloads make finding the time to think about research plans challenging; more difficult still can be actually sitting down to tackle an NIHR research programme’s detailed application form.

Yet, these are the very people the NIHR is trying to reach. Those who know the problems faced by practice and want to address these through research to find evidence-based solutions to benefit service users.

There are a number of ways to tackle the problem of time. I believe that working with an RDS adviser can help make the process of designing a research study and submitting a funding application easier. I talked about how the RDS can help in the previous RDS blog post.

Another way of making time for research is to actually allocate a block of it specifically for writing. Bits and pieces written and read here and there in evenings and weekends can make for a difficult to follow funding application. But often there are few alternatives.

In June 2016, I was fortunate enough to be involved with the first National RDS Grant Writing Retreat. I’ve written about my experience and about the usefulness of Research Retreats in general. I found the retreat positive, productive and rewarding. It was a pleasure to have an extended amount of time to dedicate to the development of specific research proposals and to observe how far research teams can progress over the course of just a few days. With dedicated time to write, and experienced advisers to offer support, real progress was evident.

It is always hard to come up with reliable measures of success. It is also difficult to know for certain what contributes to that success. Nevertheless, RDS South West who have run similar retreats since 2009 are aware of 20 applications worked on during their retreats that were successfully submitted to funders. Of these, 9 were funded. This is pretty impressive, particularly when you consider that NIHR’s Research for Patient Benefit programme has a success rate of 15%.

Now health, social care and public health researchers can apply to take part in a free, 3-day RDS Residential Grant Development & Writing Retreat to be held from 10th – 12th September 2018 at the University of Kent in Canterbury. More details are available on the website.

I can only speak from my own experiences, but I do believe there is much to be gained by participating. At the very least, you are guaranteed dedicated time to write with the help and guidance of experienced RDS advisers. Working in a supportive environment with other committed researchers is likely to bring about many more advantages.

Hope you enjoyed this entry ‘from the RDS desk’. Next month we’ll be talking about the importance of the research question. We’re @NIHR_RDS on twitter, so come say hello and use #RDSQnA.

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