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Standardisation of delivery and assessment of research training for specialty trainees based on curriculum requirements: recommendations based on a scoping review
  1. Amar Rangan1,
  2. James Pitchford2,
  3. Penny Williams2,
  4. Brian Wood3,
  5. Stephen Robson2
  1. 1The James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough, UK
  2. 2NIHR Clinical Research Network North East and North Cumbria, Newcastle, UK
  3. 3Health Education England North East, Newcastle, UK
  1. Correspondence to Professor Amar Rangan; amar.rangan{at}


Objectives (1) To conduct a scoping review of postgraduate specialty training (ST) curricula for doctors within Health Education England in order to identify common themes and variations in requirements for training and assessment of research competencies. (2) To make recommendations on standardisation of training for clinical research across ST programmes.

Setting Health Education England North East and National Institute for Health Research Clinical Research Network (CRN)—North East and North Cumbria.

Methods Annual Review of Competence Progression (ARCP); Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT) checklists and curricula for ST were obtained from Health Education England North East and reviewed between June and September 2015. Research competence requirements based on knowledge, skills or behaviour-based domains were identified and entered onto a spreadsheet for analysis. Common themes with levels of competence required were identified. This information was used to construct and propose a model for delivery of training in clinical research across ST programmes.

Results Sixty-two ST curricula were reviewed and seven common themes for research training were found in up to 97% of the curricula. Requirement for good clinical practice (GCP) in research training was included in 15% of curricula. One of the common themes involved knowledge-based competency, and three each of the remaining seven involved skills or behaviour-based competencies. There was less clarity and larger variation between specialties in how research competencies were assessed; and what evidence was required for ARCP and CCT to assure competence. 63% (19/30) of curricula from medical specialties had no mention of research requirements within their ARCP guidelines.

Conclusions Given that the majority of specialty curricula contain consistent themes around core research knowledge, consideration should be given to standardising the delivery and assessment of generic research competencies within ST. Our recommendations from this review could form the basis for developing structured research training for specialty trainees involving: (1) a taught course for knowledge-based competencies; (2) clinical placements with CRN teams for practical workplace-based experience and (3) developing research tutors to help support placements and assessment of these competencies.

  • Specialty Training
  • Research Training
  • Competencies
  • Assessment

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  • Contributors SR and AR developed the idea for the project with BW. AR, JP and PW defined the methodology and protocol for the review. JP performed the data extraction and categorisation. AR drafted the manuscript with contributions from all coauthors. All authors approved the final manuscript for submission.

  • Funding This research was supported by the NIHR CRN - North East & North Cumbria; no external grant was received from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests AR reports grants from DePuy, other from JRI, grants from NIHR, grants from ORUK, outside the submitted work.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement No additional data are available.