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Defining Research

Not all projects undertaken in the NHS are research. Projects not classed as research are not managed as research within the NHS. The key discriminants are:

1.  Intent - The primary aim of research is to derive generalizable new knowledge, whereas the aim of audit and service evaluation projects is to measure standards of care. Research is to find out what you should be doing; audit is to find out if you are doing planned activity and assesses whether it is working. Some projects may have more than one intent, in which case a judgment will need to be made on the primary aim of the project.

2.  Treatment/service - Neither audit nor service evaluation uses an intervention without a firm basis of support in the clinical or health community.

3.  Allocation - Neither audit nor service evaluation allocate treatment or service by protocol. It is a joint decision by the clinician and patient.

4.  Randomisation - If randomization is used, it is research.

To find out if your project is classed as research, click the link to the HRA decision making tool to the right.

'The treatment I have received from all the staff has been excellent and could you extend my thanks to them all. A very thankful and relieved patient'.

Patient, Dermatology Outpatients Department, University Hospital of North Durham