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Research Design Service

How the RDS works

The RDS is a partnership between Durham University, Newcastle University and two local NHS trusts. The main physical bases are at the two universities: the Institute of Health and Society at Newcastle University and the Wolfson Research Institute (Stockton Queen's campus of Durham University) with a satellite hub at James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough. It is envisaged that researchers from Northumberland, Tyne & Wear generally want to access the Newcastle hub while those from County Durham and Tees Valley generally turn to Stockton and Middlesbrough. However, if researchers already have an established relationship with colleagues in one of the hubs, or if particular expertise is required that is exclusive to one hub it is fine to approach a particular hub directly. In addition, ‘outreach clinics' are planned in outlying Trusts, including PCTs, on a pre-booked basis.

At the core of RDS is the research advisory servce. ‘First contact' advisors take enquiries, advising service users directly, drawing on further assistance or recommending training as appropriate. Direct advice from these first contact advisors covers funding sources, refining research questions & design, project planning, patient & public involvement (PPI), and governance & ethical issues. Specialist methodological advisors are available as needed. We have a team of ‘core' specialist advisors to provide expertise on: literature searching & reviewing; qualitative research; health economics; statistics; trial design and conduct; social care studies. Additional specialist guidance (e.g. in the analysis of large and complex data sets, implementation research, action research etc) is available from ad hoc specialist advisors. Formative feedback on draft proposals, prior to submission, is available from experienced grant-holders and consumer reviewers. The RDS also brokers contact with experts in substantive topic areas and ‘buddying' from colleagues knowledgeable about particular funding bodies.

(Forthcoming) The RDS will also provide links to research networks & groups, information on training events, a funding alert system, and research guides & briefing documents. There will also be an email discussion group & access to library resources. A consumer panel will be recruited & supported to provide input to research proposals from representatives of patients & public. A PPI officer will liaise with patient, carer & advocacy groups, set up the consumer panel and deliver training on PPI approaches & methods, including engagement of minority & disadvantaged groups. Finally, the RDS will offer focused training, in the form of workshops and seminars for prospective grant applicants on topics such as grantsmanship, research methods, PPI, ethics & governance.