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Can Anyone Do Research?

ACPRC Research Champion, Frances Butler, answers the question - "Can anyone do research?"

“Can anyone do research?”


Our clinical practice should be based on evidence based practice but we are all aware that it is a combination of clinical experience and anecdotal evidence as well as the evidence based practice we gain from research methods.

As the research officer for the ACPRC I feel it is important to instil a feeling of calmness when it comes to research. Research should not only be rigorous clinical trials in controlled environments with gold standard Randomised Controlled Trials. But a more practical way of approaching research is the research-practionner role. I work clinically as well as studying for my PhD and I feel that both sides of my role are complimented by the one another. My research makes me a better clinician and my clinical practice makes me a more effective researcher.

I have always had an interest in research as well as a strong commitment to my clinical work. I completed my MSc in 2011 after just being ‘interested’ in different modules that were available and then got the bug and decided to carry on and complete the whole MSc. This then sparked interest in doing my PhD.

Often the main limiting factors in completing research are funding, time and commitment. I’m doing my PhD part-time whilst working full-time; the maths doesn’t quite add up but I find the time to get it done. It is difficult in the current NHS climate to get time away from work to complete research but often we are doing research every day without even realising it. Our service development projects and cost saving ideas for improved efficiencies are the basis of our research development and design. Often the researcher who is not in clinical practice lacks the insight into how it is on the ground clinically and it is through our excellent clinicians that more effective research is born.

I would recommend anyone who has done a service development project or audit on a particular service to get yourself out there and shout about it. As Physiotherapists we are not very good about selling ourselves but we do excellent work and we should aim to get recognition for it. An excellent way to start is by writing something up for the ACPRC journal. Our panel of reviewers are able to provide feedback and advice on getting it published in the journal and once it’s published then it’s an excellent achievement to have on your CV.

Funding is also a difficulty within the current financial climate of the NHS but there are awards and options out there to tap into. Have you thought about applying for a CSP educational award? These run twice a year and are a great opportunity to get some additional funds towards your research. I recently won an educational award for my PhD fees which is an excellent bonus to help me through my research. You could also approach local or national charities or sponsorship through companies.

We have some resources on the ACPRC website under the research section but if you have any questions or want to discuss your research then feel free to get in touch.


Frances Butler, ACPRC Research Champion