Determining whether a project is research

Research is the attempt to derive generalisable new knowledge, including studies that aim to generate
hypotheses as well as those that aim to test them. Research addresses clearly defined questions, aims
and objectives. It can involve evaluating or comparing interventions. It usually involves collecting
additional data and may involve additional assessments and tests.

Service evaluation aims to judge a service‘s effectiveness or efficiency through systematic assessment of
aims, objectives, activities, outputs, outcomes and costs. It asks questions such as ‘how satisfied are
patients with the service being provided?’ Service evaluations are usually specific to a department or
clinical area. They measure current service without reference to a standard or benchmark.

Audit is designed and conducted to produce information to inform the delivery of best care or services.
It involves an intervention or service already in use, and assesses whether it is meeting given
benchmarks and standards, asking questions such as ‘Are all patients in A+E being treated within four
hours?’ Audit usually involves analysing existing data, but can involve simple questionnaires or


Determining whether a project is research

In order to determine whether a project is research, please complete the simple decision tree on the Health Research Authority (HRA) website. Research projects must not be conducted without the appropriate approvals. Members of staff are not insured or indemnified by the Trust unless activities are properly approved.

Approval for non-research projects

Service evaluations must be registered with the R&I department. The RM&S team will review the application and issue an acknowledgement email. The project must not begin before R&I have issued an acknowledgement.

Please forward confirmation that the study is not research, a completed study registration form, study proposal and any signed and dated CVs (signed within the last three years) for all individuals working on the study to Please ensure the study registration form has been signed by the study lead and study supervisor/ department lead before sending. The RM&S team will coordinate the final signature on behalf of the R&I department once the study has been reviewed.