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, aimsand objectives. It can involve evaluating or comparing interventions. It usually involves collectingadditional data and may involve additional assessments and tests.

Health improvement projects aim to judge a service‘s effectiveness or efficiency through systematic assessment of aims, objectives, activities, outputs, outcomes and costs. They ask questions such as ‘how satisfied are patients with the service being provided?’ Health improvement projects 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 fourhours?’ Audit usually involves analysing existing data, but can involve simple questionnaires orinterviews.


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

Health improvement projects 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 project registration form, project protocol and any signed and dated CVs (signed within the last three years) for all individuals working on the study to Please ensure the project registration form has been signed by the study lead and study supervisor/department lead before sending. The Research Management team will coordinate the final signature on behalf of the R&I department once the project has been reviewed.

Skip to content