Pauline McDonald, a Research and Development Officer at the College of Occupational Therapists, with the first in a series of research blogs.
For many therapists, ‘research’ can feel somewhat esoteric, beyond their reach, something that other people do. However, becoming more actively involved in research needn’t be a step into the unknown. This post will signpost you to various sources of research-related information, guidance and support.
Whilst it is widely recognised that research is vital to the integrity and sustainability of the profession, it is also important to acknowledge that occupational therapists can engage with research in a variety of ways. Many of you will primarily be consumers of research, accessing the latest evidence in order to inform your practice and contribute to lifelong learning. Some of you may wish to take a more active role in research, but not know quite where to start, or may have taken the first tentative steps on your research journey. Others of you will already be active researchers or research leaders. It is hoped that the blogs will support you in embracing research within your career, whichever path you take.
A good starting point is to check out the College of Occupational Therapists range of research and development member resources. The new Research Guide: Capabilities, career planning and funding opportunities (2016) outlines research capabilities expected of occupational therapists and provides signposting to resources on funding and research career opportunities. It is therefore likely to be of interest to those in either a clinical or more research-focussed role. A number of the research briefings will have a similarly broad appeal
Others, such as Applying for ethics approval for research (2014) will have a more specific audience.
Anyone interested in receiving regular news of research-related, events, developments and opportunities may also wish to subscribe to the fortnightly R&D@COT e-bulletin, which is a free resource for members.
The Council for Allied Health Professions Research (CAHPR), supported by 12 AHP organisations (including COT), aims to develop AHP research and strengthen evidence of the AHP professions’ value and impact. CAHPR has a network of regional hubs throughout the UK, which are available to anyone interested in AHP research. The hubs are a great source of information about what is going on in your local area. They offer advice, support and a range of research related events, including opportunities to network with other research interested professionals.
The Contact, Help, Advice and Information Network (CHAIN) is a multi-professional and cross-organisational mutual support network of people working in health and social care, including practitioners, managers, researchers and educators. CHAIN originated in the NHS Research & Development programme in England but now covers the whole of the UK and has smaller satellites in a number of other countries as well as members in over 40 countries worldwide. It is open to anyone working in health and social care and is free to join.
At a more profession specific level, the COT Specialist Sections, which offer direction and leadership regarding specific areas of practice, are a valuable source of support. They share information, including dissemination of relevant research, provide opportunities to network with other professionals and offer a variety of local and national events. There are currently 11 specialist sections covering a range of practice area from Children, Young People & Families through to Work.
The blog highlights just some of the ways in which research is being promoted, supported and indeed championed throughout the UK. If you would like to share sources of support that you have found valuable, we would love to hear from you. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Future postings will include insights into starting out on a research career, and one that focusses on research opportunities/sources of funding. There will also be a series of 3 articles in OTnews looking at different research career opportunities. The first, in the forthcoming March edition, provides vignettes from occupational therapists who have chosen a clinical academic career route.