How to get involved in research – and enjoy it.
Research can be challenging, stimulating and fun. Your involvement will range from providing data to studies, to supporting multisite studies through to leading research yourself.
Like most things, when you start out you need support. The best way to get a taste of research is to link with an established academic team and work alongside them. They will welcome serious offers of help and should be able to support you with your own work in due course. Be patient. You rarely get awarded Michelin stars for the your first few efforts at cooking. Research is likewise a complex process that takes planning, knowledge, expertise and resources.
Guide to research for child and adolescent psychiatry
Before you start your research, it's a good idea to have a clear research question. We've put together a short list of what to think about before you embark on your research.
- Have a clear research question. What is it that you are setting out to find out? The days in which unstructured audits or needs assessments could get published are over
- Make sure that your methodology is appropriate to your question and the way that you write it up. There are various standard text books to help you with this, and many areas have access to a Research Design Service via the National Institute of Health Research, whose role is to assist clinicians with developing your ideas into viable research projects
- While ambition and drive are assets in many areas, be careful not to overreach. If you are an inexperienced researcher, keep it simple, get advice and better still, consider collaboration with someone with more experienced
- The Equator network has guidelines about how to report all kinds of studies and most journals now hold authors to them. This is what you are aiming for and it is often worth thinking about before you start to ensure that you collect the data that you need
- Make sure that you have the necessary governance such as approval from an ethics committee or registration for an audit. All journals will want a statement about ethics approval in the method section. More importantly, you can get into all kinds of trouble if you start without it.
Writing well takes time, planning and good supervision. Follow our simple ground rules to increase the likelihood of getting your paper published.
When you're writing:
- Most academic journals receive many more papers than they can publish. They reject 85-90% of submitted papers. Writing well takes time, planning and good supervision
- Read the guidelines to authors and stick to them; you want the editors on your side, not beset by yet another article that is double the word limit and lacks structure
- Pick a journal that 's published papers like yours. Check that your work falls within its remit. Speak to or email the editorial team if you're not sure. Don't waste your time by submitting a paper that will be rejected as out of scope immediately
- When you write up your work, keep to the subheadings given in the guidelines to authors. Also, your introduction should set up the research question and describe your aims. What you did belongs in the method, what you found belongs in the results and what you think about it belongs in the discussion. Weak papers bleed information from each of these sections across the paper, which makes the paper harder to follow and the reviewer worry about the rigour of the underlying research
- The discussion should place your findings in the context of the literature, as well as current policy and practice. It should also cover the methodological strengths AND weaknesses of your study and suggest future avenues for research
- Pay attention to the abstract. Be aware that editors often screen on the abstract so if it's scrappy, your paper may be rejected regardless of how polished the main body of the text is, simply because the editor didn't read any further
- The same issues listed above apply to the abstract; stick to the guidelines and keep things in their prescribed sections
- Check carefully for typographical and grammatical errors, and ensure that your references are correct. If your write up is sloppy and strewn with errors, why should anyone trust your data or your research?
- Seek opinion from peers and / or leave your completed work for a week or two before submitting. It's amazing how much easier it is to spot errors in someone else’s work or after a break. The same applies to cutting down text that seemed essential initially.
Reviewing others work is an important part of the research process and will help your own writing. We've got a few tips on reviewing others' work for you.
- Reviewing others' work will help your own writing. You see the common mistakes and it helps you avoid them
- If you're reviewing, try to be constructive and polite. It's not helpful to make global statements about how rubbish something is without letting the author know what they need to do to improve it. It's also unhelpful to avoid making any criticisms at all; there's no such thing as a flawless paper
- It's fine to highlight to editors where you think you lack expertise to assess a paper; for example statistical review or other highly technical areas.
Find out how the publication process works and what to expect when having your work seen by a reviewer.
How it works:
- Editors screen your paper submissions and a large number are rejected for being outside the scope or poorly conducted at that stage. It's unusual to receive feedback if rejected at this stage
- If sent out to review, you should get feedback. Your paper might still be rejected or you may be asked to revise it. Revision at least once, and often more than once is the norm
- Respond politely to reviewers; they may have got the wrong end of the stick but it will not be intentional and mostly they have some good points
- If editors request revision, they're unlikely to accept your paper without the revisions or clear justification of why you're not making them. Your default should be to follow reviewer’s advice for most, if not all, of their suggestions, unless they're very clear reasons not to
- If at first you don’t succeed...keep trying. While a rejection can feel crushing to the inexperienced, most academics I know submit with a list of journals in mind and they feel almost thwarted if a paper is accepted by the first journal on the list.
Child and adolescent research resources
Find out more about our Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Surveillance System (CAPSS).
Consultants wishing to join the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Surveillance System (CAPSS) can email the CAPSS team or complete our short, online registration form: CAPPS Training form
For further information, please email: CAPSS@rcpsych.ac.uk
Making research fit with your clinical or academic training life:
- There are now jobs at all grades that offer protected time to undertake research for junior doctors in training – contact your deanery or your local academic psychiatrists to find out more
- Academic clinical fellows get 25% of their time to undertake research. These jobs are aimed to give interested trainees a chance to test out research and, assuming that they enjoy it, to develop a strong CV and the application to undertake a PhD
- Various clinical training doctoral schemes are around, including NIHR (focus on the clinical and population/policy facing research), MRC (more basic sciences) and the Wellcome Trust for postdoctoral schemes and beyond (now regional schemes)
- Academic clinical lectureships offer 50% time in research while moving towards being an independent researcher. You have to have a doctoral degree to be eligible and a year or more clinical training in most areas
The Child Psychiatry Research Society (CPRS) was founded in 1972 and exists to foster research in child and adolescent psychiatry, facilitate links between child and adolescent psychiatry researchers, and foster new research and researchers by organising scientific meetings.
Members can be full members, associate members, honorary members or corresponding members depending on their level of research activity and location. New members are nominated by full members to the secretary, Professor Dasha Nicholls (Imperial College London) firstname.lastname@example.org. The current CPRS chair is Professor Alan Stein (University of Oxford).
|University||Team lead||Department or Group||Specialism||Happy to be approached to support CPRS nomination? Y/N|
|University of Bristol||Dr Helen Bould||My work concerns the epidemiology, prevention and treatment of eating disorders. I am also involved in work on how young people use the online world||Y|
|Cambridge University||Professor Tamsin Ford, Emeritus Professor Ian Goodyear|
|The effectiveness of services and interventions for children’s mental health, particularly at the interface with schools.||Y|
|Cambridge University||Professor Paul Ramchandani|
|Early prevention of mental health problems, play, child development and education||Y|
|Cardiff University School of Medicine||Professor Anita Thapar||Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Section and Wolfson Centre for Young People's Mental Health||ADHD, adolescent depression: genetics, longitudinal research/development||Y|
|University College Dublin||Prof Fiona McNicholas||Academic Child & Adolescent Psychiatry||Burnout; Eating Disorders; Transition; 22Q11DS; Liaison; Pharma o-epidemiology; ADHD||Y|
|University College London||Professor David Skuse||Population, Policy and Practice Dept, UCL GOS Insitute of Child Health||Our primary interest is in rare Mendelian genetic disorders that are associated with cognitive & behavioural phenotypes. Our longitudinal MRC-funded prigram (IMAGINE-ID) is following a national cohort of affected children into early childhood. We also collaborate internationally on Duchenne Muscular Dystrphy studies, including gene therapy, & are developing novel online assessment procedures for detecting ASD in BAME populations.||Y|
|University College London||Dr Priya Rajyaguru||Institute of cognitive neuroscience and division of psychiatry||Early prevention of mental health problems, social influences, executive functioning, rumination, repetitive negative thinking, depression, anxiety, adhd, asd, emotion regulation||Y|
|University of Edinburgh||Professor Ian Kelleher||Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences, Division of Psychiatry||We apply data science approaches to understanding trajectories of mental health and illness from childhood to adulthood. We also carry out pharmacoepidemiological research to understand how treatments in childhood and adolescence might affect mental health outcomes in adulthood. We're especially interested in new approaches to the prediciton and prevention of psychosis. We also look at the health economics associated with mental ill health in childhood and adolescence.||Y|
|University of Glasgow||Professor Helen Minnis||Adverse Childhood Experiences Lab||Our work aims to understand and develop interventions for the mental health problems associated with maltreatment||Y|
|Imperial College London||Professor Dasha Nicholls, Emeritus Profesor Elena Garralda, Dr Matthew Hodes, Dr Cornelius Ani||Child and Adolescent Mental Health Research Group||Prevention and early intervention in young people's mental health, especially emotional and behavioural dysregulation and the interface between physical and psychological health.||Y|
|Kings College London||Professor Stephen Scott||Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience (IOPPN)||Interventions work to improve child functioning, including reduction of antisocial behaviour and promotion of secure attachment.||Y|
|Kings College London||Professor Andrea Danese||Stress & Development Lab at IOPPN||Our work aims to understand how stressful experiences in childhood affect development and later health, and how to best support children who had such traumatic experiences.||Y|
|Kings College London||Professor Emily Simonoff||Department of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry||Autism; ADHD; ID; Antisocial behaviour; Genetics; Epidemiology||Y|
|Kings College London||Dr Gonzalo Salazar de Pablo||IOPPN||Prevention and Early Intervention of psychotic disorders and bipolar disorder/ affective disorders||Y|
|University of Leeds||Professor David Cottrell||Division of Psychological & Social Medicine||Understandings of & interventions for self-harm||Y|
|Newcastle University||Dr Aditya Sharma||Translational & Clinical Research Instuitute, Faculty of Medical Sciences|
Mood disorders in children, adolescents & young adults.
Digital interventions, Global mental health, Paediatric psychopharmacology trials, links with autism & neurodevelopmental disorders
|University of Nottingham||Professor Kapil Sayal, Prof Chris Hollis (Full Members); Dr Josephine Holland, Dr Puja Kochhar, Dr Pallab Majumber (Associate Members)||Institute of Mental health||Our main research themes & expertise span intervention research (RCTs), Health Services Research, Perinatal & developmental epidemiology; Digital technology; Biological mechanisms undepinning psychiatric disorders; Translational neuroscience; Psychopharmacology; Systematic reviews||Y|
|University of Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust||Dr Pallab Majumder||Institute of Mental health||Mental health, illness, intervention and service provision for Looked After Children. Mental health and treatment for refugee children. Transition of care between different parts of the mental health and care system.||Y|
|University of Nottingham and Cambridge & Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust||Dr Anupam Bhardwaj||Institute of Mental health||Clinical trials for Mood Disorders in children & adolescents; Evidence based service developments||Y|
|University of Oxford||Professor Alan Stein||Department of Psychiatry||The development of very young children & adolescents in the face of adversity including parental physical illness, psychological disorders, poverty & malnutrition.||Y|
|University of Oxford||Professor Mina Fazel||Department of Psychiatry||School-based mental health interventions;||Y|
|University of Oxford||Dr Tony James & Professor Francis Szele||Department of Psychiatry||Stem cell research in early-onset schizophrenia and healthy adolescents.||Y|
|Queen Mary University of London||Professor Dennis Ougrin||Wolfson Institute of Population Health||Therapeutic interventions for adolescents with self-harm and understanding early predictors of self-harm||Y|
|University of Reading||Dr Leticia Gutierrez-Galve||Therapeutic interventions for adolescents with self-harm||Y|
|University of Southampton||Professor Samuele Cortese||Centre for Innovation in Mental Health||Advanced evidence synthesis methods (network meta-analyses, individual participant data meta-anlyses, dose-response meta analyses, umbrella reviews etc) and prediction science in neurodevelopmental disorders||Y|
|Tavistock Research Unit||Dr Eilis Kennedy||Tavistock Research Unit||Clinical trials; Early intervention & prevention; Longitudinal research; Gender identity; Personalised intervenions||Y|
|University of York (Hull & York Medical School)||Professor Bernadka Dubicka (also Honorary MAHSC Chiar Univeristy of Manchester)||Department of Health Sciences||Clinical trials for adolescent depression; brief interventions for depression; online harms; environment & mental health||Y|
|University of York (Hull & York Medical School)||Professor Paul Tiffin||Mental Health & Addictions Research Group||Mental health services, the health workforce, machine learning and predictive modelling in youth mental health||Y|