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.

Key principles

  • 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.

Why review?

  • 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: 

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

Research teams

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) The current CPRS chair is Professor Alan Stein (University of Oxford).

Department of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry
UniversityTeam leadDepartment or GroupSpecialismHappy to be approached to support CPRS nomination? Y/N
University of BristolDr Helen Bould

Centre for Academic Mental Health

My work concerns the epidemiology, prevention and treatment of eating disorders. I am also involved in work on how young people use the online worldY
Cambridge UniversityProfessor Tamsin Ford, Emeritus Professor Ian Goodyear

Department of Psychiatry


The effectiveness of services and interventions for children’s mental health, particularly at the interface with schools.Y
Cambridge UniversityProfessor Paul Ramchandani

Faculty of education


Early prevention of mental health problems, play, child development and educationY
Cardiff University School of Medicine Professor Anita ThaparChild and Adolescent Psychiatry Section and Wolfson Centre for Young People's Mental HealthADHD, adolescent depression: genetics, longitudinal research/developmentY
University College DublinProf Fiona McNicholasAcademic Child & Adolescent PsychiatryBurnout; Eating Disorders; Transition; 22Q11DS; Liaison; Pharma o-epidemiology; ADHDY
University College LondonProfessor David SkusePopulation, 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 LondonDr Priya RajyaguruInstitute of cognitive neuroscience and division of psychiatryEarly 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 PsychiatryWe 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 GlasgowProfessor Helen MinnisAdverse Childhood Experiences LabOur work aims to understand and develop interventions for the mental health problems associated with maltreatmentY
Imperial College LondonProfessor Dasha Nicholls, Emeritus Profesor Elena Garralda, Dr Matthew Hodes, Dr Cornelius AniChild and Adolescent Mental Health Research GroupPrevention 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 LondonProfessor 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 LondonProfessor Andrea DaneseStress & Development Lab at IOPPNOur 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 LondonProfessor Emily SimonoffAutism; ADHD; ID; Antisocial behaviour; Genetics; EpidemiologyY
Kings College LondonDr Gonzalo Salazar de PabloIOPPNPrevention and Early Intervention of psychotic disorders and bipolar disorder/ affective disordersY
University of LeedsProfessor David CottrellDivision of Psychological & Social MedicineUnderstandings of & interventions for self-harmY
Newcastle UniversityDr Aditya SharmaTranslational & 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 NottinghamProfessor Kapil Sayal, Prof Chris Hollis (Full Members); Dr Josephine Holland, Dr Puja Kochhar, Dr Pallab Majumber (Associate Members)Institute of Mental healthOur 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 reviewsY
University of Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation TrustDr Pallab MajumderInstitute of Mental healthMental 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 TrustDr Anupam BhardwajInstitute of Mental healthClinical trials for Mood Disorders in children & adolescents; Evidence based service developmentsY
University of OxfordProfessor Alan SteinDepartment of PsychiatryThe development of very young children & adolescents in the face of adversity including parental physical illness, psychological disorders, poverty & malnutrition. Y
University of OxfordProfessor Mina FazelDepartment of PsychiatrySchool-based mental health interventions; Y
University of OxfordDr Tony James & Professor Francis SzeleDepartment of PsychiatryStem cell research in early-onset schizophrenia and healthy adolescents.Y
Queen Mary University of London Professor Dennis OugrinWolfson Institute of Population Health Therapeutic interventions for adolescents with self-harm and understanding early predictors of self-harmY
University of ReadingDr Leticia Gutierrez-Galve Therapeutic interventions for adolescents with self-harmY
University of SouthamptonProfessor Samuele CorteseCentre for Innovation in Mental HealthAdvanced evidence synthesis methods (network meta-analyses, individual participant data meta-anlyses, dose-response meta analyses, umbrella reviews etc) and prediction science in neurodevelopmental disordersY
Tavistock Research UnitDr Eilis KennedyTavistock Research UnitClinical 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 SciencesClinical trials for adolescent depression; brief interventions for depression; online harms; environment & mental healthY
University of York (Hull & York Medical School)Professor Paul TiffinMental Health & Addictions Research GroupMental health services, the health workforce, machine learning and predictive modelling in youth mental healthY


Read more to receive further information regarding a career in psychiatry