Your path in research
Your Path in Research - start your career in research
Unsure of the next steps in your career? Why not consider a role in research helping find better treatments and improving care for patients and service users. The range of roles in health and social care research is wide ranging.
Better research leads to better services for patients and the public. That’s why we want to encourage health and social care professionals to play an active role in research, as a way to deliver even better services.
Our Your Path in Research campaign highlights how people can make research part of their career.
If you are a graduate or about to graduate
There are a variety of roles available in research and depending on the setting you could be based in a higher education institution, research institute, hospital, industry or charity.
A career in research can:
- Provide you with a direct connection to patient care and the practical nature of the work lets you see the real changes research can make to people’s lives
- Allow you to make use of the investigative and analytical skills that you gained during your studies
- Every day is different
- You can build your career around areas you are passionate about and explore new areas of interest to you
- Provide you with extra skills and qualifications which can benefit your future career prospects
- There are two training awards managed by the NIHR to give you valuable experience and a taste of research the NIHR Short Placement Awards for Research Collaboration (SPARC) and the NIHR Visiting Speaker Award (VSA)
- Find out what research looks like in your area of study and interest.
- Visit our learning and support pages to find out about career opportunities.
- Find out more about local opportunities to get involved in research by reaching out to your Local Clinical Research Network (LCRN)
- Look at the NIHR career development page for more inspiration.
Work in the NHS and want to make research part of your role?
Health and care professionals provide vital support in the delivery of research. A skilled research delivery workforce is crucial to making research happen in the NHS and other health and social care settings.
Clinical research nurses and midwives, allied health professionals, social care professionals, doctors, dentists and clinical research practitioners play an important role in the delivery of high quality research care, including care of research participants and the day-to-day delivery of studies.
Simple steps to add research to your career
- Explore the NIHR initiatives and support available for those wanting to take their first step into delivering research.
- Join a community of researchers by visiting schools relevant to your specialty, sign up to the school’s newsletter.
- Reach out to your LCRN to find out more about local opportunities to get involved in research. These local networks coordinate and support the delivery of research in the NHS and across the wider health and social care environment.
- Browse the NIHR Applied Research Collaborations (NIHR ARCs) internships and other opportunities in your region. Contact your local ARC to discuss the latest opportunities.
- Play the Your Path in Research Game to explore how adding research to your career can help you gain new skills and qualifications, help you to build your career around areas you are passionate about, and make a real difference to patients, service users, carers and the public. Play the Your Path in Research Game.
Other opportunities to begin your path in research
If you work in social care or social work:
- Find free events, webinars and join a community of researchers by visiting the School for Social Care Research website
- Learn more about what social care research looks like in social care themed reviews, where you can access research findings expressed in plain English
- Join a supportive community of individuals and organisations in adult social care with an interest in research by signing up to the Social Care Incubator mailing list
- Visit our social care research homepage and learn more
If you work in public health:
- Join a growing community of public health researchers at the School for Public Health Research which offers training and events. Get regular updates about available support by signing up for to School's newsletter
- Find out what Public Health research looks like in our Public Health Themed Reviews where you can access research findings expressed in plain English
- Visit our public health specialty page and learn more
Internships, fellowships and opportunities:
- Browse the available internships and opportunities at NIHR Applied Research Collaborations in your area
- Explore the NIHR Academy Local Authority Academic Fellowship Programme which offers short-term placements for individuals that work in local authorities
Ways to help build research in local authorities
- Explore more about the Public Health Intervention Responsive Studies Teams which provides timely and accessible evaluations of public health interventions to local authorities.
- Learn about the Health and Social Care Delivery Research Programme which funds evaluative research that has the potential to improve health and social care services. Typical projects are mixed-methods studies with a clear focus on the organisation and quality of care.
- Our Health Determinants Research Collaborations can boost local authorities’ capacity and capability to conduct high-quality research to tackle health inequalities. They provide new research funding to embed a culture of evidence-based decision-making within local government with a focus on tackling the needs of local disadvantaged groups. Read our blog about setting the scene for public health research.
Other ways to get involved
Share and create your own content
Find and promote inspiring stories of researchers that show why research matters to them and to the public they work with.
Share with us your best examples of collaborating with local authorities, social services and care homes in terms of promoting and delivering research. Share them on social media using #YourPathInResearch, and tag @NIHR.
Share our campaign materials
We have images, posters and leaflets you can use to help promote the campaign.
If you would like to order copies, please visit the Your Path in Research online resources to find out more.
A social worker’s experience of doing a research internship and investigating the impact of adversity on child development. Read Emily's story.
This case study explores how a children’s social care professional undertook an NIHR short placement award as a first step to developing a practitioner research career.
Kirstie Baughan is an experienced social worker who is using funding from NIHR to research the integration experiences of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children leaving care.