Trainee Clinical Trial Guidance

Clinical trials, compared to observational studies, are considered by many to be the gold standard method for evaluation of healthcare interventions. They contribute significantly to relevant research evidence developed by the NIHR to support the NHS in England and other care providers. However, clinical trials are complex and many researchers, particularly those in the early stages of their career, find it challenging to know where to start, either to contribute to or lead a trial. 

After conducting an internal report on trainee engagement in clinical trials, the NIHR Academy began a project to develop a source of information to support individuals interested in pursuing a research career that involves developing and leading clinical trials. The outputs of the project will be shared here.

The Clinical Trials Guide for Trainees is the outcome of the first stage of the project which was to determine which questions aspiring trialists need answering ahead of starting their journeys into clinical trials. Through collaboration with experts across the NIHR and conversations with existing trainees we have put together a list of questions (and answers!) that we hope trainees will find useful, as well a list of useful links to resources for further information.

Download the Clinical Trials Guide for Trainees

As our project continues we will update this guide so that it includes the most useful and up-to-date information on clinical trials for trainees - and to add further questions and answers from trainees - please let us know if you have any suggested questions. We will also share other outputs from the project on this page. If you would like to make any suggestions or comments on what additional resources would help you to tackle the world of clinical trials or any feedback on the guide please email

Additional guidance for applicants

Anyone proposing to include a clinical trial, feasibility study or research relevant to clinical trials in a research training award application is strongly advised to read the additional guidance below before completing an application. The guidance outlines the expectations NIHR has for what a research training award based around clinical trials should deliver, and should be read in conjunction with guidance specific to the scheme you are applying to.

Download the Additional Guidance


Clinical Trials Guide