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OBJECTIVES: (1) To conduct a scoping review of postgraduate specialty training (ST) curricula for doctors within Health Education England in order to identify common themes and variations in requirements for training and assessment of research competencies. (2) To make recommendations on standardisation of training for clinical research across ST programmes. SETTING: Health Education England North East and National Institute for Health Research Clinical Research Network (CRN)-North East and North Cumbria. METHODS: Annual Review of Competence Progression (ARCP); Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT) checklists and curricula for ST were obtained from Health Education England North East and reviewed between June and September 2015. Research competence requirements based on knowledge, skills or behaviour-based domains were identified and entered onto a spreadsheet for analysis. Common themes with levels of competence required were identified. This information was used to construct and propose a model for delivery of training in clinical research across ST programmes. RESULTS: Sixty-two ST curricula were reviewed and seven common themes for research training were found in up to 97% of the curricula. Requirement for good clinical practice (GCP) in research training was included in 15% of curricula. One of the common themes involved knowledge-based competency, and three each of the remaining seven involved skills or behaviour-based competencies. There was less clarity and larger variation between specialties in how research competencies were assessed; and what evidence was required for ARCP and CCT to assure competence. 63% (19/30) of curricula from medical specialties had no mention of research requirements within their ARCP guidelines. CONCLUSIONS: Given that the majority of specialty curricula contain consistent themes around core research knowledge, consideration should be given to standardising the delivery and assessment of generic research competencies within ST. Our recommendations from this review could form the basis for developing structured research training for specialty trainees involving: (1) a taught course for knowledge-based competencies; (2) clinical placements with CRN teams for practical workplace-based experience and (3) developing research tutors to help support placements and assessment of these competencies.

Original publication




Journal article


Bmj open

Publication Date





Assessment, Competencies, Research Training, Specialty Training, Clinical Competence, Curriculum, Education, Medical, Continuing, England, Humans, Medicine, Physicians