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Tips and tricks from a clinical academic on how to navigate the research landscape

Clinical academia is a roller-coaster. It’s a rewarding role where you have the pleasure of making an impact directly to your patients in the clinical world, and indirectly and internationally to services in your research area. The ambition of the NHS is to have 1% of the workforce as clinical academics although currently this is only 0.1%. Clinical academia can be challenging, and one of those challenges is what happens to you after your PhD.

There needs to be some growing of yourself and your work before you are a competitive independent researcher but often clinicians find it difficult to…


With the increasing demand of students requiring a practice placement and the variability of AHPs roles in practice, placements are adapting to take on many forms. Rising in popularity is the research placement, be that full time or split clinically. I had the pleasure of working with Matt Harrison whom at the time of writing is a University of Leicester 2nd year physiotherapy student, who has thrived on his clinical academic placement. …


Not strictly a research post but important nonetheless. I’m not claiming to be an expert on this but from my personal experiences and commitments in and outside of work I have learnt a lot about how to listen and care that can often be applied to the workplace to both staff and patients. I have had a lot of training on listening and supporting people in crisis that is so relevant to our current situation. I am reflecting on this here in order to share what I’ve found helpful. …


This is mainly advice for myself but I may as well take you along for the journey. Being a clinical academic requires you to be hugely flexible in your role, but deadlines are never flexible and papers/applications do not write themselves despite my crippling need for them to do so. Target setting and planning can help us all achieve our goals for 2021 even if the world crumbles down around us.

Planning your year

Pick your desired method of planning your year, be it electronically or on paper. …


In a desperate attempt to find some positives in the COVID-19 situation I have reflected on how it has changed the way we work. This has been the case in many departments but here I reflect on the research revolution through my distorted memory of it (note my memory may not always be accurate)

Since March research has been getting the press it deserved. Initially this meant the pausing of non essential studies to work towards a shared goal in the battle against COVID. …


If you tried to stay current by reading two articles each day, within 1 year you would fall 55 centuries behind!

Systematic reviews can save you some time by synthesising the literature to draw strong clinical conclusions and make recommendations for practice. It is common for PhD students or clinical academics to undergo this process. Though methodologies may vary- the process is largely the same. So here’s a handy checklist to make sure your systematic reviews are, errm… systematic?

Note- I am by no means an expert, this is just a handy tool that I developed through my own experience.


I completed my PhD ahead of schedule and (to the untrained eye) with minimal meltdowns. Though meltdowns are a right of passage during a PhD, I thought I would compile some tips that kept everyone convinced I had it all under control. Disclaimer: you are free to have as many meltdowns as you want this is your journey.

  • Evenings & weekends are a place of worship. It’s easy to get lost in the workload but the more hours you work the less productive you become in those hours. Have a scheduled start and finish time that you try not to…

Throughout our training and beyond we are always encouraged to be evidence based practitioners, using the best and current evidence to guide our practice. Clinical practice is often busy with little time to explore the evidence base and keep up to date with upcoming research. There are over 2 million articles published per year, and if you read two articles per day, within 1 year you would fall 55 centuries behind!

So how can you keep up to date?

Being “research active” requires more than just reading two articles a day, but rather submerging yourself in the culture of research…


I qualified as a physiotherapist in 2014 with an eager attitude and keen to change the world. Early on I had an interest in research; I finally understood that changing the world is much easier if you are an active researcher. I was always curious and inquisitive and if there was not an answer to something I often wondered why nobody had looked at that yet. There comes a time where you stop wondering why, and start becoming the person who was going to answer that question. I completed a masters in advancing physiotherapy practice in 2015, keen to continue…

AHP researcher

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