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Is it research?

Is it research?

There are several different approaches which can contribute to evaluating, measuring or testing improvement ideas in practice, including: -

  • Clinical Audit
  • Research
  • Service Review/Evaluation


Simple Rule


Clinical Audit

Measures existing practice against evidence-based clinical standards

All clinical audits should be registered with the Quality Improvement Team



Generates new knowledge where there is no or limited research evidence available and which has the potential to be generalisable or Transferable

All research must comply with research governance requirements and MUST be registered and reviewed for SITE APPROVAL permission by CHCP’s Research Approval Group before commencing.


Service Review

Incorporates both service/practice development and service/practice evaluation

Service/practice development — introduces a change in service delivery or practice for which there is evidence derived from research or from other health/social care settings that have already introduced and evaluated the change. New developments should always be evaluated.

Service/practice evaluation evaluates the effectiveness or efficiency of an existing or new service/practice that is evidence based, with the intention of generating information to inform local decision-making. This type of activity is sometimes referred to as a clinical effectiveness study, baseline audit, activity analysis, organisational audit and benchmarking.

All service review activity should comply with clinical governance requirements and follow the ethical and information governance principles.


To conduct a project within any of CHCP’s services some degree of approval will be required, whether that is from the Professional Lead, Operational Manager, Governance Team or at national ethical level. It is also important that your project is undertaken with the knowledge and involvement of the clinical teams and colleagues where possible. This ensures the project is relevant to clinical practice, likely to succeed and that the results are shared with the people who can embrace any important developments.

To clarify whether the project you wish to undertake is research you are advised to use the following decision tools provided by the Health Research Authority (HRA) and save a copy for your records.

  • Is it research? Medical Research Council (MRC) decision making tool

  • Do you need an NHS Research ethics Review?