Top image

User feedback

I found the framework helpful and structured and used it to identify some learning needs when planning my research fellowship.” Physiotherapist, ICHT

Access the Framework document

Clinical Research Training Framework

The Imperial College Academic Health Science Centre has developed the Clinical Research Training Framework to develop the skills that an clinician of any professional background requires in order to support clinical research. Originally developed in 2019 our second edition of the framework can be used more flexibly and is now easier to use and simpler to complete.

The Framework supports clinical staff in the AHSC organisations* to develop a detailed understanding of research, and research skills, to allow them to become more directly involved in the mission of the AHSC: to accelerate the translation of research discoveries into improvements in human health.  The Framework will facilitate staff to support NIHR and industry trials, or develop their own clinical academic careers by proposing competencies, skills and training and suggesting opportunities and resources offered within the AHSC (and beyond).

Completion will signify that the individual has extensive core skills and knowledge of clinical research, which would be of use both in supporting clinical research but also enhancing the care provided within the NHS.  Successful completion of the Framework does not count as credit towards a formal university course or carry CPD points, however, it can be used by staff during appraisal, performance review, revalidation and personal development, and as evidence of research skills acquired. The framework is complementary to any other frameworks you may be using for clinical/professional development, including competency frameworks specific to your role.

Overall it is likely to take up to a year to complete all aspects of the Framework. Some recent prior training/ experience can be used.

  • Work through the framework to develop a detailed understanding of research and research skills
  • Use the framework during appraisal, performance review, revalidation and for your personal development
  • Complete the suggested training over 3-12 months and gain a certificate of completion from the Imperial College AHSC to enhance your CV and highlight the role you play in advancing patient care through clinical research – OR - use the framework flexibly in whichever way best suits your plans and research training needs.
  • Improve your ability to support the world leading research being done here and develop your own clinical research career 

Please fill in this short form to recieve a copy of the Framework directly to your inbox.

* ASHC organisations - Imperial College London, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, Chelsea & Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, The Institute of Cancer Research and Royal Brompton and Harefield Hospitals (Affiliate))


Using the Framework

Completion of this framework demonstrates that you have undertaken learning and development in clinical research and research methods. Once downloaded, you should start by reading it completely. You may already have some knowledge and experience about some areas. If you are new to research it may take you one or more years to finish all the activities and learning described. If you are already research active, some recent experience/courses can be used as evidence.

Overall it is likely to take up to a year to complete all aspects of the Framework and recent prior learning can be used as evidence.

Learning outcomes:

  • Understanding of clinical research methods
  • Competence to participate as an Investigator in research studies
  • Good Clinical Practice research certification
  • Competence to undertake critical review of research topics/ideas
  • Understanding of statistics or qualitative methods for clinical research
  • Knowledge of writing research protocols, research data, and peer-reviewed papers
  • Understanding of how research training can be used in routine clinical practice to enhance patient care


The Framework contains 2 Modules; Module 1 Research Methodology and Module 2 Clinical Studies.  Each module provides a list of the relevant core Knowledge, and academic Competencies required and makes suggestions for how each might be achieved and evidenced.

Users should review the Knowledge and Competency columns in the modules, do a self-assessment and make a note as to how they have achieved or formulate a plan for how they intend to achieve each one. 

This part of the process is for each user's own reflection on their progress and provides a suggested structure for how they might develop their research skills and knowledge.  Achievements with the Knowledge and Competencies described in the Modules do not need to be reported as part of certification, but we suggest users will find it helpful to keep notes that may help when completing the Evidence pages, and also more generally for discussions with managers, colleagues etc…

Evidence pages

In addition to making a self-assessment against the Knowledge and Competencies in the 2 Modules, users should complete the Clinical Research Logbook, Reflective summary and other activities described on page 12  -  and provide evidence/signatures to prove that they have done so.

Once fully completed users have the option to hand write into a paper version of the evidence pages and then scan and send them by email for certification.


Completed Evidence pages, Logbook, Reflective summary, GCP Certificate and all required signatures, should be sent by email to  
Please note:  Certificates of completion of the Clinical Research Training Framework will be issued by the Imperial College Academic Health Science Centre to staff employed by Imperial College AHSC only.

 If you have any questions about using the Framework please contact the CATO team at  

P‌lease complete this online form to recieve a copy of the Framework directly to your inbox.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q.            How can the framework help with my career? 

A.             Using the framework will increase your research awareness and skills, which will enhance your clinical practice and approach to patient care.  You can also use the framework to structure your appraisal, performance review and revalidation discussions and also for your personal skills and knowledge development.  The framework can also be helpful as a guide or tick-list for developing staff or when preparing fellowship or other applications.


Q.           Is completing the Framework mandatory?

A.           No.  It is entirely optional.  It has been developed for clinical staff from any profession who might want to play a more active part in research, develop research careers, or simply to have a better understanding of clinical research.  However, we believe that possession of research skills and research awareness are important in routine patient care and have benefits for all clinical staff in their day to day work. If you already have research within your role you may be able to use some recent prior experience for this certification. 

Alternatively, you could use the framework as a checklist to assess your research skills and address any training needs, without completing the whole framework and gaining the certificate.


Q.           Can I fill out the Framework retrospectively?

A.           Yes - providing the activity undertaken is from the recent past – i.e. within the last 12 months.


Q.           Can I use the Framework certificate as credit towards a formal university course or qualification?

A.            No. The Framework does not carry any formal educational credits or carry formal CPD points. However, completion of the framework can be used by staff for appraisal, performance review and personal development plans including Predoc/fellowship application (early stage).


Q.            How does the Clinical Research Training Framework relate to other frameworks, such as competency frameworks, that I use for my clinical/professional development?

A.           The CRTF is entirely optional and complementary to any other frameworks you may be using for clinical/professional development, including competency frameworks specific to your role.


Q.           How do the Modules relate to the Evidence pages?

A.           The Modules describe the range of Knowledge and Competencies needed to develop your research skills – they are essentially a curriculum.  We recommend you read through each item described and make a personal note of how you meet, or plan to meet each of the criteria.  The Evidence pages prescribe the minimum activities required in order to gain AHSC Certificate of completion of the Clinical Research Training Framework. 


Q.           Do I have to complete all of the activities in the ‘Training to achieve this’ columns in the Modules?

A.           No.  These are suggested ways in which you might achieve each area of knowledge or competency – there will be other ways in which you can do this. If you have an idea for an activity that you feel might help meet the knowledge or competency, but aren’t sure if it would be acceptable - please contact CATO for advice – 


Q.           Do I have to attend the specific Imperial courses/sessions listed in the ‘Training to achieve this’ columns?  (eg, AHSC Starting out in Research course).

A.           No.  These are only suggestions and in all cases you should attend training specific to your profession and career stage. There are many training providers/resources that can help you achieve the same aims. 


Q.           Is there any funding available to support attendance at courses that will contribute towards completing areas of the framework?

A.           Yes.  Events organised by CATO are available free of charge and are promoted on the News & Events of our website.  However, if you are looking to attend training delivered by an external provider there are a number of CATO-administered bursaries that might contribute towards the course costs.  Full details and eligibility can be found on the CATO funding page:

  • HEE funded Specialised/Academic Foundation Trainees (NW Thames Foundation School) may apply via the CATO Research skills short courses bursary
  • NIHR funded Academic Clinical Fellows (Imperial College) may apply via the NIHR Bursary for academic trainees OR the Research Training Award NIHR funded Clinical Lecturers may apply via the Research skills short courses bursary
  • Doctors in clinical Training at ICHT, RMH and C&W linked Trusts, via Research skills short courses bursary
  • NMAHPPs (Nurses, Midwives, Allied Health Professions, Healthcare Scientists, Pharmacy staff & Psychologists) in ICHT, RMH and C&W linked Trusts at all levels below Consultant looking to develop research skills and careers via Research skills short courses bursary
  • Clinical academics/researchers of all clinical professions below Consultant level undertaking research Fellowships across the AHSC if funding for such training is not available from their research funder via Research skills short courses bursary

Useful Resources

These are some resources you might refer to when working through the Framework.  This is just a starting point, there will be many other places of reference, information and support that you could use. A more comprehensive list can be be found in the Framework.



NIHR Applied Research Collaboration NW London:

Imperial College Academic Health Science Centre (AHSC), Faculty of Medicine, Courses for NHS staff: 

Imperial College London, Medical/Health Library

NIHR Research Design Service, London:

Imperial College Clinical Trials Unit:

Imperial College Patient Experience Research Centre:

Good Clinical Practice courses:

Health Research Authority:

Integrated Research Application System: