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Clinical Research Training Framework

The Imperial College Academic Health Science Centre has developed the Clinical Research Training Framework to define and develop the skills that an academic clinician of any professional background requires in order to support clinical research.

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, however, it can be used by staff during appraisal, performance review, revalidation and personal development, and as evidence of research skills acquired.

Overall it is likely to take 1-2 years to complete all aspects of the Framework, and it is expected that a certificate would only be awarded after 2 years.

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


Using the Framework

Overall it is likely to take 1-2 years to complete all aspects of the Framework and certification is only likely to be awarded after 2 years as we would expect to see evidence of progression through the Framework over this period of time.


  • 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 Sign Off pages, and also more generally for discussions with managers, colleagues etc…

Sign off 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 sign off pages and then scan and send them by email for certification, or alternatively, they can fill out the separate MS Word version of the Sign off pages electronically and send that as an attachment.


  • Completed Sign Off 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

Downloadable files:

AHSC Clinical Research Training Framework- Full Document

Clinical Research Training Framework - Sign Off Pages

Frequently Asked Questions

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.


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


Q.           How do the Modules relate to the Sign off 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 Sign Off 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, there are many other training providers/resources that can help you achieve the same aims.

Useful Resources

These are just 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.




AHSC Starting out in Research course:

Imperial College Researcher Development Course:

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:

NIHR Imperial Biomedical Research Centre:

NIHR Biomedical Research Centre at the Royal Marsden and ICR