Developing research skills as a clinical academic

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Having an inquisitive and curious mindset is fundamental when it comes to pursuing a clinical academic career. This must also be complemented by a range of research skills. Clinical and academic research is changing rapidly, and the technical skills and expertise required to navigate these areas successfully will evolve over time. This page provides resources to help access training in a range of research skills.

What research skills do I need to be a clinical academic?

There is no set list of research skills that all clinical academics have or need, and many of the necessary skills depend heavily on your research area and methods. But some research skills are useful in many clinical academic disciplines, such as:

Technical research skills 

  • Experimental design
  • Literature Review 
  • Project management
  • Patient and public involvement 
  • Data management (e.g big data skills)
  • Data visualisation (e.g. bioinformatics and software skills)
  • Quantitative data analysis
  • Qualitative data analysis
  • Statistics & statistical analysis 
  • Additional technical skills related to research type

Supplementary research skills 

  • Leadership, teamwork & collaboration
  • Research ethics
  • Research integrity 
  • Public engagement 
  • Research communication & academic writing 
  • Publication, conference & seminar preparation
  • Presentation skills
  • Grant writing& funding processes
  • Strategy design & implementation

Where can I find training courses as a clinical academic?

Universities, research institutes and NHS employers offer training courses for many of the essential research skills needed in clinical academic training. Some of these courses can be free of charge if they are provided by your employer.

How can I pay for courses?

When you apply for a grant for your research, you can often request additional funds for the skills training you’ll need for your proposed research. Some funders also offer distinct funding pots and bursaries for clinical academics to use towards skills training.

What if my employer or host institution doesn’t offer a training course in a research skill that I want to develop?

While many core research skills will always be relevant, there will also always be new techniques and technologies to learn. Many organisations offer a comprehensive range of technical skills training, open to internal and external individuals.

You may wish to explore these course catalogues/resource collections:

Some of the research skills areas that clinical academics reported having fewer training opportunities for are in fields such as bioinformatics, statistics, qualitative research, and digital skills. If you’re looking for skills training in these areas, there are example courses below which some trainees have taken and found useful.


Digital & Data Skills


Qualitative Research

Always look at what your employer or host institution is providing first, as they may have added new training courses to their schedule. If you know of a few people all wishing to develop research skills in one area, it can be helpful to feed that back to your employer in case it influences their decisions when preparing new training course portfolios.

We are not affiliated with any of the listed course providers and do not earn commission through any site links.

All courses were identified through light-touch mapping of research skills availability for clinical academics and consultation with research funders, higher education institutions, trainees and senior clinical academics. This work was undertaken on behalf of the Clinical Academic Training Forum.