Stepping into someone else's shoes – improving the research environment

Royal College of Physicians (RCP) academic vice president Professor Margaret Johnson discusses how the RCP's new Research for all: Sharing good practice in research management report – which provides practical examples of good practice in the NHS – has influenced her position as a researcher at an NHS trust.

Stepping into someone else's shoes – it is not often that we get the opportunity as a doctor to stop and reflect on what it is like. In 2016, Research for all reflected on what doctors saw as a barrier to research and highlighted a need for better communication and working with their reasearch and development departments. Since then I have had the privilege to work closely with the NHS Research and Development Forum and NIHR R&D Leadership Community to identify what good, or even great, might look like.

The answer is that it is very much a two way street, and colleagues across the research team face similar challenges, albeit challenges that can be fixed. Research is under immense pressure, not least from lack of access to time and funding, but the research support available can make such a difference. Expertise ranging from guidance on ethics to intellectual property and capacity, streamlines a complex process.

Expertise ranging from guidance on ethics to intellectual property and capacity, streamlines a complex process

Professor Margaret Johnson, RCP academic vice president

The RCP's new Research for all: Sharing good practice in research management guide has been produced in collaboration with research directors and managers across the country to highlight good practice in collaboration, championing research and communication. I am thrilled to see 50 case studies showing just how much is going on and we are pleased to be able to share this work with others.

As a researcher in an NHS trust, I have direct experience of how important working as a team with R&D department colleagues can be. I recently had an inspection by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and my colleagues were fantastic – they fully prepared my team and I for what we had to do and I learnt a great deal from them in the process. We had already produced the R&D document at this point, but it really brought home to me how much I value their expertise. It also showed to me that much of what is in our guide can be replicated in the workplace to great effect.

My final message is to urge colleagues currently doing research or thinking about doing research to step into someone else’s shoes via the case studies and most importantly, go and start the conversation with colleagues in your R&D department.

Professor Margaret Johnson, RCP academic vice president