top of page


Is my project research?

There are a number of different types of project that all contribute to measuring or testing improvement ideas in practice.

The most common types of project are:

  • Research

  • Quality Improvement

  • Service Evaluation

  • Clinical Audit

  • Clinical or Patient Reported Outcomes

people planning
illustrated question icon

How to define your project

Some project ideas can be undertaken using a number of different approaches, however, it's important to decide what approach you are going to use, so you can ensure that the project is successful and also so you know what approvals will be needed before you start.

All projects need some degree of approval whether that is at service, trust or national level. It is also important that your project is undertaken with the knowledge and involvement of clinical teams 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.

The different approaches:

  • ​Clinical research is conducted to provide new information/ knowledge about disease prevention, diagnosis, treatment or relief of symptoms, or wider health related issues.

  • Patients and healthy participants volunteer and then consent to be part of the project.

  • Clinical trials are a part of clinical research. They may use medicines, medical devices, or procedures and are designed to test or compare different treatments.

  • Other types of clinical research could include questionnaires, interviews or focus groups to understand patients’ experiences, or could be research involving biological samples or other clinical data.

  • The Health Research Authority has an interactive tool to help you assess whether a project is research:

Quality Improvement (QI)

Quality Improvement normally involves the identification of a problem, followed by cycles of testing changes.


We structure this around the ‘Model for Improvement,’ which is essentially a simple and structured way of going about improvement. It asks three basic questions to start with:

  1. What are you trying to improve?

  2. How will you measure what has improved?

  3. What changes will need to be made to do this?


​It then uses a PDSA (Plan, Do, Study, Act) cycle to test small changes and see if they work; adjusting and testing until an improvement is made.

PDSA Cycle
Clinical Audit webpage

Clinical Audit

Clinical Audit is designed and conducted to check that we are achieving predetermined standards in care; aiming to assure quality and to improve standards.

Like Service Evaluation, it usually involves looking at existing data on patient care and outcomes, and often asks staff and patients for their feedback via interviews or questionnaires.


News + events

Research in your Career - Drop In Session

20 May 2024

12noon - 2pm


Uncertainty Experts - NHS Elect

23 May 2024

2.30pm - 3.30pm

MS Teams

Introduction to Clinical Audit

23 May 2024

9am - 10am


bottom of page