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NIHR Evaluations, Trials and Studies Co-ordinating Centre (NETSCC)

NETSCC runs a number of national research programmes on behalf of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), the Medical Research Council and the Department of Health. The programmes are needs-led and science-added. That means the programmes respond to the identified needs of a customer – normally the NHS – and ensure that the highest quality work is commissioned in order to answer research questions identified by the customer. NETSCC is recognised as a valuable Public Health resource.

Registrars are eligible for placement at NETSCC after successful completion of the Part B exam of the Faculty of Public Health.

NETSCC currently runs:


In addition, we have two internal directorates concerned with cross cutting issues which may affect more than one of these programmes, and an internal programme of ‘Research on research’, aimed at learning from our large portfolio of commissioned research projects(ranging from evidence synthesis to large clinical trials), in order to both deliver academic outputs and improve the programmes that we run

The core of a typical attachment would involve being attached to one of these programmes, where the registrar would contribute to identifying and refining research priorities through literature review and discussion with appropriate experts. In the course of a year’s attachment, a registrar would be able to see the initial topics worked on be commissioned as significant pieces of research. Additional activity would be arranged according to the trainees needs and interests. Previous registrars have contributed to setting up new research programmes, done work aimed at minimising redundancy of clinical trials, worked on European collaboration in Health Technology Assessment, and published research as part of our research programme.

At the end of the attachment, registrars should have gained an insight into the process of evidence generation, and the workings of research management.

The exact learning outcomes achieved will depend on the work taken while on attachment with us. The list below is suggestive, not exhaustive.

Learning Outcomes

Registrars are eligible for placement at NETSCC after successful completion of the Part B exam of the Faculty of Public Health. They will be addressing Phase 3 Learning Outcomes in the curriculum. The list in the table below shows the main ones that may be addressed during the placement.

1.7. Undertake a health needs assessment for a defined population for a specific purpose and demonstrate that this work has been considered at a high level in a relevant organisation.

2.1. Generate an appropriate question in order to assess the evidence.

2.2. Use health and non-health evidence from formal research and other sources to answer a defined question, taking into account relative strengths and weaknesses of evidence used.

2.3. Make use of others in finding and retrieving evidence (e.g. librarians, information specialists).

2.4. Define a literature search strategy with appropriate inclusion and exclusion criteria to find relevant evidence to answer a question.

2.5. Clearly document methods used in finding and retrieving evidence.

2.6. Filter and refine searches to select appropriate evidence, incorporating the hierarchy of evidence.

2.7. Use an appropriate framework to critically appraise evidence.

2.9. Provide options for decision makers.

2.10. Communicate recommendations orally and in writing in order to influence decisions.

7.7. Assess an individual funding request using sound legal and ethical principles.

7.14. Lead an exercise in horizon scanning for new technologies and treatments which informs planning decisions.

8.6. Present and communicate population health intelligence in effective ways in order to develop local and national policy.

8.9. Make a major contribution to systematic collecting, collating and interpreting of intelligence to inform the commissioning of health care and public health activities.

9.2. Formulate a specific public health research question.

9.3. Interpret a meta-analysis.

9.4. Define appropriate outcome measures and data requirements for specific research proposals, both quantitative and qualitative.

9.5. Identify the resource implications of varied research strategies.

9.9. Identify research needs based on patient/population needs and in collaboration with relevant partners.

9.10. Work within the principles of good research governance where appropriate.

9.12. Contribute to the education and training of other staff, medical students and colleagues.

9.17. Advise on the relative strengths and limitations of different research methods to address a specific public health research question.

9.18. Design, undertake and analyse an original research project(s)   

9.19. Conduct a systematic review on a defined research question.

9.20. Present an accepted research paper at a national public health scientific meeting.

9.21. Prepare and submit a research paper to a reputable peer reviewed journal.

Contact Details

NETSCC, Wessex Institute, University of Southampton, Alpha House, Enterprise Road, Southampton Science Park, Chilworth, Southampton, SO16 7NS. Tel: +44 (0)23 8059 5586.

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