Research Opportunities


Results of a National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) (2017) national survey highlighted the importance of nurse-led clinical research. The survey of nurses conducted by the NIHR, in collaboration with the Nursing Times, shows that 98% of nurses surveyed think that nurse-led research is important to furthering best practice among the profession. The survey also shows that 68% of nurses are interested in a career that involves clinical research – with nearly half (48%) of nurses surveyed having considered conducting their own clinical research.

Research Funding Opportunities

There are awards to apply for a research project, to attend conferences, help with the cost of post-registration study via studentships, fellowships, scholarships, bursaries and grants.

Additionally, wherever you are in your OH career, several organisations offer  opportunities to apply for funding to support you to undertake research. This funding may help support your research as part of your postgraduate studies (masters degree or to undertake a PhD). Please note, applications for research funding is competitive, subject to closing dates and awards are subject to change.

The Institute of Occupational and Environmental Medicine  (IOEM) delivers both outstanding teaching for postgraduates and health professionals in addition to conducting leading research in a variety of occupational and environmental disciplines. The Institute offers PhD Research opportunities in most of the on-going research areas listed.

Contact University of Birmingham for postgraduate studies in Occupational Health (PhD/MSc/Diploma/Certificate)

Contact details

Telephone: +44 (0)121 414 6013


Occupational Health Research Funding Opportunities

The Colt Foundation

The Foundation considers applications for funding high quality research projects in the field of occupational and environmental health, particularly those aimed at discovering the cause of illnesses arising from conditions at the place of work. The Trustees are especially keen to fund research that is going to make a difference to legislation or working practices.

Colt Foundation contact details

Work: +44 (0)23 9249 1400


Web: Colt Foundation

IOSH (the Chartered body for health and safety professionals) award research grants and commission a range of projects to establish evidence for health and safety policies and practice.

The Affinity Health at Work research consortium. A collaboration between researchers and employer organisations, national institutions and interested individuals who support research in workplace wellbeing and employee engagement.

SAF€RA – a partnership between research funding organisations from European countries who collaborate on research programming and launch joint calls in the field of industrial safety.

B&CE offers an annual research grant to support research to improve health in the construction industry.

General Health / Nursing Research Funding Opportunities

National Institute of Health Research (NIHR)

The NIHR provides a huge range of funding opportunities for researchers undertaking studies in the NHS. There are annual calls for practitioners to apply for masters in research across 12 universities in England for nurses, midwives, health visitors and the allied health professions, and for PhD and post-doctoral fellowships.

For more advanced researchers, the National Trainees Co-ordination Centre also calls for applications for senior clinical lecturers that will fund a researcher’s programme of work for three years.

Medical Research Council

Economic and Social Research Council

For smaller projects look for charities that have a special interest in your topic or for wider health care topics try the:

Research funding opportunities

The Florence Nightingale Foundation

Health Foundation

The Foundation for Nursing Studies

The Burdett Trust for Nursing

The RCN Foundation

The General Nursing Council

SPARC provide a comprehensive list of funding organisations.

The Big Lottery Fund provide monies via several programmes; Health and Wellbeing remains one of their priority funding areas.

Eight new mental health networks have been announced this year by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), to bring researchers, charities and other organisations together to address important mental health research questions.

The Queen Margaret University practice development school takes place 19-23th November 2018 in Edinburgh, Scotland. The school is a useful preparation for researchers planning to engage in person-centred and participatory or action-oriented research.

The NHS Innovation Accelerator (NIA) programme supports individuals with a passion for learning and a commitment to share their learnings widely, scaling evidence-based innovations for greater patient benefit.

Accessing Health Research

The skill of searching for and appraising research underpins the ability of occupational health nurses to maintain an evidence-based approach to practice.

How to find research

  1. The NHS has local library resources, access to databases and you can often get the advice of a specialist librarian. To find your local health library, search the Health Library and Information Services
  2. Via a university library (if you are a registered student) students can access resources to access literature through searchable databases. Universities provide teaching and guidance on how best to use their literature resources.

Where to find current research

NICE Evidence Services are a suite of services that provide access to high quality authoritative evidence and best practice. NICE Evidence Services are for everyone working in health and social care who make decisions about treatments, interventions or the use of resources.

Specialist research institutions & other organisations

Institute of Occupational Health IOM is one of the longest-established independent occupational and environmental health research institutes in the world.

The World Health Organisation’s work on occupational health is governed by the Global Plan of Action on Workers’ Health 2008-2017, endorsed by the World Health Assembly in 2007.

IOM Edinburgh

The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

University of Manchester

University of Cardiff

University of Birmingham

University of Aberdeen

The University of the West of Scotland

Queens University Belfast

The OSH research community provides a database of occupational safety and health research. The database has OH&S papers, articles, presentations and reports.

NIHR Collaborations for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRCs) NIHR Collaborations for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRCs) are collaborations between local providers of NHS services and NHS commissioners, universities, other relevant local organisations and the relevant Academic Health Science Network. There are 13 NIHR CLAHRCs and their primary focus is on research targeted at chronic disease and public health interventions.

Academic Health Science Networks The UK Government has identified Life Sciences and Healthcare as important sectors to generate new economic growth as well as increasing the quality of care for patients within the NHS. Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs) present a unique opportunity to align education, clinical research, informatics, innovation, training and education and healthcare delivery.  Their goal is to improve patient and population health outcomes by translating research into practice, and developing and implementing integrated health care services.  They will support knowledge exchange networks to build alliances across internal and external networks and actively share best practice, and provide for rapid evaluation and early adoption of new innovations.

Critical Appraisal

Critical appraisal is the process of carefully and systematically examining research to judge its trustworthiness, and its value and relevance in a particular context.” (Burls and Brice, n.d.)

Critical appraisal is a critical skill for evidence-based research and practice. Evidence Based Nursing systematically searches a wide range of international healthcare journals applying strict criteria for the validity of research and relevance to best nursing practice. Content is critically appraised and the most relevant articles are summarised into succinct expert commentaries, focusing on the papers’ key findings and implications for nursing practice.

Here are some robust critical appraisal resources:

NHS Choices have an article available on the critical appraisal of health-related news.

Evidence Based Nursing Toolkit

Evidence based Medicine Toolkit

Critical Appraisal (CASP) Tools

Critical Appraisal (JBI) Tools

These books also have helpful advice about making sense of scientific papers:

  1. Heneghan C, Badenoch D (2006) Evidence-based Medicine Toolkit, 2nd ed. Blackwell Publishing.
  2. Greenhalgh T (2010) How to Read a Paper, 4th ed. Wiley-Blackwell.
  3. Crombie IK (2009) The Pocket Guide to Critical Appraisal (2009). BMJ Publishing Group.

Doing a literature search in 6 steps

  1. Choose bibliographic databases
  2. Develop a comprehensive search strategy
  3. Perform your search efficiently and effectively
  4. Limit your search
  5. Expand your search
  6. Export results using referencing software

Reference Management

With the Mendeley Reference Manager, you can easily organise and search your personal library, annotate documents and cite as you write.

Compiled by Carol Sanders, Director of Research and Development