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5 Oct 2021

Do you work in health or social care? Gain research experience with a Practitioner Research Fellow secondment

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Do you work in health or social care? Are you interested in gaining research experience, or moving towards a career in research?

We are looking to appoint a number of NIHR Practitioner Research Fellows (as secondments) who will work between the NIHR Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) North East and North Cumbria (NENC), and regional health and care providers, to develop and deliver high quality applied health research directly related to local health and care priorities.

This is an ideal opportunity for motivated individuals already working within health or social care settings to gain formal experience in applied research, as well as develop new skills in evaluation and project management.

Salary – between 0.2 and 0.5 WTE of your current salary. Closing date – 31 October 2021.

Who can apply?

Applicants should be professionals in health or social care including the third and voluntary sectors. This includes doctors, dentists, allied health professionals, social workers and other practitioners working for health and care providers or support organisations.

You should also have demonstrable experience in audit, evaluation/improvement and/or applied research. A Masters level qualification or equivalent is desirable but not essential.

This opportunity will be a part-time secondment (0.2 – 0.5 wte) and based within your current employing organisation for between 12 and 36 months.

As such, you will need to discuss this with your employer to determine what time contribution and duration of secondment is possible, before you apply.

Some FAQs relating to the role can be found towards the end of this page.

What does a Practitioner Research Fellow do?

As a Practitioner Research Fellow, you will provide a crucial link between practitioners, services and applied researchers based in Universities to co-produce and deliver research and evaluation.

The role will include:

  • Developing and delivering high quality applied health research directly related to regional priorities – find out more about our research themes here.
  • Undertaking at least one substantial applied research evaluation supported by researchers linked to the ARC.
  • Developing at least one publication to be submitted to a research journal and/or a small grant application or further personal award.
  • Reporting and encouraging the use of research findings to inform the development and delivery of relevant health and social care within the region.
  • Contributing to Public Involvement and Community Engagement activities, including dissemination of outputs in appropriate formats.

All secondments will be renewed on an annual basis subject to satisfactory performance.

How do I apply?

Download the full role description and person specification, below.

Before you apply, you will need to agree a topic of interest, plus an experience/skills development plan with researchers who are linked to an ARC theme.

You can find contact details for our Research Theme Leads here

The award process will require a joint presentation by shortlisted candidates and a relevant academic partner to describe plans for an applied health research project and Fellowship training/development.

To apply, please send your CV to and a covering letter which briefly describes:

  • Your motivation for undertaking a Fellow secondment.
  • The area of health and care providing a focus for your project proposal.
  • The research team supporting the proposed secondment including a named academic mentor.
  • The time commitment and timeline for starting and completing a secondment.

For further details please contact Dr Jane Pearson. ARC Operations Manager on 07831 490643 or via email

The NIHR ARC North East and North Cumbria is hosted by the Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear (CNTW) NHS Foundation Trust, but you will not be employed or paid by the CNTW NHS Foundation Trust.

ARC Practitioner Research Fellow opportunity – frequently asked questions

Do I have to have a fully-developed research project ready to go, before I apply?

You don’t have to have a fully worked up project that’s ready to go, but you will need a research idea that can be developed with the help of your research collaborators. The idea should be feasible, and if you are invited to interview it will be important to have thought about where the project would happen, how data would be collected, whether NHS ethics permission would be needed etc.

The fellowship opportunity is more about developing you as a person, and developing your research skills than delivering an ambitious project, but we do want people to have something to start working on right away and aim to complete their project before the award finishes.

Do I need to have confirmation from my employing organisation that I can be released to do this, before I apply?

 Yes, please confirm in your application that you have received support from an appropriate person in your organisation. However you do not need to separately provide formal confirmation from your organisation. We would also like you to give us some indication of when you might be able to start if successful.

What kind of research projects would be considered?

 Your research project needs to be an Applied Research project, tackling an issue in health and social care. It also needs to be linked to one of our research themes, and a researcher from that theme will be expected to attend the interview with you. Find out more about our research themes.

What do you mean by Applied Research?

Projects should aim to improve health and social care in communities and sectors facing the greatest challenges, as well as generate original applied research outputs. We cannot support biomedical projects which are focussed on disease mechanisms, predictions of recovery after treatment or new medical treatments.

Applied Research projects often include the following elements:

  • Maintenance and improvement of health and well-being in the ‘real world’ rather than looking at biomedical indicators of disease states or symptom severity.
  • Long term conditions or states, mental health, service delivery or access, prevention and inequalities (but not campus-based science or translational clinical research into biomarkers or medical interventions)
  • Groups of individuals with a common link, but this can be through important health and social characteristics (other than a diagnosis or symptom) such as health or social care needs, employment etc.

Who can apply?

You can apply as long as you are contracted by a health/care planning/delivery organisation in the health and care system in the North East and North Cumbria, including the third and voluntary sectors. You don’t have to be directly involved in delivery or in a patient/public facing role e.g. working in service planning or policy.

How will my level of research experience be judged within the process?

The judgement of applications will not simple reflect academic qualifications or experience, although this will be relevant. The scheme aims to support people who have some ambition and a feasible project idea, working within a service that is likely to gain from an embedded researcher. A range of experience will be supported by the competition overall.

Will the ARC fund the costs linked to my research project?

There will be no additional funding available to cover the costs of the research apart from the salary component of the award holder. It’s envisaged that the projects won’t have high research costs, and part of the award process will consider what value people are bringing with them in terms of data sources and skills, and how their mentors plan to help them.

Small amounts of funding may available from the ARC to support consumable costs such as materials or transcribing. The competition is about the person more than the project so we have not asked for an estimation of costs as part of the process.

Is this something that will be advertised again?

Yes – the current plan is to repeat this competition.

When will applications be reviewed and when will people be informed whether they have been accepted for interview?

Applications will be reviewed during November and applicants will be contacted in late November.

What is the date for interviews?

Provisionally 8 December, TBC.

When would the successful candidates be expected to start?

This will depend on the arrangements suggested by the applicant and their employer.

If you have any further questions please email

Download the full role description and apply by 31 Oct