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Research Approval in Subspecialty Training

The aim of the research component of the subspecialty training programme is to ensure you are competent in the design and execution of a research study of sufficient quality to meet internationally recognised standards of research excellence, such as those published in the Medical Research Council’s Good research practice: principles and guidelines.

You will need to demonstrate expertise in clinical and/or laboratory research methodology including the ability to:

  • critically to assess research papers
  • design and run a research project
  • understand statistical methods
  • be aware of the ethical issues involved in research

You need to either:

  • complete the research component of the subspecialty training programme or
  • obtain research exemption through published output.

All applications for exemption are peer-reviewed by the RCOG’s Subspecialty Committee.

Please note that you will still be expected to undertake research during your subspecialty training, even if you have fulfilled the research criteria before entering the programme.

Approval of research exemption before starting subspecialty training requires:

  • Completion of a research or academic programme that has led to the award of an MD (Res) or PhD thesis, OR
  • Publication of two first-author papers of original research in citable, refereed MEDLINE journals, OR
  • Satisfactory completion of the Clinical Research Advanced Professional Module (APM)

If you are granted research exemption at commencement of training you will undergo a two-year subspecialty training programme subject to achieving the clinical competences within two years. If you have completed a period of research before starting subspecialty training but have not yet fulfilled the published output criteria you will be registered for a three-year programme.

Research exemption at completion of a three-year subspecialty training programme requires:

  • Completion of a research of academic programme that has led to the award of an MD (Res) or PhD thesis, OR
  • Publication of two first-author papers of original research in citable, refereed MEDLINE journals, preferably (but not necessarily) arising from a dedicated period of research lasting at least one year OR
  • Satisfactory completion of the Clinical Research Advanced Professional Module (APM)

As the subspecialty training programme is a competency based programme and it is therefore expected that if you do not fulfil the research exemption requirement before commencing the programme, you will require three years to achieve both research and clinical competences stipulated in the subspecialty programme.

MD/PhD

  • Your MD (Res)/PhD must be relevant to your chosen subspecialty. An MD (Res) awarded from a university outside Great Britain or Ireland would not be considered equivalent to a UK MD (Res)
  • An international PhD may be considered equivalent to a UK PhD if you can provide supporting evidence that a period of supervised research led to the award of your PhD; the Subspecialty Committee requires you to submit the supporting evidence before they can grant equivalence

Published papers

  • Your first-author papers must be relevant to your chosen subspecialty
  • Review articles (other than high-quality systematic reviews, preferably Cochrane Reviews) and case reports are excluded
  • ‘Exceptional’ requests (i.e. a non-first author paper that you wish to be accepted as one paper towards research exemption) will be considered only if you have undertaken a minimum research period of two years, you have completed a fellowship whose primary purpose was to coordinate a trial, or you have submitted supporting evidence of active involvement in all aspects of delivery of the study and authorship of an article published in a high-impact journals such as the  New England Journal of Medicine, The Lancet, BMJ or Nature

Failure to achieve the minimum research criteria

If you do reach the end of subspecialty training without satisfying the research criteria, you will be offered a maximum 6-month extension to complete the research element, at the discretion of your Postgraduate Dean.

If you reach the end of the 6-month extension without completing the research component, the RCOG’s Subspecialty Committee will not award you subspecialty accreditation unless there are extenuating circumstances. Award of your CCT will be at the discretion of your Local Education Training Board / Deanery, although this would probably involve a further period of general training.

Elsewhere on the site

Assessment of training
Information about sign-off of competencies, workplace-based assessments, ARCPs and more
Resources and support for trainees
Training guidelines, advice, useful resources and sources of support for trainees