The aim of the study for Developing an Evidence Based Essential Research Skills Training Curriculum was to identify what constitutes the minimum set of skills, knowledge and key principles that would enable those with limited or no previous experience, to undertake high-quality research for health. The study design was underpinned by a three-stage methodology to ensure an evidence-led approach for establishing this evidence-led curriculum.

Download a detailed infographic overview of the various stages in the study, as detailed below.

Stage 1: Gap Analysis

We conducted a comprehensive review of the responses from a series of research training needs surveys, session evaluations from research training workshops, and feedback submitted on completion of eLearning, collected by The Global Health Network from 2017 to 2019. We analysed the responses of 7167 participants from across 153 countries. This analysis provided us with a range of research skills topics and subject areas that generated a core list of 98 research-training themes.

Stage 2: e-Delphi

The second step was to find consensus on what constituted the minimum set of skills, knowledge and key principles that would enable those without previous experience in research, to undertake high-quality health research. We conducted a two round online Delphi survey to prioritise the outcomes of the gap analysis. The Delphi panel for this study was formed of both experts and stakeholders in the field of research for health and research for health training, with heterogeneous expertise and from diverse geographical regions. We sought to include views of researchers, research participants, research training facilitators, members of research advisory committees, research funders, authors of peer-reviewed research training papers, authors of research training books/programmes, journal editors, research policy makers and regulators.

Delphi Round 1The Delphi Round 1 survey offered an opportunity for panellists to i) indicate which of the 98 themes derived from the stage 1 Gap analysis they considered essential for inclusion in the Essential Research Skills Training Curriculum, and ii) suggest any themes that might have been omitted.

The themes presented were scored by the panel on the basis of two classifications: [a] relevance (should this topic / theme be included?) and [b] clarity of each statement (is it clear what the category or theme reflected?)

There were 254 members on the Delphi panel for Round 1. The panel reached consensus on 43 listed themes to be included in the Essential Research Skills Training Curriculum. No consensus was reached for any theme to be outrightly excluded from the proposed framework.

The remaining 55 themes were re-evaluated in Round 2 (including 8 themes indicated as unclear in Round 1) and alongside 10 new themes generated by panellists in Round 1.

Delphi Round 2 - The Delphi Round 2 survey re-evaluated the remaining 55 themes including 8 themes indicated as unclear in the first round and alongside the 10 new themes generated by panellists in Round 1.  For the purposes of Round 2, themes were scored using a nominal scale [yes/no] for both classifications; relevance and clarity. There were a total of 222 panellists participating in Round 2.

At the end of Stage 2, a final list of 108 themes was generated for inclusion in the curriculum.  The research team grouped the themes into 13 ‘parent modules’ which were reviewed by the stakeholders attending the stakeholder workshop.

Mapping the themes Following the Delphi study, the research team developed a curriculum framework by grouping the 108 themes identified by the panellists. This presented the structure of the curriculum by providing suggested ‘parent modules’ and the relevant themes generated and included to inform each module. See Appendix I. These theme groupings were initially presented and evaluated at a Stakeholder Review Workshop hosted in December 2020.

Stage 3: Workshops

Stakeholder Review Workshop

In December 2020 we conducted a Stakeholder Review Workshop. This session brought together a diverse group of stakeholders from across the globe to consider the implications and applicability of the proposed Essential Research Skills training Curriculum.

The aim of this workshop was to consider the results of the study, to review the suitability of the theme groupings as an accurate reflection of the content and to evaluate the applicability of the proposed Essential Research Skills Training Curriculum findings to the global research community

The workshop polling showed substantial agreement between the Delphi panel’s ratings and the opinions of the workshop Stakeholders. This provided support for the acceptability of the proposed curriculum as a global standard for health research training.

Implementation Workshop

In february 2021 we organised an Implementation Workshop to ask researchers how best to implement this curriculum and turn it into training and teaching resources relevant for the global research community.  This workshop generated guidance on implementation so that anyone wanting to design their training around this curriculum can also benefit from evidence-led recommendations on what approaches will work best in their specific context.

Study Documents and reports:

Panellist information sheet v1.0 05/02/2020

Essential Research Skills Training Curriculum - Delphi survey round 1 report

Essential Research Skills Training Curriculum - Delphi survey round 2 report

Essential Research Skills Training Curriculum - Stakeholder Workshop 17 Dec 2020 Briefing paper

Essential Research Skills Training Curriculum - Stakeholder Workshop 17 Dec 2020 Report

Essential Research Skills Training Curriculum  - Implementation Workshop 10 Feb 2021 - Briefing


This important piece of methodology research is conducted in association with two international research networks - REDe and ALERRT, and the three EU-funded Zika Consortia.