Research Design Advisory Panels (RDAPs)

Why do we have RDAPs?
The purpose of an RDAP is to gather all of the relevant skills and people required to produce a high quality research proposal that hopefully secures funding.

Who will be there?
RDAPs consists of all or some of the following people:

  • Statisticians
  • Qualitative Researchers
  • Data managers
  • Patient and Public Involvement Leads, it is the intention to ensure that a lay member also attends these sessions.
  • Communications experts
  • Representatives from the Clinical Trials Unit
  • Researchers Team

What happens?
The pre-RDAP
Prior to most full RDAPs the members of the RDS and CTU, if appropriate, will have a pre-RDAP meeting to discuss their understanding of the researchers ideas.

This pre-panel provides a great opportunity to ask colleagues about procedures described in the project. Some members of the team will have clinical experience other will not. The pre-panel meetings usually last no longer than 30 minutes and focuses the RDS staff on the questions they need to ask of the research team, meaning that time is better utilised with the research team when they arrive.


The RDAP meet to discuss the research proposal. The RDS advisors can ask questions of the research team to clarify aspects of the study so that they can fully tailor the advice to the specifics of the project. The research team also have the opportunity to ask questions. Advice and ideas on the design of the research are shared with the research team. The types of advice given include:

  • Which funding stream the project is suitable for
  • Which patient groups the research team may wish to get in contact with
  • Which statistical methods are most appropriate
  • Which research method is best
  • How best to answer the research question which is being proposed
  • Recruitment rates possible

How does it end?

Specific action points are agreed between individual members of the panel to ensure the best development of the proposal.

A plan of action is agreed. This will be specific for each individual project.

The research team will continue to work with the research advisors (RDS staff) on a one to one basis which is co-ordinated by the head research advisor assigned to the study.

Facts about RDAPs

  • RDAPs are carried out at the earliest possible date to ensure that all experts have maximum opportunity to influence the design of the research.
  • The research team are not required to take all of the advice given by the RDS.
  • Some researchers already have very clear ideas about the design of their study and need specific input such as how best to involve patients whilst others may come with just the idea of what they want to study.
  • All notes supplied to the RDS by the research team are sent to all members of the RDAP prior to the meeting to ensure everyone has an understanding of the research prior to meeting.

Example questions that the research team may ask:

  • Can the RDS provide a statistician for the duration of the project?
  • Do I need ethics approval for involvement in research?
  • Which funding stream is my project most suitable for?

Example questions that Research Advisors may ask:

  • How many potential participants of this research project do you currently treat in your department each week/month?

Example questions that can be asked about PPI:

  • Do you have links with a patient group that support your research idea?
  • How did the research idea come to you? Did patients influence this?
  • Will patients or the public read or write the lay summary or information sheets?
  • Have patients provided comment on your planning so far?
  • If questionnaires are intended to be used, have you considered training and using patients to conduct them?
  • Do you intend to have lay representation on the project steering group? If yes do you have 2 lay members so that they may provide support to one another?
  • Do you have a patient group currently operating within your department?
  • Have you included the cost of public involvement into the grant application?
  • Who in the team will be the main point of contact for the lay members of the steering group?
  • What support do you have in place for lay members?
  • Has a lay representative a named member of the research team on the proposal?
  • Does the hospital that the research is being proposed in have a patient group that can be utilised?
  • Have CRBs for lay members been included in the research proposals where appropriate?
  • Have you considered establishing a lay panel?
  • Would you like the RDS PPI Lay team to read through your proposal?
  • Is what patients are being asked to do practical?