The Coordination of Clinical Research: A Handbook for Research Coordinators

Review by L Flood
Middlesborough, UK

It is well worth watching out for new publications beyond our usual specialty interests. This is the fourth book in a series from these authors and this publisher, and it is well worth listing their titles to illustrate the value of their work. In 2008 we saw Clinical Research for Surgeons, in 2010, with a title sure to appeal, there was Getting Your Research Paper Published, and in 2012 this evolved into Advanced Concepts in Surgical Research. How do you follow that?

The answer of course is in the subtitle of this book, commending it to the research co-ordinator, a luxury most of us can only dream of. However, by chapter 2, the title is warning us ‘Why a Research Coordinator is Crucial’ (and doing so in a very convincing way). Throughout, the content proves, in practice, of great relevance to anyone conducting surgical research, even if, as all too often, the principle investigator and research co-ordinator is one and the same individual. The emphasis is on the management of the research programme, and the text is filled with practical tips and pearls.

The book opens with a description of the role of the research co-ordinator, the qualities needed and even how to select such a gifted individual. The ‘basic sciences’ of research follow, with chapters describing evidence-based medicine, various study types (including a particularly useful review of survey conduct), and ethics and good clinical practice. This section makes very good reading for the trainee or research novice, but I worry whether there is great novelty here for the professional research co-ordinator.

Part III, which focuses on getting started, is a superb manual for challenges such as grant application, ethical approval submission (with a detailed review of differing practice internationally) and record keeping.

Part IV covers the conduct of the trial once underway, with chapters on recruitment, informed consent, and follow up and loss to follow up, and then addresses closing the study and disseminating the findings.

Particularly useful is a large closing section presenting a series of templates, called ‘Toolboxes’. These provide, for example, invaluable checklists for a successful ethical approval submission, or a patient information and consent sheet.

Although some of these do reflect the authors’ practice in trauma and orthopaedics, the result is still a generic goldmine that would save much head scratching.

This softback book is of the print quality we would expect from this publisher, presented in their characteristic house style and with a very readable text. It has a very practical content, applicable to a readership way beyond that suggested by the subtitle. If you can afford a research co-ordinator, the book describes what to expect of them. If you cannot, this may go quite some way to compensate, even if by telling you that it is all down to you, instead. The book represents excellent value and, if it does anything to improve the quality of postal surveys for example, it is well worth it.

Amazon Link: The Coordination of Clinical Research: A Handbook for Research Coordinators
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