Research and audit


Each trainee carries out an audit project in third year. This must make a contribution to the quality of care in the training practice. The completed audit is presented to all trainees and trainers. The Dr Michael Dunne Memorial Award is presented for the best audit each year.

Recent winners of the Michael Dunne awards were:

2017: Dr Denis O’Donovan for ‘The documentation of blood test requests and results as part of the total testing process in primary care’.

2016: Dr Micheline McCarthy  for  ‘Achieving the diabetes cycle of care: How well are we managing?

2015:  Dr Janet O'Sullivan  for  'Asymptomatic Bacteriuria in Pregnancy.'


Completion of a research project is mandatory in fourth year. Trainees are supported by their trainers and by programme directing staff. In addition, critical reading of the medical literature, literature searching and research methods are incorporated into the curriculum of each year on a phased basis. All personnel in the Scheme are invited to the research presentations day. The best research dissertation is awarded the Dr. O.K. Shorten prize each year.

Recent winners of the O.K. Shorten prize were:

2017: Dr Eilis Murphy for ‘Improving benzodiazepine prescribing in our practice - a quality improvement project.’

2016:  Dr Maura Linehan  for ‘Pain management in dementia patients’ 

2015: Dr Treasa Kelleher for 'Irish Experiences of Work-Home Conflict'

Guidelines for research or audit project

The project should be submitted in typed form, as described below. It should be the GP Registrar's own work, with appropriate support from the Programme Directing Team, who will assign a research supervisor to each trainee.

What is eligible?


Audit tests activity against an accepted standard, which must be stated in advance. This can be either a generally accepted, evidence-based standard or guideline, or an evidence-based guideline drawn up by the practice. Prior to the audit it must be clear what the criteria are for compliance with the standard, and the audit proposal must also have a plan for changing practice in the light of the audit and for assessing the success of this change by re-auditing. A description of the clinical care of a group of patients does not, on its own, constitute an audit. While supervisors will advise on whether a project meets these criteria, trainees must take responsibility for ensuring that their project is eligible. If a project does not met these criteria, a trainee may be judged not to have satisfactorily completed training. 


1. A research project must

  • state a hypothesis which will be tested by the research or
  • generate original data through qualitative research or
  • make a significant contribution to improvement in patient care through a quality improvement project or similar action research.

2. It must be applicable to a wider population than the one studied. A simple description of data from the practice, or a number of practices, is not adequate. 

3. It must be relevant to general practice.

Joint projects will be accepted with the prior agreement of the research supervisor. The contribution of each team member should be of equal value and should be clearly described in the initial project summary and in the final report, so that the contribution of each person can be assessed separately. 
The project can be completed at any time during the four years of vocational training but should be submitted during the fourth year.


The timetable for submission of a written project is as follows: 
1. A basic concept, consisting of a title and aim for the project, to be agreed between the trainee, trainer and research supervisor by August 1st of the Registrar year, at the latest. The aim of the project must be either to improve practice through audit or to test a hypothesis through research. Purely descriptive work, with no relevance outside the specific training practice, will not be accepted. 
2. A review of the relevant literature should be completed by September 1st. 
Regular research supervision sessions will be provided for fourth year trainees throughout July, August and September. These must be attended. 
3. A one page typewritten summary in the format:

  • Title of project
  • Aims
  • Population to be studied
  • Measurements to be made
  • Timetable for data collection, analysis and presentation

is to be presented to the research supervisor before September 1st. 
Registrars must complete an adequate literature survey before beginning detailed design of the project or data collection. Facilities are available both in the training programme offices and in Cork University Hospital for online searching. Training in the use of these tools will be given during the summer of third year. Registrars considering using a questionnaire as part of their project are advised to seek early guidance on questionnaire design. 
4. Data collection should be complete by the end of December 
5. All projects will be presented to the entire trainee group in late February/early March 
Formal guidance on how to make an effective presentation will be given prior to this session. 
6. A written project (2000-3000 words, as set out below) to be submitted by Easter

Written submission

The project should be 2000-3000 words in length, typed in double spacing, with all pages numbered and firmly fixed in order. The layout should follow the following pattern:


What is the title of your project? 
Why did you choose it? (Relevant published work should be cited) 
What is its relevance to general practice?


What measurements have you chosen? 
Why did you choose them? 
If an audit, what standards did you use? 
Why did you choose them? 
What study population have you chosen? 
Describe the planning and preparation, including a pilot project, if relevant.


Summarise relevant data. 
What are the strengths and weaknesses of the study? 
What conclusions do you draw from the results? 
How do the results relate to previous published work? 
What changes in your own practice, or in general, would you propose as a result of your project?