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Hannah Fraser

Previous Role: Research Project Administrator

New Role: Research Associate

My role

I am now working as a research associate within Warwick Evidence in the Populations, Evidence and Technologies (PET) unit within Health Sciences at Warwick Medical School. Warwick Evidence undertakes reviews and evidence synthesis on the clinical and cost-effectiveness of health care interventions for the NIHR Health Technology Assessment Programme on behalf of a range of policy makers, including the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). My role is within the clinical effectiveness side of the team and involves Literature searching, data extraction, critical appraisal and evidence synthesis.

This is how I got here

I originally undertook an undergraduate degree in psychology but ended up in administrative roles within WMS. Initially I was the PET secretary, but applied for a promotion to Research Project Administrator within the Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care West Midlands (CLAHRC) Theme 3 ‘Prevention and detection of diseases’. Throughout my administrative career, when I had capacity, I helped support the research being undertaken by the team. This included retrieving journal articles, and supporting data extraction and quality appraisal. Doing this made me realise my desire to move into research.

I was very lucky to have the support of the head of my team, who suggested the Health Research master’s degree, funded my studies and allowed me to complete the modules alongside my work. During my studies, I began to take on more research work alongside my administrative work. For example I helped on four reviews for the National Screening Committee (NSC). When it came time to decide my dissertation topic, it made sense to see if any reviews were coming up for the NSC which I could lead and we could undertake from WMS. The heads of CLAHRC Theme 3 helped support me to put in a grant application to undertake a review on a rare childhood disorder. This application was successful and became my dissertation as well as a rapid review for the NSC. Following this, a research associate position became available within Warwick Evidence. With the experience I had gained in my master's, my master's grades and my experience leading the rapid review, I was able to succeed at interview.

Key recommendations to others

There are always opportunities to help with very basic research support tasks. My advice to any administrative staff who wants to make the transition into research would be to work beyond your role and always offer to support on research tasks when possible. Discuss upfront with your line manager and research team managers in your professional development review that your goal is to move into research, and plan the steps necessary for you to achieve this goal. This career change was only possible for me because of my background in a science degree and the incredible support my research team leader gave me.