Role Of A Research Nurse

Research nurses work in an extended and specialised role within a multidisciplinary team in a variety of settings. There is enormous variability in employment practices. At present, the only common requirement for undertaking the role is that the nurse must be maintained on the live register of An Bord Altranais. Additional criteria is normally set by the hospital or practice advertising the position which reflects the speciality and responsibility level of the position. Currently research nurses are employed from Staff Nurse to CNM3 level.

Skills Required of a Research Nurse

The following skills are associated with the role of the research nurse and may be required prior to appointment, or may be developed during the employment period:

  • IT skills
  • Project management skills
  • Protocol development
  • Resource management (staff, finances, study equipment and materials)
  • The ability to develop, assess and direct research protocols. 

It is common for research nurses to have responsibility for co-ordinating a number of different studies at one time.

The role of the research nurse is both diverse and complex and comprises of clinical, managerial, and educational aspects:


The research nurse acts as the primary advocate for the patient, both prior to and throughout their participation in a research study. They also educate the patient and family about their disease process, study related procedures and alternative choices. The research nurse is also involved in the informed consent process. The research nurse schedules procedures and performs initial patient interviews, nursing assessments and clinical duties such as venepuncture, drug administration and adverse event management.


The most significant and extensive aspect of the role of the research nurse is the management and co-ordination of individual research studies. The research nurse is responsible for:

  • preparation of study protocols
  • the preparation, submission and maintenance of ethics and regulatory documents
  • developing study related documentation such as Patient Information Leaflets and Consent forms, Case Report Forms and Tracking Forms
  • screening and recruitment of patients into studies data collection, documentation and reporting
  • preparation of biological samples for shipment to reference laboratories
  • financial account management
  • establishment of Standard Operating Procedures

At all times it is the responsibility of the research nurse to have a comprehensive knowledge of the principles of practice laid down by the governing bodies (Irish Medicines Board, ICHGCP).


Education is a vital role of the research nurse. Patients are educated about studies and procedures and he/she educates the clinical team about the studies. It is the responsibility of research nurses to continue their own education through literature review, meeting and workshop attendance relevant to their clinical area or research speciality.