Read the latest HealthWatch newsletter:  Newsletter 114, Winter 2020-21

HealthWatch Student Prize for the critical appraisal of clinical trials protocols 2021

The aim of this competition is to test your research skills by asking you to evaluate four hypothetical research protocols and rank them in order of quality.

Entries are invited from undergraduate and taught post-graduate students:

  • Medical and dental students
  • Students of nursing, midwifery and professions allied to medicine

In each class there is a first prize of £500 and up to 5 runner-up prizes of £100.

Download the terms and conditions and the protocols here.

Read the protocols carefully, and rank them in order of quality — that is, give the rank of 1 to the protocol that you consider is most likely to provide a reliable answer to the stated aims of the trial and rank 4 to that least likely to do so.

Make sure you have ranked all four protocols and that you have ranked each protocol only once.

Your entry must be submitted before 23:59 BST on Friday 30 April 2021. Entries received after that time will not be considered.

We are grateful to the Royal College of Surgeons of England for their sponsorship of this year's competition.

All fields are required.

In no more than 600 words, explain your reasons for the ranking you have given, discussing each protocol in a separate paragraph. You should imagine that you are a member of a research funding body, and explain why you would award a grant to the protocol that you rank first, as well as explaining the strengths and weaknesses of each of the protocols. If a protocol is fatally flawed say so; if there are minor flaws, indicate how they could be improved. There is no need to comment on, or analyse, the statistical methods that are proposed. You are assessing the methodological quality of the protocol, not the desirability of the aim. Each protocol starts (as it should) with a "Scientific background" summarising previous relevant research. You should assume this is work correctly cited from reliable sources.

Your reasons should be in narrative form, not simply a table. Do not put any identification in your reasons; it will be separated from your personal information, so that the judges will have no means of identifying you.

By entering this competition you consent to your name and college or university being used in publicity for HealthWatch and the student prize competition.

The judges’ decision is final and no correspondence can be entered into, nor can any of the winning entries be published.

Free student membership

We encourage all applicants to take advantage of our offer of free Student Membership of HealthWatch. After you have submitted your entry, you will be given the opportunity to join us. Alternatively, click here to open the membership application form in a new window but do remember to submit your competition entry.


The terms and conditions are here.


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