Rapid Reviews in Pharmacy

Dr Jon Sellars

School of Pharmacy

Faculty of Medical Sciences

Who is involved?

Dr Jon Sellars, School of Pharmacy, Justine Jenkins, Research and Engagement Office, Cardiff University and Stage 4 Pharmacy students.

What did you do?

We introduced rapid systematic reviews as assessments for our Stage 4 research project students. These were used as an alternative to laboratory-based projects, which couldn’t take place this year.

During a rapid review students apply a systematic approach to searching the literature, to answer a research question.  This year, over 70% percent of students completing the research project undertook a rapid review.

How did you do it?

Several rapid reviews had been undertaken in previous years for other projects and been commended by our external examiners who had commented favourably on the use of rapid systematic reviews as assessments at Stage 4:

The MP4 projects that I read were of a very high standard addressing areas of unmet need in the clinical sciences. It was clear that students really enjoyed and engaged with the project experience. The use of systematic and rapid reviews was innovative and we are adopting this approach in my own institution.”


Our main focus was on adapting these this year to be accessible to those staff who would predominantly provide laboratory-based projects.

We worked closely with colleagues at Cardiff University who had experienced resounding success with this type of project with laboratory-based staff. We received some useful examples of how laboratory-based staff, in the absence of any other type of project, could begin to think about adapting their projects to this format for our students.

What was quite clear was that the clinical projects involving rapid reviews we offer were very similar, however, the adoption of this type of review project for laboratory-based scientists had produced some very interesting and relevant examples that we could implement within the School and further afield in the faculty.

We made sure that the types of questions set are relevant to research being carried out in the department meaning students’ work had the potential to have a real impact in these research areas.

Some examples of project questions include:

  • Mycobacterial biosynthetic pathways as novel drug targets?
  • Anti-tubercular activity of amino acids: A rapid systematic literature review
  • A rapid review of community pharmacist-led interventions to tackle medicines for pain that are misused
  • Are there inequalities in receipt of hormone therapy for prostate cancer? A systematic review

This approach and information were shared through the School and the faculty, via the Education Theme Leads and Institute DELTS to provide examples of projects which would be suitable for Pharmacy students.

Why did you do it?

Under the current COVID situation and the Universities adoption of the Education Resilience Framework, it was quite clear the laboratory-based projects would be undeliverable (social distancing and building occupancy). Consequently, the type of project provided had to change.

Does it work?

The module feedback, whilst limited this year, provides evidence to suggest the change has not had a detrimental effect on the project experience with comments such as:

“Appreciation goes to all pharmacy staff for accommodating all wet lab projects into dry ones. Completely understand that it wasn’t easy to implement this. External supervisor(s) have been very supportive throughout too, which turned the whole first semester’s experience into a more positive one.”

Graduate Framework

This approach develops the following attributes:

  • Future focused
  • Critical Thinkers
  • Confident
  • Curious
  • Engaged

Colleagues can find out more about the Graduate Framework on the University intranet.


Dr Jon Sellars, School of Pharmacy

Jon Sellars

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