Study development in the CINN labs

All studies in the Centre follow the study development process outlined below, incuding funded studies, pilot work, and student research and placement projects.

Scoping Phase

It is important to contact the Centre as early as possible with your study idea. This will enable us to assess feasibility, and identify any technical and training requirements during an initial SCOPING phase. If you are preparing a funding application, we can help you to cost your work, to collect pilot data to demonstrate feasibility, and to articulate the research environment for your reviewers. We can liaise with any external collaborators who may be advising you on technical or scientific aspects of the work and ensure your study can implement any existing methods protocols, or that it is technically aligned with multi-centre data collection.

Development Phase

When scoping is complete and the study team is in place, the study enters a DEVELOPMENT phase, when we help you develop the appropriate data acquisition protocol. During this time, any required training is completed, and approval by the University Research Ethics Committee should be received. This phase culminates in a protocol approval presentation in our weekly research meeting (neuromethods), where the study seeks the approval of the CINN Study Approval Committee. The study lead and PI are required to be present for the protocol approval meeting (the meeting is open to all, and therefore all members of the study team and other collaborators are welcome to join). Once approval is granted the study will be added to the CINN website (including for recruitment purposes, if you wish), and can start collecting data.

Data Collection (PILOT and FULL status)

Data collection is split into two phases: under PILOT status, a portion of the data is collected (typically 5 participant datasets) and the study team subject it to quality control to identify any unforseen issues, such as signal artifacts. The study team communicates the QC results to the Study Approval Committee. If all is well, the study continues seamlessly through the final phase to completion (FULL status). If any issues are identified, the CINN team will help you iron these out so that data collection can resume as soon as possible.


The duration of each of the study development phases will vary depending on the modalities involved and the complexity of the protocol. Complex studies may spend many months in scoping and development but this is an important investment of time and effort to ensure the smooth running of data collection. Simpler protocols can be set-up by the admin team in collaboration with the relevant modality expert in a matter of days. Remember however that study preparation also includes ethical approval, lab inductions, training, etc. and this should be accounted for in the timeline.

Please consult the Study Development Flowchart for an overview of the study development life-cycle.