In these pages you will information about research priorities at the RCSLT.

1. Research priorities at the RCSLT 
2. Dysphagia research priorities
3. Learning disabilities research priorities
4. Developmental language disorders research priorities
5. Aphasia research priorities
6. Autism research priorities 

Contact us for further information.

See also the RCSLT Research Twitter handle @rcsltresearch.

Research Priorities at the RCSLT

The RCSLT, in collaboration with the National Institute of Health Research, has embarked on an exciting project  to determine the top priorities for new research in speech and language therapy.

Our approach

First, we identified which research priorities  relevant to speech and language therapy already exist. Gaps in the evidence-base that impact on care that SLTs are currently providing were identified by questionnaire in 2015.

Five key clinical areas were identified for prioritisation initially. These were:

  • Dysphagia
  • Learning disabilities
  • Developmental Language Disorders
  • Aphasia
  • Autism

Speech and language therapists, patients/service-users and other professionals have been working together to use the evidence gaps to develop a list of research questions.

The long list is then prioritised to develop a ‘top 10’ list of questions for each area. This has been done via a second online questionnaire involving SLTs, service-users and other professionals.

The project is an official test-bed site for testing the new national patient involvement standards from April 2018- April 2019. Find out more here.

It is anticipated that the research priorities identified will be used by researchers, higher education institutes and research funders to guide future research. 

Service user involvement

We are aiming to involve service-users throughout our work streams for research priority setting. This ensures priorities are identified by those who will benefit from the research, following the ‘no research about us, without us’ movement. From April 2018- April 2019 the RCSLT research priorities project was selected as an official test-bed site for testing the new national patient involvement standards (more information here). Following the 12 month test-bed pilot, the standards were improved and published as the ‘UK Standards for Public Involvement’. You can find the standards and further information here. In June 2020, the Standards Partnership published a new resource, ‘Implementation Stories’, which features 2 case studies from the RCSLT research priorities project, which you can download here.

The RCSLT continues to develop our patient and public involvement work. If you use speech and language therapy services and are interested in becoming involved in future work (or know someone who might be) please do contact us.

How are members involved?

Our Research Priorities Working Group agrees the scope and approach and oversees the delivery.

We have workstream groups for dysphagia, learning disabilities, developmental language disorders and aphasia to provide advice on clinical content and stakeholders, act as a sounding board to the working group and help promote the project.

How can you be involved?

Spread the word about the project to colleagues, stakeholders and patients/service-users and carers.

Join the mailing list for updates on the project - contact us.

Express an interest in collecting service-user stories - contact us.

Help NIHR identify important research questions by submitting a question online

Any questions?

If you have any questions about the project, or would like to get involved, please contact us.

Dysphagia research priorities 

Top 10 lists

See the long list of dysphagia research priorities.

Setting collaborative research priorities in dysphagia for the speech and language therapy profession.

What’s next?

Learning disabilities research priorities


  • Areas of uncertainty were linked to existing research  and developed into discussion topics.
  • A multi-stakeholder workshop was held in March 2016 to develop a long list of research questions related to learning disabilities.
  • The RCSLT research team visited service user groups to develop service user involvement. 

Top 10 research priorities for learning disabilities

What’s next?

Developmental language disorders research priorities

Top 10 research priorities for developmental language disorder


  • Areas of uncertainty were identified via member survey and workshops with service-users and parents.
  • Areas of uncertainty were linked to existing research and developed into discussion topics.
  • These topics were discussed, and research priority areas suggested, in two multi-stakeholder workshops held in Spring 2019.
  • A research priority setting survey which considered the long list was completed by over 500 individuals, including service users, whose opinions will now inform the top 10 areas. 
  • Download our infographic about the process.

What’s next?

  • The RCSLT will continue to make and develop links with funding bodies. 
  • The RCSLT will write letters of support for projects related to the research priorities (where appropriate following review).
  • The RCSLT will continue to collect information about how the priorities have been addressed and the impact this has had.

Aphasia research priorities 

Work on aphasia research priorities has not yet started. Please contact us for more information.

Autism research priorities 

Work on autism research priorities has not yet started. Please contact us for more information.

Ways you can use the priorities


  • Share the priorities with your networks, including service users and families
  • Let us know about relevant funding bodies, stakeholders and funding opportunities, particularly local ones
  • Let us know about any existing/ potential work you know is happening in relation to a priority area


  • Ask service-users and families what they think about the priorities
  • Use the priorities to inform a journal club
  • Discuss the priorities at a team meeting
  • Discuss the priorities at a clinical excellence network (CEN) event
  • Discuss the priorities at a hub roadshow
  • Review an article in relation to a priority area for ‘in the journals’ (Contact Katie Chadd)
  • Join the conversation on twitter by tagging @RCSLTResearch


  • Carry out a clinical audit related to a priority area
  • Develop a quality improvement project addressing a priority area
  • Use a priority area to inform your student dissertation project
  • Use a priority area to develop your research proposal/ NIHR fellowship application
  • Carry out a research project and contact RCSLT for a letter of support

Contact us for:

  • Relevant resources to support your activities
  • Advice about your project
  • A letter of support
  • If you’d like us to talk about the priorities at an event
  • Sharing information about activities you are carrying out
  • If you’d like more information about future involvement