Aims: To determine general practitioners’ research training needs, and the barriers to involvement in research.

Method: Semi-structured interviews with 11 GPs in rural and metropolitan South Australia, analysed using a grounded theory approach.

Results: General practitioners’ perceptions about their research needs were limited by their own experience and focussed at an individual level. Overlapping needs and barriers emerged, categorised as: ‘individual issues’ (a lack of research training or experience, concepts and attitudes to research, and research interest) and ‘systems issues’ (funding arrangements for general practice, access to resources, opportunity for publication and the role of The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners [RACGP]).

Discussion: Our data provide an exploratory model that may assist in developing suitable strategies for research capacity building programs. General practitioners perceived both individual and systems solutions to building research capacity, including multifaceted interventions.