Adding value in research

When we choose to support research, we balance ethical and scientific considerations, allocate money from the public purse, make difficult choices between comparably important opportunities, tie up excellent professionals who could focus on other priorities, and, above all, rely on the involvement and participation of patients and the public. All of these tangible and intangible ‘costs’ are drawn from finite resources that are under pressure.

It is therefore critically important that we maximise the potential impact of our research on outcomes for patients and the public and on the efficiency and effectiveness of the health and care system.

Adding Value in Research

The NIHR has developed the Adding Value in Research model to ensure that our research answers the most important questions and is appropriately designed, efficiently delivered, unbiased, published in full, appropriately disseminated, and usable.

The initial framework was developed based on the 2009 work of Sir Iain Chalmers and Professor Paul Glasziou on avoidable waste in research and the later Lancet series.

The current version was also significantly influenced by the work of the Ensuring Value in Research Development and Collaboration Forum. In particular we have adopted their ten guiding principles to support research funders in increasing the value of the research they fund.

The NIHR was a co-founder and now co-convener of an international funders’ forum: the Ensuring Value in Research Funders’ Collaboration and Development Forum.

The Adding Value in Research framework has five pillars.

1. Setting justifiable research priorities

Articulating the NHS’s own research priorities better

In 2017, NHS England and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) published a joint statement committing to 12 actions to support and apply research in the NHS.

One of these actions relates to setting out research priorities for national NHS programmes.

NHS England’s Research Needs Assessment 2018 summarises the information and areas for research identified by NHS England, to provide an early signal of potential research requirements across the wider clinical portfolio. We are now developing a number of funding calls to commission research in the areas identified by the needs assessment.

Another relates to setting out local NHS research and innovation priorities of Academic Health Science Networks and Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships.

The consultation we jointly commissioned with the NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE/I) and the Academic Health Science Network identified the need for innovation and research around:

  • Developing the current and future workforce
  • Delivering mental health services and providing care for patients with mental health issues
  • Integrating services to provide for patients with complex needs such as – multimorbidities, frailty, and for older people and socially isolated people or communities

The findings will be used to facilitate further discussions involving patients and the public and the research community to refine the priorities and better understand the local context and challenges.

Collaborating to set research priorities

The James Lind Alliance brings together patients, carers and health professionals who face practical decisions about a particular health area in Priority Setting Partnerships (PSPs).

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2. Ensuring design, conduct and analysis are robust and appropriate

The Concordat to Support Research Integrity, to which the NIHR is a signatory, ensures that research produced by or in collaboration with the UK research community is underpinned by the highest standards of rigour and integrity.

The NIHR supports the UK Policy Framework for Health and Social Care Research which outlines the principles of good practice in the management and conduct of health and social care research in the UK. This framework is vital for ensuring that health research is conducted to high scientific and ethical standards. All NIHR-funded research must be completed in accordance with these standards.

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3. Regulation and management of research conduct proportionate to risks

We regulate and manage of research conduct through relationships, for example with the Health Research Authority, through active contract management and support, and with the NIHR Local Clinical Research Networks. The networks provide the infrastructure that allows high-quality clinical research to take place in the NHS so that patients can benefit from new and better treatments.

We help researchers set up clinical studies quickly and effectively; support the life-sciences industry to deliver their research programmes; provide health professionals with research training; and work with patients to ensure their needs are at the very centre of all research activity.

4. Complete information on methods and findings are accessible and usable

Publication of trial results

Timely disclosure of study results is important for ethical, moral, accountability, research integrity and waste reduction perspectives. The NIHR, as a public funder of research involving patients and the public, places particularly high value on these principles and is a signatory to the WHO Joint statement on public disclosure of results from clinical trials.

One key output of our Adding Value in Research initiative to date is the NIHR policy on clinical trial registration and disclosure of results, published in May 2019. This policy aims to improve practice in prospective Registration and timely disclosure of results from NIHR-funded clinical trials, with the objective of raising the probability of impact through greater transparency.

We support the aims and goals of Plan S, an initiative by a consortium of research funders to make all publicly funded, peer-reviewed research publications immediately and freely Open Access to the reader. Read our open access policy.

Sharing of research data

The NIHR strongly supports the appropriate sharing of data produced during research, to help deliver research that maximises benefits to patients and the wider public, the health and care system and which contributes to economic growth in the UK.

Read our full position statement on the sharing of research data.

Sharing our portfolio

We make our research portfolio publically available online through the NIHR Funding and Awards website and NIHR Open Data. These two searchable resources provide information on people, organisations, outputs (including links to publications), outcomes and impacts for NIHR-funded and supported research.

We also publish transparent, full accounts of the research we fund in our own free, open-access, permanently archived peer-reviewed journals - the NIHR Journals Library.

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5. Findings are appropriately and effectively disseminated

Support with dissemination and knowledge mobilisation

We offer researchers guidance and support with dissemination and knowledge mobilisation, to ensure that research findings reach the right people and can be introduced into practice.

NIHR Dissemination Centre

The NIHR Dissemination Centre selects, summarises and explains important health research funded by the NIHR and others to improve health care decisions.

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Research-on-research

The science underpinning our Adding Value in Research initiative is known as ‘research-on-research’. Read more about our Research-on-Research programme.

Working with others

The NIHR research community is not alone in thinking about these issues, nor can we address them on our own. Partnership working across the sector within the UK and working in collaboration with others across the world is essential.

To that end NIHR was a co-founder and now co-convener of an international funders’ forum: the Ensuring Value in Research Funders’ Collaboration and Development Forum.

Get in touch

Share your thoughts on adding value in research by emailing us at addingvalueinresearch@nihr.ac.uk.