Adding value in research

The NIHR is committed to adding value in research to maximise the potential impact of research that it funds for patients and the public. This means ensuring that it answers the right questions, delivers the research efficiently and publishes the results in full in an accessible and unbiased report.

The NIHR is committed to Adding Value in Research (AViR), using the stages in the research cycle from the 2009 work of  Sir Iain Chalmers and Professor Paul Glasziou on avoidable waste in research (links).  AViR is integral to the NIHR and is threaded through much of the work we do.

The NIHR is internationally recognised as an innovative and world leading organisation when it comes to addressing adding value in research. 


Click on each of the boxes below
to see some of the case studies showing how adding value in research ensures the above within NIHR-funded research (pdfs open in a new window).

Pillar 1 Pillar 2 Pillar 3 Pillar 4 Pillar 5

Pillar 1: Identifying Important Research Topics

The first way to add value in research is to ensure that the questions being researched are those most important to patients, the public and clinicians.

We do this in many ways, from public involvement at every stage of the research pathway, through commissioning research against questions explicitly identified and prioritised with those that plan, deliver and use health services.

For example, 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). Involving multiple stakeholders means that uncertainties, or ‘unanswered questions’, can be identified and prioritised, taking all perspectives into account. The method highlights research questions of direct relevance and potential benefit to patients and the clinicians who treat them, with the aim of influencing the way research funds are granted.

For more information see Identifying important research topics.

Pillar 2: Appropriate Research Design, Conduct And Analysis

The second way to add value in research is to ensure that new research is appropriately designed to reduce potential bias, and is based on what is already known.

We do this through robust and transparent peer and expert review and by ensuring that all new primary research is set in the context of a review of existing knowledge. By seeking all available evidence for a given topic, the appropriate and timely conduct of a systematic review can help researchers and the NIHR design new primary research, or see whether a new study is actually needed.

For more information see Appropriate Research Design, Conduct and Analysis.

Pillar 3: Efficient Research Regulation And Delivery

The third way to add value in research is to ensure effective and efficient delivery of funded research.

We do this through relationships, for example with the Health Research Authority, through active contract management and support, and with the NIHR 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.

Find out more about the CRN on their website.  

Pillar 4: Ensuring Full Publication Of Funded Research

The fourth way to add value in research is to ensure that it is published in full.

This vital step protects patients from unnecessary risks, informs and improves clinical practice, and maximises returns on research investment.

Failing to publish research findings can have far-reaching consequences. Clinical or public health practice may not be informed by current evidence, new interventions proven to be effective may not be put into practice, and the use of less effective or harmful treatments may continue. It can also lead to duplication, with patients being recruited to studies where the results should already be known.

Despite significant development, the publication rate for health research globally is around 50%. Research studies with positive or significant results are more likely to be published than those with negative or non-significant results, even though the latter findings are often of equal or greater importance.

We encourage and fund open publication of the research we fund. This includes publishing our own free, open-access, permanently archived peer-reviewed NIHR Journals Library.

For more information see Ensuring Full Publication of NIHR Funded Studies.

Pillar 5: Publishing Unbiased And Usable Reports

The fifth way to add value in research is to ensure that evidence is usable, unbiased, accurate, and appropriate to those who will use it, and that it is disseminated.

When research findings are not communicated in ways that are timely, meaningful, or relevant to evidence users, pathways to implementation are limited, resulting in clinical and health-related practice not being informed by current research evidence.

We do this in a number of ways. For example, the NIHR Dissemination Centre produces three types of research summary aimed at health care commissioners, practitioners working in health and social care, patients, carers and other members of the public. Collaboration with evidence users helps ensure that research evidence is presented in ways that maximise uptake in health and social care practice.

For more information see Publishing Unbiased and Usable Reports.