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Innovative NIHR model to impact how research is shared

Dr Cat Chatfield, the Editor in Chief of the NIHR Journals Library

Published: 14 June 2023

Dr Cat Chatfield, the Editor in Chief of the NIHR Journals Library, explains how the NIHR threaded publication model will increase transparency for NIHR Journal Library users.

A focus on transparency

For many years, the NIHR Journals Library website has published full and transparent accounts of the work we have funded. These are published in our open access peer reviewed journals. We have no selection bias. Researchers can be certain that hard work will be accepted for publication.

For researchers and evidence users, our Open Access policy means that every output is publicly available for others to learn from, build on and understand – including what didn’t work. In practice, this avoids research waste, and gives you full access to the broad range of research which NIHR funds.

The threaded publication model

The NIHR threaded publication model has been introduced to focus on transparency further, and marks an exciting next step in our open access journey. In this model, researchers are able to publish individual articles on specific aspects of their research as their work progresses. This means that evidence users don't have to wait until the research is completed to read the published material. This supports our goal of accelerating learning and reducing the translation gap between research and practice.

Under the model, the NIHR Journals Library team reaches out to research teams to co-create a publication plan for their research. They identify a range of possible outputs. They also decide what publications might best help researchers to reach their intended audiences.

This unique approach maximises the benefit of NIHR’s unique relationship with researchers and authors as a funder-publisher. It allows us to build publication and dissemination into the research NIHR funds. This means that we can put impact front and centre.

Our expert editorial office can also identify which outputs may have most value. Just as importantly, we can help teams to decide where outputs can be amalgamated. This can reduce the amount of noise produced by publication and help make research outputs useful.

What does this mean in practice?

The peer review process helps researchers learn and develop. It is particularly useful if they have less experience as authors or of English language publishing. This helps us improve inclusivity in authorship and in the research NIHR funds. 

All of the articles published both externally and in the Journals Library are hosted in one place on the NIHR Journals Library website. This provides an instant overview of the research and all its associated outputs. It also allows easy navigation to evidence that is of interest to you.

Including and championing all these outputs means authors no longer need to duplicate work published elsewhere in their final report. Instead, they will write a much briefer synopsis at the end of their project which focuses on the narrative of their research, allowing time to reflect on the lessons learned. This will signpost readers to the core components of their research and where they are reported. Authors can also dive deeper into the implications of their research, both for the NIHR as funders of future work and for policy and practice. 

For evidence users, this model means you can access the research which is important to you through research articles, which are published as a study progresses. They are published alongside existing research articles, to make sure that you have access to all of the information you need in one place.

Looking ahead to the future

Our current focus is on publication of findings. We are working increasingly closely with our partners in the NIHR to support teams to disseminate their work. We have key aspirations to expand the type of content we publish to help support impact. For example, editorial commentary.

This helps to contextualise the research findings. It can also improve the readability of our plain language summaries. There are lots of exciting improvements on the horizon and we hope that the threaded publication model is just the start.

Find out more about the NIHR Journals Library.

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