The UK National Institute for Health Research receive the first Cochrane-REWARD prize in 2017 for its Adding Value in Research programme, which promoted a range of activities tackling waste at every stage of research. We asked Matt Westmore, NIHR lead for this work and Operations Director at NIHR’s Evaluation, Trials and Studies Coordinating Centre about how things have developed receiving the prize.
Could you introduce NIHR’s Adding Value in Research framework?
Adding Value in Research (AViR) has been a long-running initiative for us. It goes back to 2009, with the Lancet paper on research waste by Iain Chalmers and Paul Glasziou. We started talking about our role in reducing research waste as a funder and have been working on it since.
We developed and introduced an AViR framework to our organisation. Some of it is deliberate work – looking across our activities and thinking about actions we should take. At the same time, it is important to note that we have also been successful in embedding the AViR values within the different areas of our work in NIHR. For example, we recently launched a funding and projects website. While not directly linked to AViR, it speaks to the culture of transparency in the organisation.
There has never really been resistance within NIHR. It’s been more about how to make the necessary changes and working through the practical barriers.
How has winning the prize impacted your work in this area?
Despite the lack of resistance to these ideas within NIHR, some of the implications are challenging. Winning the prize made a big difference there. The external endorsement gave credibility to our internal discussions. We also used the prize money to support the spread of this agenda within NIHR. We established our own internal award to support earlier career colleagues attend Ensuring Value in Research (EViR) meetings.
How has the Ensuring Value in Research Funders’ Forum developed in the last two years?
A big area of work has been the growth of the Ensuring Value in Research (EViR) Funders’ Collaboration and Development Forum. NIHR was an initiator of EViR, and we have been working on it with other funders, particularly the Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development (ZonMW) and the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI). At the time of winning the prize, we had had a couple of meetings, but work has really intensified since then.
The forum is a good space for us to challenge ourselves and each other. Together, we have developed 10 Guiding Principles, which give clarity to the key areas where we as funders can add value and reduce waste through the research we fund. These principles are helping refine our focus and give us a list of things to work through together.
There is a real variety in terms of the size and focus of different members of the forum. For example, we have members who fund preclinical research – something we at NIHR don’t fund – and it is valuable for us to work together and learn from them.
What else have you been working on?
Since winning the Cochrane prize, we have revised two points of the AViR framework. This incorporates more of the direction being taken by EViR with the 10 Guiding Principles – looking at types of research wider than that which NIHR funds, and with more attention on dissemination.
After the World Health Organization published their joint statement on public disclosure of results from clinical trials in 2017, we spent a year working on an NIHR policy and implementation strategy in response.
We are also a part of EVBRES (EVidence Based RESearch), an EU-funded network bringing together lots of initiatives with the aim of making evidence-based research a reality. Within EVBRES, I am working on a stream which is focusing on how this work impacts funders and how it can be put into practice. This will be a consensus process, involving many different stakeholders, and I will be looking to members of EViR for their input.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I want to stress the importance of collaboration and partnership in this work – both internally within NIHR, globally, and across the sector. Partnerships can be tricky but are essential – no one part of the system alone can solve all the problems associated with research waste.
The Cochrane-REWARD prize – 2019 nominations open
The annual Cochrane-REWARD prize recognizes good local or pilot initiatives that have the most potential to reduce research waste if scaled up globally.
Nominations for this year’s prize are open until 5 June 2019.