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Ensuring value in research funding

The HRB hosted a meeting of 51 representatives from 23 funding agencies in eight countries to talk about the way we work and how we might do things better.

Anne Cody, HRB

'This international group called Ensuring Value in Research Funders’ Forum, or  EViR Funders’ Forum, for short, was set up in 2016', says Dr Anne Cody, Head of Pre-Award, HRB.

'Researchers have networks and communities of practice to get better at what they are doing. It makes perfect that that research funders should do likewise'.

'We take very seriously the duties of care that come with dispensing public monies. We believe we will maximise the value of research we fund if we set justifiable research priorities; require robust research design, conduct and analysis; seek to ensure that research regulation and management are proportionate to risks; and seek to ensure that complete information on research methods and findings from studies is accessible and usable. The forum is a fantatsic way to talk with others who are all working towards the same goal'.

'At the meeting in Dublin at the end of March, we discussed different approaches to setting research priorities, putting research into a robust demonstration of a research gap, and to what funders can do to support update and implementation of research'.

The HRB has shared its own examples of good practice, such as:

  • HRB Open Research (lowering barriers for publication of research papers, research protocols and other formats),
  • public reviews (with feedback from researchers for the public reviewers),
  • funding for secondary data analysis (facilitating re-use of data),
  • methodological research (ensuring research is done in the best way),
  • risk-appropriate management of awards, and
  • supporting FAIR data.

The forum has established 10 guiding principles that cross all health research funding, from the basic to health services research. Those principals are available at https://sites.google.com/view/evir-funders-forum.

'I firmly believe that by coming together to share how we tackle common challenges in our different ways, we have a powerful vehicle for improving practices', she adds. 'One thing became obvious very quickly at the last meeting: while we are a small organisation and our our resources are limited, we are much more flexible than some of the big funders. So as we develop new ideas and get ideas from others, you will continue to see the HRB adding more and more value in the research that we fund'.