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I make no apology for being a little bit obsessed by plain English summaries of research this week. Events have conspired to make it this way.
So, what did NIHR do when faced late last year with rising concern among academics, researchers, patients and the public about the poor quality of lay summaries? It commissioned INVOLVE – its national advisory group on advancing public involvement in research – to inquire into the matter and make recommendations. That’s what.
INVOLVE’s report – the outcome of that inquiry produced with the excellent TwoCan Associates – appears on-line today. It makes sensible proposals for the structure, content of, and guidance given to researchers on, what is says should be called ‘summaries’ (not abstracts). Also on how to improve adherence within organisations. For instance, INVOLVE says that production of a high quality plain English summary should be an NIHR principle and condition of funding.
I am very proud that INVOLVE was asked to lead this work. There is much to do to make sure its recommendations get taken up by NIHR but also by others funders. But I do believe that – given the evidence gathering exercise it did in the first instance – it has succeeded in establishing a good starting point for NIHR. I hope that other funders will also follow its lead.
From this month onwards, while discussions continue within NIHR about the report, we will not be resting on our laurels. We will be adding more content and helpful advice to a special part of the INVOLVE website. So watch this space.
I am at the INVOLVE two-day conference in Nottingham this week.
INVOLVE is the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) funded programme promoting public involvement in research. It is perhaps worth adding that INVOLVE is the only publicly funded national organisation of its kind across the world. It’s a packed conference – almost 500 delegates from a wide variety of backgrounds including many researchers and research managers.
The theme of this week’s conference is innovation and impact and I was delighted that at this afternoon’s workshop sessions, TwoCan Associates launched their patient and public involvement routemap on which they have been working with AMRC and others for the last six months or so.
The routemap is really a very simple idea and works very much like the London tube map.
So, if you are a member of staff working in a research charity (or other organisation for that matter) and tasked with implementing public and patient involvement (PPI), the idea is that you follow the route and at each ‘stop’ can learn more about the beenfits of PPI in a particular aspect of research funding – from setting research priorities to making funding decisions and dissemination – plus look at some case studies of how others have achieved it.
I mean, what could be better than getting to drive your own tube train. Click on the picture below and you can try it for yourself.
If you are looking for information about the decision to get rid of the DG for Science post at BIS then go to Becky’s Policy Pages. I haven’t had time to catch up with all the news but I fail to see how three into one can go without some significant loss of focus and momentum on science within the department. No one should underestimate how important its current incumbent, Adrian Smith, in making the science case so forcefully to HM Treasury.