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Mapping health research in Europe

Final Report Summary - HR4E (Mapping health research in Europe)

The EU is a major funder of health and health services research. Since 1984, the EU has supported research by means of a series of Framework Programmes. However, research can only be used to influence policy if its results can be found and used. To this end, the EU has developed CORDIS, an interactive information platform designed to facilitate access to EU funded research through a publically available website. The HR4E project sought to assemble and disseminate findings of health and health services related EU-funded research within the EU's Fifth (1998-2002) and Sixth (2002-2007) Framework Programmes (FP5 and FP6) by using information available on CORDIS.

HR4E screened titles and abstracts of all projects funded within FP5 and FP6 to identify health and health services-related projects (approximately 5 000 projects) followed by allocation of such projects to one of the 47 themes of the European Union's Health portal. Key findings relevant for policy and practice were extracted from data on the CORDIS database and questionnaires were sent to a subset of 182 projects selected from five themes, to try and assess the scientific and policy impact.

The HR4E project found that research is of little value if arrangements for access, data management, and preservation are an afterthought. The information held on CORDIS does not allow it to fulfil its stated objectives of facilitating and disseminating EU research. Data were rarely updated after the project had been funded and it became clear that the often lengthy reports generated from EU research projects are essentially lost once the reports enter into the system.

HR4E found a clear need to review the systems designed to manage the CORDIS platform to allow EU-funded research to become more accessible. One way to enable research to be accessed widely to influence policies is for the EU to place at least as great an emphasis on the outputs of the research as is presently placed on the inputs. The CORDIS database needs considerable investment and resources to allow it to be verified and updated regularly with emphasis placed on what each project actually achieved, rather than what it planned to do. Ensuring that findings from European Union funded research are widely disseminated can only be seen as beneficial for policymaking throughout the EU and beyond.

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