Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


MIROR Report Summary

Project ID: 676207
Funded under: H2020-EU.1.3.1.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - MIROR (Methods in Research on Research)

Reporting period: 2016-03-01 to 2018-02-28

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

A study published in 2009 estimated that 85% of research conducted is wasted. This waste represents tens of billions of Euros spent each year on studies that are redundant, flawed in their design, never published or poorly reported. The public is the main victim of this waste. If clinical research is not adequately planned, conducted and reported, clinicians are prevented from using effective health interventions in practice and researchers from adequately prioritizing future research questions. This situation ultimately has a detrimental impact on patient care. Therefore, reducing waste and increasing value of research represents a major societal challenge.
Our aim is to create an innovative and ambitious multidisciplinary intersectoral joint doctoral training programme in Europe dedicated to Methods in Research on Research (MiRoR) in the field of clinical research. “Research on Research (RoR)” is an emerging new scientific discipline that aims to reduce waste in research and increase research value.
MiRoR brings together 7 world-class research teams in various disciplines (computer sciences, applied mathematics, biostatistics, bioinformatics, clinical epidemiology, psychology, social sciences and translational medicine) from 6 different European countries; 6 non-academic partners involved in diverse sectors, and 4 major academic partners. We tackle several steps of a clinical research project (planning, conduct, reporting and the peer-review); various study designs (observational studies, randomised trials, systematic reviews); and various study questions (therapeutic, diagnostic, and prognostic evaluation) using various methods (scoping reviews, meta-epidemiologic studies, qualitative studies, experimental studies, simulations etc).
Our project involving 15 early-stage researchers aims to: 1) Prepare students for envisioning the future challenges in clinical research and find innovative solutions to face them; 2)Train students to go beyond the state-of-the-art in their research; 3) Help students think differently, taking advantage of the multidisciplinary expertise and intercultural diversity of the network; 4) Teach students how to move from research to action and convert knowledge and ideas into a product; 5) Help students develop skills to match the public and private sector needs and create new professional opportunities.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

The project has overall progressed according to plan with full commitment from all the consortium members.
The first months were mainly dedicated to administrative and management activities, such as the preparation and signature of the consortium agreement, administrative agreements to establish double doctorates and the organisation of the kick-off meeting. These first months were crucial as they were mostly dedicated to the recruitment of 15 Early Stage Researchers (ESRs). Selected candidates come from both EU and non-EU countries, with 13 different nationalities: Kenya, Denmark, Ireland, Greece, Vietnam, Colombia, Italy, USA, Canada, Russia, Sweden, Germany and Spain. ESRs have been taking part in secondments and several training events and they have been involved in several innovative “Training through action” activities (collaborative learning opportunities in which they work in small teams to develop their interpersonal skills and reinforce their ability to develop interdisciplinary interactions): research speed-dating, journal clubs, internal peer-review and a common research project involving all ESRs.
As part of dissemination and communication activities, we developed a project website and established Twitter, Facebook and YouTube accounts; we have sent out 3 newsletters to a growing network of people interested in our work; ESRs and supervisors have contributed with scientific talks and poster presentations to several international conferences in Europe, USA and South Africa.
As for the scientific outputs, this first reporting period has been primarily dedicated to studying the background of the different research projects, finding and exploring data sources, developing the necessary methodology and setting up the protocols. The first research findings resulted in the publication of 1 research article, 3 study protocols, 3 letters to editors, 1 commentary and 5 conference papers, available in open access online. Our results showed that the planning, conduct and reporting of biomarkers clinical studies are questionable (ESR2); we explored a new concept, the concept of “spin” defined as a distorted presentation and interpretation of study results and we developed a classification of spin for specific study designs (ESR10) and algorithms of extraction of some supporting information to detect spin using NLP techniques (ESR11); we investigated a new form of research based on collective intelligence and developed a framework for applying it to the context of clinical trials (ESR5); we explored complex processes in research to improve its understanding particularly patient involvement in research (ESR3) and we laid the foundations for developing new methods and tools for research planning (ESR1, ESR4, ESR6), research analysis (ESR6, ESR8), synthesis (ESR7, ESR8, ESR12), reporting and peer-review (ESR9, ESR13, ESR14, ESR15).

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

Only a limited number of research teams in Europe and the world are addressing the topic of Research on Research. If we want to improve the research system in Europe, similar initiatives must be multiplied. MiRoR aims to create and strengthen a network to tackle this issue: many members of our consortium, both academic and non-academic partners, have been working together for several years. With this project we join forces to create a more structured network, bringing together internationally recognized experts and researchers in the different fields of planning, conduct and reporting of various study designs used in clinical research.
We have created a joint doctoral training programme dedicated to Methods in Research on Research (MiRoR) in the field of clinical research with the idea of training the future generation of European researchers to develop creative solutions to transform clinical research practice and increase its value. We are enhancing interactions among these students and among participants in the whole network as much as possible, in order to develop strong links and favor the development of future collaborative, multidisciplinary, high-level projects in this field.
We are paying special attention to adequately train students to generate new and innovative ideas, move from the idea to a funded project, lead and manage a project by favoring cooperative learning. This programme is an opportunity to create the cornerstone for a future innovative training programme that will be perpetuated in the long term and possibly expanded to other fields. In addition, we are paving the way for the establishment of joint degrees with most of the academic partners of the network, to permit a more flexible reciprocal exchange of students and a joint education at the doctoral level in the long term.
Finally, by contributing to raise awareness among the whole research community of the necessity to systematically question research methods and practices, we strive to avoid, or at least drastically reduce, waste in research. Our efforts to increase the value of research and contribute to a better use of research funding will have an impact on the whole research system.
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