Director of Policy and Partnerships, Health Research Authority
Everyone involved in clinical research has responsibility to ensure it’s open and transparent. Transparency has never been more crucial in research.
In March 2020, as the first urgent public health studies began, it became clear that research would be central to our response to the pandemic. As an organisation, we knew that public visibility about what COVID-19 research was underway would be crucial.
Since then, we have been publishing information about new COVID-19 clinical trials within three days of their approval. Researchers designing new studies to prevent, diagnose and treat the disease could see research already underway in the UK, all in one place, and build on it.
Transparency improves research quality
Making information about new clinical trials public helps to avoid duplication of effort and to foster collaboration. But the benefits of research transparency reach far beyond researchers. Transparency is also essential for health and care professionals. It helps to improve the quality of research and allows them to embed research evidence into everyday practice.
Understanding the results of studies and trials is important for participants too. It acknowledges their contribution and encourages more people to take part in research. Ultimately transparency builds trust and accountability. Knowing about findings helps people to make informed choices about their health and care and engages them as potential research participants in the future.
Transparency is also essential for health and care professionals. It helps to improve the quality of research and allows them to embed research evidence into everyday practice.
A coalition to increase transparency
Last summer, with those early COVID-19 trials already informing treatments for the patients who were most unwell, we launched Make It Public, an ambitious new strategy to increase research transparency. A coalition of partners across the UK, Make it Public, makes a commitment to ensure that trusted information from health and social care research studies is publicly available for the benefit of all, by making transparency easy, making it the norm and by making information public.
As the UK’s research portfolio recovers from the pandemic, we’re here to make that public too. We’re making sure that clinical trials are always registered and that researchers report their results in a timely way. We’re also strengthening guidance, so researchers have more support to meet their transparency obligations. The one million participants of COVID-19 trials, all who went before them and those who will be offered the chance to take part in innovative studies in the future, deserve it.