Health Research Authority announces measures to enhance transparency

The Health Research Authority (HRA) has outlined plans for how it will play a leading role in ensuring clinical and other health research findings are published.

The HRA has an established role to promote transparency, and already publishes research study summaries and the opinions of its Research Ethics Committees (RECs). On 25 April, the HRA led a stakeholder workshop, at which it made, with the full support of its partners, a number of commitments, which are now being sent out for further comment and are published on their website. These include proposals:

  • To make the registration of clinical trials within an agreed timeframe a condition of REC approval from September 2013.
  • To work with research funders and sponsors to set standards for the publication and dissemination of research outcomes.
  • To develop mechanisms to actively review plans for publication against these standards and include them specifically within the condition of the REC approval.
  • To develop simple mechanisms to monitor compliance with REC approved plans to publish
  • To set standards and issue guidance for how those that have participated in research are appropriately informed of individual outcomes and study results at the end
  • To work with regulators of professions to address the misconduct of withholding results.
  • Work with publishers to dispel the myths and perceptions about the difficulties in publishing results.

Janet Wisely, HRA Chief Executive, said “We have long supported the sharing of all health research findings, have already signed up to the Alltrials.net petition and publish a summary and the research opinion for research projects which come before our Research Ethics Committees. Change will only come through determined leadership and, with the commitment of our partners to increasing openness, we are now sharing our plans for promoting transparency in a robust and sustainable way.”

Iain Chalmers, Coordinator of the James Lind Initiative added “The HRA’s paper ‘Transparent Research’ is evidence of a welcome ambition to improve research registration, publication, data access and participant information. I endorse the HRA’s approach and urge researchers, research participants and the public in general to support the HRA’s proposals.”

Comments on these proposed actions should be emailed to tom.smith2@nhs.net by 10th June.