The impact of conducting preclinical systematic reviews on researchers and their research: A mixed method case study
SourcePLoS One, 16, 12, (2021), article e0260619
Article / Letter to editor
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SubjectRadboudumc 10: Reconstructive and regenerative medicine RIHS: Radboud Institute for Health Sciences
BACKGROUND: Systematic reviews (SRs) are cornerstones of evidence-based medicine and have contributed significantly to breakthroughs since the 1980's. However, preclinical SRs remain relatively rare despite their many advantages. Since 2011 the Dutch health funding organisation (ZonMw) has run a grant scheme dedicated to promoting the training, coaching and conduct of preclinical SRs. Our study focuses on this funding scheme to investigate the relevance, effects and benefits of conducting preclinical SRs on researchers and their research. METHODS: We recruited researchers who attended funded preclinical SR workshops and who conducted, are still conducting, or prematurely stopped a SR with funded coaching. We gathered data using online questionnaires followed by semi-structured interviews. Both aimed to explore the impact of conducting a SR on researchers' subsequent work, attitudes, and views about their research field. Data-analysis was performed using Excel and ATLAS.ti. RESULTS: Conducting preclinical SRs had two distinct types of impact. First, the researchers acquired new skills and insights, leading to a change in mindset regarding the quality of animal research. This was mainly seen in the way participants planned, conducted and reported their subsequent animal studies, which were more transparent and of a higher quality than their previous work. Second, participants were eager to share their newly acquired knowledge within their laboratories and to advocate for change within their research teams and fields of interest. In particular, they emphasised the need for preclinical SRs and improved experimental design within preclinical research, promoting these through education and published opinion papers. CONCLUSION: Being trained and coached in the conduct of preclinical SRs appears to be a contributing factor to many beneficial changes which will impact the quality of preclinical research in the long-term. Our findings suggest that this ZonMw funding scheme is helpful in improving the quality and transparency of preclinical research. Similar funding schemes should be encouraged, preferably by a broader group of funders or financers, in the future.
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