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Methodology in partnership

The NIHR-MRC Better Methods, Better Research Panel (BMBR) is developed in partnership with stakeholder organisations to both identify current and future methodological needs, and to ensure the methodologies developed within the programme are tractable for implementation and sustainable impact.

Standing partners providing input into the programme include:

Additional stakeholders are consulted as required to best support emerging priority areas (e.g. National Advisory Group on Clinical Audit and Enquiries).

Strategic opportunities

Strategic opportunities target specific rate-limiting methodological challenges, and their importance is recognised by the panel within assessment and funding decisions.

Proposals targeting strategic opportunities should be submitted via the BMBR Panel for consideration in open competition with all applications received.

Active strategic opportunities are listed below separately on the methodology portal.

Methodology State of the Art Workshops

To better ensure that methodology research translates into impact on the real-world design and conduct of biomedical and health research, MRC and NIHR are jointly supporting a series of themed workshops in areas of particular methodological controversy or uncertainty.  These workshops will directly inform the production of guidance documents outlining the various available methodologies, their strengths and weaknesses, and providing advice on their appropriate implementation.

The produced guidance will demonstrate consensus and increase assurance; to encourage uptake of the best methods.

This guidance will be endorsed by both MRC and NIHR and will be published within the MRC methodology guidance portal.

Previous methodology state of the art workshops:

  • Choosing the target difference (“effect size”) for a randomised controlled trial
  • Understanding Measurement Reactivity (an individual’s behavioural, emotional and psychological change as a result of being measured) in medical/healthcare research contexts
    • Professor David French, University of Manchester
      • Workshop held winter 2018, guidance to be published summer 2019.
  • Methods for placebo comparator selection and use in surgical trials
    • Professor David Beard, University of Oxford
      • Workshop held winter 2018, guidance to be published autumn 2019.
  • Benefit-risk assessment to inform study design
    • Professor Steven Julious, University of Sheffield
      • Workshop to be held summer 2019, guidance to be published spring 2020.

BMBR Embedded Methodology Award

Researchers who hold active or pending funding from the NIHR Health Technology Assessment, Health Services and Delivery Research, Public Health Research or Invention for Innovation programmes can apply for an BMBR Embedded Methodology Award.

Applications can be made for an embedded methodology award at the time of submission of the main application to NIHR, or after the study is reviewed and funded. Embedded Methodology Award applications must be a separable but closely-aligned piece of methodological work intended to facilitate the study, but also to give additive insight into the best methods for increasing study efficiency.

Applications should be submitted directly to the MRC-NIHR BMBR Panel through the normal application procedure. Potential applicants for Embedded Methodology Awards must discuss with Rosalind Roberts before submitting an application.