CIHR Annual Report 2011–12: The Measure of Success
Organizational Excellence, Ethics and Impact
Ensuring performance meets expectations
Measuring the impacts of health research is, as the IRP declared, extremely difficult. The 1961 discovery of stem cells by Canada’s Dr. James Till and Dr. Ernest Armstrong McCulloch provided the seed that grew into the successful bone marrow transplantation program at Princess Margaret Hospital, an 11-year process. More telling, 50 years later, we are still reaping the benefits with advances in stem cell science made by Canadian researchers such as Drs. John Dick and Mick Bhatia.
But while the gathering of data to assess the outcomes of research is a complicated and demanding task, it is vital that CIHR demonstrate how the work it funds is having real and tangible impacts. In the past fiscal year, CIHR has moved to implement a number of measures to improve evaluation.
Develop a comprehensive set of metrics and robust evaluation strategy
The health research enterprise has changed dramatically, and funding organizations need to be able to quickly analyze large amounts of performance data to make sure that investments are focused in the right area and that the organization as a whole is meeting its mandate. Just as CIHR is committed to research evidence in health care, so too are we focused on making investment decisions grounded in the best possible measures of success.
The first step in this process was creating improved access to and awareness of research results by CIHR-funded researchers. In the past fiscal year, 214 manuscripts were published on PubMed Central (PMC) Canada. All of these papers were directly linked to one or more CIHR grants. PMC Canada attracted strong interest from users in 2011–12 as the site recorded 2,287,929 downloads, double the number from the previous year.
Another important step has been the internal reorganization and consolidation of CIHR evaluation and performance management functions, which took place near the end of the fiscal year. We have created the necessary infrastructure to feed and inform this evaluation function. This included the introduction of the new Research Classification System, replacing an earlier framework nearly 20 years old, and the new Research Reporting System.
Increase public and patient participation in all processes
In the past fiscal year, CIHR moved on a number of fronts to increase the level of patient, public and citizen engagement in processes related to health research. CIHR put the finishing touches on its comprehensive new Citizen Engagement Strategy. We continued to organize and present the popular Café Scientifique public outreach series to bring researchers and research results directly to Canadians. In 2012, the program will celebrate a milestone – its 500th Café. CIHR also launched a new publication and online presence called Show me the Evidence, a regular roundup of stories describing the application of CIHR-funded research results. And finally, the new Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research will result in additional and much-needed engagement of patient groups.
After consulting with Canadian and international funding agencies, in 2011–12 CIHR began introducing the new Research Classification System to replace the one first adopted in 1995 by the Medical Research Council. To be implemented in the summer of 2012, the new system reflects the full spectrum of health research that CIHR funds. It will assist in creating a better match between research funding applications and appropriate peer reviewers, and will simplify the process for comparing CIHR programs with those of other funding organizations. The new system will also make it easier to categorize expenditures by specific research areas, identify research expertise and recruit experts.
Sharing Research Success
Stories with Canadians
In the fall of 2011, CIHR unveiled Show me the Evidence, a new publication to showcase research that is directly contributing to improved health and health care. Available in print as well as in electronic platforms such as Facebook, YouTube and the CIHR website, the newsmagazine profiles outstanding researchers who have succeeded in integrating their findings and discoveries into clinical practice or health policy. By highlighting research results, Show me the Evidence acts as a vehicle for knowledge translation. CIHR has also produced an illustrated booklet called Health Research in Canada and You to provide an easily accessible overview of its activities to anyone who wants to know more about health research and learn how to become involved in it.
Ensuring the Proper
Conduct of Research
The new Tri-Agency Framework: Responsible Conduct of Research updates and replaces previous policies that set out research standards. The Framework, launched by CIHR, NSERC and SSHRC in 2011–12, makes sure that integrity is maintained across the continuum of research – from applying for funds to disseminating results. To ensure a coherent, uniform approach to promoting research responsibility and to address any allegations of policy breaches that arise, the three agencies created the Panel on Responsible Conduct of Research.
To gather stronger evidence on the effectiveness of its funding programs, in 2011–12 CIHR began requesting that investigators submit the results of their work through the new Research Reporting System. The system will strengthen CIHR’s accountability to the Government of Canada and all Canadians for the funds it provides for health research. Principal investigators will have 18 months after the end of each grant period to complete their reports, with CIHR providing ongoing support to assist them in the task. Data collected will help demonstrate the impacts that CIHR-funded research is having.
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