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Make it Public: transparency and openness in health and social care research

3rd September 2020

Why research transparency is important

The UK has a thriving health and social care research environment. More people take part in research studies each year, and donations to medical research charities are on the rise. Health and social care research findings translate into better care for patients and service users, and improvements to our health and wellbeing. They also lead to economic growth.


Scientific and medical publishing has become more open over recent years and new initiatives are driving towards research findings being ever more freely available. This is making research findings more accessible to researchers and others working in health and social care. However, the people who take part in research studies want to know about the findings of research too.

Transparency about what research is going on, and what its findings are, is important for patients, service users and the public. It builds trust and accountability, acknowledges their contribution and encourages participation in research. It’s also essential for research and care professionals. It leads to improvements and avoids duplication of effort. It enables findings to be used to develop new and better treatments for patients and service users, and to identify the best ways for us to stay healthy and well. It also helps improve the quality of research.

When research is carried out openly and transparently, everyone benefits: 

  • patients and the public can see what research is taking place or has completed, and access clear information about the results 
  • patients, service users and carers can find out about research that is relevant to them, giving them the opportunity to join studies 
  • health professionals, commissioners, researchers, policy makers and funders can use research findings to make informed decisions

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