The Danish Ministry of Health published an evaluation report on The Nordic Cochrane Centre (NCC) today (4th December 2019). The evaluation, coordinated by the Danish Center for Social Science Research (VIVE), was commissioned by the Ministry of Health in the summer of 2018, due to NCC and its affiliated research units receiving an annual grant through the Danish National Finance Act.
An international panel consisting of six experts on research quality and organization of research centres were selected in collaboration with The Independent Research Fund Denmark (Danmarks Frie Forskningsfond) to review NCC. The report evaluated whether the purpose of the National Finance Act grant is fulfilled, by assessing the scale of the research production and its quality, as well as the societal impact of the Centre and its external collaborations and partnerships during the years 2013-2018.
The report concludes that the NCC’s overall purpose of informing healthcare decision-making through the provision of high-quality synthesised evidence has been fulfilled. The Panel notes the significant contribution made to improving the quality of evidence available to decision-makers, including patients and the public. This has been achieved by developing robust methods and advocating for their use through both publications in high-impact journals and training. The Panel concluded that NCC’s work is of clear relevance to Danish healthcare practices and there are examples of significant influence on policy.
The Panel noted that, “Given the small size of the NCC, its achievements are impressive” and that “comparing the citations received by the publications [from NCC] to those of the average article published in the field of clinical medicine, publications from the NCC received 2.93 times more citations than the average publication”.
The report found that some of NCC’s work had received considerable media interest and has, without doubt, informed public debate in Denmark and internationally. In turn, this, the report concluded, is likely to bring benefits to society by helping to drive science and clinical practice forward.
The Panel determined that NCC has produced an impressive number of outputs, with many judged to be of especially high quality, as evidenced by publication in high-impact journals, including BMJ, The Lancet, Annals of Internal Medicine, JAMA, and Journal of Clinical Epidemiology.
The report also highlighted that NCC has a good reputation amongst its key stakeholders with interviewed stakeholders basing this view on the quality, independence and importance of NCC’s work, and its anchoring to Cochrane’s overall mission. The report notes that active collaboration with researchers nationally and internationally has resulted in high-quality publications and outputs, notably reporting standards, Cochrane reviews, and clinical guidelines.
To strengthen the NCC’s current position and facilitate its future growth, the Panel further concludes that there is an urgent need to consider the options for a revised governance structure for the Centre. This would include a strengthened Advisory Board and closer affiliation with a university. It was noted, that maintaining NCC’s research integrity, which is closely linked with our independence, is of central importance.
Acting Director of NCC, Karsten Juhl Jørgensen says, “We thank VIVE and the international panel for the highly professional and collaborative process in conducting the evaluation. It has led to a very thorough report that accurately reflects our work. We greatly appreciate the conclusions of the report, which acknowledges that our overall purpose is fulfilled. Recognising the importance of our continued independence, and that we make a substantial contribution to improving the quality of evidence available to decision-makers, in terms of research output, quality, and impact, both nationally and internationally. This evaluation provides a strong basis for our future work at NCC”.
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