Everyone should have easy access to research findings

Published on 12 May 2022, by Candace Imison

Evidence and knowledge self assessment, Open access, KLS research

About how the NIHR is giving easy access to research findings

Every year, vast numbers of research articles are published in academic journals. It is estimated that in the biomedical field alone, more than a million papers are added to the PubMed database each year; NIHR funded research results in several thousand articles a month. Many contain insights which could help inform best practice, shape policy or influence decision making.

Over recent years, Open Access policies like the NIHR’s mean that many of these articles have become free to read online and no longer sit behind paywalls. This is a major step forward. But the articles are often long and packed with technical jargon that is difficult for non-specialists to understand. Open Access is only part of the solution.

At NIHR Evidence, we believe that everyone should have easy access to research findings. Here, you’ll find plain language summaries of health and care research that’s funded by the NIHR and selected for its strategic or clinical significance. This is research that should be acted on.  

Simple summaries

These summaries are valuable for everyone searching for the latest research on care or treatment. That includes time-pressured health or care professionals, and members of the public. Commissioners and policy makers who need evidence on the effectiveness of treatments and care policies will also find them useful.

Some of our summaries are of single NIHR research studies; others combine several NIHR research studies within a specific theme or health and care topic. Over the last year we’ve also been exploring non-written formats, such as podcasts and graphics, to communicate the results of NIHR-supported research.

Working in partnership

We work in close collaboration with patients, the public and professionals to ensure our summaries are as useful and usable as possible. We work together to select the NIHR-funded research studies that are most likely to be of interest to the public and professionals and to inform changes to policy or practice.

In partnership with study authors, our team of professional writers write up the findings in plain English and highlight the difference they could make. Members of the public, people with lived experience, professionals and relevant organisations provide comments to help set the research in context.

Reliable and robust

NIHR Evidence provides accessible summaries of some of the most important findings, and brings them to a wide audience. Our summaries are based on research papers that have already been peer-reviewed by medical and scientific experts. They are a reliable source of information. This is vitally important at a time when the pandemic has shown us the huge appetite for health information but also the wide spread of misinformation. 

The NIHR’s ambition is to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research. Making the research we fund and support more accessible is core to that ambition.

Explore the NIHR Evidence website. The summaries can also be accessed via the NHS Knowledge and Library Hub.

Sign up to our monthly NIHR Evidence newsletter.


Candace Imison

Associate Director of Dissemination and Knowledge Mobilisation, National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR)