Irrelevant, Irrelevant, Irrelevant! Time to change our approach to research?

  • Rachel Dean University of Nottingham, Nottingham, NG7 2RD



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To be able to practice evidence-based veterinary medicine, clinicians need high quality relevant evidence to integrate with their clinical decision making. Relevance is possibly more important than quality as even the best evidence cannot be used if it can't be applied to veterinary practice.

Research waste that refers to research that is undertaken where the results do not influence practice. It has been suggested that over 80% of research is wasted but is currently unknown how widespread this phenomenon is in veterinary medicine. Research waste occurs when research addresses the wrong question, it is poorly designed, executed or reported or not reported at all. 

If the research question doesn't include the correct population of interest e.g. First opinion rather than referral caseload, animals with or without co-morbidities, then applying the results to practice will be impossible. The same is true if the interventions, tests and outcomes. One way of ensuring the research question is relevant to the end user is to involve stakeholders in prioritising and planning research. It has been shown by a number of researchers that poor study design and execution occurs frequently in veterinary research. The inadequacies in our evidence base can vary from the selection of inappropriate study design for the question posed through to the selection of inappropriate outcome measures. Poor reporting is also a feature of a large proportion of veterinary research which can hinder the use of the research findings. Even if research is reported well, unless it is open access the key people who could use the results may not be able to read it. We need to examine the ways in which research is currently reported in the veterinary profession and develop additional efficient methods for disseminating research results

All of us (researchers, funders, publishers and users of research) have a vested interest and ethical responsibility in quantifying and reducing research waste in veterinary medicine, This will save money, time and ultimately the lives of patients. This talk will open the debate on this subject and tackle some of the challenges that we may face as we consider a new less wasteful approach to research.

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