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Michael on the importance of good south London research data

We spoke to NIHR Clinical Research Network South London’s Information Systems Manager, Michael Garvey-Eckett, about the need to provide researchers with high-quality information that aids the set-up and delivery of health and care research. Michael also sits on the national Open Data Platform (ODP) training resources group within the NIHR.

What does ODP stand for, and what does it do?

The NIHR's Open Data Platform is the Clinical Research Network’s (CRN) Central Portfolio Management System's data visualisation and reporting tool.

What data is collected on ODP?

The tool contains information on studies on the NIHR CRN portfolio and the network portfolios of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales combined with disease indicators from external sources such as the UK Health Security Agency (formerly known as Public Health England) and NHS England. In south London, we combine national data sets with local information from our partner organisations' Local Portfolio Management Systems.

We hold details about studies, their set-up times, performance and recruitment, and flag any data quality issues on national and local systems.

How does the data benefit research in the short and long term?

Researchers can access the number of study participants, local recruitment trends, and recruitment hotspots. This information, coupled with data on the incidence and prevalence of disease, allows for the better designing of studies and identification of new research locations previously unconsidered and enables the CRN to identify where studies may require support.

Why is it important to have access to high-quality data during the life cycle of a study, and how does it benefit patients?

Being able to use data to better design studies, locate recruiting sites and then performance manage those studies effectively leads to creating and supporting research which is efficient and performs well, as well as being transparent to participants and the broader society. The aim is to produce evidence-based, data-driven research which can be set up quickly and recruit well, so cost-effective innovations can become available to patients.

How do you access the Open Data Platform?

Anyone involved or interested in health and care research can apply to access NIHR's Open Data Platform. The URL to create an account and access the ODP is From there, click the create account button on the login home page. You will then be prompted to fill out further information about yourself before making a password for your account.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

We have a vast amount of data in ODP, and it's often more than users realise. We're currently creating a series of NIHR training YouTube videos to support our users, but researchers and teams in south London can email if they have any specific data requests.

Picture credit: Kris Wood.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care.