Journals Library

Interview with Tom Walley, Editor-in-Chief


Tom WalleyWhy is the NIHR Journals Library being set up?

The NIHR Journals Library provides free, open access to the research findings of those NIHR programmes participating in this new venture. The Journals Library constitutes a publicly available, permanent record of the research funded, and builds on the strong and successful model of Health Technology Assessment, which is ranked in the top 10 per cent of medical and health-related journals and which forms the bedrock of the NIHR Journals Library in its early years.

Why do you think it is important for the NIHR to publish its research in its journals?

The NIHR has a responsibility to demonstrate value for money in the use of public funds, so the NIHR Journals Library is a really important way to demonstrate the NIHR’s public accountability through the publication of complete results. The journals are a valuable resource for researchers and others who wish to assure themselves of the validity of the work. As some types of work are not published in other peer reviewed journals, or only in part, the Journals Library ensures that all NIHR-funded research is reported in the public domain.

Also, making the research findings available via the NIHR Journals Library hopefully increases its potential uptake by the research programmes’ stakeholders, which in turn produces benefits to individual patients and the public at large.

How do you see the NIHR Journals Library differing from other research publications?

The reports published in the NIHR Journals Library are much fuller, more detailed accounts of the research than can be given in the shorter articles that appear in other peer reviewed journals. They give access not only to all the results but also an account of how the research was conducted. The NIHR Journals Library also publishes negative or neutral results, which are just as important to the NHS as the more dramatic results that are attractive to traditional journals. This is important to aid future research, as well as providing an opportunity to describe public engagement in the research itself.

What are your hopes for the new journals within the NIHR Journals Library?

That they become important reference sources in their own right, like Health Technology Assessment, and that over time – and it will take time – this is demonstrated by Impact Factors. I hope the journals will help raise the profile of the NIHR research programmes they serve – and it’s important to stress that the journals serve the programmes, not the other way round. And I also hope that by raising the profile of the programmes, this may encourage more interest within the research communities to apply to these programmes for funding.

I see the NIHR Journals Library as an important repository for findings of real importance to the NIHR’s stakeholders that would otherwise never be commissioned or published. And on a final note, I hope that through the NIHR Journals Library we are able to demonstrate to the public the real value of publicly funded research in the UK.