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Dissemination Centre

How we select research for NIHR Signals

NIHR Signals are timely summaries of the most important research that aim to cut through the noise and provide decision makers with the evidence they can use.

From selecting the right evidence through to writing, publishing and sharing the final Signal, this infographic shows how we work, our decision making process and what makes a Signal.

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What makes an NIHR Signal infographic?

Evidence sift

Much of our work involves selecting the right research to summarise, interpret and explain. This starts with an initial evidence sift.

On a weekly basis, we sift through a selection of 100 leading health research journals. We look for systematic reviews, economic evaluations and randomised controlled trials (RCTs) with high quality study designs, a UK focus (so the results are relevant to the NHS) and actionable findings, alongside other selection criteria.

Research funded by the NIHR is automatically brought forward to our editorial meetings.


Abstracts of selected studies are then sent to our pool of raters, according to the areas of interest they specify when signing up.

Raters assess the likely importance of the research to health and social care audiences, providing a score out of six and a comment on the research.

Find out more about the rating process.

Editorial meeting

Feedback from raters feeds into discussions held at our weekly editorial meetings. The editorial board consider the importance and applicability of the findings, alongside the quality and comprehensiveness of the research.

A decision is then reached on whether or not to write the research up as a Signal.

Writing and expert comment

Our writers then work up the Signal, starting with the main message highlighting the key points of the study. They then explain why the study was needed, describe what the study did and summarise the findings.

Importantly, Signals also tell the reader how the evidence fits with current guidance and explains the possible implications of the findings.

For each Signal we aim to provide at least one independent expert comment about the research illustrating what the findings mean for people involved in the service. These can come from clinicians, researchers, health service managers, patients or representatives of charities.

Publishing and sharing

Signals are published on a weekly basis and promoted with our Twitter account. They are also included in monthly email bulletins to subscribers on our mailing list and feed into NICE Evidence searches, the TRIP database and other websites.

We also promote Signals at various conferences and events we attend.

To view our latest Signals, visit the discover portal.

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