Intended for healthcare professionals

Views & Reviews Personal View

We should publish the cost of each piece of research

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: (Published 29 June 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d4026
  1. Penelope Hawe, professor, Population Health Intervention Research Centre, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada T2N 4Z6
  1. phawe{at}

Recently I reviewed an imaginative proposal for an $A80m funding programme to prevent chronic disease in the community. It had all the right ideas and components: good evidence for the interventions suggested and encouragement of local decision makers and partners to foster adaptation to context and sustainability. What was the evaluation budget? Ten per cent: it’s always 10%, isn’t it? That is the magic figure that seems to have been passed down through the ages to determine whether or not policies and programmes reach people and whether they work.

The week before, I had reviewed a multimillion dollar protocol for a cluster randomised controlled trial of a health promotion intervention in schools. The evaluation to intervention budget ratio was five to one—almost the reverse. There are no prizes for guessing that the first proposal came from a government agency and the second from a health research agency. Yet the results produced by both are …

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