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A review of Research4Life user experiences was conducted during 2020 using a combination of interviews, surveys and focus groups.
The findings of this review broadly align with the recommendations in the 2015 review. Over the past five years there have been some technical developments with Research4Life, especially regarding searching and authentication, and longer-term users of Research4Life have generally seen these developments as positive. However, the underlying issues around low levels of awareness and usage remain similar.
- Relevance - All data sources confirm that Research4Life is a relevant resource for users who are aware of it, have had appropriate training for it and have infrastructure to support it. For these individuals, the non-availability of Research4Life would leave a significant gap. However, overall usage remains limited. The most significant factor in usage seems to be awareness of the initiative. Level of demand and confidence to use the programmes are also factors.
- Effectiveness - Most people who use Research4Life rate this resource as effective – delivering the objectives it is intended to deliver. The majority of participants in this evaluation expressed satisfaction with Research4Life on a range of issues, including its training, platform and contents. However, there are challenges in all these areas because of awareness, reach and technical issues.
- Impact – Where Research4Life is used in institutions, it has made a real impact for its users. It has contributed to the quantity and quality of their work as well as improving the research skills of its users.
- Learning – The three data sources of this review have collectively generated some key learning about: constraints that affect wider use; capacity for adaption; areas for further development; and additional learning about delivering the Research4Life initiative in the context of a pandemic.
Recommendations from this study focus on seven key areas:
- Define processes and outcomes
- Build awareness, communication and community
- Expand and reconceptualise training
- Improve support networks
- Ensure platform and technology supports effective usage
- Address gaps and sudden changes in content
- Explore potential new avenues for work