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The Northern Ireland Network for Trials Methodology Research is currently collating and maining a repository of work relating to Studies Within a Trial (SWAT) or Studies Within a Review (SWAR), as one of the MRC's Hubs for Trial Methodology Research. 

As indicated on their webpage, the SWAT and SWAR programme is identifying issues about the methods of trials and systematic reviews about which there is sufficient uncertainty to justify research to support well-informed decision making about future designs and choices. It will build an online library for these methodology studies and a data repository into which people using the designs could log their study prospectively and deposit their findings to contribute to meta-analyses of the individual SWAT or SWAR.

A SWAT/SWAR application form can be completed and submitted to All Ireland Hub staff, who will review and reply directly via the email address supplied. Once reviewed and accepted an acceptance email will be sent and a PDF of the SWAT/SWAR will be added to the repository and made available for others to view. Edits or updates to an existing SWAT/SWAR will require a resubmission via the application form. Users are being encouraged to submit their own ideas, or comment on the list of already posted ideas.

The repository page will collate the most up-to-date collection of accepted SWAT/SWAR applications.

At The Global Health Network, the issue of doing SWATs has been raised in a previous blog. In that blog, the use of SWATs was described, with reference to a couple of examples. Key to this was a podoconiosis SWAT analysis proposed. Details of this project can be found at this link


SWATs and SWARs and Global Health

It is important to note that, although there are initiatives currently underway in developed countries to do this kind of research, this also presents a great opportunity for researchers in low- and middle-income countries to contribute significantly to the conduct of health research. This is particularly true of researchers who are taking part in large multi-centred trials as this presents an opportunity to do work that is relevant to local conditions, increases the body of scientific knowledge, and can create opportunities for locally-led and conceptualised studies that lead to publication in high calibre international academic journals.

The Global Health Network is especially interested in hearing from you. What kinds of SWATs have you done previously, or what kinds of questions can you see as being answered through this approach? Post up in the comments here to tell the community about what you have previously done, but also to stimulate discussion about a list of possible research questions. Use the facilities on The Global Health Network to support new research studies, and let the community know about how this has helped you.