Two new working groups in the field of health research

News from committee
25/05/2021

Two new working groups have been set up within the Committee for Open Science. These are disciplinary groups in health, a field of research which presents specific challenges for open science in the visibility of studies and trials and in data sharing.

A project for a portal for individual health studies which will be accessible to all is currently being developed at the French Public Health Research Institute. Researchers will be able to use this portal to declare and characterise health research projects involving individuals, whether these are clinical trials or observational studies. A “publication bias” can occur by which only studies with “positive” results are visible because they suit the expectations of the teams that worked on them. Making all of this research visible, regardless of its progress and final outcome, will help correct this bias. This will make it possible to construct more accurate meta-analyses – the summaries of medical knowledge which are essential for guiding public health policies.

The second group aims to optimise the management of data collected during clinical trials (clinical trial data sharing plan), another challenge for medical researchers. These data contain highly sensitive information about the patients who took part in the trials which means it is impossible for the data to be fully open. However, ethically speaking, the scientific benefits of the efforts made by such patients should be maximised, particularly in the current uncertain health context. To help solve this problem, a working group set up at the University Hospital of Rennes will develop model data sharing plans which will make it possible to establish and generalise data exchange protocols between research teams.

In another significant step forward for open science in health, data from the Obépine research project which works on determining the presence of SARS-COV-2 in sewage are now available under an open license on Data.gouv.fr.