analysis and development of a strategic research agenda

Workpackage 3: Analysis and development of a strategic research agenda

Evaluation of results of analysis performed in WP2 and development of a strategic research agenda.

Objectives

  • To develop a global strategy for systematic classification and evaluation of research activities and policies regarding emerging risk in the food and feed chain.
  • To develop a strategic research agenda based on priorities identified within the Global Platform on Emerging Food Safety Risks.
  • To initiate joint research activities to fill in the knowledge and data gaps that limits the usefulness of current risk assessment efforts.
  • To develop a global strategy, in collaboration with funding bodies, to harmonise emerging risk research in order to avoid fragmentation and duplication of research efforts.

Description of work

This Workpackage involves two activities. The first will be carried out initially as a one-off exercise, but then processes will be put into place to ensure there is regular updating.

  • Activity 1: Collection of information on ongoing research projects and developing an understanding of how priorities for research have been set in different regions globally.
  • Activity 2: Analysis of the available data looking for trends, duplication and gaps.

Many projects involving data collection fail because of the difficulty in getting key individuals to spend the necessary time collecting relevant information, completing a questionnaire or entering information into a database. Incomplete datasets are worthless, and therefore it is critical that the collection of information is initially at a high enough level, to ensure that the collection is a manageable process in a reasonable timescale.

This R&D data collection will be linked to the use of Delphi (WP 2) which will provide insights into opinion regarding research priorities and gaps in existing knowledge in the area of emerging food risks, as well as provide the basis for mapping of existing initiatives in diverse parts of the globe. A proactive approach will be used to collect information involving project participants, each of whom will take responsibility for data collection for specific regions. It is also important for all individuals contributing to a research database to feel a sense of ownership, as well as seeing tangible benefits associated with the data base. In addition, the type of information collected must provide a broad strategic overview of research on emerging food safety risks.

Essential in this Workpackage is a dynamic interaction between the Stakeholders represented in the Platform and the core group. The Platform members will provide input for the recommendations / documents foreseen and will endeavour to implement the Workpakages’output in their programming activities. The appointed Platform coordinator will stimulate this process.

The two activities can be broken down into sequential tasks:

Activity 1

  • Design of database to collect information on R&D activities.
  • Pilot collection of data on a small number of projects in small regions to facilitate ease of data collection.
  • Assess and improve on fields for database.
  • Roll-out web-enabled data collection (Password protected).
  • Use pro-active approach to data collection – workshops, interactive web page visits, meeting, telephone calls.
  • Institute an updating process – e.g. automatic reminders to stakeholders.

Activity 2

  • Development of a protocol for data analysis, e.g. identify indicators to be used for comparability.
  • Select partners to analyse datasets following agreed protocol.
  • Organize partners to meet and draw individual contributions together – output for plenary project presentation.

Once a first pass has been made of activity 1 then activity 2 will be initiated. However, activity 1 will continue either at the same level or based on initial experience may be continued at a lower level (i.e. collecting more detailed information) again feeding into activity 2 leading to a progressive refinement of information. As this process proceeds, a strategic research agenda with ‘gap analyses’ will be progressively delivered. Possible effects of publication bias, i.e. the relative under representation of non-significant results in scientific journals, will be discussed. To compensate for publication bias, the number of non-published, non-significant studies that are needed to provide contra-indications regarding significant effects resulting from risk assessments will be identified using methods developed from meta-analysis.

All members of WP3 and Platform members will be invited to attend a workshop, where the outputs of WP2 (the Delphi analysis) and WP3 will be used a basis for discussion regarding the development of the final consensus document, in collaboration with WP2. The consensus report will make recommendations regarding harmonisation of existing international research activities and the development of an international research agenda. Recommendations regarding harmonisation of existing international research activities will also be a focus of workshop activities, developed from information in WP2.