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Completing our peer review audit for the AMRC

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Form filling is tedious.

For those of us of a certain age (I’m not saying any more!) online form filling is even more stressful. So recently, I ‘girded my loins’ and completed the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC) 2010-11 Peer Review Audit.

AMRC is a body that represents over 125 medical research charities across the UK, ranging from small organisations through to the big boys such as the Wellcome Trust and Cancer Research UK. It plays an important role in facilitating information exchange between charities and in influencing national science policy by providing disparate organisations with a single voice. It also acts a little like a Trade Association, setting standards for the charity research sector.

One such standard we have to achieve relates to the research we fund. Every five years, the AMRC performs a comprehensive audit to ensure that the decision making process is impartial, independent of vested interest and transparent to both researchers applying for funding as well as donors supporting the research.

It might sound like an exercise in bureaucracy, but it is important part of demonstrating that we are using our funds to support research of the highest scientific merit and greatest relevance to MND. The AMRC ‘kite mark’ is also important in enabling us to raise money for research – for example, some charitable foundations will only accept applications from charities that can produce the AMRC Certificate of Good Practice. Similarly, our collaboration with bodies such as the Medical Research Council stems from our ability to demonstrate good research governance.

Of course, no two charities are the same and there may be some places where we do things a little differently from others, due to the nature of the disease or the specific research avenues we are exploring, but the important thing is that the key principles of impartiality, accountability and transparency are being followed.

In truth, the fifteen page form wasn’t as taxing as I thought, largely because last year we established our Research Governance Framework to make our process more transparent.

Still, I’m not disappointed it’ll be another five years….

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