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Walking gently: some cautions in developing a procedural view of knowledge
  1. Sanjeev Sridharan1,
  2. Fred Carden2
  1. 1The Evaluation Centre for Complex Health Interventions Keenan Research Centre, Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute St. Michael's Hospital and Department of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, University of Toronto
  2. 2Evaluation Unit, International Development Research Centre, Ottawa, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr Sanjeev Sridharan, St. Michael's Hospital, 30 Bond Street, Toronto, Ontario M5B 1W8, Canada; sridharans{at}

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The decision to commission new research is both a difficult and a highly contextualised one. The paper ‘To RCT or not to RCT’1 provides a flow chart to attempt to provide one way of thinking about ‘understandable methods of determining when more research really is needed’. Although the authors do not provide evidence that the state of the affairs in the existing commissioning process is poor, in this commentary we offer some thoughts on how the flow chart could be developed further.

We think that a useful way to evaluate the flow chart is to think of it as an ‘intervention’ that eventually aspires to an ‘improved’ process of determining when more research is needed. Although the flow chart successfully moves this dialogue forward, viewing the flow chart as an intervention also raises a number of issues. We address seven key issues and recommend possible directions for future research.

Develop a better understanding of how research is actually commissioned in practice

There is little evidence of how funding decisions are presently made in practice, either in this article or elsewhere in the knowledge translation literature. Our experience, however, is that decisions to commission research can be more complex and nuanced than ‘unstructured thinking’. We think the tool can be strengthened by developing an understanding of the practice of how decisions to fund additional research are actually made. The evaluative …

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  • Linked articles 201061, 116483.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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