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Forming networks for research: proposal for an Australian clinical trials alliance

A research network could improve outcomes through advocacy, identifying research gaps and providing shared infrastructure

Research benefits from both competition and collaboration. Inefficiencies occur when researchers are engaged in similar research, often not realising that other groups in Australia are working in the same area. For example, it is possible that there are competing clinical trials in uncommon cancers, which will decrease the chance of any individual study recruiting adequate numbers of patients to answer the questions it poses. In May 2012, the Medical Journal of Australia hosted the MJA Clinical Trials Research Summit. This article was written on behalf of contributors to a working group discussion on networking held during that summit.

There are enormous advantages for clinical researchers working together in networks. Centralised coordination and accumulation of data will provide both greater statistical power to answer common research questions and opportunities to resolve uncertainties about hard clinical end points with the greatest impact on participants’ lives. Centralising these functions allows clinical trials to be performed efficiently. Important roles for research networks are summarised in the