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Eur J Cancer. 2011 Mar;47(4):536-44. doi: 10.1016/j.ejca.2010.10.015. Epub 2010 Nov 18.

An analysis of research activity in major UK cancer centres.

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King's College London and Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, United Kingdom.


The organisation of cancer research is critical to its overall creativity and productivity. Cancer centres are a major organisational structure for this research, however, little is known about their effect on research or how national policy-making intersects with this complex policy nexus. This study of the evolution of United Kingdom cancer centres (UKCC), part of a wider European and United States programme, uses a bibliometric analysis of research activity prior to the creation of the NCRI and after its formation (1995-2004/5). In terms of critical research mass UKCC are very heterogeneous with a fourfold difference between the top and bottom quintiles. UK centres published just over one eighth of the total UKCC in 1995 but almost a quarter by 2004. This centrification occurred in the absence of any national strategy. Overall these centres conduct more fundamental (laboratory-based) research than that being conducted in the wider network but this hides major heterogeneity. UKCC collaborate with European investigators in 5-28% of all their outputs and with USA the range is between 6% and 21%. We have also derived new measures of research impact on clinical management and the general public as well as the impact of national policy on research assessment for certain types of cancer research.

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