Preparing MethodBox for National Service

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Medical and Human Sciences

Abstract

This is a proposal to deliver a new on-line system for bringing different researchers together to share their expertise and work together on complex social problems. It is important to have different disciplines working together because individual disciplines have different strengths and weaknesses. For example a Social Scientist studying social factors in obesity may have excellent knowledge of how to measure socio-economic status whereas an Epidemiologist may have complementary knowledge about whether to use Body Mass Index or waist-to-hip ratio as the measure of obesity. Even within the Social Sciences there are different disciplines, for example those more familiar with qualitative than quantitative research methods, and vice versa - when a mixture of the two approaches would create a richer picture of the social problem being studied.

We are already working on this problem by using a combination of: 1) studying the way Social Scientists and Health Scientists use information for research; and 2) building web-browser based software to make it easier for researchers from different backgrounds to find the right data for their research question - supporting one another through social networks -like 'Facebook for Scientists'. The prototype of this system is called MethodBox and can be found at www.methodbox.org. Studies of the prototype have shown it is very popular with users from a wide range of backgrounds. By examining the way people use the system we can see that it could be developed further: moving from a simple system to help people find the data they are looking for to a more complex system that raises awareness of data and methods the researcher may not have considered. This awareness might be raised in new ways by harnessing the way researchers interact with datasets and with one another on-line. Like the shopping website Amazon, a user might be prompted "other researchers who selected your data items also selected these items...". This is particularly important with the growth in scientific knowledge because it is becoming less realistic for a researcher to have read all relevant papers before they start their research - for example last month over two thousand new papers were published on obesity.

With a sustained effort, beyond the funding period of the initial eScience Node project, MethodBox could be made ready for the national data services to use. This proposal seeks that sustainability funding so the Economic and Social Data Service and the UK Data Archive can have a reliable socially networked way that users can access archived data and share expertise. It is likely that MethodBox can release more research from the same level of investment in data services because users have a new facility for supporting one another. So investing in this project will multiply the large investments in data services. This proposal is directly in line with the "e-Infrastructure" changes that a recent report across the UK Research Councils called for.

Planned Impact

Public sector professionals:-
We will enable public sector workers in the NHS and local authorities to collaborate in Social Science and use social research resources to support professional decision-making. For example, Public Health professionals having easy access to templates for extracting data from the Health Surveys for England (HSE) may avoid duplication of effort in local health surveys where population sizes are large enough to use HSE data instead - we have already identified such cases and avoided waste of public money. The ease of access will be provided via www.methodbox.org. We have already run training courses for Public Health professionals with MethodBox - the Public Health service is now asking for its early public release. Enabling the networking of datasets, expertise and methods for data preparation and analysis can help drive greater value from existing investments in survey data and research. We anticipate these improvements will translate into valuable Social Sciences and Public Health learning. In particular we see potential for wider use of secondary survey research in service needs assessments, impact assessments and policy option appraisals. Research undertaken within Obesity eLab eSocial Science Node identified both an interest in the use of secondary survey analysis in the public sector and an acknowledgement that many analysts felt they lacked the knowledge or skills to carry out such research. Further work led to new collaborations between Social Scientists and Public Health professionals over equity audit. In the Scale node we will build on the relationships forged in Obesity eLab to develop innovative resources for interdisciplinary collaboration - a step beyond sharing resources. This will positively impact local communities by bringing more relevant information to bear on the decisions made over local services, as well as benefiting the researchers concerned by increasing the impact of their work.

Society:-
The most recent ESRC Strategic Review, Delivery Plan and the ESRC National Centre for Research Methods' consultation in 2009 all identify the need for collaborative, interdisciplinary working for social impact. MethodBox will promote interdisciplinary working by making it easier for users from different disciplines to share their expertise over uses of common data services. This increased awareness and sharing is likely to improve the capability of research based to generate new insights into complex social problems such as obesity.

Users of data services:-
By working closely with ESDS/UKDA this project will bring a new scientific social networking interface to data services. The evidence of working with the MethodBox prototype in the current eScience Node indicates that this addition to data services will make it easier for inexperienced users to start using the services, and make it easier for experienced users to disseminate their expertise in ways that make them feel rewarded. MethodBox is therefore likely to increase the user-base and usability of data services.

Data service and project staff:-
The explicit transfer of eScience knowledge from this projects staff to ESDS staff will develop new informatics capability in the data services. Reciprocally, embedding the work in a data service in this way will seed future collaborations to harness generic innovations in eScience and shape them for social research.

Publications

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Ainsworth J (2015) Combining Health Data Uses to Ignite Health System Learning. in Methods of information in medicine

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Ainsworth J (2012) eLab: bringing together people, data and methods to enhance knowledge discovery in healthcare settings. in Studies in health technology and informatics

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Arnold M (2016) Obesity and cancer: An update of the global impact. in Cancer epidemiology

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Badrick E (2014) Diabetes and cancer: 5 years into the recent controversy. in European journal of cancer (Oxford, England : 1990)

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Badrick E (2014) Bias in the estimation of adult body mass index from general practice records in European Journal of Public Health

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Bechhofer S (2013) Why linked data is not enough for scientists in Future Generation Computer Systems

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Campbell PT (2015) Association between body mass index and mortality for colorectal cancer survivors: overall and by tumor molecular phenotype. in Cancer epidemiology, biomarkers & prevention : a publication of the American Association for Cancer Research, cosponsored by the American Society of Preventive Oncology

 
Description The findings which the funding for Methodbox provided delivered key information which has informed a key theme in the HeRC programme (CHIP-SET).
Exploitation Route The findings which the funding for Methodbox provided delivered key information which has informed a key theme in the HeRC programme (CHIP-SET). This is also formally disseminated across the UK by the Farr institute of Health Informatics.

The basic Research Object and eLab concept originating in this research has been picked up and adopted not only in RCUK infrastructure such as STELAR and HeRC eLabs but also in NHS-linked eLabs such as the Connected Health Cities design and the Big Data 2 Knowledge initiative in the US.

Children's Respiratory and Environmental Workgroup (CREW) This consortium proposes to identify specific types of childhood asthma, develop an understanding of what early life environmental influences cause these different types of asthma, and identify targets for future efforts aimed at preventing childhood asthma. To accomplish these goals, the scientific information and resources from 12 birth cohorts across the US will be combined, and investigators and biostatisticians will work collaboratively to analyze data that has already been collected along with new information to better understand the underlying causes of childhood asthma.
Sectors Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Healthcare,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology

 
Description The findings which the funding for Methodbox provided delivered key information which has informed a key theme in the HeRC programme (CHIP-SET).
Sector Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Healthcare,Government, Democracy and Justice,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology
 
Description CRUK National Awareness and Early Diagnosis Initiative: Development of a risk prediction tool for early cancer detection in patients with type 2 diabetes
Amount £141,000 (GBP)
Organisation Cancer Research UK 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start  
 
Description Diabetes UK Clinical Research Grant
Amount £218,495 (GBP)
Funding ID 14/0004971 
Organisation Diabetes UK 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2015 
End 12/2018
 
Description MRC: STELAR
Amount £1,500,000 (GBP)
Organisation Medical Research Council (MRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2013 
End 12/2017
 
Description NIHR CLAHRC: Healthy children, healthy families: an applied public health research programme
Amount £1,000,000 (GBP)
Organisation National Institute for Health Research 
Department NIHR CLAHRC Yorkshire and Humber
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start  
 
Description The impact of body mass index on cancer-related survival in chemotherapy-naïve patients with non-metastatic colorectal and endometrial cancers: a federation meta-analysis of trial data
Amount £150,000 (GBP)
Funding ID 2016/1626 
Organisation World Cancer Research Fund 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country Global
Start 02/2017 
End 01/2019
 
Description Childhood Obesity Research Group for Innovation (CORGI) 
Organisation Asda Stores Limited
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution HeRC staff conducting a series of 'mini-workshops' with existing parent groups in primary schools in Manchester to inform the development of mobile health technology solutions to tackle childhood obesity.
Collaborator Contribution Direction and strategy
Impact Multidiscplinary team comprising of NHS; public health; academia; smes; greatersport et al - to address the obesity epidemic in children and adults using innovative technologies. Final outputs from the workshops will be used to inform future technology development. CORGI team are currently applying for further funding from British Heart Foundation to develop mobile technology for children's healthy weight management.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Childhood Obesity Research Group for Innovation (CORGI) 
Organisation British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution HeRC staff conducting a series of 'mini-workshops' with existing parent groups in primary schools in Manchester to inform the development of mobile health technology solutions to tackle childhood obesity.
Collaborator Contribution Direction and strategy
Impact Multidiscplinary team comprising of NHS; public health; academia; smes; greatersport et al - to address the obesity epidemic in children and adults using innovative technologies. Final outputs from the workshops will be used to inform future technology development. CORGI team are currently applying for further funding from British Heart Foundation to develop mobile technology for children's healthy weight management.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Childhood Obesity Research Group for Innovation (CORGI) 
Organisation Manchester City Council
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution HeRC staff conducting a series of 'mini-workshops' with existing parent groups in primary schools in Manchester to inform the development of mobile health technology solutions to tackle childhood obesity.
Collaborator Contribution Direction and strategy
Impact Multidiscplinary team comprising of NHS; public health; academia; smes; greatersport et al - to address the obesity epidemic in children and adults using innovative technologies. Final outputs from the workshops will be used to inform future technology development. CORGI team are currently applying for further funding from British Heart Foundation to develop mobile technology for children's healthy weight management.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Childhood Obesity Research Group for Innovation (CORGI) 
Organisation Manchester City Football Club
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution HeRC staff conducting a series of 'mini-workshops' with existing parent groups in primary schools in Manchester to inform the development of mobile health technology solutions to tackle childhood obesity.
Collaborator Contribution Direction and strategy
Impact Multidiscplinary team comprising of NHS; public health; academia; smes; greatersport et al - to address the obesity epidemic in children and adults using innovative technologies. Final outputs from the workshops will be used to inform future technology development. CORGI team are currently applying for further funding from British Heart Foundation to develop mobile technology for children's healthy weight management.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Childhood Obesity Research Group for Innovation (CORGI) 
Organisation Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution HeRC staff conducting a series of 'mini-workshops' with existing parent groups in primary schools in Manchester to inform the development of mobile health technology solutions to tackle childhood obesity.
Collaborator Contribution Direction and strategy
Impact Multidiscplinary team comprising of NHS; public health; academia; smes; greatersport et al - to address the obesity epidemic in children and adults using innovative technologies. Final outputs from the workshops will be used to inform future technology development. CORGI team are currently applying for further funding from British Heart Foundation to develop mobile technology for children's healthy weight management.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Large Scale Citizen Science Project for physical activity promotion 
Organisation Nokia
Department Withings
Country France 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution As a result of the mature relationship developed between HeRC and Withings, a new project is being scoped and planned at present as a collaboration between Withings, The University of Manchester and ConnectedHhelath Cities. The aim is to conduct a citizen science project with mass participation across the North of England to understand how digital health can be used as an intervention to increase physical activity and lower heartrate.
Collaborator Contribution Withings bring expertise in the digital health and mobile health sector. Agreements are confidential as to scope of involvmenet at present.
Impact In progress
Start Year 2016
 
Description Large Scale Citizen Science Project for physical activity promotion 
Organisation Nokia
Department Withings
Country France 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution As a result of the mature relationship developed between HeRC and Withings, a new project is being scoped and planned at present as a collaboration between Withings, The University of Manchester and ConnectedHhelath Cities. The aim is to conduct a citizen science project with mass participation across the North of England to understand how digital health can be used as an intervention to increase physical activity and lower heartrate.
Collaborator Contribution Withings bring expertise in the digital health and mobile health sector. Agreements are confidential as to scope of involvmenet at present.
Impact In progress
Start Year 2016
 
Description Withings Connected Health 
Organisation Nokia
Department Withings
Country France 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Analysis of data, preparation of manuscript for publication
Collaborator Contribution Provision of data, critical revision of manuscripts
Impact Paper: Sperrin, M., Rushton, H., Dixon, W., Normand, A., Villard, J., Chieh, A. & Buchan, I (2016). Who Self-Weighs and What Do They Gain From It? A Retrospective Comparison Between Smart Scale Users and the General Population in England. J Med Internet Res, 18(1), e17. eScholarID:296222 | PMID:26794900 | DOI:10.2196/jmir.4767
Start Year 2014
 
Description Demonstration of methodbox 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Demonstration of Methodbox software at the Living Costs and Food Survey User Meeting organised by ESDS government

Opportunity to present information about research project
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Methodbox 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Demonstration of Methodbox software to delegates at the NCRM Research Methods Festival, Oxford Demonstration of Methodbox Software

Demonstration of Methodbox Software
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Methodbox 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Demonstration of the Methodbox Software at the Opinions and Lifestyle Survey User Meeting organised by the ESDS Government

Opportunity to communicate aims of research project
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Methodbox : finding surveys and sharing methods 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Presentation at the Family Resources Survey user meeting one day workshop organised by the ESDS government

Opportunity to present information about the research project
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Methodbox : findings surveys and sharing methods 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Presentation at the Using Large-Scale Government Microdata for Employment and Labour Market Research one day workshop organised by the ESDS Government

Opportunity to present information about the research project
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
URL http://ukdataservice.ac.uk/news-and-events/eventsitem/?id=3687
 
Description www.methodbox.org 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Poster presentation at the NCRM Research Methods Festival, Oxford to advertise Methodbox

Poster to advertise Methodbox in the conference program
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
URL http://www.methodbox.org