From late 2017 the ESMI research group is hosting a Guest Lecture Series, that aims to:

  • Showcase and foster debate about new ideas and developments in evidence synthesis and modelling methods
  • Build collaborative connections to other leading researchers and relevant research groups in the UK and internationally
  • Raise the profile of ESMI’s work - and of evidence synthesis methods and their application more generally - within the medical school, the wider University and the South West
  • Stimulate ideas for the development of collaborative grant applications from ESMI staff, to conduct our own methodological and applied evidence synthesis or modelling research projects, and encourage research collaboration between research teams within ESMI

We hope to host between 3 and 4 guest lectures a year, and will publicise them as widely as possible within the Medical School, PenCLAHRC and the NHS, public health and care organisations in the South West.


Future meetings

19th March 2020 1.30-2.30pm


Cochrane – the challenges and opportunities

For over 25 years Cochrane has produced high-quality systematic reviews and played a key role in the world of evidence-based medicine.  It has fiercely guarded its independence and sought to promote a wider and better understanding of the healthcare research.  What challenges and opportunities lie ahead, in an era full of ‘fake news”?  And one in which there is an increasing belief that the world’s great problems – in health care and beyond - will never be solved by academia alone.

Prof Martin Burton

Martin Burton, Director Cochrane UK 3.06, South Cloisters, St Luke's
22nd May 2020 12.30-1.30pm TBC Gillian Stokes, EPPI Centre WK Norman, St Luke's
3rd June 2020 12.30-1.30pm TBC Fiona Campbell, University of Sheffield 3.06, South Cloisters, St Luke's

Past meetings

DateTimeTitleSpeaker and Files
3rd May 2019 1-2pm

Making evidence credible for public health policy

Debates about the role of evidence in policymaking have tended to focus primarily on how to increase the influence of academic research evidence on policy.  In health care in particular, this has tended to mean a focus on creating evidence synthesis (as the most robust and reliable form of evidence).  But this approach to the role of knowledge in policy sidesteps the question of what types of knowledge are actually used and valued in policymaking, and how different forms of knowledge may interact with policy.  Instead, we can ask - what do policymakers find useful and credible?  Why?  This question lets us explore the pathways to impact, and the different roles of evidence within policy and practice.

In this seminar, Kathryn will explore the implications of these strengths and limitations of credible knowledge in policy practices, and place our conclusions within a discussion of current approaches to understanding the role of knowledge in policymaking. She will close with some reflections on the importance of transparent and reflexive policymaking and knowledge-generation practices, and the implications of this for public health.

Joint ESMI/LKD Seminar

Dr Kathryn Oliver, Associate Professor in Sociology and Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
30th May 2018 12.00-1.30pm

Methodology Guidance – Where are the methods?

There is an increasing stream of published “methodology  guidance” covering the conduct and reporting of almost every kind of observational study, randomised trial, systematic review and meta-analysis. In some cases, journals require that this guidance is followed as a condition for publication. But what are the methods that generate this guidance?

Using Network Meta-analysis (NMA) as an example, we look at guidance issued by GRADE (Grading of Recommendations  Assessment, Development, and Evaluation) and PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis). We find that, in common with the majority of “methodology guidance”, the GRADE and PRIMA extensions for Network Meta-analysis are based on no more than opinion, and issued without any explicit empirical or theoretical underpinning. We identify aspects of GRADE-NMA and PRSIMA-NMA that are incorrect or even incoherent, and illustrate alternatives.

The current approach to methodology guidance is leading to ossification and hegemonism, and feeds a “post-truth” agenda in which the investigator’s priority is conformity with guidelines rather than a search for scientific truth. We distinguish between prescriptive and descriptive methodology guidance, and suggest that a debate is needed on what form methodology guidance should take.

Tony is a Professor of Public Health Science at Bristol Medical School. Trained as a psychologist, influenced by structural linguistics, he eventually became an epidemiologist and statistician interested fitting things together.

Tony Ades - Professor of Public Health Science at Bristol Medical School
15th March 2018 1-2.30pm

Campbell Collaboration : Better evidence for a better world

Dr. Vivian Welch, Editor in Chief of the Campbell Collaboration, will introduce the types of evidence synthesis conducted by the Campbell Collaboration across social sciences including international development, social welfare, crime & justice, education and knowledge translation and implementation, including their impact.

She will also describe ongoing research on an evidence gap map of ageing and current research being led by the Campbell and Cochrane Equity Methods Group.

Vivian is a Clinical Epidemiology Methodologist at the Bruyère Research Institute, lead of the BRI Method Centre, Assistant Professor at University of Ottawa, and Deputy Director of the Centre for Global Health, University of Ottawa.  Vivian's research interests include systematic reviews, health equity, global health, knowledge translation and clinical guidelines.

Dr. Vivian Welch - Editor in Chief of the Campbell Collaboration Clinical Epidemiology, Methodologist at the Bruyère Research Institute, lead of the BRI Method Centre, Assistant Professor at University of Ottawa and Deputy Director of the Centre for Global Health, University of Ottawa
6th February 2018 11.30am-12.30pm  

Increasing value and reducing waste in implementation research

Implementation research is the scientific study of the determinants, processes and outcomes of implementation.

Whilst there is an increasing body of implementation research, we are not advancing knowledge as efficiently as we could.

There is considerable waste in implementation research (as in all other areas of health research) particularly due to failures to ask the right research questions, failures to use current available evidence when planning future research and failures to maximise the informativeness of syntheses of implementation programs.

The seminar will discuss these issues and offer suggestions to enhance value and reduce waste.


JG Implementation Research

Jeremy Grimshaw, Ottowa Hospital Research Institute

5th February 2018 12-1pm

Seeing the forest and the trees – getting more value out of systematic reviews of complex interventions

Systematic reviews and meta-analyses of complex interventions raise conceptual and methodological challenges that traditional systematic review and meta -analysis approaches fail to address.

We have undertaken a series of systematic reviews of diabetes quality improvement interventions (published
in JAMA 2006 (50 trials), Lancet 2012 (142 trials), Cochrane Library in preparation (278 trials)).

To enhance the value of the systematic review, we have explored procedural (contacting authors) and statistical (Bayesian hierarchical multivariate analyses) innovations to extract more information for decision makers  planning diabetes quality improvement activities.

We are also converting the current update into a living (complex) systematic review to maintain a current  systematic review for decision makers.


JG Evidence Synthesis 05 Feb

Slides available on request, please contact

Jeremy Grimshaw, Ottowa Hospital Research Institute

24th January 2018 10-11am

We can see the forest, but where are the trees?  Methods to bridge diversity and meta-analysis

G.J. Melendez-Torres Seminar

Slides available on request, please contact

G J Melendez Torres, Cardiff University

27th November 2017 3-4pm

Enhancing the portability of public health intervention review evidence for localised decision-making

Dylan Kneale slides

Dylan Kneale, Institute of Education, UCL