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What Are Key Questions, Draft Reports, and White Papers?

What Are Key Questions?

A research report is an answer to a set of questions. The questions may be about how different tests or treatments work or how they compare to one another. These “key questions" tell the researchers what to look for in the evidence. Key questions help make sure that the research stays focused on the findings that patients, clinicians, and health care policymakers need to make good decisions.

For example, the researchers may want to study the evidence about the different treatments available for people with acid reflux disease. A team of experts, researchers, and others think through the important issues for people with this condition. The team then makes a list of questions that are most relevant to all patients, clinicians, and policymakers. They will make sure the questions reflect as many of the available treatments for acid reflux disease as possible, the benefits of these treatments for different groups of people, and the possible side effects of each treatment for different groups of people.

Public comment on these questions helps the researchers and experts think about what is most important to ask so that the research is as useful as possible.

What Is a Draft Report?

A draft report is a first version of the research findings. The Effective Health Care (EHC) Program makes this version available to the public before it is officially published so that they can make comments about any of the findings or the way in which they are communicated.

All draft reports are open to public comment for a period of 4 weeks. The Program uses these comments to help focus the research and ensure that the final evidence report answers the most important questions that clinicians, patients, consumers and policymakers have about a given treatment, test, or procedure.

For instance, say that you are a person with diabetes who has come to our Web site to find out how different diabetes drugs compare to one another. You find a draft report of research comparing the benefits and harms of various diabetes drugs and read through the material. However, you notice that the draft report does not offer any information on a recent study you had read about online. You can submit that comment, and researchers will consider whether they should include evidence from this study (or explain why it was not included) in the final version of the report.

The EHC Program is dedicated to keeping the research process as open to the public as possible. We encourage you to take a look at these draft reports and offer any comments you might have about the research.

What Is a White Paper?

A white paper examines a single research topic to stimulate thought and to facilitate discussion about an area of emerging interest. Such areas can include technological innovations; gaps in knowledge identified through original research, reviews of research, or methods research; and new knowledge that may inform the development of systems, processes, and methods.

One example of the white papers developed by the EHC Program is a series of Future Research Needs papers that are intended to be used by researchers and funders of research to help improve the body of systematic review evidence that would be useful to decisionmakers.

Page last reviewed September 2017
Page originally created September 2017

Internet Citation: What Are Key Questions, Draft Reports, and White Papers?. Content last reviewed September 2017. Effective Health Care Program, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.
https://effectivehealthcare.ahrq.gov/get-involved/draft-comments/what

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