Background The Global Health Network is a platform for research capacity development and improving evidence generation and quality, especially in low- and middle-income countries. This is achieved by delivering training and career development (through an on-line professional membership and training scheme as well as face-to-face workshops). The platform is also a mechanism for sharing research skills knowledge, experience and tools.
Methods The Network has been consistently monitored using web analytics data and targeted surveys which combine quantitative and qualitative data, including 600 user interviews to evaluate impact. The data have been compiled by four researchers working in collaboration; each researcher was responsible for analysing specific datasets, which were later combined for the overall evaluation to ensure a fully comprehensive and in-depth assessment.
Results The Global Health Network is made up of over 30 interconnected research communities, with over 770,000 visits, over 73,000 individual site memberships and more than 30,000 tools or document downloads. It is clear that this is a much needed, trusted and well-used resource. In all, 89.5% of users indicated the quality of information provided on the Network is of high quality. Importantly, over 130,000 online eLearning modules have been taken. Ninety-six percent of users indicated they would recommend the training courses to others, and 82% had greater course-specific skills confidence after taking a course.
Conclusions The Network has a broad user base, from individual frontline research staff through to large collaborative groups who make use of the platform to disseminate their activities, and is viewed as a high-quality, cost-effective and trustworthy community. However, more needs to be done to ensure that the capacity development initiatives of key groups, like EDCTP, make greater and more effective use of this free and impactful resource.
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