National Center for the
Dissemination of Disability Research

Communities of Practice

CoP on Research Quality

This Community of Practice (CoP) focuses on issues related to research quality, including systematic reviews, and their application to disability and rehabilitation research such as that funded by NIDRR. Quality is also explored in relation to non-Randomized Control Trial (RCT) research designs such as quasi-experimental and single subject designs.

The NCDDR first directed efforts to working with interested grantees to initiate a Community of Practice in 2005, for the purpose of sharing knowledge about conducting research within the NIDRR community and examining issues of quality and standards for high quality disability research. These activities indicated that the CoP concept is a positive strategy to encourage NIDRR grantees to work together in areas of common interest.

In 2006, the CoP on Research Quality—at NIDRR's request—focused on working with grantees in responding to the reporting requirements of the Annual Performance Report (APR). There was also a focus on the characteristics of Accomplishment Nuggets for 110 Health & Function grantees participating in the Annual Performance Assessment Expert Review (APAER) process. The goal was to increase grantees' understanding of key concepts in reporting their significant accomplishments, including outputs, short-term and intermediate outcomes, as well as what constitutes evidence to support those accomplishments. Several teleconferences were held with NIDRR staff, and special Web pages were maintained with up-to-date information from NIDRR on the APR and APAER process and reporting requirements.

A new focus was implemented in 2009. A series of webcasts and teleconferences was developed to explore factors that influence research quality, such as disability policy, research rigor and relevance, and disparities research. Well-known and experienced researchers and other stakeholders are invited to share information from their particular perspectives, with NIDRR grantees serving as respondents to ensure the focus on disability and rehabilitation research.

NCDDR staff are continuing to collaborate with NIDRR-funded and other researchers to explore issues and best practices in research quality for disability and rehabilitation research.

Online Course

Conducting Systematic Reviews of Evidence-Based Disability and Rehabilitation Research (2009-2010). The course is designed to develop skills needed to conceptualize, prepare, and submit a completed systematic review to the Campbell Collaboration ECG's Disability Subgroup.


Rating the Strength of Evidence and Recommendations for Disability/Rehabilitation Research (Nov. 20, 2009)

Disability and Healthcare Research Results: How to Increase their Reach (May 7, 2009)

Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses of Single-subject Experimental Designs (SSEDs) (October 23, 2008)

KT Measurement: What Constitutes Quality? (December 3, 2007)


Documenting Disparities in Obesity and Disability (Webcast #21). Drs. James Rimmer and Margaret Campbell discuss research on the disparities in obesity experienced by people with disabilities, potential consequences of those disparities, and efforts to include disability as a diversity and equity factor in federal and community health-promotion programs.

Policy Implications for Disability and Rehabilitation Research Quality (Webcast #19). Michael Collins and Robert “Bobby” Silverstein discuss the impacts of federal policy directives and issues affecting disability and rehabilitation research.

Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses of Single-subject Experimental Designs (SSEDs) (Webcast #14). Drs. Rolf Schlosser and Oliver Wendt discuss the rationale for and potential contributions of systematic reviews and meta-analysis of SSEDs and how syntheses of SSEDs differs from traditional systematic reviews and meta-analyses.

When the best is the enemy of the good - The nature of research evidence used in systematic reviews and guidelines (Webcast #13). Drs. Marcel Dijkers, Tamara Bushnik, and Mark Sherer discuss a position paper of the Task Force on Systematic Review and Guidelines, in which they assert that the “best available” evidence to support rehabilitation practice should include relevant research using appropriate methodology for the given research question.

The value of "traditional" reviews in the era of systematic reviewing (Webcast #11). Drs. Marcel Dijkers, Michael Boninger, and David Vandergoot discuss a position paper of the Task Force on Systematic Review and Guidelines, in which they argue that systematic and traditional reviews serve different purposes and suggest improvements for narrative and systematic reviews.

New Features of the Cochrane Library (Webcast #7). Denine Tilery of Wiley InterScience describes the newest features of The Cochrane Library.

Campbell Collaboration: New Directions in Identifying What Works (Webcast #3). Dr. Herb Turner, III, and Dr. Chad Nye of the Campbell Collaboration (C2) describe the origin of C2, and provided explanations and examples of the components of a Campbell systematic review.

Understanding the Cochrane Library (Webcast #2). Denine Tilery describes the databases making up the Cochrane Library and discusses the aim, goals and structure of The Cochrane Collaboration and why systematic reviews are an increasingly important source of evidence of the effects of healthcare.


Future Activities

In September, 2009, the CoP began a series of webcasts on issues related to research quality. NIDRR grantees are serving as respondents for the webcasts, to contribute their expertise and perspectives on these important issues. At the completion of the webcast series, the NCDDR and our respondents will be producing a summary of these activities as a means of capturing the current status of and challenges to research quality in disability and rehabilitation research.

CoP activities will focus on identifying topics for new resources for grantees such as upcoming webcasts, new items for the Library of KT Resources, and additional workshop and training ideas. Webcasts, FOCUS Technical Briefs, and workshops are in the planning stages.

How do I participate?

Staff members of NIDRR-funded projects and other interested individuals are invited to join the CoP on Research Quality. Participants can utilize CoP resources, submit an article for a FOCUS: Technical Brief, and suggest webcast topics related to issues of quality of rehabilitation research.

Contact us

For more information please contact the NCDDR (

National Center for the Dissemination of Disability Research (NCDDR)

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NCDDR is funded by the
National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR)
Project Number: H133A060028
U.S. Department of Education