Analysis of EFSA methodological needs for evidence use in scientific assessments
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) PROMETHEUS (PROmoting METHods for Evidence Use in Scientific assessments) project aims at improving further the methods for ‘using’ (i.e. collecting, appraising and analysing) scientific evidence in EFSA assessments and increasing their consistency within the Authority. To date, the project has encompassed two main deliverables (both endorsed by the EFSA Scientific Committee): first, a scientific report (EFSA, 2015a), illustrating the principles for evidence use (impartiality, excellence in scientific assessments, transparency, openness and responsiveness) and describing a four-step approach (plan/carry out/verify/report) to fulfil those principles; second, this technical report on ‘EFSA methodological needs for evidence use’. These are any elements that can contribute to fulfil the principles and implement the four-step process for evidence use and include cross-cutting methodological documents applicable to all panels and units, training for staff and experts, instructions for applicants to integrate the existing regulatory frameworks, specialised repositories of data, IT needs, or more structured and harmonised approaches to outsourcing data collection, appraisal and syntheses. The methodological needs were defined by a working group of independent experts and EFSA staff, on the basis of a survey administered to EFSA panel members and scientific staff in the period from December 2015 to March 2016. This survey represented an important opportunity to take stock of views of the EFSA scientific community on the methodological needs for evidence use within the Authority. It provides input to the EFSA management and the Scientific Committee to identify appropriate follow-up actions. Overall, the analysis highlights the clear benefits to be gained from a cross-panel strategy. The diverse needs, intrinsic to the different panels’ remit will nevertheless have to be accommodated. The PROMETHEUS project also foresees a phase during which the implementation of the four-step approach is piloted in a series of EFSA case-studies. These case-studies may lead to the identification of further methodological needs.