Provision of a methodology for research into the Return on Investment in NHS library and knowledge services

Research output: Book/ReportBook


The aim of the research was to provide a model and methodology for research into return on investment (ROI) in NHS library and knowledge services (LKS).

The objectives were to
• Justify a methodology for ROI based on evaluation of existing approaches
• Demonstrate options for ROI work in LKS in the NHS
• Provide for international collaboration
• Recommend applications for testing, with indications of resource implications
• Confirm that the model is recognised as a valid approach

The methods used included:
• Review of the literature evidence on ROI approaches relevant to health library and knowledge services in the NHS
• Development of a social value framework model of six sets of goals, outputs and outcomes, with appropriate theories of change, based on an existing evaluation framework for Knowledge for Healthcare
• Analysis of the feasibility of using certain outcomes, indicators and financial proxies using evidence from the literature
• Development of outline models and ROI scenarios demonstrating how existing data collected by LKS could be used, and what additional data would be necessary
• Confirmation that the model and methodology complied with social value/ROI guidance

The main conclusions were:
• A social value approach offers guidance on how to do ROI in a rigorous, transparent and replicable way.
• There is a need for stakeholder engagement – evidence on LKS impact is being collected currently but more evidence about “what changed” for stakeholders would help, for example, to develop credible “willingness to pay” scenarios.
• The extent of LKS contribution to outcomes that concern patient care, patient experience and patient safety need to be researched, in order to understand the reach of the investment in LKS services and valuing these outcomes fairly.
• Some ideas could be used from the existing library literature, but many existing ROI analyses are hard to validate, and some of the assumptions do not apply to the UK.

The main recommendations for testing the model are:
• Comparison of ROI of collaborative regional procurement with existing local procurement arrangements for e-resources
• Analysing the ROI for specialist/clinical librarian working.
Original languageEnglish
Commissioning bodyNHS England Health Education England
Number of pages56
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019


  • return on investment
  • health libraries
  • research methodology


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