About US$160 billion is spent every year on biomedical research. In a 2009 Viewpoint, Iain Chalmers and Paul Glasziou estimated that 85% of research is wasteful or inefficient, with deficiencies in four main areas: is the research question relevant for clinicians or patients? Are design and methods appropriate? Is the full report accessible? Is it unbiased and clinically meaningful? These themes will be further explored in a forthcoming Series. The question about the importance, purpose, and impact of research should surely not be an afterthought at publication stage, or even later as part of a research assessment exercise, which happens periodically for many government funded academic institutions. Currently, in the UK many academics are frantically putting together case studies to demonstrate the impact of their research for the 2014 round of the Research Excellence Framework.