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Our CRO Leadership Awards team has compiled a list of the questions we get asked most often below.

If you're still not finding the answer you're looking for, please do not hesitate to contact us!

Clinical Leader's readers have told us about their struggles in efficiently vetting potential CRO partners. In response to this input, the CRO Leadership Awards were developed.

Based on research from ISR Report's Contract Research Quality Benchmarking annual online surveys, contract research organizations are evaluated on more than 20 different performance metrics. Research participants were recruited from biopharmaceutical and medical device companies of all sizes and were screened for decision-making influence and authority when it comes to working with contract research suppliers. Respondents only evaluated companies with which they have worked on an outsourced project in the last 18 months. This level of qualification ensures that quality rates come from actual involvement with a business and that companies identified as leaders are backed by experiential data. CROs have an opportunity to win these awards in up to three groups of outsourcing respondents – Big Pharma, Small Pharma, and Overall (combined Big and Small Pharma).

ISR survey participants were asked to provide an expectation rating for each CRO they have worked with in the past 18 months. Points were then totaled for a combined score for each attribute and a composite score for each core category was determined. Winning CROs were determined when comparing their overall score vs. the competitive set.

To learn more about ISR's industry reports, customized research, or to be included in future CRO Quality Benchmarking annual surveys, visit or contact ISR at

Clinical Leader’s mission is to facilitate connections and foster collaborations in the preclinical and clinical research space. We deliver exclusive, actionable information to help industry professionals tackle the challenges they face in bringing high-quality therapies to market quickly and efficiently. These insights, analysis, and best practices come from interviews with — and contributed articles from — recognized experts in the field.
Topics covered include: pre-clinical, laboratory, bio-analytical, clinical stage research programs, pharmacovigilance, clinical data management, electronic patient reported outcomes (ePRO), point-of-care testing (POCT), patient recruitment, electronic data capture (EDC), and clinical trials management systems (CTMS).

ISR is a full-service pharma market research firm that delivers relevant and trustworthy insight into the complex and dynamic pharmaceutical environment. The high-quality market research enables confident tactical and strategic business decisions. ISR produces syndicated industry reports and offers custom research and consulting services.

  1. Access to patient populations
  2. Access to "unique" tests, machines, equipment
  3. Biostatistics
  4. Central lab
  5. Data management
  6. Investigator recruitment
  7. Monitoring
  8. Patient recruitment (Phase II/III, Phase IV)
  9. Patient/volunteer recruitment (Phase I)
  10. Speed of site start-up
  11. Technology for real-time access to data
  1. Easy to work with
  2. Responsiveness
  3. Timely project communications
  1. Local market/Regulatory knowledge
  2. Operational excellence
  3. Scientific knowledge of the Phase I unit's lead investigator
  4. Study design expertise
  5. Therapeutic expertise
  1. Data quality
  2. Project manager quality
  1. Meeting overall project timelines
  2. Operational excellence
  3. Staff turnover

The survey for the CRO Leadership Awards is conducted in the fourth quarter of the prior year.

Participants are recruited from biopharmaceutical companies of all sizes and are screened for decision-making influence and authority, as well as their areas of outsourcing expertise. Respondents only evaluate companies with which they have worked on an outsourced project within the past 18 months. ISR uses an "industry-random approach." Results are impartial because CROs do not have input on which customers evaluate their performance. To be considered for inclusion to take the next available survey, please contact ISR directly at

Because evaluations are based on participant experience, CROs must have been engaged in outsourced projects for at least the past 18 months. This level of qualification ensures that quality ratings come from actual involvement with a business. ISR works to maintain a current list of CROs and their services for inclusion in the survey. To be considered for inclusion in the next survey, please contact ISR directly at

There is no cost to be included in the survey. For winning CROs, there is no cost to have a profile included in the awards supplement. The intention of this annual supplement is to provide Clinical Leader's industry readers with a resource they can use to vet CROs using feedback from other sponsor companies (their peers) who are utilizing outsourcing services.

Primary market research by Industry Standard Research (ISR) is the basis of the awards. ISR is able to identify outsourcing trends, CRO selection drivers, and CRO performance. This is highly valuable for CROs- especially those with a diverse offering - that are able to gain insight into their performance on a granular level. For further details on your company’s performance in the survey that supports the CRO Leadership Awards, please contact ISR directly at

First of all – Congratulations! Please email and we will be happy to send you all of the necessary information to promote your company’s hard earned achievement.

Yes! Digital copies are available for purchase at There are two reports in the suite - Phase II-III Service Providers and Phase IV Service Providers.

Each of ISR's CRO quality benchmarking reports include five major sections:

  • Service Provider Selection Process
  • Service Provider Perceptions and Interactions
  • Service Provider Performance and Loyalty
  • Company Service Quality Profiles
  • Study Data

Company size plays a role in a sponsor's service needs, budgets, and expectations when it comes to outsourcing. Therefore, participant responses are analyzed across three dimensions: big pharma ($1B + R&D), small pharma, and overall. By recognizing winning CROs in this way, the designations better serve sponsors in vetting potential partners.