Tracking the impact of charity research funding – a new opportunity for AMRC members

Posted on February 12, 2013 by


Today, AMRC are delighted to announce that we are making it possible for 121 of our small and medium sized charities – 97% of our membership – to use Researchfish, an online research evaluation system for up to 3 years. The system will allow our members to see how every project they fund brings them closer to better treatments, and demonstrates to their donors what their money is achieving. This has been made possible by a £1m agreement between AMRC, the Medical Research Council (MRC) and Researchfish.

Why this is important

This deal provides an opportunity for our members, regardless of size, to try out the Researchfish service. Charities will be able to collect information about the impact of the research they fund using a standard reporting system. Researchers often hold grants from more than one funder; Researchfish also allows researchers to ‘share’ the impacts of their research with multiple funders making reporting easier. Putting the information collected together will also allow us to demonstrate sector-wide impacts and understand how they come about.

Sharmila Nebhrajani, chief executive of AMRC, said:

MRC’s leadership today will enable charities big and small to track the outcomes of their research, helping us to work together more effectively to deliver benefits for patients.

This is a brilliant opportunity for funders big and small to assess their role in shaping UK medical research and improving healthcare. By sharing investment and impact data across the sector, our member charities will better understand where they have the greatest impact. And we can all use the unique evidence this generates to help us to identify the importance of collaboration with public and commercial funders, to increase the value of each research pound and so deliver the greatest improvements in medical research.

How does Researchfish work?

Researchfish is an online evaluation system for collecting information on outputs, outcomes and impacts of research. It has been used by MRC since 2009, when it was known as MRC e-Val. Following work with other medical research funders to expand the functionality, a new system, called Researchfish, which works across funders, was launched in 2012.

Researchers report progress and outputs directly into Researchfish. Charities using the system will know when their research has resulted in a publication, led to the development of intellectual property or influenced policy, for example. A charity funding a fellowship will see when a researcher has attracted further funding. Funders can keep on tracking, even after the award is complete, building-up a picture of the long-term impacts of their entire portfolio. MRC have used the data they collected from e-Val/Researchfish to report on the impacts of their research (which we blogged about here).

By collecting all this information in a single system, it will become easier for the medical research sector to understand how funding from a variety of sources contributes to the progress of research from idea through to impact – better treatments for patients.

The single reporting system also reduces the administrative burden on users. Researchers can enter an output just once and then associate it with the relevant funder or funders, more accurately reflecting the reality of research funding, where a variety of funders contribute support to a programme of research.

What next – your opportunity to get involved

AMRC member charities interested in taking part should submit an Expression of interest  by 22 March 2013. You will be asked to identify the value of ‘open grants’ (those that are active or recently closed, where the funder wishes to continue to capture outputs and impact of the research). We hope that everyone that wants to join can be added to the system by July 2013. You can find out more info in these FAQs

AMRC will work with our members to understand this data, and show that charities fund efficiently to add value to UK medical research.

Posted in: Policy