Charities need to demonstrate public benefit, and for charities that fund medical research this means showing that the research they fund has an impact for people with that condition. However, it can take many years and many research groups to translate a research idea into a new treatment or therapy. Funders have shown impact by carrying out retrospective reviews of their research, asking recipients of old grants to tell them what happened next, but this takes a lot of time, and can be seen as ‘cherry picking’ the best examples, rather than giving a true picture of the impact of a research programme.

Using Researchfish to track the impact of charity research funding

Researchfish is an online evaluation system for collecting information on outputs, outcomes and impacts of research. It was launched in 2012 and is based on the MRC e-Val system used by the Medical Research Council (MRC) since 2009. Researchfish allows researchers to link their outputs to the different grants that they hold from funders who are using the system. Because impacts are added prospectively, funders are able to assess the impact of a whole funding stream as well as from individual grants.

Collaboration with AMRC

The MRC, Researchfish and AMRC have been collaborating since 2013 to allow AMRC members the opportunity to use Researchfish at an affordable rate.

Most recently a group of AMRC members spending less than £5 million per year on UK Research and MRC are collaboratively funding phase 3 of the ‘Researchfish’ project for a 4 year period (April 2018 - March 2022). The cost of the project is met by those members providing funding contributions in line with their UK research spend. MRC funds subsidise these costs and provide grant funding support to the earlier years, such that the costs that need to be funded by members will rise from 25% in year 1 to 100% in year 4.

The project allows charities to use the Researchfish platform to collect outputs and impacts of the research they fund, and enables AMRC to autocode and collate sector data and provide a collaborative and supportive learning environment for data analysis and impact for all contributors. You can read about how AMRC has used Researchfish to pool outcomes data across charities in this case study.

AMRC charities who wish to join this initiative should contact Jocelyn LeBlanc.

AMRC represents our members to Researchfish

The governance structure of Researchfish is comprised on a steering board and several sub groups who meet quarterly. AMRC has representation in each of these groups and we can flag any concerns from our membership. Please contact Jocelyn with issues or feedback you’d like to relay to Researchfish.