NIHR Researchfish

What is Researchfish?

Researchfish is an external system used by the NIHR to collect information on the research activities that are undertaken by its award holders. On an annual basis, NIHR-funded researchers and trainees are asked to submit data about their outputs, outcomes and impacts. The information on this page is about the use of Researchfish by the NIHR. The NIHR wishes to underline the importance of its researchers and trainees engaging with the system to return information to us.

The next NIHR Researchfish data submission period will be February – March 2017 (exact dates to be confirmed) 

Why is Researchfish important?

The NIHR has a responsibility to demonstrate the value and impact of the research it funds. The NIHR uses information from researchers and trainees on the outputs, outcomes and impact of their NIHR funded projects to report to both the Government and the public. As well, this data is analysed to understand the process of NIHR research and its effects on patients and feed into our strategic planning.

In general, the systematic collection of research outputs, outcomes and impact enables the NIHR to:

  • provide a strong evidence base to support the continued funding of health research in the UK
  • improve the quality of reporting research outcomes to Government, the public and other organisations
  • maintain a longer-term relationship with award holders to capture new developments and impacts from research after an award has finished.

Why use Researchfish?

The NIHR uses Researchfish as we believe it to be an accessible and user-friendly web-based outcomes collection system. The key benefits of Researchfish are:

  • researcher and trainees can log onto Researchfish at any time and add details of new activities
  • the data will remain in Researchfish, so you will not have to enter this information again, but only update it in the future
  • use by over 100 research organisations and funders, which makes it possible for researchers to provide information to multiple funders in one place, thereby reducing their administrative burden.

Where can I find help and support to use Researchfish?

Researchfish provides a wealth of information and support for researchers via their website. Researchers and research organisations that receive NIHR awards are strongly advised to take advantage of the information provided through the videos, webinars and ‘live chat’ support that is available.  NIHR provides further support through this web page and our FAQs here. You may find our Researchfish infographics helpful [see/link to downloads section]. If you have any questions or queries regarding the NIHRs use of Researchfish or specific NIHR awards that are not covered by our FAQs you can contact the NIHR evaluation team via email

What information is reported to Researchfish?

There are three types of questions in Researchfish

A wide range of information about the outputs, outcomes and impact of research can be reported through Researchfish.  Within Researchfish there are three types of question sets which it uses to systematically gather information:

  • Common question set – this refers to output, outcome and impact questions, divided into 16 categories (listed below), that are asked by all funders for all researchers who use Researchfish. . NIHR award holders are encouraged to report information in sections relevant to their research outputs, outcomes and impacts
  • Funder specific question set(s) – these are questions defined and requested by specific funders that are asked to recipients of all award holders. The NIHR currently has 1 additional question set that is asked of all award holders relating to Patient and Public Involvement in research. Completion of this question is mandatory in Researchfish for all NIHR award holders

  • Award specific question set(s) – these are questions defined and requested by specific funders in relation to a sub-set of awards. The NIHR currently has a small number of award specific questions in use. Where award specific questions are in use completion of these questions is mandatory.

The most recent version of the Common Question Set can be found here on the Researchfish website.

The categories in the Common Question Set are:

  •  Publications
  • Collaborations and Partnerships 
  •  Further Funding
  • Next Destination & Skills
  • Engagement Activities
  • Influence on Policy
  • Research Tools & Methods
  • Research Databases & Models
  • Intellectual Property & Licensing
  • Medical Products, Interventions and Clinical Trials
  • Artistic & Creative Products
  • Software & Technical Products
  • Spin Outs
  • Awards and Recognition
  • Other Outputs & Knowledge / Future Steps
  • Use of Facilities & Resources

How to access Researchfish and complete an annual submission.

If you are a new award holder you will be contacted by the NIHR to invite you to create a Researchfish account.  Existing award holders should already have a Researchfish account.

Within your account you will be able to view information about your NIHR award(s).  If you hold awards with other funders that use Researchfish you will also be able to view these. If you have awards that are jointly funded by another organisation that uses Researchfish you can link these awards.

Award holders can access their Researchfish account at anytime and are strongly advised to update their portfolio throughout the year. To support this, researchers can add delegates.

Once a year, the NIHR opens an official submission period when we ask that you review all your output information in Researchfish, allocate it to the appropriate awards, and confirm that this has been done by hitting the ‘submit’ button. 

Researchfish allows you to enter all of your research activities in a single ‘portfolio’. Information entered into the “My Portfolio” section of Researchfish is accessible only by you and your chosen delegates, if any. Your responses will remain in Researchfish, so you will not have to enter this information again, but only update it in the future. This information cannot be viewed by the NIHR until you specifically assign a research activity to a NIHR award. Your account with Researchfish is also open all year round for data entry. This means that you can tell us about your research activities throughout the year and not only during the official NIHR submission period. The system will alert NIHR to any information assigned to us outside the official submission period, which allows us to maximise awareness of time-sensitive research outcomes and impacts.

Please note that not all sections will be relevant to all research, especially if you have started recently. However, we do expect you to review all sections and remember that even activities such as putting together a questionnaire, count as research outputs.

Researchfish does not yet replace your current reporting obligations as agreed with your Programme Managers. We are well aware that this means that you will have some duplicate reporting within NIHR and we are working towards harmonising our systems to minimise reporting duplications.

Publishing Data and sanctions policy.

The NIHR will only publish information which is attributed to NIHR research projects, programmes or fellowships and for which the submission process has been completed. Researchers and trainees are advised to not disclose data that conflict with agreements they may have with third parties, is sensitive, or is considered confidential.

The NIHR will contact researchers and trainees annually during the period of the award and for at least five years after the award has terminated.

The NIHR has a clear sanctions policy for those award holders who do not provide an annual Researchfish submission in accordance with their contractual requirements:

  • the researcher or trainee may be ineligible for consideration for further NIHR awards

  • payments may be withheld.

For further information about how NIHR works with Researchfish please email


The most common questions from NIHR researchers and trainees which can be seen here

Webinar: Completing your Researchfish submissions for the NIHR

The NIHR hosted a live webinar 'Completing your Researchfish submissions for the NIHR' on 14th March 2016 aimed at NIHR researchers who were expected to complete a Researchfish submission between 15 February 2016 and 23 March 2016. This webinar is now available to view for those who were unable to attend.

View the webinar here

Speakers include Dr Sarah Thomas, Senior Research Manager and Researchfish Lead at the NIHR Evaluation, Trials and Studies Coordinating centre (NETSCC), Sally Clough, Senior Programme Manager at the NIHR Trainees Coordinating Centre (TCC) and Dr Catriona Manville, Senior Analyst at RAND Europe.

The one hour webinar covers:

  • An overview of what Researchfish is and why the NIHR use it
  • What to include in your NIHR submission and where to put your outputs in Researchfish (including signposts to resources for technical help)
  • Q&A session.