Reporting impact

Impact is defined as the demonstrable contribution that research makes to society and the economy, of benefit to individuals, organisations and nations.

At the NIHR, we have a responsibility to demonstrate the value and impact of the research we fund and support.

We capture qualitative and quantitative data on the outputs, outcomes and impact of our research through Researchfish - an online data collection platform used by research funders globally. We ask NIHR-funded personal and research programme award holders to capture outputs, outcomes and impacts via Researchfish each year during their funding award and for at least five years afterwards.

Researchfish is one tool in our toolbox, providing us with detailed information directly from NIHR-funded researchers.

Reporting using Researchfish (during the COVID-19 pandemic)

The submission window opened on 1 February 2021 and will close at 16:00 on 11th March 2021. The NIHR is playing a critical role in terms of funding, enabling and delivering research into COVID-19. We know 2020 was an exceptional year as the world faces an unprecedented challenge in our efforts to tackle the spread of COVID-19. The effect of the pandemic on our research community is hugely varied. We are highly sympathetic to some of the challenges this year has posed and we have taken a number of steps to ensure our processes reflect the conditions our community are faced with at this time.

Whilst, we fully understand that there may be fewer outcomes to report at this time, we would like to encourage NIHR award holders to report (where possible) what outputs, outcomes and impacts you have achieved as this will help us to understand the effect the pandemic has had on our research community both in 2020 and beyond.

We are acutely aware of the need to reduce the burden for researchers by cutting back on duplication and maximising system interoperability. One of the ways in which we are achieving this is through our use of Researchfish and the related systems that bring together impact and insight relevant data. This is a particularly pertinent objective for the NIHR given the impact of the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the research community and its relevance to the 2021 submission window.

How we use your Researchfish data

The information provided on the outputs, outcomes and impact of NIHR-funded research allows us to demonstrate the difference that our award holders have made to the health and wealth of our nation.
We use the data submitted to Researchfish to:

  • improve accountability by improving reporting to government, the public and other stakeholders
  • enhance the evidence base for the impact of applied health research, to better advocate for funding
  • connect impacts and new developments with the original research across time
  • help the government and the NIHR understand how best to allocate resources
  • undertake analyses to understand what works in research funding
  • highlight potential avenues for continuous improvement.

We also use Researchfish data to inform the development of impact case studies, to undertake research impact assessments, and to respond to queries and requests for information from the Department of Health and Social Care.

You can find out more about how we use the information you provide in our Researchfish guidance document.

How do I get started?

Award holders will be sent a unique link by email when your award has been added to Researchfish. Click on the link to connect you award to your Researchfish account. If you don’t already have a Researchfish account you will be invited to create one. You will then be able to enter outputs, outcomes and impact information.

Link your account to ORCID to synchronise ORCID data with Researchfish.

You can allow research team members to access your award to help complete the submission.

What do I submit?

We ask you to provide a range of information on your research, including:

  • influence on policy, practice, patients and the public
  • engagement activities, collaborations and partnerships
  • patient and public involvement
  • intellectual property
  • datasets
  • publications
  • further funding. 

How do I submit?

Researchers are asked to submit information online via their Researchfish account.

We collect information in Researchfish once a year during a specified time window, usually each spring.

When the submission period opens, award holders that are required to submit will be asked to:

  • Enter research outputs, outcomes and impact data for each section (and/or use the delegate facility)
  • Complete any additional questions that may be required
  • Ensure that inappropriate data is not submitted against any NIHR awards, as it will be published in the public domain
  • Submit by clicking the ‘Begin submission process’ button in the ‘My awards’ tab.

Information can be added and edited in Researchfish at any time, but it must be verified and submitted by the Principal Investigator during the submission window. This confirms that the information given is correct and can be used by the NIHR.

The NIHR has a sanctions policy for researchers that do not provide an annual Researchfish submission in accordance with their contractual requirements. The sanctions may include:

  • the award holder may be ineligible for consideration for further NIHR awards
  • payments may be withheld.

What does my host organisation need to do?

Your host organisation needs to:

  • have their own access to Researchfish using the freely available interface (RO-lite) or by subscription to the full Researchfish interface
  • check NIHR awards are visible and response codes are accurate.

Help and support

Guidance on how to submit is available in our guidance notes. Our Researchfish FAQs answer commonly asked questions about making a submission for NIHR awards.

You can download a full set of the questions used by Researchfish in advance to prepare your responses ahead of online submission. You can also find out how the NIHR applies the response codes used by Researchfish.

Sources of help and support are available once users are logged into the system. Here you will be able to register for webinars, view videos, find the Researchfish user guide, and access Live Chat. If you need to reset your password then follow the instructions from the Researchfish login screen.