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 2021 submission window closed at 16:00 on 11th March 2021. The NIHR has and is playing a critical role in terms of funding, enabling and delivering research into COVID-19. We know 2020 and the beginning of 2021 was an exceptional period in which  the world faced an unprecedented challenge in our efforts to tackle the spread of COVID-19. The effect of the pandemic on our research community has and continues to be hugely varied. We are highly sympathetic to some of the challenges this period has posed and we have taken a number of steps to ensure our processes reflected the conditions our community has been faced with during this time.
We’re exceptionally grateful for the efforts made by our researchers to report on their research activities, balancing this annual reporting requirement alongside day-to-day tasks and a variety of challenging circumstances. Thank you.
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. This is an ongoing objective for the NIHR which we will continue to develop as we move towards the 2022 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.

When will the next Researchfish submission window open?

The Researchfish submission takes place annually each spring, with the main submission window dates agreed by the HEIs and funders in the UK using the system. However, the Researchfish system is open all year round for information to be added and edited against awards. Submission requires the Principal Investigator to verify and ‘sign off’ the outputs, outcomes and impacts that have been entered against their awards, confirming that the information given is correct and can be used by the NIHR. The Principal Investigator can delegate data entry to colleagues in their team. Any data entered is included in the researcher's portfolio so if an output, outcome or impact is relevant to more than one award it can be attributed easily across multiple awards without the need for duplicate entry.

The 2022 Researchfish submission window will open Monday 7 February 2022 and close on Thursday 17 March 2022 (16:00).

Help and support

 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.