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 over a hundred funders. It is one tool in our toolbox, providing us with detailed information directly from NIHR-funded researchers.

The new submission window will open on 1 February 2021 and close at 16:00 on 11th March 2021.

Reporting using Researchfish

We ask NIHR-funded researchers and trainees to capture outputs, outcomes and impacts via Researchfish each year during their funding award and for at least five years afterwards.


How we use your Researchfish data

The information you submit on the outputs, outcomes and impact of your NIHR-funded research allows us to demonstrate the difference that your project has made to the health and wealth of our nation.

We use 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 guidance document.

How do I get started?

New to Researchfish? Award holders (referred to as Principal Investigators in the system) are sent a link to activate their online Researchfish account, after which you will be able to enter output and impact information. You can allow research team members to access your account to help complete the submission.

Got a new NIHR funding award? We will send you an email with a link that will connect your new award to your Researchfish account when you click on it. Don't forget to link your Researchfish account to your ORCID ID.

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
  • intellectual property
  • patient and public involvement
  • 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.

You may enter and edit information 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 who fail to provide an annual Researchfish submission in accordance with their contractual requirements. The sanctions include:

  • the researcher or trainee 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
  • log in to check NIHR awards are visible and response codes are accurate.

Need advice?

Guidance on how to submit is available in our guidance notes and on the Researchfish website. Our FAQs answer commonly asked questions about what sort of information to submit for your NIHR award and how.

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 interprets the terminology (response codes) used by Researchfish

Researchfish offers videos on how to complete specific steps of the submission process.