Supporting charities to assess impact

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MRC pledges support for the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC) members in tracking impact, using Researchfish

Today, as demonstrating the impact of investing in research is ever more important, the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC), the Medical Research Council (MRC) and Researchfish announce a two-year extension to their collaboration to strengthen charities’ capacity to collect information about the outcomes and impact of the research they fund. Under the new agreement, MRC will provide funding to allow eligible health and medical research charities represented by AMRC to use the Researchfish system free of charge, and will support charities’ outcome data collection via the RCUK Research Outcomes Support Team (ROST).

Charities fund research that focuses on patient need: better treatments that improve the quality of their lives and ultimately will prevent or cure their condition. Such research is a long-term endeavour, requiring sustained and consistent funding.

Aisling Burnand MBE, Chief Executive of AMRC said:

“Now more than ever, it is essential the charity sector tells the stories of its significant impact. Thanks to the vision and generosity of the Medical Research Council, health and medical research charities will be better placed to tell those stories, backed-up by the crucial evidence of outcomes and impact.”

Researchfish is an online evaluation system for collecting information on outputs, outcomes and impacts of research, such as publications, intellectual property and further funding. Launched in 2012, it is based on the e-Val system developed and used by MRC since 2009. Researchers use it to link outputs to specific grants; which allows funders to track the outcomes of each award and build up a picture of impact across a research portfolio.

Since 2013, the collaboration has supported 37 health and medical research charities to use Researchfish. This has helped them to assess the effectiveness of their research strategies and provided them with valuable data to inform future funding decisions and show donors how they are making a difference.

Professor Sir John Savill, Chief Executive of MRC said:

“AMRC members support a third of the publicly-funded medical research conducted in the UK - almost £1.5bn a year. Much of this is in collaboration with the MRC, NIHR and other government funders, so what charities support, and most importantly what this research delivers, is vitally important to innovation in the UK. Finding out more about the impact of research, and what leads to improvements in health, is extremely important for both the public and for policy makers.”

With so many funders using a common tool, and with several years of tracking data now accumulated, the collaboration opens up the ability to analyse sector-wide data. Last year AMRC reported the first aggregate analysis of Researchfish data from a number of funders, revealing the influence of the charity-funded research, with over 300 influences on policy and practice reported in the period 2012-14; and an extensive picture of follow-on funding from other charities, government, private and academic funding sources, and inward investment from outside the UK. An extensive analysis of all the charity-funded outcomes on Researchfish is underway, and a report will be published later in 2016.

Dr Beverley Sherbon, Impact and Evaluation Adviser of Researchfish said:

“We are proud to be continuing our work with the AMRC and MRC to enable more funders to realise how, using Researchfish, they can profoundly change their research impact assessment. Researchfish enables instant and thorough reporting, so that funders can track progress and crucially, be accountable and evidence the investments of their donors.”

ENDS

For further information please contact:
For AMRC: Nisha Tailor, n.tailor(at)amrc(dot)org(dot)uk
For MRC: MRC Press Office, press.office(at)headoffice(dot)mrc(dot)ac(dot)uk
For Researchfish: Lisa Badcock, lisa.badcock(at)researchfish(dot)com

NOTES TO EDITORS

1.    The Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC) is the national membership organisation for the health and medical research charity world, influencing the policy and research environments by harnessing the collective strengths of our members, to demonstrate the sector’s positive impact on health and wellbeing.

2.    AMRC has 133 members which include the largest health and medical research charities in the UK: the British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, and the Wellcome Trust. All members, large and small, work to the same high standards ensuring that every pound they spend on research is invested in lifesaving research of the very highest quality.

3.    AMRC membership is the hallmark of quality research funding. Its members demonstrate this quality through:
a)    Funding high-quality work by following AMRC standards in peer review
b)    Producing a policy on conflicts of interest
c)    Publishing a research strategy.

4.    The government recognises AMRC membership as an indicator of quality. Because of their high-quality peer review processes, AMRC members’ funding in universities attracts additional quality-related (QR) funding from the charity research support element of QR (known as the charity research support fund or CRSF). Similarly, under AcoRD the Department of Health in England meets some of the additional study support costs of charity-funded research in the NHS, but only for those charities that are members of AMRC.

5.    The AMRC-MRC-Researchfish agreement was initially established in 2013 as a three-year collaboration, where the MRC provided funds to allow AMRC member charities to use the Researchfish system free of change. Find out more at http://www.amrc.org.uk/news/amrc-announces-agreement-mrc-and-researchfish

6.    Active Researchfish users are those who have added awards to the system, assigned those awards to a researcher and run a submission period in which the researcher was asked to submit data on the outcomes of those awards.

7.    Since 2013, 40 AMRC member charities have been active Researchfish users, with 37 of these benefiting from the MRC agreement. Collectively the charities monitored over 5,200 awards in Researchfish with a total award value in excess of £1.6bn. More than 2,700 of these awards were made by charities using Researchfish via the agreement with MRC, with a combined award value exceeding £400m. In total the 40 charities had nearly 80,000 outcomes attributed to their awards in Researchfish over the period 2013-16.

8.    The AMRC data on charity research impacts were collected using Researchfish. Data from 13 AMRC members were extracted from Researchfish. Where an output was reported by a researcher to more than one funder these were only counted once. - See more at: http://www.amrc.org.uk/news/charities-commitment-to-improving-patient-lives-demonstrated-by-13bn-investment-in-medical#sthash.zvOURB8o.dpuf

9.    The Medical Research Council is at the forefront of scientific discovery to improve human health. Founded in 1913 to tackle tuberculosis, the MRC now invests taxpayers’ money in some of the best medical research in the world across every area of health. Thirty-one MRC-funded researchers have won Nobel prizes in a wide range of disciplines, and MRC scientists have been behind such diverse discoveries as vitamins, the structure of DNA and the link between smoking and cancer, as well as achievements such as pioneering the use of randomised controlled trials, the invention of MRI scanning, and the development of a group of antibodies used in the making of some of the most successful drugs ever developed. Today, MRC-funded scientists tackle some of the greatest health problems facing humanity in the 21st century, from the rising tide of chronic diseases associated with ageing to the threats posed by rapidly mutating micro-organisms. http://www.mrc.ac.uk

10.    The RCUK Research Outcomes Support Team is the central support team dedicated to being the first point of contact for non-technical/policy queries relating to RCUK funded awards on researchfish. See more at http://www.rcuk.ac.uk/research/researchoutcomes/

11.    Researchfish provides a service for the reporting of outcomes for research impact tracking. As of March 2016, with more than 63,000 researchers reporting into the system, over 100,000 awards and over 100 research organisations and funders using Researchfish across the UK, continental Europe and North America, we are profoundly and positively changing the way that global research is assessed. More details on Researchfish are available at http://www.researchfish.com including a list of current members at https://www.researchfish.com/members.

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Lisa Badcock

MRC Press Office
Medical Research Council
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