The Researchfish system
Researchfish is an external online system that collects research outcomes for a range of funders to help them track the impacts of their investments. Researchfish is used by many public and charitable funders, e.g. Research Councils, Wellcome Trust, British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, and National Institute for Health Research.
Funders wish to capture information on important outcomes such as:
- Intellectual Property & Licensing
- Engagement Activities
- Influence on Policy, Practice, Patients & the Public
- Researcher Next Destination & Skills
Submission Deadlines and Sanctions for Non-Compliance
The system is open all year round for data entry, but many funders obtain a “snapshot” by setting an annual submission window and deadline by which a Principal Investigator (PI) needs to submit data to Researchfish.
It is important to note that some funders will apply sanctions if a Researchfish return is not submitted by the specified deadline. These can apply to the individual (e.g. PI is ineligible to apply for further funding) or at an institutional level (e.g. grant payments are withheld).
If there is nothing to report during the submission window, the PI is still required to click the “submit” button for a ‘null’ return on Researchfish. However, if a PI feels that no further outcomes will arise from an award, they can discuss this with the funder and request that the award is ‘closed’ in Researchfish. Notify the Research Office who will liaise with funder on the PI's behalf.
PIs can nominate delegates to help them to complete information on their grants. However, the PI is responsible for the final submission on the system. Guidance on delegate access is available via the Researchfish website.
UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) - Submission period 2022 now closed
More information is available on the UKRI website.
Note that output information entered on Researchfish is published via the UKRI Gateway to Research.
All seven Research Councils will apply the compliance and sanctions policy to all eligible UKRI-funded researchers who do not make a submission each year during the data submission period, even if this is a null-submission (e.g. because it is too early for any outcomes to have emerged from the research yet).
Failure to submit a valid annual Researchfish submission could lead to the following sanctions being applied:
- PI may be unable to apply (either as a Principal Investigator or as a Co-Investigator) for further awards from any Research Council;
- Payments for the award may be withheld.
In cases of agreed extended absence such as maternity leave, sickness etc, PIs can request a temporary suspension of the UKRI requirement to provide an annual update. Please notify the Research Office who will liaise with the Research Councils on your behalf.
No further outcomes
If a PI feels that no further outcomes will arise from an award, the Research Office can request that the award is ‘closed’ in Researchfish. If this is agreed, the outcomes information and award will still be visible in the system, but the PI will not be able to associate any further outcomes to the award.
Awards which ended more than 5 years ago
- For all Councils except for MRC, PIs are not required to submit data on a grant which ended more than 5 years ago (even though it is still visible on the PI’s grant portfolio on Researchfish). However, if PIs wish to edit an outcome on an older grant, or re-use it on for another award, they need to ensure that all mandatory data for that outcome are completed.
- If a PI has more than one award from the same UKRI funder, and one of the other awards in their portfolio is less than 5 years old, the PI cannot submit the younger grants without also submitting the older one. However, they do not need to enter any data, just tick ‘submit’.
UKRI will only ask students who are in the third or later year of their studies to submit their outcomes.
It is very common for most impacts to occur towards the end of a project or after it has finished, so if there is nothing to report until towards the end of the PhD, it is acceptable to submit a “null” response. The Student will need to complete and submit the return themselves because it is their data. They should click the ‘Submit’ button on the Researchfish system during the data gathering period.
Research Council sanctions will not apply to students for non-compliance, although overall Institutional compliance may be considered in making future Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTPs).
N.B. Studentship returns will be optional in the 2022 submission period.
British Heart Foundation - Submission period 2022 now closed
Information and FAQs are available on the British Heart Foundation website.
Key points for PIs to note include:
- Remove outputs that pre-date your award. BHF are only interested in the outputs that have arisen specifically from a present BHF grant, and not those that pre-date it.
- Null returns are expected from new and old grants. PIs need to submit a return even if the research has not produced any outputs.
- No need to upload experimental data or figures. BHF are interested in collecting information on the general outcomes and impact of a PI’s research. They are not collecting primary data.
- Only the grant holder can press submit. PIs can delegate someone to help them complete their Researchfish portfolio, but the delegate cannot press 'Submit'. Once the data has been updated, the PI must submit.
Cancer Research UK - Submission period 2022 now closed
Information is available on the Cancer Research UK website.
Submission of research data is a condition of the original grant, and annual submission of data using Researchfish is a mandatory requirement. The need for final reports will be removed for the majority of awards with some exceptions .
Cancer Research UK has a sanctions policy in place. Failure to submit a valid annual Researchfish submission will result in grant payments being withheld from the institution.
National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) - Submission period 2022 now closed
Information and FAQs are available on the National Institute for Health Research website.
NIHR has a sanctions policy in place for PIs who do not submit through Researchfish:
- PI may be ineligible to apply for further funding;
- Grant payments may be withheld;
If there are any changes in circumstance (e.g. PI is on maternity leave, sickness etc) or the PI feels that no further outcomes will arise from an award, please notify the Research Office who will liaise with NIHR on the PI’s behalf.
Wellcome Trust - Submission period 2022 now closed
Information is available on the Wellcome Trust website.
The Wellcome Trust has a sanctions policy in place for PIs who do not submit through Researchfish:
- PI will be ineligible to apply for further funding
If there are any changes in circumstance (e.g. PI is on maternity leave, sickness etc), please notify the Research Office who will liaise with Wellcome on the PI’s behalf.
Researchfish Training and System Support
Several Researchfish help videos are available for PIs and research administrators.
Researchfish System support includes:
- Email Technical Support (available weekdays from 9am to 5pm)
- Live Chat (available weekdays from 9am to 5pm)
- Webinars for researchers
- Frequently Asked Questions
For general, non-technical Researchfish queries, please contact the Research Office.
Adding publications to Researchfish using Symplectic
A simple guide is available which explains how publication information can be exported from Symplectic Elements and uploaded in Researchfish.
Imperial has successfully piloted a central transfer of publication data from Sympletic to Researchfish for UKRI, CRUK and NC3Rs projects, and will continue to transfer data periodically.
Further work is ongoing to transfer datasets. Please see the Researchfish interoperability page for more details.
Delegating Access to Other Staff
Only the PI can submit the outcomes attributed to their award(s), but they can allow others to enter information into Researchfish on their behalf.
There are 2 types of access:
a) ‘Delegate’ access - another person can access all the PI’s awards.
b) ‘Research Team’ access - another person can access a specific award.
Guidance on how to delegate access is available on the Researchfish website.
Researchfish Administrator Dashboard
Authorised Department representatives have access to the Researchfish administrator dashboard so they can monitor and report on submission rates at a Departmental level.
If you think this would be suitable for your role, the Department Manager should submit a request to the Research Office.
- Administrator Dashboard Guidance for Researchfish [Researchfish account required]
- Researchfish FAQs Administrators