How we're using Researchfish data to inform what we do

Last year, we asked grantholders to report on their research outputs using Researchfish. One year on, what have we learnt from the data and how are we planning to use it?

illustration showing connections between different shapes
Credit: Wellcome

Chonnettia Jones

Chonnettia Jones

Wellcome has collected data from grantholders for many years. But a lot of this information came in an inconsistent way through a variety of different reports. 

That’s one of the reasons why, last year, we switched to using Researchfish. It’s a platform that many of our grantholders were already familiar with, as it’s used by most major UK funders to collect and evaluate outcomes of the research they support.

The first set of grantholders to report were those whose grants were ending in 2019. Of the 230 grantholders we asked, we had an amazing 99.6% submission rate. 

What the data told us 

A wide range of outputs were collected through Researchfish across 16 types of activities, including research papers, collaborations, datasets, patents, public engagement and policy influences.

Some of the highlights from the data include:

  • 95% of grantholders published research outputs during their grant, with a total of 3,802 unique publications. And it wasn’t just traditional journal articles - there were books, conferences, pre-prints and reports.
  • A third of grantholders reported that their work had an impact on policy and practice; 83% of these impacts had an influence on the area of healthcare. 
  • 67% of grantholders were involved in partnerships or collaborations during their grant, on 4,788 projects based in the UK, the US, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and South Africa. 
  • 31 patents were reported, at least 16 unique products and interventions, including drugs, diagnostic tools and preventive interventions (for example, vaccines) were generated.

Using the data

Researchfish has helped us learn more about types of outputs that can’t be easily found in other data sources, such as medical products, collaborations, and influences in policy and practice. It also means we can access information about activities from our range of grant funding in one place. This allows teams across Wellcome to more easily assess the aggregated impact of funding within their portfolios (at an aggregate level; we don’t use the data to assess the impact of individual grants, or to inform decisions about individual funding applications.) 

We’re also starting to map the data to the Wellcome Success Framework, which brings all our work together to understand how our activities contribute to our mission. For example, we’ve combined research outputs that acknowledge Wellcome with other publicly available information, such as Open Access Status to measure open access compliance. 

Next steps

This year, we’ve asked most of our grantholders with active grants to use Researchfish. 

This means that grantholders will be able to report at any point during the lifetime of their grant, not just when their grant ends. It should also make it easier for researchers and research offices to record, review and share research outcomes from Wellcome grants.

We’ll continue to track the achievements generated from current grants, and how they map to the Wellcome Success Framework. 

And at some point in the future, we’d like to combine our aggregated data with that of other funders, to assess the wider research landscape – something that would really make the most of using a common platform for data collection. 

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