It is that time of year when Research Councils are gathering the outcomes of the research we support in universities and institutes, via our annual Researchfish® data collection exercise.

I have just completed my own return and was impressed with the changes made. In response to community feedback, the Research Councils have worked with Researchfish® over the past year to redesign the user interface. I hope that, like me, you will find the navigation and submission of information much more straightforward and intuitive (I am a great believer in the fact that if you need to consult the ‘help’ function it’s too complicated!). I particularly like the fact that one can build up a ‘portfolio’ of information which doesn’t need to be linked to a specific grant, but can be helpful for building your CV. I also welcome the ability to link directly with ORCID iDs.

I know that some members of the community view submission of Researchfish® returns as something of a chore – but I cannot emphasise strongly enough how important and valuable these data are. As a publicly-funded body, BBSRC must account for the funding it awards and explain the achievements of the research and training it invests in – the collection of data via Researchfish® is a vital part of this.

You might be interested to understand the scope of the outcomes we have collected from previous exercises. To date, we have 36,930 instances of publications, 9,630 engagement activities, 4,420 collaborations and partnerships, 550 software and other technical products, 480 influences on policy, 310 instances of intellectual property and licensing and 70 spin-outs! I am interested to see how these data evolve following this year’s collection period.

So what do we do with the data that are submitted I hear you ask? Well, the information we gather through Researchfish® enables BBSRC to demonstrate to government the benefits of investing in UK bioscience research and the series of BBSRC impact case studies we develop play an important role in this. To provide a specific example, in 2016 we developed a case study which highlights research that has led to new approaches for managing lameness in sheep. This initially arose from analysing Researchfish® data and our evaluation team then contacted the lead researcher to gather more information. And the value is not limited to case studies, the data we collect also supports our decision-making processes (e.g. by Strategy Advisory Panels, Steering Groups of the Research and Technology Clubs), evaluation of our programmes and helps us monitor progress against our Strategic Plan (PDF) objectives. Furthermore, the data collected across Research Councils is made publicly available on the Research Councils’ Gateway to Research (GtR) website, so is openly accessible to all. So, you see these data are used in multiple ways.

I want to finish by thanking all researchers and students who are providing outcomes data. Submission for this collection period is open until 16 March, 4pm – so you still have plenty of time to complete – and it really is worthwhile, helping us collectively make the case for continued investment in bioscience.

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