Julia Mueller, an MRC-funded PhD student at the University of Manchester, reflects on how a three-month Policy Internship with the MRC has changed her appreciation of Researchfish and the work done by research funding bodies.
Before I began my three-month internship at the MRC, my idea of the role of research funders was pretty simple. They have the money. We (the researchers) must get the money from them. The end. Actually working in the head office of one of the main funding bodies of medical research gave me a slightly more nuanced insight.
Last month it was announced that from September 2014 all seven research councils will use the Researchfish tool to collect information from their researchers. As the questions Researchfish will ask researchers are revealed, MRC Evaluation Officer Ellen Charman explains what the move means for MRC-funded researchers.
In a couple of months, the remaining research councils will be joining the MRC and STFC in using Researchfish to collect information on the outputs and impact of research.
So what? I hear you ask… Well, practically, there is little change for MRC researchers. The system remains open to enter data at any time and this year’s data submission period will go ahead as planned, opening on 16 October and closing on 13 November.
To take into account the addition of five extra research disciplines, there will be some minor changes to the question set.The majority of these changes are to the guidance and help text; however there are a few additional questions where we’ll ask for more detail, for example, the type of further funding and the purpose of an engagement activity.
There is also a new opportunity for you to tell us about your creative side, which Professor Peter Openshaw at Imperial College London might have found helpful last year when letting us know about his 2012 stage performance — ‘Our germs, our guns: an uneasy peace’ — at the Albert Hall Theatre in Brussels. Read more
It’s the time of year when we ask MRC-funded researchers to sit down at their keyboards and fill out their submissions to our Researchfish data-gathering system. But why are we asking for the number of patents researchers have filed, or how many times they’ve given a public lecture? Ellen Charman from our evaluation team explains.
Evaluating the impact of our research has never been more important. The Government’s spending review of 2010 protected the MRC budget in real terms and provided a ring-fenced budget for science, a move which was welcomed by research councils, universities, learned societies, charities and the private sector. This was the hard-fought-for result of a united campaign that demonstrated that investment in medical research is critical not only for society, but the UK economy too.
However, as we approach a further four-year spending review, there is continued pressure on the MRC and all of the research councils to provide better estimates of our return on investment. We intend to build on our existing evidence with the numbers on how MRC-funded research is making an impact, as well as telling persuasive stories about where our research is making a difference. Read more