It's all in the questions...

October 17, 2016

The question set used within the Researchfish system, allows researchers to report on a variety of outputs ranging from academic publications to wider outcomes and impact of research that can be attributed to individual or multiple grants.


This Common Question Set covers outcome types for all research disciplines and is thought to be a global first.  All the funders subscribed to use Researchfish have the opportunity to influence the question set and make suggestions for its continual evolution and general improvement.


As the funder community using Researchfish continues to grow, and more researchers are required to report, the ongoing review of questions in the question set has become necessary to allow for a useful and ‘responsible’ balance between analysis and collection of outputs. Our goal remains to make researcher's life as unburdened as possible, while providing funders and research organisations with as much quality information as possible, always a difficult balance.


Some institutional CRIS/research systems also contain information on outcomes which overlap with those required by the Common Question Set used in Researchfish. This ranges from publications without DOIs e.g. Books, Chapters, Working Papers through datasets, impact, further funding, engagement activities and IP (1).


Question set categories in Researchfish and examples of detailed sub questions

for ‘Publications’ and ‘Further funding’ (2)


By adopting this common question set, funders such as the Medical Research Council are able to not only produce a set of qualitative narratives which showcase specific research output stories, but the MRC are also using the different question set categories to produce a dedicated quantitative report showing the patterns of research outputs which can be seen at


The Researchfish data has also been used by Marie Curie, with research project grant information collected from 24 principal investigators across 12 institutions to produce their latest Annual Research Impact Report which can be seen at


For further reports, produced using the Researchfish data you can visit


As well as publications, which make up around 48% of the total outputs captured in the system, Researchfish also collects extensive information about other outputs from funded research, which often prove more insightful and some of the benefits include:


Next Destination – allows funders to see whether researchers have remained in academia or moved into another sector.


Intellectual Property & Licensing – enables funders to look at investable opportunities, with the right evidence, in the form of structured and consistent outcomes, available at any time, which will give credibility to such investment applications.


Engagement Activities - Funders value the knowledge of researchers engaging with audiences outside of academia and the reach this can have and analysing this section will give evidence of those activities, for sharing with stakeholders.


Influence on Policy, Practice, Patients & the Public – for example, researchers can contribute regularly to the development and revision of clinical guidelines such as recommendations to clinicians on the diagnosis, management and treatment in specific areas of healthcare based on systematic evidence.  Researchers may also have an influence on policy through membership of committees, participation in national consultations, and the training of practitioners.


Facilities - Facilities are a huge part of any research community and many grants will enable researchers to access world-class large-scale research facilities, in the UK and other countries.  


There is a useful research outputs overview available at



1) Let’s Talk – Interoperability between University CRIS/IR and Researchfish : a case study from the UK


2) Question set categories in Researchfish and examples of detailed sub questions for ‘Publications’ and ‘Further funding’, King’s College Report, Researchfish: A forward look, November 2015, Saba Hinrichs, Erin Montague, Jonathan Grant


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