Researchfish: spreading the word about your research

Rhian_JonesRhian Jones is a Senior Information Analyst for the Insights team at ESRC.

As the Researchfish submission deadline for 2017 approaches, here she explains the value of the information researchers submit and how this is used

Researchfish, the research reporting system for the research councils, is a vital source of information for the ESRC, providing us with evidence and impact case studies to highlight the benefits of social science research.

researchfishResearchfish gives the UK Government valuable data on the UK research base, alongside bibliometric indicators. Impact information from Researchfish tells how the social sciences are making a difference, used by government and other policymakers to make decisions.

It feeds directly into the Gateway to Research – the system which allows the public to easily access information about current research projects and the outcomes of past projects. Data from both services is used as part of our research performance reporting to the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

gtrThe system is a valued source of information across the ESRC. In the Insights team we use Researchfish information in combination with other data for documentation analysis and external evaluators. Information from the key findings and impact narrative, as well as other sections such as Publications, forms part of the evidence for our investment evaluations. Using this information we can understand how the aims and objectives have been met, the academic achievements of the investment and examples of impact.

In addition, the ESRC Communications team look through recent findings each month for what could be our next big press release, and promising impact entries are frequently developed into great impact case studies.

Tips for input

The title, summary and key findings are the main fields we scan for potential research/impact stories, so it’s important that these provide clear, simple outlines of your research. Here are some tips to get your research stand out in Researchfish:

  • Project title: When you launch your study think about how this can be understood by a mass audience. The first thing we look for are captivating studies, and often we can only do this by having research titles which conveys exactly what the project means to the wider world. A good study title will also help you when it comes to dissemination at the end of your project.
  • Summary: The text should be aimed at general (non-academic) audience. We are not asking you to ‘dumb down’ your research, but to explain it using language most people will understand. If it’s essential to use the odd word of jargon, make sure these terms are explained.
  • Key findings: Our guidance for completing the key findings in Researchfish asks you to focus on no more than four achievements and provide no more than 500 words – a fairly short piece of text. A good structure will help you form the text; one recommendation is to list a few bullet points with the most interesting findings (or key parts of the study) in about 50 words or less, and then go on to explain these in more detail.

Informative input into Researchfish can make all the difference for promoting your research. What started with a really good Researchfish entry led to nationwide coverage for this study: ‘Accident in the workplace? Tudor bureaucrats issue health & safety book… 500 years ago‘ (The Sunday Express, 26 March 2016)


The Researchfish submission period ends on 16 March 2017.

2 thoughts on “Researchfish: spreading the word about your research

  1. I just updated my ResearchFish submission and was disappointed by the way my impacts were presented as a single paragraph of dense text with no bullet points or paragraphs. Without even being able to add photos, is this really something we should be using for promoting our work to the public or just a tool for the funders to find out about our work so they can then promote it properly?

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    • Thanks for your feedback. The Researchfish system is primarily a reporting tool (hence the emphasis on text-based input) and not a public platform. As you suggest, rather than promoting research to a general audience directly it enables us to identify good research stories we can then present more widely.

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