Skip to main content
UKCRC Health Research Classification System

Assigning research activities

The aim of coding using the Research Activity Codes is to capture the main objective of the research taking place during the lifetime of the award and not the background or future potential downstream applications of the research (often referred to in the first or last sentence of the abstract).

To use HRCS consistently, always assign one of the 48 sub-codes e.g. 1.1 Biological – never just one of the eight top-level code groups e.g. 1 Underpinning – and use the minimum number of codes to reflect the main focus of the research.

Each assigned code is then given a percentage value adding up to 100%. Multiple codes should be equally apportioned e.g. two codes should be apportioned 50% each, three codes 33.3% each etc. Exceptions to this rule can be made in circumstances where different emphases of research aims are clearly stated in the research objectives, however unequal apportionments should be avoided if possible.

Use a maximum of two codes unless coding a large programme of research, in which case up to four codes can be used. If a programme has many diverse aims, use a resources and infrastructure code to cover these.

The most accurate and reproducible approach to assigning Research Activity Codes is to:

  • first establish the main aim or aims of the research
  • match each of these aims with the relevant main overarching code group (1-8) before trying to assign a sub-code
  • then select the appropriate sub-code within the chosen main code group that best reflects the aim of the research taking place

Attempting to code by initially trying to match a code from anywhere within the system to the research aim can result in coding inaccuracies. Codes may be repeated within the system and will have different meaning according to the context of the main code group they lie within. There are a number of research concepts that are repeated, including policy, trials and education.