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UKCRC Health Research Classification System

Analysis 2018 – Submission Guidance


  • Introduction – The context of the 2018 analysis submission documentation
  • Inclusion/Exclusion Criteria – The main criteria for the analysis
  • Data Extraction – Some general advice for exporting/extracting award data
  • Column Headings – A more detailed explanation for the data fields required for the analysis
  • Data Submission – The process by which submissions for the analysis are made
  • Data Dictionary – a tabulated summary of the data fields including whether fields are mandatory and/or publicly available



This document provides the guidance to submit award data for the fourth UK Health Research Analysis, which has provided a regular report on the funding landscape for biomedical research since 2004.

To allow for a shared protocol for data collection across many different funding organisations, the essential award data is kept to a minimum. Additional, non-mandatory data can be provided which enhances the final dataset. Further details about the use and analysis of the data is found within the accompanying HRCS FAQ document (2018).


Inclusion/Exclusion Criteria

The basic criteria

The basic requirements for inclusion remain the same as previous reports:

  • Research is funded by a participating organisation
  • Research is of health or biomedical relevance

 The awards included in this analysis must be active (i.e. incurring spend) in the 2018 calendar year (01/01/2018 to 31/12/2018).

All award types are eligible for inclusion, including research grants, training awards, intramural support for units, centres or institutes, contracted research assessments and any other funding which goes towards the support of biomedically-relevant research.


Awards for analysis versus ‘indirect awards’

This analysis focuses on the directly funded (usually peer reviewed) UK research of the participating funders. In practice this is generally any award that directly supports a specific project or programme with a defined set of research goals, normally awarded as part of peer-review led process. We would expect all such awards to be fully coded/code-able under HRCS.

However there are a number of elements of funding that are essential to support research activity. For projects or programme awards the costs to support them may be built into the financing of the awards, as contributions to full economic costings. They may also be made by other types of awards which support the indirect costs of conducting research. These indirect costs can be supported through funders providing additional awards to fund infrastructure, administration, equipment, building maintenance, conferences or even salaries. Such awards are invariably hard, or even impossible, to HRCS code but still provide a vital part of the funding landscape.

We are not interested in breaking direct awards down into financial contributions within an individual award, but we would like to collect information on those other awards that fall outside the traditional project or programme format for funding. As part of the UK Health Research Analysis 2018 report, we will be carrying out a separate assessment on the level of investment in indirect costs. Therefore it is important that ALL awards, whether direct or indirect, are part of the data submission you provide us.


Defining Indirect Awards

Following the successful introduction in 2014, we have developed a submission process to better define what “indirect funding” is and how to assess it. Therefore if you have indirect/infrastructure awards in the dataset you provide us, we would like to be able to classify them more easily.

We have therefore included the IndirectAward column to identify those awards that fall into the areas of Infrastructure, Studentships or Personal health research related funding, or cannot be coded (Incomplete/Missing or Non-health Research).

This is the only column which may need to be filled in manually. Everything else should be relatively simply transferred from a funder’s own records to this excel format.

Further information on this can be found in the IndirectAward data field notes below. If you are still unsure about how to categorise an award, please contact the HRCS Project Management Team via the HRCS website.


Advice on data extraction

Each funder will have a different method of award portfolio management and therefore different methods of data export. Therefore we will be asking each funder to provide a short description of their coding approach and participation in the analysis. This format matches the 2014 report’s Appendix 1, and we strongly recommend funders familiarise themselves with their previous method of submission as this may help with funder-specific queries:

  • Format is the standard “one line per grant” data entry excel spreadsheet, as found on data pages of the HRCS website.
  • Please do not apply ‘wrap text’ to any columns in the spreadsheet. This may be helpful to you if you are looking at a small/subset of awards, but in a spreadsheet of thousands, it does not help the analysis.
  • Please note we are not expecting those submitting the data to spend endless hours filling in all empty fields, especially if the field is not a mandatory requirement. If a required field (e.g. PIMiddleName) has data missing on your database, do not worry. We are asking for as complete a submission as possible, but do not intend to create hours of work for those doing so.
  • Given the data collection is open for several months, starting in the end of the reporting period of 2018 we are happy to accept data that is ready to export as a ‘work in progress’ (WiP) dataset. We can then append any additional awards you wish to add before the data collection deadline of the 28th of February 2019.


Data Export Column Headings and Descriptions

Please note that while the data fields required may seem lengthy, but it’s important to remember that submission of these details are designed to be the minimum required to ensure we have enough data to perform the analysis. The requirements are largely unchanged from data collected for previous HRCS analyses.


FunderOrganisation, FunderAcronym and OrganisationReference

With the exception of AMRC, all funders submitting data will be from a single organisation. Therefore your funder name and acronym (if your funder has one) should be the same for all award lines.

The OrganisationReference is the unique identifier you use to track the award in question. This is more commonly known as the ‘grant code’, ‘grant ID’ or ‘award#’ depending on your organisation. If there are several variants used by your organisation, please provide the OrganisationReference which matches those submitted to public datasets. This will allow easier matching when cross-referencing our data to external datasets, such as Dimensions.

Note that as many funders have similar methods for applying IDs (such as using dates or numerals) we will also give a unique HRCS2018_ID to all awards once the final analysis dataset has been collated. This allows easier handling of combined data and prevents confusion if two independent funders have similar or even matching ‘unique’ OrganisationReferences.


PI Details; Title, Name, Address, etc.

These Title/Name details for the awards Principal Investigator (PI) are required to allow de-duplication and disambiguation screening. Data publicity is discussed at length in both the FAQ and Publicity Statement, but in short the HRCS Report will not include PI name in the publicly available dataset. PIInstitution, PICity, PIPostCode and PICountry may be used to assess distribution of funds across UK regions, but only PICity and PIInstitution will be in the public dataset.

PIInstitution should also be the overall host organisation. An embedded unit or centre within an Institution would be used as PIAddressLine1. For example, a PI at the MRC Toxicology Unit at the University of Sheffield would have “University of Sheffield” as PIInstitution and “MRC Toxicology Unit” as PIAddressLine1.


Funding Mechanism & FundingStream

Establishing the mechanism and stream of funding will be helpful in further HRCS report sub-analysis. However this is not necessarily recorded by all funders, and even if there is such a field available, the definitions used may not be the same from one funder to another. As such, neither is a mandatory data field. If they are available in your database, please include them. If not, move on.


StartDate, EndDate, Duration

Both start and end dates should be in standard DD/MM/YYYY format. Exporting of dates can lead to errors, particularly if converted from text so please check your submission before sending.

Duration needs to be in days and expressed as an integer, which we will calculate based on the start/end date difference. This also helps us identify errors and anomalies. You’d be surprised how often end dates can erroneously appear before start dates!

This also allows for correct calculation of the 2018 award amount, based on the dates/duration and TotalAward/AnnualAward value. Other date formats could be supplied by arrangement, but this is our preference.


TotalAward / AnnualAward

We ask all funders to provide one of two values for their awards:

  • TotalAward – the total value of the award for its complete duration. This is our preferred value for consistency when analysing award values across different funders.
  • AnnualAward – the per annum value of the award, if the TotalAward value is not available.
  • Please note this is an either/or Do not supply an award value in both Total and Annual formats.
  • We then use the values provided to determine the allocated value for the period the award was active in 2018.
  • Please note we are not asking for actual, budgeted or estimated spend profiles. This will mean the allocated values will not reconcile to other financial / budgeting reports from participating organisations.
  • Currency is assumed to be pounds sterling.

To calculate the award value for 2018, we use an annualised commitment calculation; this means dividing the total value of the award by the number of days/months it is/was active, then multiply by the number of days/months it is/was active in 2018. This gives a predicted amount of spend. Further details on why we use this method can be found in the accompanying HRCS FAQ document (2018).


AwardTitle, AwardAbstract, AwardLayAbstract and Keywords

Award Title and Abstract need to be made public to allow any subsequent sub-analysis of the dataset, e.g. by keyword search. However, if these fields contain sensitive information, such as personal information, details of in vivo experiments, patent details or copyrighted materials we will ensure the data is anonymised. If so, please make this clear in the Comments column.

Please note that AwardAbstract refers to scientific or technical abstracts only. There is also the option for AwardLayAbstracts to be submitted to the analysis, as they do however provide a more user-friendly description of the research. However this format is not be suitable for coding purposes and will only be used if there is no scientific abstract available.

If your organisation’s database includes a column for Keywords, please supply it here. This is non-mandatory as many funders may not have this information available or able to export in this format. However anything that is provided could aid further sub-analysis of the dataset.



As explained earlier, the HRCS Report and Analysis has a primary focus on direct research funding, principally grants with a specific research aim. However a significant proportion of Health Research funding goes towards indirect costs, such as the buildings, administration and personal awards.

To segregate between direct and indirect awards, we are asking funders to fill in this field, IndirectAward, for any awards that fit one of the four criteria listed below. Please use these specific terms in bold (and only these terms) for the following options:

  • <Leave Blank>
    • For all other (mostly direct) awards that have been coded as normal.
  • Infrastructure
    • The award falls into the umbrella term “Infrastructure”. To broadly distinguish from “Personal”, “Infrastructure” awards can be described as those funding a site or group, whether it is in administrative, construction or maintenance. Where possible, you must also use the “Comment” to add further details.
    • Examples of “Infrastructure” awards include:
      • Buildings & equipment (construction, maintenance)
      • ‘Core’ funding (e.g. for MRC units) & other administrative costs
      • co-ordinated ventures like CRNs, Methodology Hubs etc..
      • Awards to support hosting/organising conferences
  • Studentships
    • Several main funders support studentships via block grants to universities, sometimes referred to as Doctoral Training Partnerships or DTPs.
    • These awards usually do not have sufficient granularity to code under HRCS, so to accommodate this method of funding into the analysis, we provide this tag as an option under the IndirectAward criteria.
    • Please note that individual studentship data can also be submitted, although to balance the analysis we would seek to link studentships back to the DTP that funded them to avoid double counting of expenditure.
  • Personal
    • To broadly distinguish from Infrastructure, “Personal” awards are those that are given to an individual for a specific purpose outside of a research project/programme, such as extra training, salary support or conference attendance.
    • Again, any details for this can be included in the “Comment” section.
    • Examples of “Personal” awards include:
      • Travel grants and other awards for conference attendance
      • Bursaries and other awards to support researchers directly
      • Professional membership fees
      • Funding for clinician training, lab visits and secondments
  • Incomplete/Missing
    • There is not enough information to be able to judge what the award is for. E.g. if title/abstract is missing and/or unclear.
    • Again, please include details of why the grant is classified as “Incomplete/Missing” in the “Comments” section.
  • Non-health research
    • The award is definitively not health research related.
    • In most cases, we would not expect to see these awards at all and would be excluded from the analysis.
    • However there may be circumstances where you would like the project team to help determine if an award should be included in your data submission.
    • By adding this marker, and an accompanying “Comment” we will endeavour to assist you with these particularly tricky awards.



Any other comments or caveats relating to a particular grant should be added to the “Comments” column. This includes any explanatory details relating to the IndirectAward options (Infrastructure, Personal etc.) above, or any issues with unusual funding mechanisms.


Coding (RA_1 to HC_5%)

Any award with HRCS coding already provided should be submitted as individual columns with accompanying percentages.


Data Submission

Submitting award data to the HRAF (coordinated by the MRC) may require a data transfer agreement (DTA) or similar so please ensure that this has been considered and has been signed off by your organisation before sending your data to us. Our Data Publicity Statement (2018) provides you with the details of what will happen to data submitted to us.

Once your standardised spreadsheet has been populated, you will need to contact the HRCS Project Management Team to arrange for a suitable method for submission (most likely email or secure FTP). The team also will conduct some basic validation of the data which may require some additional checking and small tweaks to the dataset.

If you have provided a partial submission, you will have until the end of the data collection period to provide any further awards to the analysis. We will not be able to accept late submissions as this will delay the final report production.


If you have any other problems or queries

We welcome any specific problems or queries you have regarding the data submission and coding process. The more feedback we receive, the better the guidance we can provide, making the report more consistent in how the coding is applied and analysed. Any specific examples will be added to Annex 1 (see below).

For all queries, comments or for general help regarding the HRCS Project, please contact Dr. Jim Carter via the HRCS website.

Thank you for your time.

Dr Jim Carter

Chair of the Health Research Analysis Forum


Annex 1 – HRCS 2018 Data Fields List/Dictionary


Field Name Purpose Notes/ Advice Required? Public in HRCS Datset?
FundingOrganisation Full name of partner organisation Fixed value for each record Yes Yes
FunderAcronym The acronym by which the funder is known. Only applies to funders with known acronyms No Yes

(aka grant/award code/ID)

Internal ID used by partner organisation Must be a unique value for each record. Yes Yes
PITitle Title of the award lead investigator Dr, Professor, Mr, Mrs etc. No No
PIFirstName First name of the award lead investigator Yes No
PIMiddleName Middle name of the award lead investigator Yes No
PISurname Last name of the award lead investigator Yes No
PIInstitution Host institution of the award lead investigator Full institution name (not abbreviation) Yes Yes

(aka department)

First address line of award lead investigator For most researchers this will be their department Yes No
PIAddressLine2 Second address line of award lead investigator Used for disambiguation and data cleaning, not in main analysis No No
PIAddressLine3 Third address line of award lead investigator Used for disambiguation and data cleaning, not in main analysis No No
PICity City of award lead investigator Yes Yes
PIPostcode Postcode of award lead investigator Yes No
PICountry Country of award lead investigator Awards funded outside UK will be analysed separately. Yes No
FundingMechanism Type of award made Name of research programme or funding scheme used by partner organisation e.g. fellowship, project, programme, unit, institute, contracted research assessment No Yes

(if available)

FundingStream Funding stream which supports the award made Name of board, reviewing panel or funding stream under which the award was made No Yes

(if available)

StartDate Award funding start date Date when award spending commences. Preferred format is dd/mm/yyyy. Yes Yes
EndDate Award funding end date Date when award is completed NB StartDate + Duration = EndDate. Preferred format is dd/mm/yyyy. Yes Yes
Duration Duration of awarded funding in days NB StartDate + Duration = EndDate. No – created by central project management team Yes
TotalAward Total funding for duration of award Preferred value for awards, see Guidance/FAQ for details TotalAward or AnnualAward Yes
AnnualAward Amount awarded per annum When TotalAward is unavailable, a per annum value can be used. TotalAward or AnnualAward Yes
AwardTitle[1] Title of the award or abstract The full title of the award Yes Yes[1]
AwardAbstract[2] Scientific abstract or technical summary of the award Usually 200-300 words, provides an overview of the work being undertaken Yes Yes[2]
AwardLayAbstract[2] Lay or public abstract / summary of the award Usually 200-300 words, used to explain the research to the general public. No Yes

(if available)

Keywords Partner specific keyword descriptions e.g.- MeSH keywords No Yes
IndirectAward To segregate out those awards not easily classified/ coded. Options are:
* Studentships
*Missing/ Incomplete
*Non-Health Research
Yes Yes
Comment Include any additional explanatory text here Leave blank if no issues with award or coding. Yes No
RA_1 to RA_4 Text columns for HRCS Research Activity Codes Most awards have one or two RA codes, max is four. Yes Yes
RA_1% to RA_4% Corresponding percentages for the HRCS Research Activity Codes Usually they are equally apportioned and must add up to 100% Yes Yes
HC_1 to HC_5 Text columns for HRCS Health Categories Up to a maximum of five health categories Yes Yes
HC_1% to HC_5% Corresponding percentages for the HRCS Health Categories Usually they are equally apportioned and must add up to 100% Yes Yes
HRCS2018_ID A unique identifier created for this project Created by the project team once all awards are submitted. Allows for differentiation of identical / very similar Organisation References used by different funders. No – created by central project management team Yes


[1] Award Title and Abstract need to be made public to allow sub-analysis of the dataset, e.g. by keyword search. However, if these fields contain sensitive information, such as details of in vivo experiments, patent details or copyrighted materials, we will ensure the data is anonymised.

[2] Please note that lay abstracts will not be suitable for coding purposes unless there is no scientific abstract available.