MRC e-VAL – Outcomes Collection

July 21, 2011

Just come from a meetingwith MRC representatives and their supplier for the new e-VAL system.

The system looks very good – user-friendly and runs quickly.

The 2011 exercise will run on the existing process cOct/Nov and the new version is expected to be deployed next year.

Other funders could potentially use this system too.

MRC cross references publications with Thomson Reuters (Web of Science) who they work with to verify publications.

 We spoke a lot about how to synchronise data with core data stores at research organisations and minimise duplicate data entry and agreed we will continue to discuss such issues.

Discussions between Research Council’s about the holy grail of one system are on-going but it may be some time before we have only one or two systems as there are lots of issues for us to work on together.



MRC e-VAL Enhancements

June 3, 2011

As some of you know I have been in regular contact with MRC about the MRC e-VAL system.  I am going to visit them in London on 21st July circa 1-3pm for a demo and discussion about the functionality of their new ‘federated’ system.

By then MRC will have completed some testing with some existing award holders from different institutions.

Of course I will want to discuss possible future world where MRC and other RC’s use a more standardised approach to collecting the data and I know there is very much a willingness to do this.

There is room for 2 or 3 others to join the discussion so if you are interested please let me know by 20th June Tel: 0141-330-2674.  Ideally you should already have used the existing MRC e-VAL system to participate in the discussion.  If there is a higher demand than spaces I will put names in a hat or some other system to allocate spaces.

Will report back from the discussions via this blog.

RCUK Outcomes Reporting Specification

March 25, 2011

I’ve spent some time in the last few days working through the latest information I have for the specification to see how prepared we are for this at the University of Glasgow and what work might be involved. 

 I understand an update spec and timeframe will be available to us soon.

It is clear to me that there will be considerable resource requirements for Research Organisations including those that are lucky enough to already hold a lot of the data on core systems already or at the other end of the spectrum where the RO may not want to provide data from core systems but will need to support academics entering data direct to the RCUK system.

There still seems to be considerable overlap between further funding, collaboration and IP which may cause confusion and cost time.  However I am hoping where there is an overlap we can present once (.e.g. in further funding).

There are some requirements that suggest use of standard lists e.g. organisation codes for funders/collaborators frm a standard JeS list, country codes from ONS list.   Standardisation is good however in the short to medium term I suspect many Research Organisations have thier own – or different standard – code structures for these so again this may be a bit problematic.

We also have concerns about resource requirements for checking data.  I understand that RCUK wish to receive data that is suitable for the public domain.  However we think that the University of Glasgow will have to apply some specialist checking to certain data e.g.

  • Bio/Medical e.g. cell lines, antibodies
  • Electronic e.g. data set, algorithm
  • Physical e.g. new molecule, prototype

The other issue we have outstanding is Data Protection/confidentiality around staff development and wether it is appropriate for staff to be asked to comment on other staff as part of the return.

Having said all this I am expecting that the approach will be ‘supply what you can’ or perhaps focus on some key elements e.g. publications initially to allow time to set up local environments.

Enquire Final Report

November 30, 2010

Here is the final report from this project.  Any questions or comments please use the comments button below or email

Enquire Final Report Enquire_final report_Nov 10

It seems that Research Council’s are working together towards standardising systems for output reporting which is very encouraging.  I expect it will take a while but will remain optimistic that we might get closer to one standard system in the longer term.

We will continue to update this blog as we further develop our processes.

Coming soon:

Comments on the ePrints Baazar event:

Comments on our recently completed internal mini-REF exercise.

Demonstration of our new Impact and Output screens – will be advertised soon for early 2011.

Report from Discussion with Kerron Harvey, Liverpool University

November 30, 2010

Kerron visited us last week and we chatted about a number of points of mutual interest.

– Output reporting to Research Council’s.  Currently seems there will be based around 2 systems.   MRC system and then a consortium of ESRC/AHRC/BBSRC/EPSRC  working together.  I understand NERC are using a seperate system but may join the consortium in future.   The STFC system is based on MRC and we await confirmation of how this will work. We are liaising with RC’s for more information and will update the blog when we know more – if you know more and are willing to inform others please let us know via the comments button or email me at

– How consulting, CPD, Facilities and IP are recorded at HEI’s

– Publicising outputs and expertise

We plan to follow up early January with a wider discussion via a video conference link.

Investigating Export of data to MRC System

September 14, 2010


Today I have been having a further look at how we might send data direct to RCUK system/s in future. 

I pulled a test set of data from our system for some of the entities in the MRC e-VAL exercise as it is actually a LIVE system and I personally think it is a very good place to start as a model for collecting output information.

Initial observations include:

  • ‘Further funding’ and ‘collaboration’ entities are basically the same data extract from our system.  One is working with other parties who are providing some funding and the other is working with other parties who are not providing funding.  I need to discuss further with MRC to check if they need the collaboration to include all the funding (i.e duplicate info).
  • There are a few text fields that hold several bits of info and this can be a bit awkward to store and retrieve easily.  E.g. the ‘impact’ field also asks you to explain if the work was multi-disciplinary.
  • I have been wondering how to identify ‘further funding’ that is relevant to the MRC award without having a field for this in my system as it gets a bit labour intensive – the links between pots of money could be many.  I think that most of the funding obtained by staff after an MRC award might be relevant but of couse some of it might not so how to exclude what is not relevant to the previous MRC award in any way without academics or administrators having to mark it up.
  • Wondering again about standard organisation name codes.  Both internally within GU and across other organisations we use a variety of codes for the same organisation.
  • The usual issue of terminology crops up  e.g. where MRC use project I think that = award on our system.  I have however not come across any major terminology issues with MRC e-VAL so far so should be no problems mapping once we clarify definitions.

These are initial observations and I will let you know how I get on with this over the next few weeks depending on time available to dabble with it!



MRC E-Val 2010

July 30, 2010

MRC will be running their annual e-Val exercise from Monday October 4th to Friday November 26th. 

Staff who hold, or recently held, an MRC award will be asked to complete the survey.

Seems to me that, although specialist medical questions are included, many of the questions are the sort of thing that might be relevant to any award and that MRC e-Val represents a good starting point for standardising questions for output/outcome/impact collection for Research Council’s.

I plan to do some more analysis of this this autumn.

The question set for this year’s e-Val survey has now been published and can be found via the following link:

 MRC have attempted, as a principle, to try and maintain the same question set as last year, wherever possible, as they do not want researchers to feel that they are being asked a different survey. However, having reviewed the data, some changes to the questions were required to ensure that MRC had the most accurate data set available. The changes are:

  • Section 3 – Further Funding – Added questions to ask when funding started and ended. MRC were previously unable to report these data in financial or calendar years. Complete responses from last year will now show as incomplete, prompting researchers to go back in and add these new responses.
  • Section 4 – Next Destination – added a question to ask which country a staff member moved into (if known). mrc were unable to identify what percentage of personnel moved into roles within the UK. Complete responses from last year will now show as incomplete, prompting researchers to go back in and add these new responses.
  • Section 5 – Dissemination – Changed the drop down options to describe how the research was disseminated. Responses from last year will have been mapped across into the new responses, meaning that researchers need only check they are satisfied that the new category is correct.
  • Section 6 – Influence on Policy – Has been renamed to Influence on Policy and Practice.
  • Section 8 – Intellectual Property – Researchers are now asked to provide the patent publication number for all patent applications published or granted. MRC were previously unable to identify where different researchers had referenced the same discovery. Complete responses from last year will now show as incomplete, prompting researchers to go back in and add these new responses.
  • Section 9 – Products and Interventions – All the drop down menus have been revised and simplified. Responses from 2009 will have been mapped into the new categories, with no further input required from researchers. A new question has been added to summarise the development status of the product. Complete responses from last year will now show as incomplete, prompting researchers to go back in and add these new responses.
  • For NPRI/LLHW awards – New sections have been added to replace the generic use of section 12.

 Please do not hesitate to contact the MRC Project Manager if you have any questions (contact details below).


 Philip Anderson

Project Manager

MRC Head Office,

20 Park Crescent


 Tel: 0207 670 5360

Mob:07747 476 269