Important information for researchers

Activity Capture and Attribution Template (ACAT)

The Activity Capture and Attribution Template (ACAT) has been developed to support researchers in their application of the AcoRD guidance in the identification and attribution of the activities being undertaken as part of a research study. The format of the ACAT is based on the NIHR CRN Industry Costing Template, as this has been successfully embedded in the research community for a number of years. The template is currently being piloted by NIHR and AMRC, and a number of research calls closing in the forthcoming months are participating in the Pilot.

The ACAT is designed to be added as an addendum to a grant application form. Completion of the ACAT will be required for any application to funders participating in the pilot programme. Details of the funder, programmes and calls participating in the Pilot can be found below.


Research Programme

Application submission date

Cancer Research UK


March 2014

Cancer Research UK


April 2014

Cancer Research UK


June 2014

Arthritis Research UK

Clinical Studies Subcommittee

Feb 2014

Prostate Cancer UK

Clinical Research Training Grants for Radiographers

Feb 2014


Research for Patient Benefit

May 2014


Health Technology Assessment

Feb 2014


Health Service and Delivery Research

Feb 2014



May 2014

Click here a copy of the ACAT. Learning materials can be accessed at

For further information or enquiries, please contact Dr Julie McCarroll at

Attributing the costs of health and social care Research & Development (AcoRD)

HSC R&D Division announces the publication of new guidelines for Attributing the costs of health and social care Research & Development (AcoRD) for Northern Ireland.  This announcement brings Northern Ireland in line with England, Wales and Scotland who published guidance earlier this year.

AcoRD provides a framework for the identification, attribution and, where relevant, recovery of the various costs associated with research in the HSC, in a transparent, robust and consistent manner.  Clarification is also provided between the three categories of costs associated with non-commercial research studies:

  • Research Costs
  • HSC Support Costs
  • HSC Treatment Costs

AcoRD guidance will apply to new studies only.  A new study is defined as a study where the outline grant application is submitted to the funder after 1 October 2012.

While drawing on well-established attribution principles the release of the AcoRD guidance in Northern Ireland is an important step forward in clarifying the principles for attributing the costs of HSC research.  AcoRD also provides a new mechanism to meet some of the costs of high quality peer reviewed charity-funded research in the HSC.  It recognises the important contribution research charities make to the HSC research environment and recognises the source of their donation based funding – patients and the public.  See also the reference to AcoRD on the AMRC website.

The AcoRD guidance and two associated Annexes are available at the links below for your information.  Annex A provides an exemplar set of common activities that have been attributed to the three specific cost categories and Annex B provides a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).  These Annexes will be updated as required and users should ensure that they refer to the latest version when attributing the costs of research.

HSC R&D Division will be running a series of workshops to help researchers apply the AcoRD guidance and to explore the issues around identifying, attributing and recovering costs.  Details of these will be announced in October.  In the interim help is available from the Northern Ireland Clinical Research Network Co-ordinating Centre, the Northern Ireland Cancer Trials Network Co-ordinating Centre, Trust Research Offices or HSC R&D Division.

Copies of the AcoRD guidance and its accompanying Annexes will be available in due course from the HSC R&D Division website.  You are advised to ensure that you are using an up-to-date version of Annexes A and B as these will be updated to reflect experience in the implementation of AcoRD.

AcoRD guidance.pdf
AcoRD - Annex A.pdf
AcoRD - Annex B.pdf

Research governance

Researchfish - Research evaluation

Like many other funding organisations, we are accountable to our stakeholders, and therefore it is crucial that we monitor the outcomes of the research we fund on a regular basis. It is also important that we can provide our supporters with evidence that the research we fund is translated into advances in health and social care. 

We use Researchfish, an online survey database with over 90 subscribing organisations, around 35,000 researcher accounts and around £40bn of research being tracked to gather information about research outputs and outcomes.

The principle behind Researchfish is simple: to allow researchers to record all their research outputs and outcomes once only, in a format that allows easy submission of the relevant parts to individual funding organisations. With Researchfish, we are working together with other funders to address the increasing administrative burden faced by researchers due to the many separate initiatives to collect research output data.

We will use the Researchfish system to collect data on outcomes and impacts arising from all our awards.  We will ask for information on all active (financially open) grants as well as any grant that closed after 31 March 2009.

For information on what you will need to do, when to submit, condition of grant, queries and contact details click Researchfish_info.doc

For the Researchfish FAQ document, click ResearchfishFAQs2.doc

The UK Clinical Research Collaboration Health Research Analysis 2012

The second report of the UK Clinical Research Collaboration (UKCRC) Health Research Analysis has now been published by the MRC.  The report compiles information from the 12 largest public and charitable funders of medical research in the UK, including HSC R&D Division. The data relate to a “snapshot” of health research spend in 2009/10 and update the original report on 2004/05 spend.

Using the Health Research Classification System (HRCS), almost 12,000 peer reviewed awards from the 12 participating funders were categorised in detail. These awards total £1.6 billion of direct expenditure on health research in 2009/10. Taking into account a further £824m of spend on research infrastructure, this totals just over £2.4bn of expenditure in support of health research in the UK for that year.

Comparisons with expenditure on health research in 2004/05 show how Northern Ireland has increased its spend on research that is closer to patients/service users. The greatest change in Northern Ireland’s spending profile is towards studies focused on evaluation of treatments.  This relates directly to strategically planned activity over the 5 years since the previous report, and reflects the growth in expenditure on the Northern Ireland Clinical Research Network (NICRN) and NI Cancer Trials Network (NICTN). 

Over the same 5 year period, UK funding for prevention research was doubled.  This was an area identified in the 2004/05 report  to be in need of expanding . The four UK Health Departments now all show a similar profile of research expenditure due, in part, to well-coordinated activities and joint initiatives.

Many other important comparisons are possible using the data, and the report will be a useful reference point for comparison with future monitoring data as it is collected.

The report is available at the following link:

Research Governance Framework for Health and Social Care

Research is essential to the successful promotion and protection of health and wellbeing, and to modern and effective HSC services. The Research Governance Framework for Health and Social Care sets out standards that apply to all research undertaken by, or on behalf of, HSC and the DHSSPS. 

Proper governance of research is essential to ensure that the public can have confidence in, and benefit from, quality research. The links below provide important information and advice for researchers wishing to obtain research governance permissions:

Research Governance Framework for Health and Social Care


Governance arrangements for research ethics committees (GAFREC)

A revised version of GAFREC has been agreed by the four UK Health Departments. This document is the policy of the UK Health Departments, describing what is expected from the research ethics committees that review research proposals relating to areas of the UK Health Departments’ responsibility. It also explains when review by these committees is required.

The policy covers the principles, requirements and standards for research committees, including their remit, composition, functions, management and accountability. It also describes the Research Ethics service in which the research committees operate, and the review they provide.

This harmonised edition comes into effect on 1 September 2011. It revises and replaces editions of the policy previously issued separately in England and Scotland in 2001. It also applies to Wales and Northern Ireland. The revised document is available below

Governance arrangements for research ethics committees

Guidance on the main changes to the Remit of RECs under the harmonised GAfREC can be found at this link GAfREC_changes_Remit_REC_2011_08.pdf

 The Office of Research Ethics Committees for Northern Ireland


Integrated Research Application System (IRAS)


Funders' vision for Human Tissue Resources

During 2010/11, the UK funders of experimental medicine have discussed and agreed a common vision for their investment in human tissue resources. This vision is:

"Funders aim to maximise the value of human tissue samples and resources while minimising duplication of effort. This requires better characterisation of tissue samples, asking for generic consent, and increased linkage to accurate clinical data. Sample collections must then be made more easily discoverable and accessible for use in high quality, ethical research."

For further information, please see the following link:


Public Involvement in Research applications to the National research Ethics Service. October 2011.

Author: Maryrose Tarpey

This joint study, published by the National Research Ethics Service (NRES) and INVOLVE, looks at the extent and nature of reported public involvement in health and social care research using information routinely collected by NRES as part of the applications process for ethical approval of research projects. The study was based on a sample of applications submitted to NRES in 2010.

The report:

  • provides a ‘snapshot’ of public involvement in research and identifies practical actions for funders, sponsors and regulators in ensuring and facilitating further patient and public involvement;
  • provides some key insights into the extent to which patients and the public are involved in research, and the understanding of researchers and funders of effective involvement.

A copy of the report is available by following this link: