Developing an outputs management plan

We expect the researchers we fund to manage their research outputs in a way that will achieve the greatest health benefit.

These guidelines provide an overview of things to consider as you develop your outputs management plan, in line with our policy on data, software and materials management and sharing and our policy on intellectual property and patenting.

Which research outputs are included

Your outputs management plan should set out your approach for maximising the value of the following types of outputs:

Research papers and scholarly monographs must be published in line with our open access policy. These don’t need to be addressed in your outputs management plan.

When a plan is required

An outputs management plan is required when your proposed research is likely to create significant research outputs that are of value to other researchers and users.

Significant research outputs are those that hold clear value as a resource for other researchers and users. As a general rule, the effort needed to share or commercialise the outputs is small compared with the potential value unlocked by doing so.

This includes:

You will be asked to submit your plan as part of your grant application.

If your application form refers only to data and software management and sharing, you should complete the plan using this guidance, but focus just on data and software.

Examples of applications that require an outputs management plan

  • studies producing whole genome/exome sequence data, whole genome genotype or other omics datasets generated at scale
  • genome-wide or large-scale functional genomic studies in a specific organism
  • longitudinal studies of patient and population cohorts
  • clinical trials
  • large-scale neuro-imaging studies
  • development of viewers and annotation tools that allow visualisation and analysis of DNA, cells and other biological components
  • computational models and simulations of neurological, physiological or other biological systems
  • creation or development of a database, materials collection or other research resource.

When a plan is not required

An outputs management plan is not usually required for studies that only generate small-scale or limited datasets that are unlikely to be of clear value to other users, and no other significant software, materials or intellectual property.

These studies are still expected to make such data, and any underpinning software or materials required to replicate the analysis, available to other researchers upon publication and, wherever possible, to deposit the data in a recognised community repository.

You don’t need to supply a plan if you apply to our Public Engagement schemes. But if we fund your grant we expect you to make outputs of wider value available to potential users in a timely and appropriate manner.

Choosing the right route: output sharing or IP and commercialisation

Outputs may be shared with end-users (openly or otherwise) or be made available commercially by licensing for a fee. 

Your outputs management plan should set out which approach is most likely to maximise the adoption and use of the output by the wider research community and the resulting health benefit.

For example, if creating a new software tool, an open approach might be appropriate if others could make immediate and sustained use of it, (for example under a GNU General Public Licence or other licence approved by the Open Source Initiative). 

However, a commercial approach might be better if you need further funding or a commercial partner to develop, market, distribute or support the ongoing use of the software.

You should also consider whether the output would have greater value to the research community if it was incorporated into an existing commercial product or an existing open resource, rather than making it available as a standalone product.

What to include in your plan

Your plan should be:

You should have a flexible and dynamic approach to outputs management. You should review and adapt your plan as your research progresses so your outputs deliver the greatest health benefit.

Timely publication of results in peer-reviewed journals and presentations at conferences are important forms of dissemination, but they are not equivalent to outputs sharing. An intention to publish does not constitute an acceptable outputs management plan.

If your proposed research is likely to result in significant outputs, we will not consider your application further if it either:

If your plan relates to more than one type of output, please identify the different types it covers.

Your plan should address the following, where relevant:

1. Data and software outputs

2. Research materials

3. Intellectual property

4. Resources required

You should consider what resources you may need to deliver your plan and outline where dedicated resources are required.

Examples of resources you can ask for include:

For more information

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For grant-related queries please contact our grants information desk or one of our grants advisers:

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