Data Usage Guidelines

The NCRI is a partnership of cancer research funders. NCRI Partners are committed to working together to accelerate progress in cancer-related research through collaboration. For fifteen years the Partnership has worked to create a database of Partners’ research funding to ensure a coordinated portfolio and to help promote collaboration and identify opportunities in cancer research.

NCRI Partners are committed to working with the NCRI Executive and other Partner organisations to fully utilise the broad range of expertise and subject specific knowledge available across the Partnership.

The NCRI Executive understands that information from the Cancer Research Database is used in a variety of contexts and is supplied to a range of audiences. It is important that messages around the funding data are consistent and can be supported with the available evidence.

This document outlines best practice for reporting on information from the Cancer Research Database.

Good approaches to reporting on the Cancer Research Database

To help facilitate a more accurate interpretation of the data it is helpful to add context where this is possible.

For example, when reporting expenditure by disease site, it is possible to report:

  • The actual value e.g. £23.7M in 2015/16
  • The percentage of total expenditure e.g. 3.2% of total spend
  • The percentage of site specific expenditure e.g. 6.4% of site specific spend

Any caveats relevant to the data should be presented in the same place that the information is reported.

For example, depending on the message being presented, it might be necessary to highlight that:

  • Data is only collected from NCRI Partners. Specific disease sites with relatively low levels of funding may therefore not be fully represented by the information held in the Cancer Research Database, for example, where significant funding is provided by a non-Partner research funder.
  • The exclusion criteria for adding information to the Cancer Research Database and different reporting periods mean that NCRI figures for research spend may differ from those published by Partner organisations themselves.
  • The values reported by the NCRI are not routinely adjusted for inflation.

Things to avoid

When analysing change in spend across time it is important to show broad trends rather than focussing on specific time points. This reduces the possibility of interpreting ‘natural wobble’ as a genuine change.

The specific inclusion criteria, apportionment by cancer relevance and approach to coding used by the NCRI allows valid and fair comparison between Partners. However, it means that care must be taken when considering other data sources. While it can be informative to compare information from the Cancer Research Database with information from other sources, it should be made clear that direct comparisons cannot be made. Figures should be kept separate and details about the how the figures differ should be included.

When carrying out trend analysis it should be made clear whether the data has been adjusted for inflation or not.

How we can help

The key to successfully reporting on data is to fully understand how the data has been collected and processed. The NCRI Executive are always looking to work alongside our Partners and other interested parties to make best use of the information we hold.

When using data from the Cancer Research Database, please contact for any help and support required.