The Health Research Classification System (HRCS) is a classification system used by nearly all UK biomedical funders to classify their portfolio of health and biomedical projects. There are two strands to HRCS – Research Activity Codes and Health Categories. In Dimensions we have emulated both sides.

A minimum of one Health Category code is applied to all projects, and projects may be coded with up to 4 codes. Given there are only 20 ‘positive’ categories (where a positive category is one matching a specific research area - such as ‘respiratory’) many grants end up in the ‘Generic Health Relevance’ (GHR) category because there is no place for them elsewhere. Basic science, genetics, ageing etc. do not easily fit into HRCS Health Categories, and end up in the 'Generic Health Relevance' category.

In addition to widespread use in the UK, HRCS is being considered for adoption in other European countries. As a high level system it provides a useful overview of major health topics, but is clearly not appropriate as an overall research classification.

The Digital Science team has taken manually coded data and then used machine learning to recreate all 21 Health Categories, and all of the RAC codes to second level, and applied these automatically to data in Dimensions.The HRCS HC system is a very useful comparator for the 20 areas it covers. Compared to RCDC the thresholds are higher and therefore suggest a strong focus in that area. In the most part that means that if a grant is coded to an HRCS category then that is its main focus.

The RAC codes can be extremely useful in that they describe how basic or applied research is. These spread from Underpinning and Aetiology through to Disease Management and Health Services.

More can be found here.