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MRC Review of Clinical Trials

The MRC Policy on Open Research Data: clinical trials and public health interventions (PDF, 171KB) requires

  • registration in the ISRCTN registry within 12 months of award start, and
  • public reporting of results within 24 months of trial end.

Research data should be made available for sharing and re-use with as few restrictions as possible.

What did we do?

In 2017 and 2018, the MRC carried out annual reviews of trials funded by the MRC to assess compliance with this policy. Our findings from these reviews have now been published in BMJ Open.

What did we find out?

Trials funded

Between February 2011 and February 2017, the MRC:

  • awarded around £30 million each year to fund clinical trials,
  • funded 175 clinical trials.

Trials registered

Of 175 trials that started during 2011-2017:

  • 100% were publicly registered in a clinical trials registry,
  • 55% were registered in the ISRCTN registry

Trials reported

Of 62 trials completed during the review period:

  • 68% had publicly reported trial findings within 24 months of completion
  • 15% had been complete for over 24 months but had not yet reported

Trial data shared

Data from 5 trials had been shared with researchers who were not trial team members or collaborators and was providing an important contribution to new research.


Registration of MRC trials improved from 94% in 2017 to 100% in 2018. The percentage of trials registered in the ISRCTN registry – as required by the MRC policy – has increased.

The percentage of completed trials that had publicly reported the main findings increased from 2017 to 2018, however not all trials achieved this within 24 months. Findings from 15% of completed trials were not reported.

Sharing data with researchers outside the trial team was rare.

Next steps

The MRC will continue to review trial registration and reporting each year. We will contact all researchers who are not meeting our policy requirements.

Further information

2018 Review: This review was published in BMJ Open where it is publicly accessible. The data can be downloaded here (XLSX, 29KB).

2017 Review: A summary report Clinical Trials Review 2017 (PDF, 90KB) and the review data (XLSX, 20KB) are available to download.


If you have any queries about the review please contact rachel.knowles@headoffice.mrc.ac.uk