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Between 2007 and 2011 J M Consulting LLP undertook a pilot and then a full study on behalf of the higher education funding bodies for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, to design and implement a costing method (called TRAC-RCR) for calculating research cost relativities (RCR) using Transparent Approach to Costing (TRAC) data.

The study report outlines a methodology for calculating research cost relativities for different subjects, and analysis of TRAC-based data collected from 46 UK higher education institutions between 2009 and 2011. The study details relativities between subjects based on this methodology and on the two years' worth of data collected.

The study underpinning the report has now concluded. However, because of some significant variations in the data observed in the two-year period of the study, the four funding bodies hope to be able to collect, for comparison purposes and analysis, a further year's data from the same 46 institutions during 2011-12.

The report raises options for, and questions about, possible use of these data by the funding bodies in any future reviews of their research funding methods. HEFCE does not plan to change the subject cost weightings used in allocating our research grant at least until the outcomes of the 2014 Research Excellence Framework are available to be used in the allocations. The report has highlighted a number of issues that we would wish to consider further in any review at that time.