MRC review of clinical trials - MRC

The MRC policy on open research data: clinical trials and public health interventions (PDF, 171KB) requires both:

  • registration in the ISRCTN registry within 12 months of award start
  • 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?

Since 2017, MRC has carried out annual reviews of trials funded by MRC to assess compliance with this policy. Our findings from the 2018 review were published on BMJ Open.

What did we find out?

Trials funded

Between February 2011 and February 2018, MRC:

  • awarded around £30 million each year to fund clinical trials
  • funded 225 clinical trials.

Trials registered

Of 216 trials that started during 2011 to 2017:

  • 100% were publicly registered in a clinical trials registry
  • 53% were registered in the ISRCTN registry
  • 90% of trials that started in the last year were registered before recruitment began

Trials reporting results

Of 97 trials completed during 2011-2018:

  • 69% had publicly reported trial findings within 24 months of completion
  • 8% had been complete for at least 12 months but had not yet reported results.

Trial data shared

Data from eight trials had been shared with external researchers by the trial team, and this shared data was contributing to new research.


Registration of MRC trials is consistently 100%, however only half were registered in the ISRCTN registry, which is required by MRC. The percentage registered before the trial starts has increased.

The percentage of completed trials that publicly report the main findings within 12 months of the trial end increased between 2017 and 2019, however 31% of completed trials took longer than 24 months to report results.

Sharing of data with researchers outside the trial team is increasing.

Next steps

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

To improve compliance with MRC policy, from 2020:

  • funding will be suspended for any new trial that is not registered with the ISRCTN within 12 months. Regional registries may be accepted for some global trials if they are WHO primary registries but this should be discussed with the MRC before registration
  • new awards to applicants who have not reported findings from a previous MRC-funded trial will not commence until the earlier trial has been reported.

Further information

2019 Review: A summary report Clinical Trials Review 2019 (PDF, 137KB) and the review data (XLSX, 38KB) are available to download.

2018 Review: A 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.

Contact for more information

If you have any queries about the review, email:

Last updated: 14 October 2021

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