Research Impact: creating, capturing and evaluating | University of Oxford

Research Impact: creating, capturing and evaluating

Impact helps to demonstrate that research is important, worth using and investing in.

The importance of impact is reflected in the Strategic Plan 2013-18 with the University's commitment  "to serve society by promoting and contributing to economic, cultural, and social advances through the accessibility of Oxford’s ideas, skills, and expertise" and "to share the fruits of research as widely as possible".

Research funders expect you to demonstrate impact of your research. Research councils, HEFCE require you to provide evidence of this through Research Fish and the Research Excellence Framework (REF).

Here are some suggestions and resources. Please improve this page by sharing tools and other resources you find useful (email helen.carstairs@admin.ox.ac.uk).

Creating

Impact can be created at any stage of the research process and is usually the result of effective knowledge exchange with an external partner. It is worth thinking about potential impacts at the grant application stage so you can be prepared for it.

Links to impact advice and guidance from the funding councils:

Remember to tell people, or organisations, you are collaborating with at that you will need their help to provide evidence for impact later in the project.

Funding

Before a project is underway:

Pathways to Impact guidance from the University (including links to funding councils advice).

During a project (eg Impact Acceleration Accounts) or towards the end of a project (eg Follow on Funds):

Capturing

  • At the most basic level you can keep notes about who you talked to and what came of it. Have a look at the types of questions from Research Fish so that you only have to capture the relevant information once. Keep it in a safe place!
  • Tell people about your activities. Keep your Research Facilitator and funder informed. The more people who know about a project the easier it is to remember.
  • Install Google Analytics on any online material you have. It will provide a lot of data for very little time investment. You can also use TIDSR: Toolkit for the Impact of Digitised Scholarly Resources from Oxford Internet Institute.
  • If you are running an event it is much easier to get feedback at the time.

Evaluating

Decide if you are evaluating impact, or evaluating an event in order to get evidence of impact. Evaluation does not have to be intensive. Think about whether qualitative or quantitative data would be more appropriate, and which would be the easiest to obtain.

There is lots of advice on evaluation here.

Evaluation is only worthwhile if you use the information when you do a similar activity in future.