Impact evidence

Can you prove the impact of your research?
HEFCE Blog post discusses providing evidence of reseach impact, which can be a challenge and requires focus, a proportionate approach and building a strong base of professional relationships.

For REF2014, it was important to evidence the critical links linking ‘underpinning’ research to impact. It was also necessary to provide corroborating evidence of the main impact claims. HEFCE Guidance on evidence table

The types of evidence will be specific for each impact, but examples might be:

  • Emails or correspondence from key or pivotal individuals
  • Quantitative data, if available
  • Diversity of the audiences reached
  • Evaluation data
  • User feedback / testimony
  • Reviews and commentary – keep note of the level of public discourse, how wide was the dissemination?
  • Media coverage – retain date-stamped copies of the web pages in case the web links change
  • Secondary reach achieved from media coverage
  • Third party impact or involvement – this could involve retaining delegate lists from conferences or workshops (particularly if policy makers and media attended) and following these up to assess if there was any benefit or change as a result
  • Evidence of sales / downloads / access to web content and increase with time
  • Evidence of sustainability – e.g. ongoing engagement with a group, significant increase in participation over time

Keep asking the questions: “so what… happened as a result? …came next?” and narrating and evidencing the answers.

From the conception of impact ideas to a mature impact story, keep the narrative, specifics, evidence and links to research publications, activities and other impacts current and accessible with the Impact module in Pure.

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The Impact module can be used to record the who? what? where? when? of your impact.

Build a case over time by identifying the workflow stage:

  • Planning – early stage
  • Involvement – mid or active stage
  • Change adopted – end stage
  • Public benefited – end stage

Collect the supporting evidence. HEFCE Guidance on evidence table

Link the impact to your publications, funding and activities.

For help, contact the Research Policy Office (rpo@st-andrews.ac.uk).