Personal Impact Plan

Research impact is defined as ‘a demonstrable effect, change or benefit, beyond academia’. It includes, but is not exclusive to, influences on, or changes to:

This is the definition you, as an academic, should principally keep in mind, but you should also remember that impact can take place within academia (for example through teaching, building curricula, mentoring). This kind of impact is often a precursor to impact in the world beyond academia, and documenting it is an important step when you are preparing to record your wider-world impacts. 

Research impact can stem from people learning about your work through publications, conferences, and traditional dissemination before they start to use it themselves. You can also drive research impact through Knowledge Exchange activities (KE). KE is the transfer of knowledge, expertise, and skilled people between the research environment and user communities, including the public. Think about the conversations that could lead to collaboration, effective KE, or influencing a process. Think about tracking where your research may have been used to influence or create a change and where it could go in future.

Use the following questions as a guide to make your Personal Impact Plan. Think of the Plan as a personal, iterative document to continue revisiting as your work develops:

What is the ultimate objective of your research?

Go on, be honest, why do you do what you do? This can be as big as it possibly can. Think about what is known or is happening currently – or not known or happening – that your research could potentially change.

Who might benefit from or deliver the change?

For example, audiences, individuals, organisations, or other stakeholders.

Who can influence the potential beneficiaries of your work?

Think about who could use your research. Are there intermediaries or collaborating agencies who might rearticulate, promulgate, or amplify the outcomes of your research?

Would your research beneficiaries gain anything from talking to you or knowing about your work?

Have you considered things from their perspective such as their needs or expectations?

What do you want from the likely beneficiaries/ intermediaries of your work?

For example, joining your activities, viewing your resources, producing solutions together, or sharing their experiences, requirements, and feedback with you.

How can you engage effectively with them? What language or channel is appropriate?

What are their ways of working, and what activities would bring you together?
You could think about pull-out examples from: collaboration, consultation, membership of expert panels, advisory roles, public talks, public engagement, festivals of science, policy events or briefings, media dissemination, strategic social media, business breakfasts, secondments, placements, training, patents, licensing, co-authorship, funding, an Explorathon, the European Researchers’ Night, exhibitions, or co-production methods.

What alternative formats or media might work to share your findings?

For example, could animations, videos, models, or toolkits be developed to help communicate? Who might help you to develop these?

What will users and beneficiaries potentially gain through the engagement or miss out by not engaging?

Think about the types of changes your work could influence. What will these changes look like when they happen? What would they look like from different beneficiaries’ perspectives? 
The list of potential changes is vast. It includes policy, capacity, economical, practice, culture, societal, health, well-being, environmental benefits, and it includes preventing detriments.

How might you document any change or influence?

For example, letters of support from external partners, minutes, meeting agendas, flyers, metrics of website/articles/blog posts/tweets/social media, statements, feedback, endorsements, video/radio clips, press releases, acknowledgements, citations.
How can you collect this documentation in a timely way?

For help with any aspect of research impact, see our useful contacts page.