Examples of impact

A great place to look for examples of imact case studies is the HEFCE Impact Case Study searchable database.

Below are some examples of impact as defined in the Panel Criteria and Working Methods for REF2014.

More examples are available in Annex A of the Draft panel criteria and working methods (2018/02) for REF2021.

This is not meant to be a comprehensive list, but to give an idea of what is meant by ‘impact’ or ‘public benefit’ in practical terms.

HEFCE Guidance on evidence table

Economic prosperity:

  • Business performance measures, for example, sales, turnover, profits or employment associated with new or improved products, processes or services.
  • Licences awarded and brought to market.
  • Jobs created or protected.
  • Investment funding raised from UK and/or non-UK agencies (venture capital/Business Angel, and so on) for start-up businesses and new activities of existing businesses.
  • Evidence of critical impact on particular projects, products and processes confirmed by independent authoritative evidence, which should be financial where possible.
  • Priority shifts in expenditure profiles or quantifiable reallocation of corporate, non-profit or public budgets.

Public Policy:

  • Documented evidence of policy debate (for example, in Parliament, the media, material produced by NGOs).
  • Documented evidence of changes to public policy/legislation/regulations/guidelines.
  • Measures of improved public services, including, where appropriate, quantitative information; such information may relate for example to the quality, accessibility or cost-effectiveness of public services.
  • Documented evidence of changes to international development policies.

Public services:

  • Measures of improved international welfare or inclusion.
  • Effect on the quality, accessibility, cost-effectiveness or efficiency of services.
  • Impact on democratic participation.
  • Influencing the work of NGOs or commercial organisations.
  • Improved public understanding of social issues.

Quality of life:

  • Measures of improved patient outcomes, public health or health services.
  • Public health and well-being has improved.
  • Animal health and welfare has been enhanced by research.
  • Care and educational practices have changed.
  • Clinical, dietary or healthcare guidelines have changed.
  • Healthcare training guidelines have changed.
  • Decisions by a health service or regulatory authority have been informed by research.
  • Public awareness of a health risk or benefit has been raised.
  • Public engagement/involvement in research has improved.
  • Public behaviour has changed.
  • The user experience has improved.
  • Documented changes to clinical guidelines.
  • Evidence of take-up and use of new or improved products and processes that improve quality of life in developing countries.
  • Traceable impacts on particular projects or processes which bring environmental benefits.
  • Evidence of generic environmental impact across a sector, confirmed by independent authoritative evidence.
  • Documented case-specific improvements to environment-related issues.