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We help universities engage with the public

Measuring impact

Impact agenda and public engagement

The origins of ‘impact’ were in the mid 2000s and the Warry Report, which called for much more account to be taken of the potential impact of research ‘beyond academia’.

All Research Council grants currently expect applicants to complete a ‘pathways to impact statement’:

"RCUK do not expect applicants to be able to predict the impact of their research. The purpose of Pathways to Impact is to encourage applicants to explore, from the outset, who could potentially benefit from their work in the longer term, and consider what could be done to increase the chances of their research reaching those beneficiaries"

In parallel, the Research Excellence Framework (REF), which retrospectively assesses the quality of a research unit’s work, requires case studies to be submitted which articulate how particular research outputs have created impact ‘beyond academia’, and an ‘impact template’ to describe the department’s strategic approach to generating such impact.

Public engagement is encouraged as a ‘route to impact’ in both RCUK funding and in the REF.

Our resources

  • We have prepared a guide to Pathways to impact which outlines how public engagement can be incorporated into funding bids, and the kinds of activities you might draw down funding for.
  • We were funded by Jisc to coordinate a project exploring how to embed impact analysis into research projects, please see below.