Impact Resources

Planning, Self-Assessment & Evaluation

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Planning exercises

Research Council UK recommends drafting an impact summary early in research project preparation, so that it can inform the design of your research and the pathways for impact can be identified. A brainstorming sheet/impact planning tool in Microsoft Word format, including worked examples, can be downloaded here

The University of Nottingham has created a checklist for completing the Impact Summary & Pathways to Impact sections in Research Council's project application forms. Download the checklist here.

It is common practice to be asked for an impact statement on most research funding applications. The Joint Electronic Submissions for Research Councils has a Help page to help you get started.

Identifying stakeholders

In impact, 'stakeholder' is the term used to identify groups or individuals who are likely to be interested in your research, and use your research, as well as those whose lives are likely to be enriched by your research. This process involves segmenting the public. To see National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE)'s report on the significance of this process, click here.

The two worksheets linked above will help get you started.  

Identifying stakeholders and segmenting the public will further help in defining your pathways to impact as part of your research. 

Applying for funding 

See Arts Engaged for examples of annotated bids of successful grant applications to various schemes. Click through to find out more and download PDFs of these applications. All material provided is for the use of staff and students of the University of Leeds only. Dr Iona McCleery's application to the Wellcome Trust for the 'You Are What You Ate' project is also available at this link.

Pathways to Impact

'Pathways to impacts' are the ways and methods in which you can achieve research impact outside academia, or activities that will increase the likelihood of potential economic and societal impacts being achieved. Read RCUK's definitions, guidelines, and tips here.

The RCUK also lists Pathways case studies, providing personal accounts from RCUK-funded researchers in regards to their approaches and experiences of Pathways to Impact. The case studies also provide guidance, top tips and best practice for helping researchers to realise the impact of their research. These accounts, and the checklist linked above, will help you get started.

Public engagement 

As RCUK points out, public engagement is a popular form of impact activity, though not the only one. If public engagement is one of your chosen pathways to impact, check out the NCCPE's 'How we can help' page to see how they can help develop an audience base, support effective practice and connect you to different communities and organisations. Also visit NCCPE's Funding page on pathways to impact and public engagement.

In October 2015, the University of Leeds signed the NCCPE’s national Manifesto for Public EngagementJoin the University of Leeds's Public Engagement Programme Network in order to stay informed about various PE activities and funding opportunities in Leeds, in the UK, and around the world. 

This presentation by NCCPE at Manchester Metropolitan University introduces using public engagement in research, gives links to past Arts & Humanities/History and Heritage projects, and gives an example of how National Trust uses public segmentation to fine-tune their target audiences and markets, starting on page 6. The National Trust case study starts on page 17.

Evaluation & evidence

Evidencing impact should be a good combination of quantitative and qualitative information and bias-free. Gathering evidence of Arts & Humanities research impact, which is often more nuanced than STEM-based research, can seem difficult, but it is worth it to remember that policy-makers and evaluators of research are aware of this problem, and that there are many ways to overcome this problem. 

The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) provides an introduction to the self-evaluation and assessment for Arts &Humanities researchers and students, to be used through all stages of planning and executing projects and programmes. 

Arts Engaged also has tips, pointers, and examples of evaluations and questionnaires from past impact projects. They are available for reading and download here.

Questionnaires are far from being the only method of evaluation. Read London School of Economics' impact blog entry on how to harvest qualitative evaluation from Twitter.

Keeping attendance numbers at public events and lectures are also an important evidence of reaching beyond academia, and a key quantitative evidence in Arts & Humanities research. Mentions and appearances in the media can also be a strong piece of evidence. The Staff & Departmental Development Unit (SDDU) often runs workshops on interview skills and writing for media for University of Leeds staff and students. 

Collecting Research Impact Evidence Webinar

In 2016, HEFCE commissioned a guidance on collecting impact evidence throughout the project, guidance on the types of evidence that could be collected, and example impact types. You can watch the Webinar and download the presentation here

Pages in this document

  1. Introduction
  2. REF Case Studies
  3. Planning, Self-Assessment & Evaluation
  4. Further Reading, Listening & Watching