Knowledge exchange & impact

Creating, capturing and evaluating research impact

Impact helps to demonstrate that research is important, worth using and investing in.

The importance of impact is reflected in the Strategic Plan 2013-18 with the University's commitment 'to serve society by promoting and contributing to economic, cultural, and social advances through the accessibility of Oxford’s ideas, skills, and expertise' and 'to share the fruits of research as widely as possible'.

Research funders expect you to demonstrate impact of your research. Research councils and HEFCE require you to provide evidence of this through Researchfish and the Research Excellence Framework (REF).

Material to help develop an understanding of KE and impact, and support in learning about KE paths and impact outcomes at different stages of the research process has been developed by the Department of Education.

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Impact can be created at any stage of the research process and is usually the result of effective knowledge exchange with an external partner. It is worth thinking about potential impacts at the grant application stage so you can be prepared for it.

Links to impact advice and guidance from the funding councils:

Remember to tell people or organisations you are collaborating with that you will need their help to provide evidence for impact later in the project.

Before a project is underway:

Pathways to Impact guidance

During a project (eg impact acceleration accounts) or towards the end of a project (eg follow-on funds):

Funding opportunities

  • At the most basic level you can keep notes about who you talked to and what came of it. Have a look at the types of questions from Researchfish so that you only have to capture the relevant information once. Keep it in a safe place!
  • Tell people about your activities. Keep your research facilitator and funder informed. The more people know about a project the easier it is to remember.
  • Install Google Analytics on any online material you have. It will provide a lot of data for very little time investment. You can also use TIDSR: Toolkit for the Impact of Digitised Scholarly Resources from Oxford Internet Institute.
  • If you are running an event it is much easier to get feedback at the time.

Decide if you are evaluating impact, or evaluating an event in order to get evidence of impact. Evaluation does not have to be intensive. Think about whether qualitative or quantitative data would be more appropriate, and which would be the easiest to obtain.

There is a lot of advice on evaluation on UCL's website.

Evaluation is only worthwhile if you use the information when you do a similar activity in future.

List of site pages