Knowledge exchange & impact

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

The importance of impact is reflected in the University’s Strategic Plan 2018-23 which states ‘By enhancing the public engagement, knowledge exchange and innovation culture of the University, we aim to ensure that our research and education benefit wider publics in the Oxford region, across the UK and globally. To this end we will work in partnership with public, private, voluntary and commercial organisations, and our alumni.'

Research funders expect you to demonstrate impact of your research. Research councils and Research England 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.

This impact literacy workbook provides a tool to create an impact plan.

UKRI and the Research Councils have published impact advice and guidance:

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.


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


Symplectic Elements at Oxford can record elements of research impact:

  • potential case studies for the Research Excellence Framework – a place to store the evidence and possibly important data on events, milestones etc
  • knowledge exchange activity
  • public engagement with research activity
  • information on impact for a yet to be defined objective

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.

Evaluation is worthwhile to provide robust evidence of research impact to funders and for the purposes of supporting REF 2021 impact case studies. Evaluation can also provide useful information when you do a similar activity in future.

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 the University’s Public engagement with research webpages.