Impact Practitioners

Toolkit for planning, capturing, communicating and monitoring research impact

By 30/03/2023

This interactive website by University College Dublin (UCD) presents an online toolkit for research impact. It features a number of resources and tools for planning, capturing, communicating and monitoring the impact of research. 

The website also features an infographic video summarising the contents and purpose of the impact toolkit, which can be a useful starting point for thinking about your research project and its impact. 

The website then explains the basics of what research impact is and what types of impact your research can achieve. It provides an overview of an impact journey in five stages, from inputs (what researchers need), activities (what researchers do), outputs (the products of research), outcomes (people becoming aware of and using research products) to impacts (changes in society that result from outputs and outcomes). It acknowledges that researchers have a direct influence over outcomes but don’t have control over the long-term impacts. You can also browse three case studies of impact journeys written by researchers at UCD. 

impact practitioners quote "“Write convincingly about your research and its impact, whether in a funding proposal or an impact case study”

To help you plan for research impact, the toolkit presents a planning canvas, which breaks impact into smaller components (such as beneficiaries, engagement, potential impact and evidence of impact). The website features an instruction video for the canvas and also three filled-out examples.

In the capture section of the website, you will find information on why you need to demonstrate impact and what evidence you can collect. The toolkit advises gathering evidence on three things:
a) reach – how many beneficiaries there are (are the impacts local, regional, national or international?)

  1. b) significance – how important or valuable the impact is for the beneficiaries
  2. c) attribution – showing how exactly your research has contributed to the impact. 

The communicate section focuses on writing a strong impact case study and an impact section in a funding proposal. UCD provides its impact case study template for you to use and an infographic with useful tips for writing it. Overall, there are three criteria for writing a compelling impact case study:
1. Articulation – how clearly is the impact communicated?

  1. Engagement and attribution – how has the research engaged with beneficiaries and what evidence is there that research has contributed to the impact?
  2. Reach and significance – how widespread and important are the impacts?

Finally, the website provides information on monitoring where your research is picked up and used. It lists a number of tools you can use for evidencing both academic and societal impact. 

Overall, the UCD Impact Toolkit is an accessible, easy-to-follow, interactive website with plenty of tips and tools for planning, communicating and monitoring the impact of your research. The toolkit is designed to save time, be comprehensive and easy to use for academic researchers with busy schedules. 

This article is part of our initiative, R2A Impact Practitioners. To find out more, please click here.

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