UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) wants researchers to consider the potential impact of their research while at the planning stage of a project. Impact is described as the contribution that the research will make to knowledge, society and the economy. Identification of the impact of research will help UKRI make a strong case for continued funding from Government. In addition, impact is assessed as a separate element in the Research Excellence Framework (REF), the outcome of which informs the allocation of research funding to Higher Education Institutions (HEIs).
Research Council applications within the Je-S system therefore include an Academic Beneficiaries and an Impact Summary section to summarise the potential impacts that the research will make.
A Pathways to Impact document (formerly known as an Impact Plan), which describes the activities that will take place to develop the potential impacts, is also required to be attached to the application.
This section (4000 characters) should address how the research will benefit other researchers in your field and in other disciplines. You should list any academic beneficiaries of the research, and give details of how they will benefit and how the proposed research will be disseminated.
Specific beneficiaries might be:
Researchers in the investigator's immediate professional circle, carrying out similar or related research (e.g. for NERC applications, you could refer to scientists working on large NERC-funded projects if your research findings will inform their research).
Researchers in other disciplines.
Researchers in other academic institutions (in the UK and/or international).
Also describe the relevance of the research to beneficiaries:
Identify the potential academic impact of the proposed work.
Try and include as many scientific fields as realistically applicable.
If your research will link disciplines that haven't come together before, mention this.
Show how the research will benefit other researchers (this might include methodological or theoretical advances).
Identify whether the research will produce data or materials of benefit to other researchers, and explain how these will be stored, maintained and made available (i.e. conferences, papers, networks, discipline-specific societies etc).
Where possible, specify other research groups that may benefit from the research.
Name any collaborators or project partners, and explain their role in the project.
This section (4000 characters) should address two questions: 1) who will benefit from the research (other than academic beneficiaries) and 2) how will they benefit, both economically and socially? UKRI asks that you consider how the research has the potential to contribute to the nation's health, wealth or culture when framing your response.
Beneficiaries must consist of a wider group than academic researchers. This could include:
Commercial private sector.
Policy-makers, within international, national, local or devolved government and government agencies or regulators.
Public sector, third sector or any others who might use the results. Examples include museums, galleries and charities.
The wider public.
Explain how the research will foster global economic performance, and specifically the economic competitiveness of the United Kingdom.
Explain how the research will increase the effectiveness of public services and policy.
Describe how the research will enhance quality of life, health and creative output.
Specify what the potential impacts are likely to be, and their importance.
Specify timescales for the benefits to be realised, and how this research will contribute.
Describe the research and professional skills that staff working on the project will develop, which they could apply in all employment sectors?
Where possible, be specific and back up your statements with facts and figures. The benefits can be both economic and social, and you should try and list as many as are realistically possible. Collaborations with industry, generation of new IP, teaching in schools, generation of government policies, public awareness of science, and career development of PDRA's are all examples of good possible impacts.
Pathways to Impact
This document (up to 2 sides of an A4 attachment) should describe the activities which will take place to help ensure that the social and economic impacts of the research will be achieved. This is specific to your project. A highly detailed plan of what you propose to do is not necessary, but enough information should be given to convince the reviewer that you have a mechanism with which to realise stakeholder engagement.
1) Types of impact activities to consider
The following points provide information about the potential types of activities that could be considered, but not every application needs to address all of the points:
Application and exploitation - identify the mechanisms in place for potential exploitation, both commercially and non-commercially. Do you have any specific engagement or collaborative partnerships in place to facilitate the exploitation and application of the research e.g. to shape policy and practice? How will the outputs and potential impacts be identified? What structure and mechanisms can you put in place to manage, exploit and protect the intellectual assets and outputs from the research, during and at the end of the grant lifecycle?
Communications and engagement - describe the communications and engagement activities with the identified beneficiaries that will be undertaken, for example: secondments of research or user community staff; events aimed at a target audience; workshops to provide training or information dissemination; publications and publicity materials summarising main outcomes in a way that beneficiaries will be able to understand and use; websites and interactive media; media relations; public engagement; and public affairs activities. How have beneficiaries been engaged to date, and how will they be engaged moving forward? How will the work build on existing links or create new links? Outline activities to work with intermediary organisations or networks. Different activities and pathways for realising the potential impact of the research may be appropriate for different groups of beneficiaries depending on their level of engagement.
Collaboration and co-production - explain how collaborations and partnerships within the proposed project or research will be managed and will form part of the pathway towards economic and societal impacts, including: roles and responsibilities of all parties in relation to impact; nature of the relationships e.g. established or newly formed; nature, value and significance of any contributions to the proposed project; and details of any formal collaboration agreements or future plans for collaboration agreements. Have the beneficiaries and collaborations been involved with the design of the research to maximise the potential up-take and application of the research?
Capacity and involvement - explain who is likely to undertake the impact activities, for example: the PI or Co/I and named researchers; specialised staff employed to undertake communication and exploitation activities; and technical experts to write publications, web pages and user-friendly interfaces. What previous and relevant experience do they have in achieving successful knowledge exchange and impacts? How will they acquire any additional skills required? Are any post-doctoral researchers and PhD students involved with the related impact activities in addition to the research? If so, how will they acquire the skills required?
2) Impact activity deliverables and milestones
Include timescales for delivering the impact activities. Describe the key milestones during the project and ways to measure the success of the impact activities. For example, monitoring and evaluating the Pathways to Impact every six months, advisory groups to shape future activities, using questionnaires, stakeholder surveys, collecting website statistics and impact activity data and/or conducting exit polls at the end of key activities to determine if the needs of user communities have been met.
3) Summary of resources (for the impact activities)
Briefly summarise the resources you are requesting to undertake the impact activities. Full details of all costs being requested should be provided in the Justification of Resources attachment, as well as in the JeS form under Travel and/or Other Directly Incurred Resources sections. Examples of eligible costs include: employment of specialist knowledge transfer staff, consultancy fees, publication and marketing costs, public engagement activity, engagement events, networking activities, people exchange, etc.
Follow the links below for each individual Research Council's Impact requirements:
- AHRC Impact Assessment
- BBSRC Impact Guidance
- EPSRC Impact Guidance
- ESRC Impact Guidance
- MRC Impact Peer Reviewer Guidance - impact guidance under Research Grant assessment criteria
- NERC Impact Guidance
- UKRI Impact Guidance