Outcomes and Impacts

Capture Impacts

Defining Impact

UCD is strongly committed to excellence in research and innovation and to delivering impact locally, nationally and globally.  UCD recognises that impact has academic and socio-economic components, defined as follows:

Academic impact is the demonstrable contribution that excellent research makes to scientific advances, across and within disciplines, including significant advances in understanding, method, theory and application.
(Research Councils UK)

Economic and societal impact is the demonstrable contribution that excellent research makes to society and the economy, of benefit to individuals, organisations and nations. (Science Foundation Ireland  and Research Councils UK)


Understanding Impact

The different types of impact generated from different research activities can vary enormously – there is no "one size fits all" approach. However, there are some useful starting points when thinking about what impact means.

Impact is...

…the change in the world which results from research.

Examples include:

  • Influencing policy
  • Changing public opinion or informing debate
  • Generating income or enabling savings to be made
  • Improving systems, designs, or processes
  • Enhancing cultural enrichment
  • Scientific advances, across and within disciplines

Impact is not...

…the underlying activities which are undertaken with the aim of effecting these changes.

Examples include:

  • Publishing academic papers or newspaper articles
  • Discussing one's research in the media
  • Coordinating public engagement activities
  • Generating interest in research via social media/blogs etc.
  • Presenting at conferences

There is much confusion in the understanding of research impact not least in the terminology of outputs, outcomes, and impacts and their interrelationships.  A distinction is drawn between outputs, outcomes and impacts of research. 

  • Outputs are products of research, typically:
    • Publications - scholarly publications (but not forgetting grey literature)
    • Products - prototype artefacts, research datasets, software
    • Patents. 
  • Outcomes are the results or consequences of the research activities and outputs on academia, society or the economy. Examples include, trained postgraduate staff, licence income from patents, follow-on grant income. 
  • Impact is the change in the economy and society, which results from research. Examples are wealth creation (spin-out company capitalisation, number of employees); environmental benefit (river now 10% cleaner than before); healthcare (10,000 lives saved per year because of the drug developed by the research); social cohesion (policy developed in the research provides improved social networking among pensioners). 

Research Impact Case Studies

The impact case studies which UCD researchers have submited to the Impact Case Study Competition are available to view and download from the UCD Research Impact website. You might also want to browse or search UK REF Case Studies.

A full range of supports and resources relating to planing, capturing and communicating research impact are available here

Self-Service Supports

Central Supports

ServicesContact Details

The UCD Research Management System (RMS) enables academic and research staff to maintain an up-to-date profile to showcase their research expertise and research impact via the UCD website.


The Research Impact microsite showcases all of UCD's research impact case studies to an external audience.


The Promote Your Research microsite gives you tips and guidance on how to promote your research for greatest impact.


ServicesContact Details

Research Repository UCD is a digital collection of open access scholarly research publications from University College Dublin.



Bibliometrics – Bibliometrics is the quantitative analysis of publications. It can help you to make decisions about where to publish your research and to get information about the impact of published research.