The information below will help you work out how to evidence your impact. For more information on the related concept of impact tracking – i.e. identifying where your research is being picked up and used – see our Monitor page.
Why evidence impact
There are many reasons to gather evidence of research impact. You might need to report back to your funder on your project’s progress, including progress towards your impact goals. Or perhaps you want to write an Impact Case Study with a view to entering our Impact Competition. Or maybe you’re going for promotion and have noticed that ‘impact’ is a heading in UCD’s Development Framework for Faculty.
Considering impact early in the project will ensure that you have plenty of time to collect the right evidence.
What to evidence
Ultimately, to tell a convincing impact story, you need to collect evidence of three things:
- Reach – how widespread the impact is. In other words, how many beneficiaries there are. Are the impacts at a local, regional, national or international level?
- Significance – how important or valuable the impact is for each beneficiary.
- Attribution – showing how your research actually contributed to the impact.
This might include records of meetings with policymakers, links to media appearances, attendance figures at events inspired by your research, testimonials from beneficiaries, data on the uptake of your tool or device, and so on.
How much evidence should you gather? Enough to convince people – your funder, case study reader, promotions panel – that you research had the impact you claim.
Examples of impacts and evidence
To get a sense of how different types of impact can be evidenced, take a look at this useful document from the UK REF.
In 2017, Campus Engage published a sectoral report on Engaged Research for Societal Impact. This includes a Societal Impact Framework with impact categories and performance indicators, based on a synthesis of existing categories and indicators used across Ireland and Europe. You can also explore some examples of impact evidence and metrics offered by Campus Engage.
As long as you record your evidence of impact, it doesn’t really matter where. You might use software like Evernote, create a spreadsheet or keep notes in the back of a notebook. One compelling option is to use the UCD’s RMS profiles system, which includes modules specifically designed to create records of impact and public engagement activities.
To learn about our impact seminars and workshops, please contact UCD's Research Impact Officer.
Reflections on Research Impact video series
For more information on evidencing impact, take a look at this episode of NUI Galway’s nine-part video series, created by impact consultant Saskia Walcott: