What is research impact?
Research impact, as defined by Australia's two key government funding bodies, is:
"The contribution that research makes to the economy, society, environment or culture, beyond the contribution to academic research." Australian Research Council
"The veritable outcomes that research makes to knowledge, health, the economy and/or society, and not the prospective or anticipated effects of the research". NHMRC
It can be simply described as "the 'good' that researchers do in the world" (Prof. Mark Reed, Fast Track Impact).
Why is assessing impact important?
Being able to demonstrate the impacts of research outside academia is becoming a fundamental requirement for researchers for several reasons:
Having a clear focus on impact from the beginning of a research project helps bring clarity to the project's objectives and provides a way to ensure that the research has a positive influence.
However, impact is complex and is not always easily quantified. Impact can be immediate or long term and is often the result of accumulated knowledge and not a specific research finding. While the impact of some research is apparent straight away, in other cases, it can take years or even decades for impact to become evident.
How do I plan for impact?
The pathway to achieving impact might not be as straightforward as publishing a paper or speaking at a conference. Still, it can be much more rewarding and satisfying to see your research make a difference in people's lives.
There are four key aspects to consider when developing and implementing an impact strategy. These are covered in the four sections of this guide: Plan, Engage, Measure, Communicate.
|Impact||Benefit created as a result of the research, beyond the contribution to academia.|
|Research Engagement||Interaction between research and research end-users outside of academia for the mutually beneficial transfer of knowledge, technologies, methods or resources.|
|Knowledge Exchange||Activities that involve researchers and non-academic partners, users or stakeholders sharing the knowledge produced by research.|
|End-user||An individual, community or organisation external to academia that will directly use or directly benefit from the output, outcome or result of the research; e.g., governments, businesses, NGOs, communities, community organisations.|
|Stakeholder||Anybody (an individual, community or organisation) who has a stake in the outcome of your research, perhaps because it will benefit them or because they are involved in using or translating the research into a real-world outcome.|
The terms 'metrics' and 'impact' are often used together and sometimes interchangeably. While there can be some crossover - for example, in a grant application you might use both scholarly metrics and impact data to explain the significance of your research work - it is important to understand the distinction between the two concepts.
Impact relates to the benefits/changes in society that result from research; while scholarly metrics relate to research outputs that communicate the findings of research.
This guide provides information on understanding and demonstrating research Impact:
Please see the Metrics guide for more information on:
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