Impact is the contribution that your work offers beyond academia. By being clear about the impact of your work, you can help funders and institutes understand why your work is relevant to society. If you’re doing public engagement, you’ll have to consider the impact of your engagement activities as well as the impact of your research.
The impact of your research is a measure of the benefits that other people are experiencing as a result of your research. That can be very direct. If you’re working in biomedical research, for example, there is usually a clear clinical application of your work, which will improve people’s lives in a demonstrable way. But impact can also be measured by the effects of your work on society, on economical impact, job creation, changes in policies, or a myriad of other ways. If you’re writing an impact statement, you usually have to think several steps beyond your research. Publishing a paper is not impact on its own. Neither is serving on a committee or collaborating with industry. The impact is in what those steps might eventually lead to.
Public engagement impact
If you’re involved in public engagement activities, you might also need to identify the impact that your science communication work has. Like research impact, you’re considering the effect of your communication on the people you’re engaging with, or on the larger community as a whole. You can fill out an impact grid to help you determine what your public engagement project’s impact is, and use that information as a starting point to help you evaluate your work.
- Advancing Research Impact in Society (ARIS) Perspectives on Broader Impacts (USA)
- Williams, K. & Grant, J. A comparative review of how the policy and procedures to assess research impact evolved in Australia and the UK. Res Eval 27, 93–105 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1093/reseval/rvx042
- Reed, M. S. et al. A common standard for the evaluation of public engagement with research. (2018) doi:info:doi/10.18546/RFA.02.1.13