Having written a post about Research Impact Resource, I thought I would add some more resources related more specifically to evaluating and evidencing research impact.
Designing an impact evaluation
Prof Mark Reed from Fast track impact (an excellent resource for all things impact) recorded a Vlog where he explains how to do an impact evaluation to prove whether or not your research had significant and far-reaching benefits. https://youtu.be/p9J_J-4sqH4
Mark talks about how to go about designing an evaluation that proves your research has had an impact, that is significant and has reach, and you can prove is linked to your research (attribution). He suggests starting your evaluation design based on research approaches that you are comfortable with, eg. for a statistician this may be a multiple regression analysis, for a humanities scholar this might be about capturing stories. Mark recommends playing to your subject area strengths, the methods that you are already comfortable with.
How do I come up with an effective design? Mark outlines a model for ‘How to evidence impact’ from a forthcoming paper, which includes six evaluation designs:
- Quantitative, experimental and statistical
- Theory/logic driven
- Systems/pathways analysis
- Case-based and qualitative analysis
- Creative and participatory
- Evidence synthesis
How much evidence is enough evidence? Answer is: ‘when it is believable’. Get feedback from your colleagues to find out where there may be be holes in the impact evidence and then add to your design (eg. getting a larger samples or generating an in-depth case study.)
Social impact and social media
A recent paper explores the benefits of researchers sharing not just research findings but also the ‘social impact’ of their research on social media.
‘…the creation of a new method to evaluate the evidence of social impact shared in social media. The evaluation proposed is to measure the social impact coverage ratio (SICOR), focusing on the presence of evidence of social impact shared in social media.’ (Pulido, Redondo-Sama, Sorde´-Martı´and Flecha 2018, page 3)
Social impact in social media: A new method to evaluate the social impact of research (2018) by Pulido CM, Redondo-Sama G, Sorde´-Martı´ T, Flecha R. PLoS ONE 13(8): e0203117. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0203117
Research Funding and Impact Consultant Stephen Kemp also has a useful website with resources and a blog post with some advice for what testimonials and statements about research impact could include: Guidance on testimonials and statements to corroborate impact from May 2018.
Another useful resource is the journal: Research For All – it is open access journal and has a range of articles including ones about evaluating impact from public engagement and ideas for involving users (often a key pathway to demonstrate impact). The journal is co-sponsored by the UCL Institute of Education and the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement.
See for example: Copley, J. (2018) ‘Providing evidence of impact from public engagement with research: A case study from the UK’s Research Excellence Framework (REF)’.
Research for All, 2 (2): 230–243.