It has been a busy couple of months so I missed sending out a newslletter last month, but the upside of this is that I have more than usual to share with you now!
First of all, a quick update on our unsung impacts initiative, highlighting the impacts we care deeply about but that are too small or hard to evidence for anyone else to care about. As we turn impacts into case studies in the UK and Australia (where the highest scoring case studies have recently been revealed), there is a danger that we lose sight of why we ultimately want to make a difference. Thanks to your feedback, we’ve turned this into a £1000 prize and you’ll be able to read about the winner and runners up in the next issue of our magazine (which I’ll send with next month’s newsletter).
- The two most popular episodes of the podcast so far this year tell you everything I've learned as a facilitator over the last 10 years:
- Part 1 is on managing power. I explain how to make meetings and workshops with stakeholder and colleagues safe, fun and productive. I do this by explaining how you can identify and manage power discrepancies in a group to successful manage difficult individuals and situations using subtle cues and three simple techniques.
- Part 2 focuses on practical methods. I discuss a range of practical methods for managing power in meetings and workshops, including methods for opening up the discussion and exploring, methods for analysing and methods for closing down discussion and making decisions
- Generating behaviour change impacts from your research – slides and video of a recent webcast from the newly rebranded Research Impact Academy
- Creative meeting design: 3 formats that foster discussions (I’ve found this blog useful for designing interactive conference sessions)
- Using social media to build engagement throughout the research process - interview with Jane Mills and Jasmine Black about their new research on academic’s use of Twitter for impact (they also wrote a blog based on the interview in two installments – part 1 and part 2). They discuss how to build stories and engagement throughout the research process (including before findings are available), how to break into stakeholder networks on Twitter and how to use case studies to evaluate, communicate and build impact online. Read their paper: Mills, J, Reed, M, Skaalsveen, K and Ingram, J The use of Twitter for sustainable soil management knowledge exchange
- What happens AFTER you submit your response to a (UK) government consultation? Interesting blog by Ian Mansfield
Research on impact
- If you come to this year’s ARMA conference you’ll hear Bella Reichard speaking about her PhD research with me and colleagues on what made a 4* impact case study. You can see some of the early high-level findings here, but you’ll get lots more detail at her talk in the Impact & Public Engagement strand
- A few weeks ago, I interviewed Saskia Wallcott, an independent impact expert who has helped researchers generate and evaluate their impact for over 15 years. Inspired by one of her blogs, I started by discussing her contention that impact is a state of mind. In this interview, she talks about her research on perceptions of impact and the power of attitudes to shape how we respond to the impact agenda
- Kathrine Jensen has been compiling useful research impact resources – worth a look
- Impact is one of four key criteria you have to get right if you want a prestigious Future Leaders Fellowship from UKRI. Yesterday I summarised on Twitter all the tips I learned as a deputy chair of an interdisciplinary sub-panel for the scheme, and people are finding it really useful. If prefer not to view this on Twitter, someone usefully compiled it all on one webpage here
- Three simple things that will make the impact in your next funding proposal highly competitive (this week’s vlog)
- If you haven’t tried it yet, my Pathway to Impact Builder is proving to be a popular tool – it should take you no more than 30 minutes to answer these questions and it will email you a Word version of your impact summary and pathway to impact. If you take your time to answer all the questions properly the draft you’re sent will already be better than the majority of pathways I see at funding panels. Bookmark it to try out for your next proposal…
- Be inspired by the winners in the research impact category of The Guardian’s inaugural University Awards
- "I can have impact without spending my life on my PhD. To have a methodology for impact gives me back time". Blog by two PhD students who attended my doctoral training recently
- If you’re into science communication, you may want to pre-order Sam Illingworth’s new book, A Sonnet to Science – Scientists and their Poetry. It is an account of six ground-breaking scientists who also wrote poetry, and the effect that this had on their lives and research. He aims to inspire scientists and poets that their worlds are not mutually exclusive, but rather complementary in nature
Other interesting stuff
- I was inspired by this anonymous blog with 17 powerful (and in some cases unusual) piece of career advice from someone whose research generated significant impact
- Now that I’ve got some of my own REF output reviews back, I’ve uploaded a revised version of my popular slides on how to write a highly cited (aka. 4* REF) paper
- Creativity from dark places – in this podcast episode, I consider how we can harness creativity in the research process to derive original insights, and show how some of the best new ideas arise from the greatest personal and professional challenges. I outline five practical methods for finding new depths of creativity by embracing and exploring the places we tend to avoid
- The Telegraph interviewed me last week for this piece on what your email signature says about flexible working. I only work 37 hours a week and never work weekends, but I work late when I’m traveling 2-3 evenings a week, so I have a disclaimer at the bottom of my email signature to encourage people not to feel pressured to reply till they’re back in work (see the end of this email!). It seems a lot of other people are doing similar things. Apologies it is behind a paywall but I’ve asked the journalist to send me a copy if you want to email me (I'lll send it to you when I receive it)
Design for impact
Not many people know that Fast Track Impact helps researchers design websites. We do something unique, focussing specifically on enabling researchers to generate impact through their websites. If you’ve been thinking about doing something like this for a while but haven’t found the time, working with our design team can make the process remarkably quick and easy:
- Websites designed for impact: We specialise in helping you design your website to generate impact, starting with an initial meeting to design a pathway to impact for your research, to work out exactly where your website fits in. If you’re in the UK and this is contributing to a REF impact case study, I provide a case study review (with guidance on how to improve it) as part of our service. If you want help developing a social media strategy to drive traffic to your site, that’s also included. If you want, we can provide help translating technical text into plain English to help you communicate more effectively with publics and stakeholders. All this is included in our basic package, because what’s the point of making a website that doesn’t actually achieve impact?
- Understood: Because we only work with researchers, we understand the pressures you are under. Got a bunch of deadlines and can’t get us the text for the remaining pages of your site yet? Take a rain check and we’ll put the project on hold for as long as you need to clear your desk. Need to get your site live before a project event? We’ll pull out the stops to make your deadline.
- User-friendly: We use an intuitive platform that enables you to keep your site up-to-date yourself quickly and easily, and to make sure you know what you’re doing we give you a tutorial before we hand over your site
- Secure: The platform we use is highly secure so your site shouldn’t get hacked, but we can provide additional virus protection and can create password protected sections of your site
- Supported: In addition to help from the platform, you get ongoing technical support from Fast Track Impact in perpetuity. As long as Fast Track Impact exists, we will be at the end of an email or phone to help you if you run into trouble
- Optimised: All websites are optimised for mobile (as well as desktop) viewing and we can integrate social media (as well as advising you on your social media strategy for driving traffic to your new site)
- Infographics: If you have additional budget available, we can work with you to develop infographics about your research, integrate these into your website and provide versions you can use on social media. We can also provide bespoke photograph and video
- You can see some of the websites and infographics we’ve designed here.
Because I help with all our design jobs to make sure they deliver impact, we only take on a limited number of jobs per month and there can be a waiting list, so it is worth getting in touch soon if you’re interested in this. Contact Madie to set up a call with me and the rest of the design team if you want to explore this further (you can decide not to proceed at that point). Prices start from £1500 + VAT and we only bill if and when you are completely happy with the result.
I’m not sure if you remember about the Royal Society prize we won for changing research cuture with Univate? Their idea is to build a Tinder-like app to match up researchers who want to generate impact with charities, policy-makers and businesses who need research. I’m hosting Rich Young from Univate to run co-design workshops in Newcastle over the next couple of months, and quite a few of you have agreed to come along and help (thanks!). I’ll let you know how we get on in next month's newsletter.
Thanks for reading this far – it was a bit of an epic newsletter in the end!
Enjoy the rest of your week,
Research England & N8 funded Chair of Socio-Technical Innovation
School of Natural and Environmental Sciences, Newcastle University
N8 Agri-Food, Institute for Agri-Food Research & Innovation and Centre for Rural Economy
Working across the N8 Universities of Durham, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield and York
Visiting Professor at University of Leeds and Birmingham City University
Research Lead for International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s UK Peatland Programme
Fast track your impact: training for researchers by researchers
I work two evenings a week, so if this email arrives outside office hours, please do not feel you have to reply until normal working hours.