I hope you have all had a good break and are ready for (or already enjoying) the new term (our students are back this week in Newcastle). I’ve been doing more travel than normal over the last few months, but now things are getting back to normal, I’m resuming the podcast with a series of three episodes on productivity and creativity, and I’ve released the first of five vlog episodes on presenting with impact. There’s been a surprising amount of relevant new research published in the last couple of months on impact, and lots of other useful content and ideas I’ve stumbled across, which I’m excited to share with you...
Training opportunities – act now
Book now to reserve a UK/EU training slot in 2020: slots are booking up fast for the first half of next year (and some are already reserving dates for next Autumn). As a full-time Professor I can only do a limited number of trainings per month, so we book up faster than you might expect. If in doubt, best book a slot now and we can always fill it with someone else if you are unable to go ahead. To reserve your place, contact Madie at firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember we do a unique type of productivity training in addition to training on research impact, GCRF funding, writing REF case studies, and training for PhD students and professional services staff.
New Australian and New Zealand training dates:
- If you’re preparing for the NHMRC deadline in November and wondering how to write a strong impact track record, I have four dates available for my NHMRC interactive webinar: how to write a winning impact track record (22-24, 29-30 October). These will book on a first come first served basis – contact Madie to set up a call to discuss how I can help your group
- After a successful training tour of Australia and New Zealand this summer, I’ll be back again for another two weeks from 24 July - 4th August 2020. I have capacity to do eight trainings, and currently there are only four days still available, so please get in touch ASAP if you want to reserve a place
New Fast Track Impact resources
Presenting with impact. How do you get an audience to actually do something based on your message? I was lucky enough to get a masterclass in presenting with impact from a voice coach when I was at Birmingham City University, and wished I had learned those lessons at the start of my career. In a series of five vlog episodes over the next five weeks, I’ll be sharing the five key things you need to do if you want to use your evidence to influence people for good in your next presentation. Each week, I’ll tell a story of a presentation experience that went spectacularly wrong or well, to illustrate my points. This week, I think about what you need to do in the first 30 seconds of any talk to grab your audience’s attention and trust.
New research impact guide: how to develop a Theory of Change for a research project
Training slides: Download all the slides from our popular impact training courses with six new SlideShare presentations
Productivity. After a wee break from the podcast, I’m back this week with the first of three episodes on productivity and creativity. The first is about managing competing goals to maintain motivation and productivity.
Evidencing impact from media engagement. I’m planning to make a guide soon on evidencing impact from media engagement but, at this point, all the best advice I give to people in trainings on this subject can be found in these two new podcast episodes:
- Evidencing Impact from media engagement (part 1): three ways you can evidence impacts arising from media coverage of your research, with a particular focus on understanding the significance of the benefits, rather than just focusing on measurements of reach
- Evidencing Impact from media engagement (part 2): interview with Yamni Nigam, Professor of Biomedical Sciences, and Clare Lehane, Impact Support Officer, at Swansea University, about how Yamni got her research on maggot therapy for wounds featured in four episodes of the popular UK soap Casualty, watched by 4.5 million people every week. They have commissioned a polling company to do a before and after evaluation of the impact the episodes have on people’s perceptions of maggot therapy.
Writing the impact sections of Australian grant proposals. Brevity and clarity are the key to the impact sections of Australian grant proposals. Find out how to pass the new ARC National Interest Test and write a winning NHMRC impact track record
Are policy-makers too trusting? I interviewed Bec Colvin and Chris Cvitanovic from Australia National University about their work with policy on climate change and first nations communities, in which they described surprising research about the danger of generating too much trust with policy-makers. The episode is called Too much of a good thing: can too much trust and privilege be bad for impact?
Working with boundary organisations to get evidence into policy. Read my new paper with Anita Wreford and colleagues about the Scottish Government’s ClimateXchange initiative - Evidence-informed climate policy: mobilising strategic research and pooling expertise for rapid evidence generation (email me if you don’t have access and I’ll send you a copy)
Lessons for getting evidence into policy. A new paper has distilled key factors facilitating the use of research in conservation policy and practice. The key factors are: 1) The decision-making organisation’s structure, processes and culture; 2) Practitioner attitudes; and 3) Relationships between researchers and practitioners.
Engaging more effectively with the policy community. Read Dr Niki Rust’s new Twitter guide to engaging with policymakers to create more impact from your research
New clarifications on REF2021 rules. We got a bit more clarity from Research England about REF2021 this month with some new FAQs. I’ve updated my guide to impact in REF2021 and my latest REF2021 intelligence blog to explain the key clarifications, and have submitted further queries in the hope that we gain further clarity on the role of self-collected evaluation data
How to indicate research quality in a REF impact case study. There is some debate about how to indicate the quality of underpinning research listed in section 3 of the impact case study template. Consensus amongst those who replied to my email on the ARMA list last week was to ignore this part of the template, as only a very small proportion of case studies were graded unclassifiable on the basis of poor research quality and the criteria have been relaxed, making it easier to cross this threshold in 2021. Others suggested that quality should be self-evident from the outputs and funding, so why waste the space? Personally, I still feel nervous about leaving something blank when we’ve explicitly been asked to provide information in the template, and this will be particularly important for lists of outputs that are not self-evidently high quality based on publication venue or funding. With this in mind, I’m trying to collect suggestions for indicators of research quality for section 3 and I’d love it if you could get in touch with suggestions. You can see my current list here.
New research on REF:
New case study writing resource: I recently stumbled across these useful workshop outlines from Room For Writing to help groups write impact case studies together collaboratively
Writing impact case study narratives. Useful new blog by Katy McEwan for LSE Impact Blog The Impact Chain – How to craft an effective impact case study narrative
Evidence-based REF2021 case study reviews. I had a great response to the announcement in the last newsletter that for a short time I was offering case study reviews for REF2021 with my close colleague Bella Reichard. Bella is lead author on the largest ever analysis of graded case studies from REF2014, combining qualitative analysis with quantitative analysis of high versus low-scoring cases across all Main Panels. You’ll be the first to get a copy when the full paper is published, but until then, you can get a few of the key messages on this blog. Bella’s work is great value for money; as one UoA impact lead said: “Bella has been incredibly helpful in reviewing our draft impact case studies and has provided us with extensive and constructive feedback. Her professional eye for presentation and narrative has been key to improve our case studies.” She is now taking further bookings for her independent review service. Please check her website and contact her directly if you want to get Bella’s unique expertise on your planned case studies.
New research on impact
New book calls for civil disobedience to fight “dehumanising” impact agenda: Read my review (and Richard’s response) of Competitive Accountability in Academic Life - The Struggle for Social Impact and Public Legitimacy by Richard Watermeyer.
New edited volume on impact for ECRs: Read my Twitter review of Research Impact and the Early Career Researcher, edited by Keiran Fenby-Hulse and colleagues.
Evaluating impact with a seasoned pro. Laura Meagher (who has done impact evaluations for a number of Research Council programmes) has published her evaluation framework at last. I’ve used this with her in a number of projects, and I can tell you from first-hand experience that it is really easy to use and will find impacts wherever they are to be found. The paper also includes 8 key factors influencing the likelihood that research delivers impact: 1) problem-framing, 2) research management, 3) inputs, 4) outputs, 5) dissemination, 6) engagement, 7) users, and 8) context. Read the paper (or email me if you don’t have access and I can send a copy).
Evidence that testimonial collection for REF2021 is undermining impacts. In Richard Watermeyer’s new book on impact and REF, he presents disturbing evidence that people are undermining trust in the academy through their collection of testimonials to support REF impact case studies. One researcher interviewed for the book described how they discovered that their University had contacted their stakeholders to ask for testimonials to be re-written to their specification: “you can imagine how that went down with the organisations we were working with”. Read more in my review of his book or buy the book here. You can avoid many of these risks by conducting testimonial interviews rather than trying to take short-cuts via email.
How stakeholders shape impact. How does stakeholder engagement shape research impact? A new paper urges researchers to understand how different stakeholders might want to use your research and how they might help you realise those impacts, but beware that there may be more than one (potentially conflicting) use for your work. I use stakeholder analysis to do this…
Impact that challenges the status quo. I love this new paper by Ruth Machen, Critical research impact: On making space for alternatives. In it, she identifies five modes of critical research impact: challenging policy; empowering resistances; platforming voices; nurturing new critical publics; and envisioning alternatives. She’ll be writing a blog about this for Fast Track Impact soon…
Negative unintended consequences of stakeholder engagement for impact. New research on >80 interdisciplinary research projects shows those that generate most impact produce least academic outputs. These are my key takeaways:
- Projects that achieved most impacts were more likely to have engaged early with stakeholders in the research process, but their engagement in decision-making and contribution of knowledge was not associated with any increase in impact.
- In general, stakeholder engagement in research reduced academic outputs, citations and the likelihood of PhD completion.
- However, projects using structured methods for integrating academic and stakeholder knowledge (e.g. scenarios, multi-criteria evaluation, Delphi, facilitated workshops) were able to achieve both more academic outputs/citations and more non-academic impacts
Judge me by my impact. Global survey shows academics still clinging on to journal impact factors but over half now believe their research performance should be judged by tracking the non-academic societal impact of their work
Other useful stuff
Animation for scicomm. Useful free guide on how to make a science communication video that includes animation.
Clear summary defining impact and how you can increase your impact potential from Kudos. I’m currently trying out their new research impact management system, and look forward to reporting on this soon!
Twitter for academics. A nifty guide for academics on using Twitter by Niki Rust
Get an infographic or website to drive impact from your research. Remember Fast Track Impact can help you design an infographic or website. Our web design process enables you to place your website in a broader pathway to impact, and we then design the site to drive engagement and impact from the key groups who are most likely to benefit from your work. For UK customers who have a REF2021 case study, we also include a case study review as part of the research we do to prepare for your job. Find out more.
Thanks for reading this far! Do get in touch if you have any comments on what you've read or want to recommend material I've missed - I'd love to hear from you!
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
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