It has been a couple of months since my last newsletter and I've got lots of exciting stuff to share with you!
New paper shows what made a 4* impact case study in REF2014
If you've been to one of my REF trainings over the last year, you'll have seen the headline findings from this quantitative linguistic analysis of high versus low scoring impact case studies from REF2014 by Bella Richard (a PhD researcher in my team) and academic and professional services colleagues from Newcastle, York, Northumbria and Leeds. The paper was finally published this week and I've collected all our most used REF2021 resources to go alongside it, including an audio version of the paper and a discussion between Bella and I on how we apply the findings to case studies under development when we are advising Universities:
Sadly my REF training is now fully booked for 2020, but I am still able to join you for a half day REF2021 webinar to help you raise your game on impact and trouble shoot issues with your case studies (to book a webinar, contact Madie). I don't have time to do REF case study reviews but I work closely with Bella Reichard who does. She is booking up fast but I also work closely with veteran REF experts, Saskia Gent and Saskia Wallcott, who are among the best in the sector, and have some availability for the second half of the year - let me know if you'd like me to put you in touch.
Webinar: how to write a 4* impact case study
Join Bella Reichard, Mark Reed and Alisha Peart to discuss their new paper, Writing impact case studies - A comparative study of high-scoring and low-scoring case studies from REF2014
Date and time: Tuesday 17th March, 10-11.00
Joining link: just follow this link at the relevant time to join (a recording will be available later here)
Six training slots left for 2020
I’ve just got six training slots available now for 2020, scattered across September-December. I’m particularly keen to fill some of these with the new Impact Culture course. If you want to book, get in touch with Madie ASAP. Here’s some feedback from the first few courses this year:
“I feel more motivated to achieve impact, now I know that all impact matters equally”
"I’ll stop thinking about impact with only by “REF hat” on"
“The focus on action planning was useful, and having time to think and discuss issues with colleagues”
“Useful tools that I’ll be able to put into practice”
Find out more and view the full course slides here.
Hack: how to make an extra page for a pathway to impact in your next case for support
I was as surprised as the rest of you by the recent announcement that Pathways to impact are to be scrapped. The latest and most detailed guidance is from EPSRC, which suggests impact will no longer be an evaluation criterion, other than when specified in particular schemes/calls. As a result, I think we’re likely to see impact getting little more than a cursory mention (if any) in most responsive-mode, non-applied/pure/basic research proposals (why would you use already limited space in your case for support for something that’s not being explicitly evaluated?). The thing that annoys me most about this (as someone who supports the idea of simplifying the grant application process), is why they targeted impact, when they could have told us to integrate objectives and academic beneficiaries into our case for support instead - which most of us already do (there’s almost always overlap between these sections).
But that gave me an idea. In my latest proposal, I've given myself an extra page for impact in the case for support by creating headings for "objectives" and "novelty, timeliness and academic significance" (headings I commonly use myself and see in cases for support I review), and under each, I’m cross-referencing to the objectives and academic beneficiaries sections of the JeS form.
Want to see examples of how to integrate impact in your case for support? Ask for examples of good practice from your research office of successful GCRF applications - the best ones have been doing this already for some time. I’ll be retiring the Pathway to Impact Builder tool in April.
New from Fast Track Impact
Sorry The Productive Researcher is still out of stock (though you can get the Audible and Kindle versions), but an updated edition of the book will be available next month.
New guide: evidencing impact from media engagement (coming soon: the Media Impact Guide and Toolkit)
Influencing policy: view slides from my new training course. Find out about the course here (limited availability)
Its the last episode of season 3 of the Fast Track Impact podcast, and its all about getting your most important work done. I’ll be back with a new season later in 2020 (once I nail my next book)...
Also from the podcast:
Latest REF2021 intelligence: I have documented three different ways institutions are evidencing the quality of their underpinning research and summarised all the key new insights from recent Research England FAQs on impact.
Writing successful grant proposals - view the slides I use for internal training in Newcastle (sorry I don’t do external training on this but I can recommend people who do). So far in my career, I’ve led 18 projects as PI worth a total of £3.8M (two worth >£1M) and contributed to a further 27 projects as Co-I, Work Package leader or equivalent, worth approximately £4M to my institution (total value of these projects is around £30M). These slides distil what I’ve learned, with an emphasis on co-producing a proposal with stakeholders.
Sorry this isn’t new, but I thought you might like to see our top three most read blogs of 2019:
- How to make an infographic CV featuring impact that you could actually submit with your next grant application
- How to do stakeholder analysis
- Research impact planning
Other useful resources
Three super useful short videos about how to make your research more understandable and drive impact from University of Melbourne
A PhD is not just a degree – it is an opportunity to develop the skills needed to deliver impact. New LSE Impact Blog by Hayley Teasdale
Generating impact in the absence of government: Northern Ireland’s unlevel playing field. New LSE Impact Blog by Vanessa Gstrein and Maria Prince
New POST briefing Knowledge Exchange and Legislatures provides a useful list of all the ways researchers can work with UK Parliament and the devolved administrations
Research on impact
Where do you draw the line between research and activism? Should researchers act on their evidence? There is no one right answer but the answers given by climate scientists in this article should give us all pause for thought, whatever we study
Impact by design: Planning your research impact in 7Cs. Newly submitted article by
Niall Sreenan et al, with some open review comments by me (would be nice to get some discussion going if you want to join in!)
How can Universities better equip researchers to engage with policy? In depth analysis by
Prof Paul Cairney
Impact training works best when you understand people's existing skills and experience, their long-term career aspirations, and their broader research culture. New paper by Helen Featherstone and David Owen
Being impactful involves balancing your academic capital with your use of politics, application, media and economics to ensure you retain credibility whilst generating impacts that have authority, utility, visibility and weight. New paper by Kate Williams
There are many barriers to delivering impact for organisations, but a socio-technical innovation approach learns from both hits and misses to deliver long-term impacts through partnership. New paper by Helen Hughes et al
Analysis of impacts from 857 NIHR projects based on ResearchFish data emphasises "need to recognise localized smaller-scale impacts”. Read the paper here
Evidence-based science communication. New commentary article by Eric Jensen and Alex Gerber makes an important point about the need for evidence synthesis to underpin science communication, drawing on lessons from evidence-based medicine
Why impact evaluation in science communication matters. New book chapter by Eric Jensen
Achieving Research Impact Through Co‐creation in Community‐Based Health Services: Literature Review and Case Study. New article by Trish Greenhalgh, which she summarised on Twitter as "A quick summary of the (early) evidence base for co-creation of research, and a fun example” - check it out!
To achieve impacts with and for the people, we must respect and listen to what people know already, and use our knowledge to enable them to achieve their goals. New article by Govert Valkenburg et al about “responsible innovation as empowering ways of knowing"
New article documents concerns of European researchers about impact. The top four:
1. Bias towards applied research funding
2. Stakeholders may be ignorant or may bias outcomes
3. It is hard to anticipate impacts or the additional expense of engagement
4. The loss of the autonomy of science
That’s it for now - phew, that was a long update. Well done if you made it all the way to the end (I’ll try and do my next one sooner, so there’s less to read!). Do stay in touch - just hit reply if you have any thoughts on what I’ve said above (especially if you disagree with me or think I’ve got something wrong). Always good to chat with people who subscribe to this…
Have a great weekend when it comes!
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 Impact: get more impact, get your time back, get inspired
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