Pathway to Impact

Realising the benefit of excellent research and the impact it has on our society is of paramount importance to the development of today’s modern life. The impact of research is inherently broad, with varied timescales, and may be illustrated through knowledge advancement, economic growth, public engagement, policy, public health and international development.

The Research Councils UK (RCUK) [B1] describe impact in the following ways:

Academic impact - The demonstrable contribution that excellent research makes to academic advances, across and within disciplines, including significant advances in understanding, methods, theory and application.

Economic and societal impacts - The demonstrable contribution that excellent research makes to society and the economy. Economic and societal impacts embrace all the extremely diverse ways in which research-related knowledge and skills benefit individuals, organisations and nations by:

  •  Fostering global economic performance, and specifically the economic competitiveness of the United Kingdom
  •  Increasing the effectiveness of public services and policy
  •  Enhancing quality of life, health and creative output

Demonstrating the potential benefits/impact of your research usually an essential element of a research funding application irrespective of whether the funder is a government body, charity or commercial organisation.

Applications to any of the seven Research Councils will normally require the applicant to demonstrate the potential impact of their research through the ‘Impact Summary’ and ‘Pathways to Impact’ documents. For further information on RCUK impact requirements click here [Link to RCUK Excellence with Impact page].

Most European funding proposals have a requirement for the applicant to demonstrate impact as this often features as a criterion for evaluation of proposals.  The requirements and types of impact will vary significantly depending on the specific Programme or scheme.  Further information on impact within EU Framework Programme 7 (FP7) applications is available in our FP7 impact overview document. [Link to EU FP7 Impact document]  

Research impact can also be particularly important to third sector funding bodies such as the Wellcome Trust, Leverhulme Trust and Cancer Research UK etc whereby theeconomic and societal impacts of research is often a key part of their strategy and polices which influences the assessment criteria of applications.    



 [B1]Definition taken from RCUK website