What is research impact?

In general we can say that research impact is the demonstrable change or benefits to the wider society, economy or the environment that arises through research.
In general we can say that research impact is the demonstrable change or benefits to the wider society, economy or the environment that arises through research.

The impact we are referring to is not about journal factors, bibliometrics or H indices.

It is what demonstrable difference is being made, outside of academia, in the real world.

Definition of Impact

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Impact can be considered in more depth across three main categories. These include:

Social

Research impact should drive social outreach. By identifying social challenges through methodical research, we can better understand how to resolve them. This maps onto many of the UN’s SDGs, including SDG 1 – no poverty, SDG 5 – gender equality and SDG 6 – peace, justice and strong institutions. A good example is research into the effects of COVID-19 on BAME communities, which are disproportionately affected.

Environmental

Climate change is a global concern. It is already having wide-ranging effects, from melting ice caps to agricultural challenges such as tea production. Organisations worldwide are not moving quickly enough to respond. For example, the Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Rankings 2021 identified that SDG 13 (climate action) is the weakest spot for the world’s universities.

Economic

Research can also help towards understanding and remedying economic issues. For example, COVID-19 has contributed towards significant economic challenges, particularly in the global south, but also in developed economies such as the UK. Impact can help progress towards several UN SDGs, including SDG 9, of which a key element is “building resilient infrastructure” that can help support global economies.

How can I go about understanding my impact?

Impact is important for everyone – from individuals through to organisations. Whether you’re involved in academia, medicine, industry, policymaking, science, finance, or many other fields, you should focus on your impact. Impact also extends beyond the broad social, environmental and economic categories outlined above.

There are many ways you can improve your impact. These include upskilling your team and creating programmes to embed impact into all of your activities.

Vertigo Ventures provides an impact ecosystem that spans from education through dedicated software to global collaboration capabilities. Our ImpactTracker product is a world-leading solution for capturing, understanding, analysing and demonstrating impact. Through using standardised taxonomies that help you understand your progress towards the UN’s SDGs and any other sustainability targets, ImpactTracker helps organisations worldwide to improve their impact.

If you’d like to learn more, click below to book in a demo. Alternatively, use our contact page if you’d like a more in-depth discussion around impact.

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