In this post, Anne Sofie Laegran, Head of Knowledge Exchange & Impact, and Taryn Murray, Knowledge Exchange & Impact Coordinator in ERO, share what the recently redesigned Engagement for Impact Hub offers researchers, as well as sharing some discussion points about research impact from the Research Support Services Conference.
What is the Engagement for Impact Hub?
The Engagement for Impact Hub is an internal site designed to help you develop impact from your research.
By “impact” we mean the real-world difference that you can achieve though engaging with the partners, decision-makers and beneficiaries across four key target groups: policy, industry, practice and the public. On the hub we take you through some of the basics on engagement and impact, and provide more in-depth resources and guidance, depending on where you are on your impact journey. You can also find details of who to contact for help, funding and other opportunities available, as well as examples of engagement with audiences and partners.
Who is the Hub for?
The Hub is aimed at supporting researchers who are relatively new to engagement and impact. Our goal is to simplify the sea of information out there to give you a curated collection of information and guidance. It is designed to be a helpful and useful starting point but it is not exhaustive – the Hub is not the “be-all and end-all” of information on engagement and impact.
Why Engagement for Impact?
An important point is that engagement and impact are connected, and one may lead to the other. You may have heard people talking about “doing impact” as opposed to “just knowledge exchange or engagement”. We think there are more helpful ways of looking at this as the point is that knowledge exchange and engagement should intend to lead to impact. Whether it actually has impact is often beyond your control, as a lot of other factors come into play, but you can certainly try to develop and influence having positive impact.
What are the main sources of information on the Hub?
Our Engage Externally section offers some guidance of ways to engage with the different target groups external to the university outlined above (policy, industry, practice and the public), advice on building collaborative partnerships, as well as information on online engagement and media engagement.
We offer our own “How to guides” such as the How to – build engagement and impact into research and we also link to other existing sources out there that already offer great advice on engagement and partnership working.
Edinburgh Innovations (EI) offer fantastic training on external engagement which we also link directly to on our Hub.
We are working on adding more examples of external engagement and expanding on learning and development opportunities on the Hub, so watch this space.
Our Find Funding section provides details of KEI specific internal funding available, as well as links to external funding opportunities, including through Research Professional and the Edinburgh Research Office Funding Opportunities Hub as well as guidance such as our How to – cost engagement and impact in funding applications:
Our Make an Impact Section provides a brief outline of what we mean by research impact and guidance on some areas of impact such as how to develop impact and how to capture and demonstrate impact, including our How to guide and details of logging impact on PURE:
You can find details of where to go for support on making an impact and we are working on more specific and detailed signposting of local support available.
In addition to the three main sections you can also see What’s On at ERO with details of KEI events and the ERO twitter feed via our Hub.
Following on from our session at the Research Support Services Conference on 31 October, below are a couple of points we think are worth raising around research impact and funding applications:
Why think about impact beyond academic impact in funding applications?
Funders are ultimately looking for the research they fund to have impact on society. This relates to why the research is important, and for whom it is important. For fundamental research the short and medium term impact is hard to foresee, and that is fine. Then it is even more crucial to articulate the academic significance and potential impact of the work.
How do you approach impact in funding applications where there is no specific section on impact?
UKRI used to have a pathway to impact statement; now they want it integrated. They are aware that this has caused some confusion in the community, so we are expecting better guidance on this soon. In the meantime, read the guidance carefully. Writing a funding application is like doing an exam – you have to address the questions asked, andUKRI tend to specify the level of which they want to see impact in the calls.
Stress the importance and potential impact from the start. Include objectives that address impact, e.g. to develop a tool or guidance based on the research findings or show how the proposal is informed by needs expressed by users and partners – and how they will be involved throughout to ensure the research is relevant and that findings can be taken forward and implemented. Explain how dissemination plans will involve both academic and non-academic groups.
Find tips about embedding impact into a major research bid in this previous ERO blog post by Anne Sofie Laegran: