top of page
Page 168.png

Ethical Engagement & Impact Resources

Ensuring ethical engagement and impact in research is crucial for fostering responsible and inclusive research practices. This collection of resources aims to provide a comprehensive overview of best practices and ethical guidelines that can be used to ensure that research benefits are equitably shared and responsibly managed. Whether you are a researcher looking to enhance the ethical integrity of your work, an institution developing policies for responsible research, or a funding body seeking to support ethical research practices, these resources offer valuable insights and actionable recommendations.

Principle 1 BUILD CAPACITY.png

Principle 1:  Build capability among those who may be affected impacted by research impact activities to engage as equals.

Be led by the needs and priorities of those who may be affected impacted by or interested in engaging with research impact. Build capability and capacity with these groups, paying attention to power dynamics, enabling them to engage (to the extent they so desire) as equals with researchers through knowledge sharing, access to resources, training, and other forms of support as appropriate to the context.

  • Assess the capabilities and capacities of all relevant parties to determine needs, ewhere possible enabling these groups to lead the assessment themselves where possible, and where they so desire. 

  • Offer resources, training, and other opportunities that are tailored to the specific needs and contexts that have been identified in the needs assessment, where relevant, leading to qualifications.

  • Empower non-research partners to take on leadership roles within the project, providing them with the necessary resources and decision-making power, to ensure the research delivers impacts that meet their needs.

Principle 2 ENGAGE.png

Principle 2:  Engage ethically with all relevant parties.

Engage meaningfully with all relevant parties, including place-based communities, communities of practice, non-academic research partners, and other individuals and groups who may be interested or affected by the research outcomes of the research.

  • Systematically analyze the relative interest, influence, and impacts likely to arise for those who engage with or who might benefit from or be harmed in any way by the research, for example, using an interest-influence-impact (3i) analysis (Reed et al., under review).

  • Establish culturally appropriate and accessible, two-way communication mechanisms with the relevant parties identified, for example, via workshops or advisory groups, to ensure ongoing dialogue, respecting local knowledge, traditions, and cultural contexts.

  • Co-design research, where possible, with those who stand to benefit or lose most from its outcomes, to ensure relevance and usefulness, increasing the likelihood of beneficial impacts from the research.

  • Critically analyze the power (im)balance inherent in how the research is framed, and the extent to which how the work could be driven more fully by those it is engaging and/or intended to benefit, including engagement and impact planning and project governance.

  • Avoid “'ethics dumping”' by maintaining consistent ethical standards across all settings in which impacts may arise from research, particularly in lower-income or vulnerable communities.

  • Co-create an ethics charter with all relevant parties, that outlines the ethical standards expected in the project around engagement and impact.

Principle 3 MANAGE RISK.png

Principle 3:  Manage risk and reduce the potential for harm.

Proactively identify, assess, and attempt to mitigate potential risks and negative impacts arising from research and engagement, both during and after the completion of research.

  • Use interest-influence-impact analysis to identify at-risk groups, engaging with these and other relevant parties to identify potential risks and associated mitigation strategies. Working with these groups, the widest possible range of future scenarios should be identified in which the research could potentially create risks or cause harm, both during and after the completion of the research.

  • Plan for the monitoring of risks and harm during and after projects, where possible, building this into funding proposals and considering the dynamics of impact over multiple time frames. 

  • Monitor foreseen risks and harm while being alert to the possibility of new and emerging risks and harm throughout the project, with clear protocols for addressing issues as they arise.

  • Make all relevant parties aware of institutional complaints procedures so they can report risks and negative impacts. Alternatively, these procedures may be created and managed at the project level. 

  • Use risk assessment to take into account uncertainties, support decision-making and guide the research impact strategy.

Principle 4 ENSURE EQUITY.png

Principle 4:  Seek to ensure equity, diversity, and inclusion in engagement and impact.

Ensure equitable, diverse, and inclusive engagement by systematically assessing and addressing barriers to engagement by all relevant parties.

  • Systematically consider and include diverse genders, ethnicities, ages, and other demographic factors in the engagement process to ensure that all voices are heard, valued, and considered equally.

  • Making deliberate efforts to proactively identify and remove barriers by taking appropriate actions, enabling everyone to engage equally.

  • Adapt engagement processes, communication channels, and approaches to be inclusive, accessible to and meet the needs of different groups, based on an analysis of their interests, influence, and impact (see Principle 2 above)

  • Develop actionable and measurable equity, diversity and inclusion delivery plan.


Principle 5:  Maintain accountability and evaluate engagement and impact.

Commit to accountability and continuous learning, engaging those affected by the research in evaluatingthe evaluation of engagement and impact, and using findings to enhance engagement and impact practice within and beyond the institution.

  • Plan for evaluations of engagement and research impact, working with affected groups where relevant and appropriate, to establish clear, measurable impact goals 

  • Evaluate engagement and impact with reference to relevant parties’ expectations, including assessing how ethical considerations were addressed.

  • Provide regular feedback on progress towards impact goals, challenges, and ultimate outcomes as they arise.

  • Where possible, involve independent evaluators and/or those affected by the research to assess the project’s impact.

Principle 6 DESIGN FOR IMPACT.png

Principle 6:  Design for lasting impact.

Design research with a long-term perspective, aiming for lasting impacts, where possible, maintaining flexibility to adapt to unforeseen barriers and opportunities, changes in the project’s context, and emerging ethical concerns.

  • Integrate legacy planning into the project’s initial design. This should include plans for post-project maintenance, support, and funding.

  • Work with non-academic partners to develop their ability to continue the project’s initiatives after the research phase has ended (see Principle 1).

  • Plan for long-term studies to track the project’s impact years after its completion, adjusting strategies based on those findings to maximize long-term benefits.

  • Incorporate regular review points in the research process to assess the need for methodological adjustments or to address new ethical issues.

Upload a Resource

If you have a PDf or a weblink to a resource that isn't included in our list, please either copy and paste the link or upload a PDF, and submit it to us below:


Upload File

Thanks for submitting!

This research was funded by Plymouth University’s Arts and Humanities Research Council Impact Accelerator Account.

bottom of page