Research impact training for PhD students

Our mission is to change the way PhD students generate and share knowledge, so that their ideas can change the world. We regularly train PhD students from Research Council funded doctoral research partnerships, and students from graduate schools across the rest of the UK and Europe. We work with all disciplines, from pure to more applied subject areas, and can work with specific cohorts or groups of students at different stages in their PhD research. 
Prof Mark Reed explains the importance of impact training for PhD students:
"Generating impact from your PhD is no longer an optional extra - it is essential step on the career ladder. Getting good papers from your PhD is often not enough to secure an academic post, but being able to demonstrate impact from your papers can set you apart and add real value to a prospective employer. For PhD students who pursue non-academic careers, impact is even more important. Impact opportunities often turn into job opportunities, and a recent Vitae survey of recent PhD graduates who went into non-academic careers showed that communication skills were the transferable skills they valued most from their PhD."
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Tailored to your needs


We spend time making sure every course precisely meets your needs, no matter how diverse your group is

A powerful, evidence-based approach


Our training is based on the latest research. The course was funded and co-designed with the UK Research Councils to ensure relevance across all research fields. Ph.D. students are equipped with tools they can use immediately in their project, no matter what year they are in. Our unique relational approach delivers significant, wide-reaching and lasting impacts. 

Learning no-one will forget



Participants receive a copy of the acclaimed Research Impact Handbook (375 pages). The group gets ongoing support via our 5 week follow-up programme, where they work through 5 steps to apply what they've learned. Prof Reed provides long-term email support to all participants.

Highly attended, highly recommended



Our international reputation guarantees strong interest and attendance. Six months after training, 86% of participants say the course and resources enabled them to achieve new impacts. See what people are saying about our training.

What does our training include?

We spend time with you before we train to ensure our workshops is tailored to the needs of your group. Our training includes:

  • Full day training with Prof Mark Reed

  • A copy for each participant of the acclaimed 375 page Research Impact Handbook based on the latest research (plus work sheets) (worth £25.99)

  • Configure your training as a full-day event or as two individually bookable half-day events (participants can attend either half or come for the full day)

  • A free 5 step follow-up programme over five weeks, so participants can apply what they have learned. They can work through these steps themselves from the handbook, but by signing up to take these steps online, they get access to extra material. The steps consist of a 6 minute video with accompanying text and tasks. This follow-up work helps participants remember to apply what they learned in the course and significantly increases their chances of achieving impacts. Prof Reed provides email support to all participants to help them apply what they learn in the context of their PhD.

Morning Session:

Session 1: What is impact?

  • Paired discussion: Why generate impact from your PhD?

  • Presentation: What is impact?

Session 2: Fast track the impact of your PhD

  • What works? 5 principles to fast track the impact of your PhD

  • Tools to generate impact efficiently (including paired exercise):

    • Prioritising which stakeholders and publics to engage with first

    • Planning for impact efficiently and effectively

  • Free Fast Track Impact resources

Session 3: Parallel

Choose from:

  • Presenting with impact: how to influence your audience

  • How to write a winning pathway to impact in a fellowship or other funding application


PhD training agenda example

Afternoon Session: 

The Digital Academic: how to move from a passive digital footprint to active engagement and impact without risking your time or reputation


Whether you are a novice or an expert, this session will enable you to harness the power of your digital footprint to enhance your research. The session includes significant time for discussion and gives you an opportunity to:

  • Critically reflect on your digital footprint and consider how you can actively manage and curate your online presence more efficiently and effectively

  • Critically discuss the risks and benefits of social media, addressing concerns over time-wasting, privacy and reputational damage head-on

  • Explore the reasons why social media has, in theory, so much potential for generating impact

  • Come to a reasoned decision about whether you want to reduce risks to your time and reputation by engaging differently or less with social media, or whether (and how) you might progress from "lurking", to "signposting" other people's content and generating your own research-based content

  • Learn how to grow your influence and audience without spending all day online, so you efficiently target the audiences most interested in your research and drive traffic to your blogs, videos and other online resources linked to your research

  • Learn how to turn online influence into offline impact that can be measured in real terms through a case study of research that used social media as a pathway to impact, which was featured in REF2014

  • Find out how to optimise your tweets and implement a strategy that will give you instant and rapid growth on Twitter with limited time inputs

  • Find out how you can use LinkedIn to drive impacts from your research rather than just using it as an online CV


Professor Reed has over 50,000 followers across different social media platforms, giving him significant online influence. He has used this influence to drive significant impacts from his research, whilst saving time in his working day through his efficient and highly targeted use of social media. 

This session is based on Chapters 16 and 17 of The Research Impact Handbook.

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Designing & facilitating events with research users

Whether with other researchers, stakeholders or publics, all researchers need to be able to lead efficient and powerful meetings and workshops if they want their work to make a difference. You can't always defer to someone with more experience or hire a professional facilitator, but by learning a few basic tips and tricks, you will feel empowered to deal with the most challenging situations and individuals and run events that everyone enjoys. Learn how to:

  • Design meetings and workshops that facilitate themselves, so you stay on track and work effectively together, whether or not you have experience or confidence as a facilitator

  • Use simple techniques that structure events, give everyone a say and prevent dominant individuals taking over

  • Identify and manage tricky power dynamics in a group, so you can adapt your approach to avoid conflict

  • Identify and manage difficult individuals without confrontation, even if they are significantly more powerful than you, so you have the confidence to keep things on track

  • Consider ways of increasing your personal power over time so you grow in confidence as you manage meetings, workshops and colleagues

Prof Reed is a professional facilitator who has designed and run over 100 participatory processes with researchers, stakeholders and publics for a range of clients including government departments and UN bodies. 

This session is based on Chapters 14 and 15 of The Research Impact Handbook.

Next steps: How to get ongoing support after this training

Break during which those not likely to work with policy-makers leave

Working with policy-makers (for those in the group likely to work with policy as part of their pathway to impact)


Learn how to get your research into policy, wherever you work in the world, by building trust, working with intermediaries and designing effective policy briefs that you can use with the people you come into relationship with. Based on the experience of your trainer and discussion with the group:

  • Consider where you would place yourself on a continuum from passive informer to active influencer, trading off the risks of not achieving impacts versus the potential risks to your reputation

  • Extract best practice principles from a range of different policy briefs, and consider how you might design something around your research, or in collaboration with colleagues doing more policy-relevant research linked to your work

  • In addition to the formal mechanisms you can use to get your evidence into policy, consider how to build trust and credibility for your research from the bottom up via policy and evidence analysts and the top-down via intermediaries who can work directly with ministers

  • Discuss ways of making initial contacts, finding the right people to influence within the policy community and how to work with different types of knowledge brokers and intermediaries to get research messages across without losing control of your message 

Prof Reed has worked extensively with the UK Government, Devolved Administrations, international governments and the United Nations to deliver policy impacts from his research, and emphasizes the role of empathy and trust in producing research that genuinely affects policy change.

This session is based on Chapters 19 and 20 of The Research Impact Handbook

Find out more


Download a brochure or contact us to arrange a call from Prof Reed to discuss how exactly the training can be adapted to meet your needs.

Read our Terms and Conditions.

What are people saying about our training?


Examples of feedback from training co-ordinators:

"The workshop was very interesting for our PhD students who use the acquired knowledge and insights to reflect on their own work. The professional and committed attitude of [the trainers] was much appreciated by all participants. Well done!"

Ron Cörvers, Director ICIS, Maastricht University



What participants are saying about our training:

A selection of quotes from feedback forms:

"The idea of planning for impact is particularly informative and gave me an insight into how I will engage with stakeholders." 


"I've learned how to be strategic [about impact] and ask myself self hard questions." 


"Managing my project in this way, identifying possible stakeholders and thinking of risks has never crossed my mind." 


"Useful resources provided, and the follow-up emails are a great idea to ensure training is put into practice."


"Its been really useful to structure my thinking about impact and plan for impact."


"Fantastic handbook. Great, enthusiastic trainer. Thank you very much."


“I will look at “impact” from a broader prospective now, not just for REF.”


“It was very well paced – changes in learning style throughout the day was useful.”


“Great practical tips.  Overall much to take away both theoretically and practically.”


“Have already begun to think about how I can include impact plans and planning in my research.”


“As someone with experience in this area, the course was very useful first to consolidate experiences but with enough new ideas/info to maintain my interest all day.”


“Thank you very much on the book. I will treasure it! Really enjoyed it.”


“Addition of handbook is very useful, especially tools to build impact into research from the outset i.e. stakeholder analysis for impact plan.”


“I’ve got a more professional perspective on research impact now.”


“I won’t just plan the research end points but plan for impact now.”


"Wonderfully insightful, useful and energising."


A selection of tweets from people we've trained: