I want to learn more about impact

What is impact?


Imagine what might be possible if we could harness the collective wisdom of the world’s most intelligent people to tackle the challenges facing the world today. We could do amazing things.


In this explainer, I’m going to give you simple definitions and explain what works when you want to generate impact from your research, so you can stop wasting time and generate meaningful and lasting change.

In a nutshell



In other words, impact is the good researchers do in the world (Reed, 2018).


Or in more academic words, impact is demonstrable or perceived benefits to individuals, groups, organisations and society (including human and non-human entities in the present and future) that are causally linked (necessarily or sufficiently) to research (Reed et al., 2020).

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Mark S Reed

£24.99 paperback

£9.99 e-book


Published: 11th June 2018


Research impact guides

Our essential series of 'how to' guides for researchers, designed to help you embed impact in your work:

Engagement for Impact

The power of stories to construct a pathway to impact that can inspire change

Stories can do more than just help us communicate our research more effectively. By understanding the characteristics of good stories, it is possible to structure pathways that lead to powerful and effective impacts from our research.

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Presenting with impact

How do you get an audience to actually do something based on your evidence? Everything you’ll wish you’d learned at the start of your career about how to speak with impact. Read the guide or watch the videos to delve deeper into each of the five points.

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How to start a newsletter that will get read and generate impact from your research

Find out why starting a newsletter might drive more impact from your research than engaging with social media, and get 6 tips for creating a newsletter that people look forward to reading and act upon.

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How to design an end-of-project stakeholder meeting to both generate and evaluate impact

A facilitation plan for an end-of-project meeting that avoids “death by PowerPoint” and enables you to co-produce impacts after the end of your research with your stakeholders.

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How to set up a stakeholder advisory panel for your research project (and why it actually delivers impact)

There is strong evidence that advisory panels deliver impact and can enhance your research. This guide explains how you can set one up for your next research project. 

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How to turn your next paper into an infographic

Turn your research findings into an infographic with no cost or design skills required.

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How to make an infographic CV featuring impact that you could actually submit with your next grant application

Consider how you communicate impact on your CV and see how you can do this using infographics, whilst meeting the CV formatting criteria set by a research funder.

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Do your design skills undermine your credibility and impact?

Poorly designed project websites, policy briefs and reports can do more to harm your prospects of generating impact than you might think. This guide will help you spot design issues that might be undermining your perceived credibility and help you raise your game by applying some simple design principles.

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Three options for busy academics whose research could make money

Discovering that your research has commercial value is a mixed blessing for many researchers. Not wanting to abandon academia for business, many researchers do very little with the opportunities that arise, and as a result squander the chance to generate impacts from their work. However, you don’t have to change careers to exploit your IP.

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Top 40 practical tips researchers said helped them achieve impact

Tips from researchers who have achieved impact from their research.

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Six practical ways to make your research more influential

Enhance your influencing skills with these tips for generating impact in policy and practice settings.

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The art of science communication: can the creative arts bring a new dimension to your research?

Guide to working more effectively with creative practitioners to generate impact from research.

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Evaluating Impact

Getting testimonials to corroborate the impact of your research

Guide to eliciting testimonials from people who have used or benefited from your research, to help evidence your impact (including a downloadable and editable consent form).

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Evidencing impact from media engagement

Find out how to evaluate impacts arising from media engagement, by planning impacts with indicators you can track, or via social media analysis, the funnel approach or by using before/after polling data.

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How to evidence the impact of Continuing Professional Development and other training based on your research

Training is an effective way of building and enabling others to generate impact from your research at scale. This short guide gives you 5 steps to capture the impacts arising from any training course you run based on your research.

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Evidencing impacts from public engagement

Our guide and toolkit on collecting evidence to prove your public engagement really made a difference.

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The Public Engagement Evaluation Toolkit developed by Fast Track Impact with the National Coordinating Centre on Public Engagement and Dialogue Matters for Queen Mary University London:

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Download the Toolkit

How to evaluate complex research impact

Methods to help you disentangle and evaluate complex impacts quickly and easily.

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Get longitudinal impact data with a postcard to your future self

A method to increase the likelihood of impact after an engagement event that lets you collect long-term data on impact that is GDPR compliant.

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How to get commercially sensitive data to evidence economic impacts from research

If your research has been commercialized in some way, then you may be asked to evidence the economic benefits arising from your work. Economic claims are harder to evidence than you might think, because many companies are nervous about sharing commercially sensitive data. But this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. In this guide, we’ve suggested a few things that might get you something useful.  

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Free online training


Take our free online training course


This course will help you fast track the impact of your research, no matter what career stage or discipline you are in. It will inspire and equip you with the skills and confidence you need to make a step change in the impact of your research. It takes around 10-20 minutes to work through the course materials each week over 5 weeks, and anywhere from a couple of minutes to a couple of hours to complete each week's tasks. This gives you time to apply what you learn to your own research. 

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Engagement for impact

How to deal more effectively with conspiracy theorists on your pathway to impact

Many of us encounter individuals with deeply held convictions that run directly counter to all the evidence we know as researchers.

Too much of a good thing: can too much trust and privilege be bad for impact?

Interview with Bec Colvin and Chris Cvitanovic from Australia National University about their work with policy on climate change and first nations communities, in which they describe surprising research about the danger of generating too much trust with policy-makers.

Managing power in meetings and workshops (part 1)

How to make meetings and workshops with stakeholders and colleagues safe, fun and productive. Mark explains how you can identify and manage power discrepancies in a group to successfully​ manage difficult individuals and situations using subtle cues and three simple techniques.

Managing power in meetings and workshops (part 2)

In this second part, Mark discusses a range of practical methods for managing power in meetings and workshops, including methods for opening up the discussion and exploring, methods for analyzing​ and methods for closing down discussion and making decisions.

Practical advice on co-producing research with the people who will benefit interview with Dr Karen Laing

Mark interviews Karen Laing, Senior Research Associate and Co-Director of the Centre for Learning and Teaching at Newcastle University.

Transformative and disruptive impact (part 1)

This week, Mark asks questions that can enable you to achieve impacts from your research that disrupt old ways of doing things and lead to fundamental transformations in organizations and society.

Collaborating with the creative arts to generate impact

Mark interviews Sarah Cook from University of Dundee and Liz Oughton from Newcastle University to explore the potential for researchers to collaborate with creative arts practitioners to generate new insights and impact as part of the research process.

Working with business for impact

Mark interviews researchers who have gone from having no experience working with business to working closely with industry to realize​ impacts from the research.

Evaluating impact


Evidencing impact (part 1)

Mark reads from his forthcoming co-authored paper on evaluating impact, providing new definitions of research impact, reach and impact evaluation, an overview of national impact evaluations around the world, and a discussion of different ways of demonstrating causality between research and impact.

Evidencing impact (part 2)

In this second part of his episode on evidencing impact, Mark reads the final sections of his forthcoming co-authored paper, describing five types of impact evaluation and a methodological framework to guide the selection of methods for evidencing impact.

Celebrating your unsung impacts

Announcing the winner of the Unsung Impacts prize! Listen to inspiring impacts that will never be celebrated by any University, based on the entries to the Fast Track Impact Unsung Impact Prize 2019.

Evidencing impact from media engagement (part 1)

Mark discusses three ways you can evidence impacts arising from media coverage of your research, with a particular focus on understanding the significance of the benefits, rather than just focusing on measurements of reach.

Evidencing impact from media engagement (part 2)

Mark interviews Yamni Nigam, Professor of Biomedical Sciences, and Clare Lehane, Impact Support Officer, at Swansea University, about how Yamni got her research on maggot therapy for wounds featured in four episodes of the popular UK soap Casualty, watched by 4.5 million people every week.

Learning about impact from your teaching and evaluating pedagogical impacts

Mark considers how you can learn from your experience in the lecture theatre to become more effective in your generation of impact, and how impact can inspire better learning and teaching.