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Our Approach

A powerful, evidence-based approach that delivers lasting impacts

People leave our training armed with powerful tools and techniques that they can implement immediately to create a step change in the impact of their research. Underpinning these techniques is a unique relational approach to impact that enables people to generate deep and lasting change through their research. Consistent with this approach, we work with people long after the training event, helping people work through a series of steps to put what they've learned into practice in the weeks and months that follow. 
As this video explains, it's a bit like a smile. Like an infectious smile, good ideas spread from one person to the next, when they are developed and communicated with empathy:

5 steps to fast track the impact of your research

Through our own peer-reviewed research and the latest research evidence, we have developed 5 steps to fast track the impact of your research. These principles were distilled from a large number of lessons that have emerged from this body of work, some of which you can see below:

A graphic describing the 5 steps to fast track the impact of research, under each step are examples of principles you can use. These steps are Design, Engage, Represent, Impact, and Reflect and Sustain. There example principles for each step, please click the button below the graphic to access the complete list.

The Research Impact Handbook and Fast Track Impact were originally conceived as part of a "pathway to impact" in a Research Council funded project that generated some of our first evidence. Working with the Research Councils, we then turned this evidence into a course that is relevant for researchers working in any discipline. In the course, we teach practical tools and techniques to help researchers apply each of these principles to work with publics and stakeholders in their own contexts.

Principle 1: Design


Know the impacts you want to achieve and design impact into research from the start:


  • Set impact and knowledge exchange goals from the outset

  • Make a detailed impact plan

  • Build in flexibility to your plans so they can respond to changing needs and priorities

  • Find skilled people (and where possible financial resources) to support your impact

Principle 2: Represent


Systematically represent the interests and priorities of those who will benefit from your research:

  • Systematically identify those likely to be interested in, use or benefit from your research

  • Identify others who could help or block you, or who may be disadvantaged by your work

  • Revisit who you’re working with regularly

  • Embed key stakeholders and public representatives in your research

  • Consider ethical implications of engaging early

Principle 3: Engage


Build long-term, two-way, trusting relationships with those who will benefit from your research and co-generate new knowledge together where possible:

  • Have two-way dialogue as equals 

  • Build long-term relationships 

  • Work with knowledge brokers 

  • Work with stakeholders and public representatives to interpret findings and co-design communication products 

Principle 4: Impact


Deliver tangible results as soon as possible to keep people engaged:

  • Identify quick wins where tangible impacts can be delivered as early as possible in the research process, to reward and keep likely users of research engaged with the research process

  • Public engagement based on your previous work to build networks & experience

  • Early publication of literature reviews

Principle 5: Reflect & Sustain


Keep track of what works, so you can improve your knowledge exchange, and continue nurturing relationships and generating impacts in the long-term:


  • Find ways to easily and regularly track your impacts

  • Regularly reflect on your knowledge exchange with research team & stakeholders

  • Learn from peers and share good practice

  • Identify what knowledge exchange needs to continue after projects end and consider how to generate long-term impacts

Find out more


Read more about our approach in this opinion piece by Prof Reed for Times Higher Education, published in May 2016:

The impact agenda is starting to fail those it was meant to benefit


Prof Reed's guest blog for the London School of Economics (LSE)'s Impact Blog (including links to the original research):

How can your research have more impact? Five key principles and practical tips for effective knowledge exchange

Read Prof Reed's Research Impact Handbook.

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