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New online impact planning tool launched by Kudos

Updated: May 11, 2020

Like other users of Kudos, I was recently given complimentary access to Kudos Pro, so I decided to take it out for a spin and made this project page. The thing that was exciting me in particular was the impact planning tool, and I wasn’t disappointed. While there are certainly things that could be improved, it is an intuitive tool that I think many researchers will find useful. The main project page needs quite a bit of improvement before I would use it for my own projects or recommend it to others, but when I reached out to Kudos, I was pleased to hear that most of the things I was looking for are under development. So in this review, I’ll tell you exactly what I think of the tool as it currently stands, but I’ll also give you a sneak peak into what’s coming for this platform as it develops over the coming months. 

Impact planning in Kudos

The impact planning tool, which Kudos call a “communication plan”, helps you identify and link audiences, impact goals and activities

  • Although the pre-filled options are too basic to be useful (e.g. “policy makers” as an audience and “influencing policy” as a goal), both can be specified clearly in the template (and you can view and example goal to help you do this).

  • I was able to add multiple activities per impact goal and audience, with due dates and an owner for each activity (only people in subscribing institutions, research groups or project teams can be an “owner” of an activity at present, but Kudos will be making it possible to include non-licensed users in future so we can acknowledge all contributors to the project).

  • I logged engagement, noting the number of people who were engaged and where they came from. There is currently the option of regional, national or international audiences (more options are coming), and there is space to add notes with the details of who was there and what happened.

  • You can also add links to the engagements you log, and Kudos tell me that it will soon be possible to upload files of any type here too

  • When you’re finished, you can download your impact plan as a PDF or CSV file. You can see mine here. I wondered if the impact plan might put my activities into a Gantt or similar, but it is just a PDF printout in the same format the webpage (still handy for sharing). Kudos tell me they are considering alternative options for visualising plans at the moment. 

  • Although most researchers will be happy with the options included in the tool, I personally missed indicators of success (handy for evaluating impacts later), risks and assumptions linked to my impact goals and/or activities (always useful to think about what might go wrong and prepare for the worst), and space to plan for resourcing and other needs linked to activities. Having said this, it is possible to log engagement and the free text option and future capacity to upload files means you can record impacts per engagement activity. In reality, I find that as impacts evolve, one impact leads to another, and it is hard to pin them down to any one engagement activity. I have done tens of engagement activities as part of my policy work and the ultimate impact could link to any of these as well as many other external factors. My hope is that Kudos will develop a separate impact tracking/evaluation segment where I can list impacts as they arise without having to tag these to specific engagement activities, enabling me to see my impacts easily for reporting purposes, rather than having to organise and access this via engagement activities.

The project page is more limited in its functionality but has some redeeming features. For example:

  • The way that the system pulls through data on publication is nice and makes it quick and easy to enter. Kudos wants me to provide a very concise plain English summary of each publication, which would be nice if I had time, but I would like enough characters available to include the abstract in the description of a journal article. In one case I wasn’t able to include the full title of a particularly long article title.

  • I’m pleased to hear that Kudos will be enabling us to upload reports, presentations and posters that are not online. Many colleagues don’t use SlideShare and I don’t want all my presentations (let alone theirs) cluttering up my SlideShare account. Very few people put their posters online as they’re not designed for online viewing. My workaround was to enter a Dropbox link

  • “Collaborators" in research projects are usually Co-Is but on the platform this actually seems to be people who have access to edit the page, and you have to email Kudos to add these on. Many others have asked for this too apparently, and Kudos are prioritising the addition of non-licensed users to projects so we can acknowledge our whole team

  • At the moment the only way to acknowledge a funder is to add them as a “partner”, but Kudos are planning to add a field to acknowledge funders and include project duration, so people viewing the page know if this is a current or completed project 

  • I changed the project title after I created the page but I’m stuck with a URL based on what I input originally, which I wouldn’t want to share as it doesn’t match the project I ended up focussing on. Kudos tell me they are working on a function that will enable me to change this

  • I haven’t worked out how I’d used this yet, but being able to assign a project DOI is probably a useful function - if nothing else it will enable altmetrics to track engagement with the project

  • The “results" page just tells you who has engaged with your page on Kudos. I thought it might be research results (showing research outputs and associated metrics) or an opportunity to log impacts, so “results” is a bit of an oversell (perhaps “page metrics” might be better). Kudos tell me that they "have plans to significantly expand the results page and provide insights over time”, so I look forward to seeing how this develops. 

Overall, this is a useful impact planning tool (though I prefer the flexibility of my own home-made table-based logic model), and it is an easy-to-use way to set up a webpage about a project. With some tweaks to the impact planning tool, this is something I would recommend to colleagues, and as Kudos roll out the additional features they are currently working on, the project page is something that will become more useful in time. As a researcher, I’m happy to put up with a few limitations in the knowledge that this is work in progress, given the usefulness of the platform in its current stage of development. If I were an institutional subscriber, I would probably watch this space for a while, before taking the plunge, although all users can set up a free trial now, so it is worth experimenting and trying it for yourself.

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