REF2021 Impact Training

With its renewed emphasis on impact, the Research Excellence Framework in 2021 (REF2021) is now driving standards in the generation and communication of research impact internationally.


In this training, you have the opportunity to bring together your case study authors and REF management team to learn together about writing impact case studies with an international expert in research impact:


  • Get crystal clear definitions of impact that will help you determine where the pathway stops and the impact begins and broaden your thinking on impact to evidence the significance and reach of impacts you might otherwise miss

  • Find out about Prof Reed's latest research with Bella Reichard and colleagues on what made a 4* impact case study in REF2014 (based on the largest ever qualitative and quantitative linguistic analysis of high versus low scoring case studies across all Main Panels)

  • Read between the lines of the latest REF guidance and discuss the new intelligence on impact in REF2021

  • Find out what your competitors are doing across the sector (Prof Reed trains regularly across all Russell Group Universities and most other research active Universities in the UK and so is able to identify key areas of activity where the bar is being raised for REF2021)

  • Learn how to design an impact evaluation for any type of impact or context

  • Find ways of tracking impacts as you go with minimum time and effort

  • Turn evaluation findings into credible evidence

  • Explore the diversity of motives that inspire researchers and consider how using different intrinsic and extrinsic motivational levers can inspire researchers to engage in impact or lead to negative unintended consequences

  • Discuss how to build an impact culture in your faculty 

  • Build capacity for research impact with evidence-based resources to empower researchers with limited time to achieve impacts from their work


After the training, Prof Reed answers all emails from participants within 1 week (send all queries via, and we can recommend external consultants we work with regularly who can provide detailed case study reviews.


What does a day look like?


  • Introduction to impact, REF2021, writing a 4* impact case study, evidencing impact and building an impact culture 

  • You receive 30 copies (1 per participant) of The Research Impact Handbook, handouts and copies of the Fast Track Impact Magazine

  • Additional case studies can be reviewed prior to or after the training via external consultants

  • Price: £2800 +VAT for 30 people (£30 extra per head over 30 people)



Session plan:


09.30 What is impact? Thinking tools and practical tools to capture impacts efficiently




11.45 Impact in REF2021: what makes a 4* impact case study? 




13.45 Evidencing impact (interactive workshop)




15.15 Optional: Managing impact for REF (for UoA leads and REF managers)


16.30 Close

What do participants say?


  • "I will take a more strategic approach to impact management and case study preparation"

  • "I will use todays feedback on case studies and apply it to my own"

  • "I have a better idea of how to draft a case study"

  • "I will think about impact more creatively"

  • "I will use tools to be more systematic/effective in delivery and gathering impact data"

  • "I will be more active in collecting concrete evidence"

We've trained >4000 researchers from >200 institutions in 55 countries:

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Fast Track Impact provides expert guidance on impact case studies based on benchmarking case studies from the same unit of assessment in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014. Fast Track Impact cannot predict how REF panels will grade case studies in REF2021, nor can we judge how the submitting institution will treat case studies. We cannot guarantee that case studies for which we provide advice will be submitted to REF 2021 or, if submitted, will receive the predicted/desired scores in REF2021, even if all advice has been implemented. It is recommended that Fast Track Impact’s advice is used to supplement the guidance and instructions provided by HEFCE and your submitting institution.