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Section 3: How is impact generated?

This section covers:

  1. Different types of impact

  2. Thinking about engagement



  • There are different types of impact, some leading to others. We can identify ten different types of impact: understanding and awareness, attitude change, economic, environmental, health and well-being, policy, decision-making and behavioural change, cultural, capacity or preparedness, and other social impact.

  • The essential prerequisite for research impact is that someone or some organisation somewhere learns about your institution’s research. So if you want research to have an impact you need to find ways of making this research both accessible and understandable to the people who could benefit from it most.

  • Good communication starts with empathy – you need to truly understand your audience if you want to develop communications that really resonate with them. Press offices have many crucial skills that can help target audiences learn about research more effectively. The best methods are to help, facilitate and enable researchers to nature relationships with those who are interested in or could use their research.

  • There are five factors that can identify whether a means of engaging an audience (a “pathway to impact”) is likely to succeed in creating and demonstrating impact. Consider the context and have a clear goal (both of which may change over time); who initiates and leads the engagement; which stakeholders and groups of the public are engaged with; how the process of engagement is designed (for example, communicative, consultative, deliberative, or co-production); and how you manage power dynamics during engagement (for example between the surveyors and those being surveyed).

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