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Section 6: Topic 1

Approaches to evidence gathering

Self-reporting by researchers: Most survey respondents agreed that evidencing the significance of impacts arising from media engagement was a major challenge, and suggested that this should primarily be the responsibility of academics or professional services staff, rather than press offices, who currently mainly provide evidence of reach. For example:

  • Press office respondents focussed on getting reports of impact from academics at a later date (typically a month after engagement, using feedback forms and surveys). One respondent suggested sending information about the reach of an academic’s media engagement as a way of incentivising responses to such surveys. 

  • The Conversation’s follow-up email requests details of any post-publication activity (this goes out to academics who write articles for The Conversation, asking what impacts arose after the piece went out). 


Exchanging evidence across teams: Press office respondents suggested contacting professional services teams to see what impacts had been identified as part of the process of developing REF impact case studies. In return, impact teams may benefit from the expertise in press offices around evidencing reach. Where significance can be demonstrated, the kinds of metrics provided by press offices could play an important role in the construction of REF impact case studies. Reach metrics used by press offices in the survey included: 

  • Media monitoring and clipping services, e.g. Signal

  • Tracking media follow up calls/interview requests

  • Viewer/readership numbers e.g. National Readership Survey

  • Circulation/web hits of publication/outlet e.g. via Google Analytics

  • Metrics within individual social media platforms and third-party social media analysis e.g. Pulsar or Meltwater 

  • The Conversation’s audience analytics provided as part of membership


New evidence collection: There are as many methods of evidence collection as there are types of impact, and the range of techniques is rapidly growing. Examples of methods for collecting evidence of the significance of impacts arising from media engagement cited in the survey included: 

  • Citations in policy literature

  • Contact stakeholder organisations linked to the media coverage to ask if they have seen benefits, e.g. an increase in enquiries or donations

  • Interviews with representatives from these organisations to get testimonials of wider benefits

  • Collection of positive media reviews to show the impact of an event or book on cultural life

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