MN 693B Discuss Why Your Specific Research is Needed Discussion

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MN 693B Discuss Why Your Specific Research is Needed Discussion

MN 693B Discuss Why Your Specific Research is Needed Discussion


Discuss why your specific research is needed and how will it
affect social change, change within an organization, or change within the
informatics field in general. Discuss the key people that would be involved or
affected if you implement your research and how it will affect them.

What is research impact?

You will find several definitions of impact from funders and universities, for example:

While there are some subtle differences, they broadly agree that “impact” means demonstrable and beneficial change in behaviours, beliefs and practices. At Kudos, we like the simplicity of this definition from Julie Bayley, Director of Research Impact at the University of Lincoln:

“Provable change [benefit] of research in the ‘real world’.”

The real world part is key. Traditionally, assessment of impact has focused too much on academic impact – whereas, in reality, impact is measured by indicators of change outside universities and research institutions, in the real world.

Having defined impact at this high level, it’s then possible to define a number of types of impact. Professor Mark Reed, Director of Engagement & Impact at Newcastle University, has analyzed impact case studies from around the world, and proposes ten types of impact:

  • Understanding and awareness – meaning your research helped people understand an issue better than they had before
  • Attitudinal – your research helped lead to a change in attitudes
  • Economic – your research contributed to cost savings, or costs avoided; or increases in revenue, profits or funding
  • Environmental – benefits arising from your research aid genetic diversity, habitat conservation and ecosystems
  • Health and well-being – your research led to better outcomes for individuals or groups
  • Policy – your research contributed to new or amended guidelines or laws
  • Other forms of decision-making and behavioral impacts
  • Cultural – changes in prevailing values, attitudes and beliefs
  • Other social impacts –such as access to education or improvement in human rights
  • Capacity or preparedness – research that helps individuals and groups better cope with changes that might otherwise have a negative impact.

Professor Reed’s book, The Research Impact Handbook, is highly recommended – even required reading – if you’d like to learn more about each of these areas, and how to understand the potential outcomes of your research in each area.

2. Why does impact matter?

Impact is important because it helps keep us focused on the overall purpose, rather than the process, of research. Some of the legacy ways in which research is undertaken, communicated and evaluated have put up barriers between the work itself and those who may benefit from it. If we reduce the barriers between those producing research and those that can apply it to make change in the real world, we will be in a much better position to take on the grand challenges faced by the world today.

A focus on impact, then, helps us ensure the best possible return from the investments that we – as a society– are making in research.

At a more everyday level, research impact matters to individual researchers because it matters to funders! The organizations that control research funding are under pressure to audit and evaluate their spending. For example, government policy makers want to know that they can rely on government-funded research to be high quality and highly relevant. Charitable funders need to be able to show donors how outcomes are being improved as a result of their donations. Institutions such as universities want to prove that they are the best, to attract more students, more researchers and more donations.

3. How is impact achieved?

Because of the role that past and potential impact plays in funding decisions, this is literally a billion dollar question. There is no single, simple answer. But the question of what kinds of steps help to achieve impact has been widely considered.

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