Insights for Impact offers a wide range of services to support impact tailored to your specific needs.
Please contact us to discuss your project.
Although senior academics seem to be at the top of society’s tree – autonomous and self-directed, engaged in rewarding work, and with high public esteem – academia itself is a demanding world to work in. There is pressure to be good at lots of different things. In many organisations, academic staff are expected to be excellent teachers, researchers, and administrators, with little support to help them develop these skills. These demands can undermine confidence. Add to this the new requirement to ensure their research benefits the wider world, and pressure is at an all-time high.
Academic research that has a clear purpose is more successful. Researchers who know what they want to achieve and how to achieve it will have more impact. Research that is directed by a purpose wins more grants and awards because it is research that has more impact.
“Saskia was fundamental to our school’s REF submission in 2014 and to developing our impact stories then and indeed since then until now. Without her diligence and help, we would have disappeared in the last REF. It is one thing to have impact and quite another to articulate it in a convincing way. Her help at just the right time had an enormous impact, and in this instance we were literally saved by her skills.” James Fairhead, Professor of Anthropology
Our support can help to make a real difference, by empowering researchers and supporting them to see opportunities to create and communicate impact. The potential of research is often held back by people not having the opportunity, time, or ability to reflect on it, and develop a narrative of their research in the world. Having a compelling narrative of impact then allows work to be prioritised, strategies developed, and plans formulated – and funded. Insights for Impact can help in all these areas by empowering and supporting academics to achieve their potential.
REF case study development
The Research Excellence Framework is the latest incarnation of the government’s five to six yearly assessment of research. In 2014 impact case studies were included for the first time, as one of the three core evaluation criteria – environment and outputs are the others – accounting for fully 20% of universities’ overall score.
The next round of the REF, set for grading in 2021, will build on this, using results to distribute around £1.5bn of funds annually, as well as underpinning institutions’ reputation in league tables.
The future success of research departments and individual team members now depends on their ability to develop strong case studies to support their REF submission. New rules suggest that unit leads will no longer have the freedom to choose how many case studies to submit, so there will be more pressure in 2020 to deliver strong impact across the board.
Insights for Impact supports the development of outstanding impact case studies for the REF. We can assess progress towards impact, develop strategies to increase reach and significance, generate plans and support the development of an evidence trail, and work on narrative development. We have the experience and the necessary distance to provide the role of a critical friend.
Working one-to-one with researchers is the most effective way of developing appropriate strategies and building on existing opportunities. Partnering with unit leads and research heads, we can develop a picture of the overall REF submission, strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities. We then address these with the most compelling case studies and narrative possible.
With experience overseeing the submission of the impact element of REF 2014 for a single institution (73 cases), drafting cases for several units and supporting a REF steering committee to understand and develop an impact strategy for REF 2014, we are well placed to support your institution move to a strong position for REF 2021.
We can develop impact strategies for projects, individuals, departments, research centres or funding applications.
Analysis of programmes, projects, departments or individuals’ work, to identify areas where impact has emerged, or has potential to develop.
We are also able to help with: impact infrastructure development; impact assessment or review for projects that are underway or complete; impact planning for departments, projects, or individuals; developing impact pathways for early stage plans or grant applications; impact information management advice and support; impact storytelling – crafting strong narratives around research outcomes and impact, for marketing, communication and other purposes; business plan development for impact acceleration accounts (IAAs); project management for IAAs; and, IAA reviews and training in all aspects of impact development.