So, you’re new to research impact?

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

The impact that research generates in society is a hot topic internationally. It can be a complex topic and poses different challenges depending on whether you are a researcher, research professional, funder, or research user.

When we meet, we often discuss useful resources that we have used or discovered. We thought that these conversations shouldn’t end with our Zoom call — hence this post! Research impact is such a complex and rapidly evolving area that many people struggle to find succinct, relevant, and practical resources to guide and inform their efforts. 

A few years ago, you would have struggled to find even a handful of high quality impact resources but we’ve recently noticed a rapid proliferation of impact training, online tools, and journal articles. We’re now increasingly faced with the opposite problem: too many impact resources to navigate and evaluate. Since research impact definitions and activities vary between countries, institutions and disciplines, it can be challenging to identify which ones are most applicable given a specific context.

From the increasing bounty of international impact resources, we have curated some of the ones that we look to when developing impact literacy and practices. We have organised these into three broad categories that roughly equate to level of interest or knowledge: New To Impact, Growing your Impact Literacy, and Challenging your Impact Assumptions.

New To Impact?  

These resources provide a broad perspective on the many aspects of research impact from definitions, to planning and evaluation for those wanting to get a sense of the key issues and practices.

Practical tools:

  • This collection of introductory videos and documents define key concepts and practical advice for researchers, developed by the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute for the Melbourne Children’s Impact Hub. While a health lens is applied, the resources have broad applicability across many sectors and disciplines. 
  • An introductory guide to impact planning [2.6 MB PDF], developed by Ghent University, defines key concepts and tools developed in a number of European countries and the UK.
  • The Impact Literacy Workbook [730 KB PDF] is an accessible guide for international audiences to develop your organization’s approach to impact,  by Dr Julie Bayley and Dr David Phipps. 
  • Templates and guidelines for developing impact plans and approaches to engagement with stakeholders, developed by Prof. Mark Reed, Fast Track Impact.
  • The basics of writing an impact statement, by Wade Kelly, provides a straightforward strategy for developing a statement for a grant application. 

The Theoretical:

Growing your Impact Literacy?  

For those wanting to implement research impact activities within their own work or with others, this section focuses on implementation activities and the research that underpins impact practices.

Practical tools:

  • Resources for planning engagement activities from the UK National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement.
  • A tool for incorporating impact planning into your research project, the Research Impact Canvas by Fecher and Kobsda, 2019. 
  • The Ethical Community Engagement toolkit to support engagement with communities, by Dr Bridget Pratt (Centre for Health Equity, School of Population and Global Health).
  • Research to Action: a global guide to research impact is aimed at researchers and practitioners in the field of International Development, with links to resources and information applicable to all disciplines. 
  • How to plan and collect evidence of impact developed by Vertigo Ventures in collaboration with the UK Higher Education Funding Council for England and Digital Science (p18-21.) 
  • A blog post and presentation [540 Mb download] describing how you build healthy, impact literate culture in your university, by Dr Julie Bayley, University of Lincoln, UK.
  • A toolkit of resources for planning and undertaking knowledge mobilisation activities developed by the Knowledge Institute on Child and Youth Mental Health and Addictions.

The Theoretical:

Challenging your Impact assumptions? 

Keep developing your impact literacy by challenging your impact assumptions. 

Practical tools:

  • A tool to guide you in planning or evaluating research impact, the University of Leiden Impact Matrix 
  • A workbook [PDF, 2.3Mb] to support institutional culture change that supports research impact, the Institutional Healthcheck Workbook developed by Dr Julie Bayley and Dr David Phipps 

The Theoretical:

Joann Cattlin is a PhD student at RMIT University researching the organisational support needed to enable societal impact of research. She has over 20 years’ experience working in Australian universities as a research manager, researcher and librarian with a focus on enabling impactful research and supporting communities of practice.

Dr Wade Kelly is Director, Research Excellence and Impact at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. Wade works at the nexus of engagement and impact, providing strategic advice to university leadership, faculties, and institutes to embed impact into university culture. He is a sought-after speaker and commentator on impact in higher education and recently released the book, The Impactful Academic: Building a Research Career That Makes a Difference

Ken Knight is Research Impact Manager at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, where he leads an award-winning program to build capacity, capability and an enabling culture for research impact and engagement. Ken is Chair of the Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes’ (AAMRI) Impact Working Group and Network, which co-developed the first Research Impact Framework for the Australian MRI sector.

David Phipps is the administrative lead for all research programs and their impacts at York University in Toronto, Canada. In addition to other awards, he received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for his work in knowledge mobilization. He sits on research impact committees around the world and is Network Director for Research Impact Canada.


  1. Thanks for a great blog and sharing this useful list of resources. The Sexual Violence Research Initiative has recently launched an online course for researchers working in the field of violence against women and violence against children. Hereby the link to the free online course:
    We would appreciate it if you could share through your networks. Thanks in advance

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’ve been working in the research impact space for over a decade now, and in the past few months, I’ve started to wonder what’s beyond impact? What are we not seeing because our focus is on impact? What are we losing?


    • I think the experience of the UK looms in the minds of us here in Australia and wondering how the impact agenda will play out here. Do you think there is a sense that there is too much emphasis on the role of researchers in generating impact? That maybe there is a bigger role/responsibility for funders, research partners and those who could potentially use research?


      • What’s missing in the impact scene is the internal/group experience. The focus on the external stakeholders comes with the cost to the researcher. Academia is rife with burnout, mental health issues and poor work culture. We are out of balance.

        Also missing is an acknowledgement of the collaborative – which admittedly is getting better, but there’s a long way to go. Which links to your point: funders, academic and civic partners, even publishers are not properly seen as integral parts of research projects.

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.