Top tips for developing your research impact
Working with stakeholders
- The theme of this year's impact advice is on stakeholders: these are people and/or organisations that are interested in your research, and might be in a position to help you not only to create impact, but also to provide evidence of it. You need to identify them strategically, thinking about how they can both benefit from and support your research, and once identified and engaged, you need to nurture and build on your relationship with them.
- Identifying stakeholders
- Who are your stakeholders? Broadly speaking, stakeholders are anyone who has an active interest in your research and sees a benefit in it for their lives and work; these could be partners and/or research users with whom you work closely in the development of your research and/or implementation of research-based recommendations.
- Ask your partners if they have networks and/or data lists that they are willing to share so that you are able to disseminate your research to a wider, but very relevant network; in this way you will not only get more diverse feedback, but you will also enhance the reach of your impact.
- Make the most of social media – it can be invaluable for monitoring who is talking about, and perhaps already using, your research. And it's one of the main ways that journalists pick up on new research.
- Engaging stakeholders/building relationships
- Listen to your partners: what do they want from you? Can you give them what they want without compromising your research? Be open and honest about what you can and can't do.
- Where possible, give something back to your stakeholders early on to keep them engaged with the research; this could be by way of a newsletter outlining preliminary findings, or a briefing on the state-or-the-art in your research area.
- Keep in regular contact even if it is just a progress check; your aim is to develop a true partnership where the individual/s give feedback and relevant input along the way – not just to present them with the finished result; this way of working also benefits the quality of the research.
- Collecting evidence from stakeholders
- Let your stakeholders know early on that you might be asking them for a reference letter/testimonial to evidence your partnership and the impact of your research for the REF exercise; it is much easier to gain their commitment while actively working with them, rather than having to track them down long after the project has finished.
- If you run a workshop or give a public talk, as well as collecting feedback try to obtain contact details of those who attend; in this way you can follow up and see whether anyone is using your research or talking about it with others who might be using it themselves, or using it to influence others
Top Tips: Engaging with the UK Parliament
- Research provides useful information for MPs, peers and people working in Parliament. Many different types of research are used in Parliament, from many different sources including academics, charities, think tanks and businesses.
- Research is used in Parliament:
- to help MPs and Peers evaluate government policy, examine pressing issues of the day and pass laws
- to support Parliament to engage with people and communities outside of Westminster through its outreach and education work and its arts and heritage exhibitions
- to help improve parliamentary procedures and effectiveness.
- Opportunities to disseminate research
- Send your research to the House of Commons Library, which is a depository of research that is used to inform Parliamentary debate. Librarians use the research to write briefing papers on a wide range of issues relating to the development of policy and law. Citations in a briefing paper provides useful evidence of possible impact.
- Select Committees work in both Houses to check and report on areas ranging from the work of government departments to economic affairs. The results of these inquiries are public and many require a response from the government. Anyone can submit 'evidence' to a committee, and evidence can be anything from a personal letter to academic statistical analysis. Check the current list of Select Committees taking written evidence.
- The most common barrier to being selected to give oral evidence is clarity:
- Lay your evidence out as a summary and key bullet points, in the form briefing papers or fact sheets. 3-4 pages should be an absolute maximum
- Consider what you can add to the exchange
- Answer the question succinctly
- How to contact MPs
- Always talk to your own MP first: this is out of courtesy; if you wish to contact an MP with relevant interest, their first question will be whether you have contacted your own MP (this MP may be for your place of residence or the university and can be found here).
- Ensure relevant interests: you can approach any MP or Peer from the House of Commons or House of Lords by email but if more than four of the same, blanket email is detected, all correspondence will be deleted. There are several tools to find MPs with an interest in your research area:
- All-Party Parliamentary Groups: These are like university societies for MPs. There is one for nearly every country in the world and subjects and interests ranging from chess to LGBT rights. These groups also run events and invite in external speakers. A list of group membership can be found on the register here:
- Hansard: The House of Commons Hansard Archive is a useful source of information about what is being discussed and even of evidence of your research being used. You can search by subject, by date and by MP for the last 10 years here:
- Remember that anyone can contact their local MP or a member of the Lords to discuss issues that affect them. It is of vital importance to identify the relevant clerk, MP or peer.
We're Here to Help!
We can help you with the following:
Research Funding advice
- You'll find information and contacts to help you on our research information for staff page.
'Seed Corn' Funding for Impact Development
- Should you require a small amount of funding, for example, to help you leverage additional funding or partnership involvement in your impact development project, you can apply to this internal fund. Bids should be made via the Impact officers for the relevant UoA, with the support of UoA leads and / or Assistant Deans (an email statement will suffice).
- If you want to apply, you should note the following:
- The fund is intended to support targeted activities with a clear likelihood of realising impact.
- Applications should consider how the impact developed by this funding will be tracked and recorded – a clear trajectory from the underpinning research also needs to be demonstrated.
- Each UoA has a limited amount of funding available, so value for money is a key criterion.
- Applications need to relate to specific impact case studies.
- Applications are to be submitted on 1-2 sides A4, and should contain the following information:
- a brief description of the underpinning research and the potential impact that will form the basis for a case study including the current state of the research (Has it been published in this cycle (ie. since 1999) and if not when and in what format is publication anticipated? etc.)
- the purpose for which the funding is required and estimated cost(s)
- the type(s) of impact that are anticipated, its/their potential reach and significance, and the timescale for it/them to be in the public domain.
- Applications should be submitted by the relevant impact officer and decisions on funding will be made by the Research Strategy group.
- If you receive funding, you should submit a statement of expenditure within 12 months together with a brief report on the relevant activities or outcomes and the actual progress of the case study.
Media Services (audio, video and photography)
- Recording your events – in audio, video and photography – can help promote your project, providing access to much wider audiences. The Media Services Group within IT Services carries out video and audio recordings, photography and other technical services to support promotion of Birkbeck's academic excellence and research activities.
Using the media (press releases and media strategy)
- If you are about to have a book or article published, and/or if you need support in promoting and publicising a project or event, Birkbeck’s media and communications team can help with media releases, give you advice on using social media, and help you plan an effective media strategy.
If you would like help or advice on impact pathways or plans, please contact your school's impact officer:
Additionally, if you would like to discuss engagement activities, using public engagement as a 'tool' for your research, funding opportunities to help you engage with stakeholders or cross-college engagement opportunities, please contact the College's Public Engagement Officer.