Online Marketing

Gathering evidence of impact for grant applications: experts share their tips

Like I said, my name is Stacy conky, oh, and we also have with us Fiona Miller from the University of Stirling she’s, a research impact officer there and Fiona is going to be exploring how researchers at her University are considering the use of altmetric data and communications Beyond online, in social media and in the funding applications report CVS with the purpose of demonstrating impact, and then we will hear from the university of sheffield, kate, armstrong and sarah gear kate is the evidencing impact project lead at Sheffield.

And Sarah is the impact consultant at University of Sheffield and Kate and Sarah are going to share some research facts strategies for impact evidence gathering based on the results. The project they’ve been working on called the evidencing impact project they’re going to share how to design workflows for collecting data that can be used to write stronger, more compelling grant applications and reports.

So first things first, like I said, I’m going to give a bit of a lay of the land to set the stage for what our guest speakers are going to be talking about today. So, for those who don’t know who are new to altmetric, we are a data science company that track discussions of research online. So, in a nutshell, if a journal, article or scholarly monograph is shared on Twitter, if it’s recommended on a blog, if it’s discussed in the mainstream media or may be cited in a public policy document, we capture that attention at altmetric.

So we’ve got this database of over 8 million pieces of research and the related discussions that surround the research. This type of data is called altmetrics. We are one of several altmetrics companies. We’ve just got maybe the best name and we’re the most closely associated with the type of data that we collect, and our data is really comprised of a lot of different things. It’s got tweets links on reddit’s blogs, faculty of a thousand expert peer reviews, scholarly bookmarks on Mendeley and data from a lot more online spaces, which means that we have a lot of data to play with and analyze, which is what I’m going to be talking about.

Today, so over the next few minutes, I want to dig into some of the following questions, so I wanted to understand how often funded research is discussed online in general and then how does that compare it to all research in similar subject areas I wanted to see Where research that’s funded is being shared both in terms of the online spaces, where it’s being shared and where in the world people are talking about research, and then I wanted to understand also is attention to research sustained over time.

So what I did was, I pulled funded research into very broad subject: areas from two major UK funders. I found similar research in scopus, published in the same general subject, areas and in both cases for simplicity sake, I limited the sample of research to just journal articles and article reviews, and I limited also to research that was published. Five scholars working in the United Kingdom. Now chose articles from 2014 to look at to ensure that we had a few years worth of attention data to play with.

If a papers been around longer, it’s just going to have more altmetrics same way. It would have more citations in theory. So here is what I found the first interesting bit is that, surprisingly, a much lower proportion of funded articles had online attention than other subject: area research in general. The next thing I found was that, in terms of where funded research is being discussed online for funded Arts and Humanities research, it shared a lot in Twitter and a lot in the news which matches what we tend to see for all research in general on our Database, most articles are tend to be shared on Twitter and on the news.

That’s where a majority of our attention data comes from funded biology, research or BBSRC. Research also had a lot of attention from those same so, and it also showed some unique attention sources. Some of this research appeared on the Chinese social network, Sina Weibo, some on the QA site, SEC, overflow and even on LinkedIn AHRC. Oh there we go aah, RC, funded research from 2014 had sustained interests over time.

We see that even a year later few years later, there are these Peaks and attention that happened on Twitter as interest renews, but in terms of the biology research, relatively speaking, there was less sustained interest over time, but we should note the difference in scale here right Because for a AHRC research we have a peak of a little under 350 shares at the very height of attention for this research for BBSRC.

Our peak is in the mid 2000s for shares, so the scale of attention, just because we’re looking at a larger population of articles, we’re going to see much more overall attention for those in terms of where in the world research is being funded. It’s really interesting to note that there’s a larger spread of countries discussing the scope of articles and the funded research set, and that differed from what we saw when we were comparing BBSRC funded research with overall biology and biochemistry research in scopus the proportion, the spread of Countries was virtually identical so in terms of what we can learn from this and what we should take forward in terms of this webinar and also in thinking about your own strategies for collecting evidence of impact.

There’s a few things to keep in mind. One is that proportionally funded research is discussed less online than other research, at least for bebe, RC and UK funded research. So you’ll need to have an engagement strategy to make sure that you don’t fall into the same trap. Second, is that funded Arts and Humanities Research in general – and this isn’t just true for the funding sample that I looked at this – is true across the board.

There’s less attention online for arts and humanities research, then for biology studies and funded Humanities. Research in terms of what we saw here today is also discussed less worldwide than arts and humanities research in general. So that points to a special need for Humanities. Researchers to always have an engagement strategy and to do outreach. Finally, it’s really worth pointing out that attention to funded science research we see drops off over time.

This suggests a need for sustained outreach strategies, so you can’t just publish an article. Do some initial interviews and tweeting and then hope that people will continue to pay attention over time and in months and years to come? If your research continues to be relevant, you should continue to do outreach on it. So, with all of that said now, let’s turn to Fiona from the University of Stirling who’s going to share tips for using altmetrics data as a feedback loop to build outreach and communication strategies.

Thanks very much see I’ll just show my screen anywhere Lesley. Hopefully, you can all see my slides there and I worked in the research and innovation services in the pre-award lifecycle aspects of research funding and – and I also deliver our research communications through our twitter account at cern, underscore research and also in research and innovation services blog. I first started using altmetric data and when we were looking at our ways of communicating, so how are we tailing and the outside world of the academic and publications our researchers are doing and the impact they’re having and the attention that it’s been getting and it allows Us to begin to think about how we could use this in evidence and information further, particularly in the pre-award lifecycle.

So when you’re communicating your impact that derives from your research is a fundamental activity. That’s not just limited to research, communications like on Twitter and suchlike, or even just read. There is an increased demand that I need to communicate an evident you, research, in your grant, application for a number of reasons and I’ll talk about throughout my presentation, like track record feasibility.

But how does this occur in reality? We’re talking about funding applications that you haven’t. You haven’t done the research for yet. So how do you talk about impact of it and, as I said, the demonstration have impact in demonstrate your track record. It encourages feasibility of your research, with particular consideration of your pathways to impact by demonstrating through evidence what impact you’ve already had and how it’s been reached in the outside world and wider society and funders will understand that.

You are the person that can do this and you have that track record, so open an extra ten minutes. I’m going to touch on these questions and I’m going to provide a few examples of the evidence. The researchers here at stirling are gathering for inclusion in their research, ipm applications so fresh from the armor conference that was happening this week, impact champion julie, daily defined impact as something that has occurred and as a as a result of change in the wider world.

So, policies changed or treatments changed as a result of your activity of being the research well, Research Council’s are seen UK, actually define research impact as a demonstrable contribution that excellent research makes to society in the economy. Therefore, when you evidencing the impact in your application, the first thing is important to think about what definition your funder might be using.

So then, when you’re gathering the evidence for use within that application, you’re using the rates or information that they’re going to be looking for and expecting so thinking about impacts as equaling change and by gathering evidence of your impact, you can demonstrate the ripples that your work Is having a society and beyond your traditional academic beneficiaries, changes in terms of impact can be as simple as one individual that attended an exhibition that you ran and, as a result, have changed their perspective to even having the substantial change on treatment as a result of The scientific discovery that you need in research, so when we talking about evidencing research for grant applications from for wager research activities, you need to plan what that impacts from being to plan ahead for it and serve the pathways to impact, and you also need to record Your evidence as and when it happens at certainly we like to encourage our researchers to think of gathering evidence as the task of writing your CV.

So if you keep updated as the good things happen throughout your career and you have the milestone, it’s far easier than three down three years down the line when you’re putting in that that CV for a job you’re trying to remember of and you’ve achieved. So thinking about the why, in a recent conversation with an early career researcher, who is developing a funding proposal, she asked me: how do I examine straight my career contribution, which is similar to evidencing impact and after we discussed the usual suspects, including publications, awards and honors, Or any research students you supervise.

I asked my researcher if she’d ever used our subscription for all metrics for institutions – and I wasn’t surprised and when she told me she hadn’t and or the when she was pleasantly pleased with her altmetrics score, which she knew nothing of. So we looked through the database and we discussed how she could use her own metric details, which is a form of evidence and to convey the contributions or her research had made.

We consider different publications have been used in policy papers which news mediums had picked up, who exactly was tweeting about it and what were they saying and and then from there? We also looked at other people’s publications and what attract attention they were attracting. Unfortunately, my researcher began to recognize the influence that she could have on that attention just threw her over max her own methods of communication, and she was then starting her journey to gather evidence of impact.

So when she then provided me, a career contributions and for peer review was far stronger and then our initial conversation had been because she could use this evidence to demonstrate real contributions and she was able to actually see where her impacts of her research is being used. So, despite being here to say, and with many more impact tools being offered by research management system, it’s always been difficult for researchers to evidence.

Our impact was back to that conversation about her career contributions. Perhaps we’re just terribly British to be modest, so using viable evidence of impact like the altmetric data and all the other forms of metrics and different types of evidence of impact that we can have. You can alleviate that difficulty as the evidence supports your story and using the evidence and your funding application is no different to the way you would use PhD completion rates and their excuse student share or listing previous funding from the project team and detailing institutional research performance.

So you can use the evidence in exactly the same way, but it’s not enough just to gather evidence, and it’s not enough just to see – and I had this paper and it was read by it’s – got a citation markup of whatever it has and and it’s also Important to remember that dissemination itself is a pathway to impact and not impact itself. Therefore, with the evidence that you’ve gathered is really important to provide context and make sure that you’re using it in the right places.

So the evidence allows you to provide a story and it can be told throughout your funding. Application talked about demonstrating track record of the teams so demonstrating who’s. Reading your articles, who’s, engaging with your research and what research you’ve already had and evidencing that impact, and you can also use it to identify new academic beneficiaries. And so, if you go on top metrics, you can see who else and high scores or or what scores.

They’ve got and how it’s being used and they’re going to find people you might wish to collaborate and – and you can also use it and to talk about who’s, picking up on your publication. So we’ve got the example on screen here. Talking about the data behind. In the altmetrics score and giving the context for it there so using the altmetric data provides the context behind the numbers, and it turns a story into something that you can actually tell within your funding application.

As I mentioned, you can use it in your CV. In interim reports, and potentially even your email signature – and it just takes away from that quantitative nature of the data and the evidence and tell us a little bit more behind it. So I have three examples here at Sterling, so we have one where we have an impact on policy, so one of our researchers and there’s a lot attendants parliamentary meetings, print evidence and also their research is cited regularly in these parliamentary meetings.

So, by including the minutes of these meetings or even just reference to them, where the P is research and studies are cited, demonstrate the impact that that individual is having on policy and the changes that they’re incurring through their research, which then again helps with their track Record feasibility and everything to support the funding of the application impacts on society, and so one of our researchers has developed a technology and that’s been being used by public bodies for examples of police and by using evidence of when this is being used.

It’s been in TV programs and all the times has been discussed or used. That researcher can then demonstrate the impact that they’ve had on society. Therefore, in meetings intact agenda, that’s required of them and then finally, the impact on academic beneficiaries. So, who is looking at your research so in the previous slide to talked about it, showed you the context behind and built metric number, for example, and so using metrics like Olmec metrics, so again, so the interdisciplinary fields that your research is reaching? It’s not enough.

Just to have a high score, we need to know where it’s come from and what’s deriving it so thinking about going forward on your own and thinking about how you’re going to start gathering your evidence, which hopefully will start today in your impact governance journey. Think about creating a coherent and narrative and explain the relationship behind the research and the impact remember to use the evidence as a starting block of the impact story.

By explaining the background to the evidence. Don’t just say: here’s, qualitative or the quantitative. Let’s be clear and be specific: here’s the evidence to quantify it, provide the meaning and and don’t allow their evidence to be ambiguous. Don’t just open up a can of worms and make sure you’re giving the context to make some meaningful and you can do get context by showing how research papers have performed relative to others and not just listing out metric scores when you’re warm also use the evidence To identify beneficiaries so through the evidence and identifying policymakers who treated your study, that sort of the impact you’ve had on these people and what they’ve been seeing about it and using it as an opener.

And then you can also use the evidence in your application itself. So using that in the form of quartz and or even the quantity of the hard numbers that comes out of the evidence itself and finally, this goes back to that ambiguity. Don’t tell people you’ve got bananas when, in fact, you have salami, be careful of where your data comes from and how it might be interpreted. Don’t oversell the impact or the attention make sure you’re selling the right aspects of it and don’t you misleading, providing the context in which your your data sets example for the percentiles.

How it compares to your discipline are always that you make sure you’re telling the relevant impact story and relating that context, to your funder. Remember the two different definitions for impact: don’t tell the funder everything and and make sure the letter information is provided and for how you will build impact and how you’ll take that forward. So hopefully, that’s been a quick Whistlestop period of how we’re using evidence of impact in our funding application, and it’s the idea that there’s pathways to impact that you can use it in and case for support your track record and also thinking ahead for the next research Project I’d be happy for anyone to contact me on the details below and I believe this basically will circulate the science.

Thank you excellent. Thank you so much your honor. Now we are going to turn it over to Sarah and Kate hello. I’m just going to start. My slideshow on moment – and I would like to talk quite a couple of things – firstly just to add Fiona’s, excellent presentation around including evidence in a grant application, but particularly from a forward-looking perspective. So, yes, you need to include your track record very much, but you also need to include evidence thing of your path.

Mister impact activities going forward to create a virtuous circle and then I’m just going to quickly give an introduction to a project. We’ve recently done at the university around evidencing impact that Kate Armstrong is going to talk about in much more detail. So there are two elements of including evidencing in a grant proposal. Firstly, is to show your track record and show why you are the person that can do this, that you understand the impact agenda, but secondly, it’s necessary, as you write your pathways to impact.

It’s very good practice to think about how you’re going to evidence the activities that you’ve decided to carry out to help maximise. The impact of the research that you’re bidding for the several reasons for this, and Fiona pointed out, is much easier to gather impact evidence. As you go along than it is to retrospectively – and I think a lot of us found out this during the last research excellence framework and the evidence that you gather as part of this grant of the success of your impact activities is going to perform the track Record elements of your next grant proposal, so you need to be starting to bank that and gather that evidence as you go along and secondly, if you include thought around how you can evidence your impact or evidence the success of your impact activities in your purpose to Impact it does make you look more committed to that process to impact and funders alike evidence because they need to have evidence for their own purposes and they want to encourage people to do that.

So the issue with this or not an issue exactly but the complication. Sorry, I’ve skipped a slider is that I’m not going to go. Impact is unpredictable. So, although you can say where you think your impacts going to go at the early stage of projects, it can develop in all sorts of ways and it’s hard to know what evidence you’re going to need for the impacts that are going to eventually develop from your Project, so the best thing to do always found is to think about each impact activity and think about what you’re trying to get out of it.

How you think it’s can afford impact and what success would look like, and then you can think of a few things. Evidence that so this is what we encourage academics to do. Altmetrics is obviously a very important tool to help do that in that, if you’re holding a meeting with a certain group of stakeholders and you keep and you keep the list of who’s attended and then our metrics can show you which of those attendees.

If there’s been a boost in sharing in that particular stakeholder group, where it’s gone and who has used it, and then those two combined show how successful a particular activity’s been, it’s quite important to have conversations with partners early on. If you are working closely with a particular stakeholder group or partner about why we need to evidence, impact and find out what their own metrics are, if they are measuring the success of their collaboration with you and what they’re hoping to get out of using your research And see what they would be prepared to share and agree it with them in advance so that they are less uncomfortable.

Possibly if you suddenly turn around and say, can I have some evidence of this saddle the other – and this is particularly true of commercial partners. We’ve found, while we were trying to evidence the last rest, so we try and do that now in all blooding impact storage and in terms of keeping the evidence to go along, we found it very useful to provide staff with a single repository. It’s part of our research management system.

There are a lot of online tools and software available now to store and track impact, I’m not going to particularly plug anyone, but just a place where they can put all their evidence. Upload files keep web links whatever, as they go along, keep those footprints among your impact generally clear, so that you can then make a case for it later on and have it have every step of the journey towards your eventual impact, whatever that might be clearly evidence That was just really quick.

Next, we decided here at Sheffield a while ago that we needed to launch a little project to help us after evidence impact, and the main reason for this is because the second most frequent question I asked by researchers is: how can I evidence my impact? Obviously, the first question I am asked is what is impact. Secondly, how can we evidence it so there are lots of sources guidance out there and they can be disparate there in lots of different places.

They can be hard to navigate and sometimes they’re written more. The view to impact professionals than they are to individual academics are a very new to impact, so we wanted to get something that will be a really clear, how-to guide that we could share with our staff to help them go about finding the impact of what they’ve Done and we figured that now, particularly with very useful weapon pack – a study database – there was enough evidence out there to really do a meaningful project on this and to pull all the strands together.

So we at the University of Sheffield have access or the option to bid for internally funded hundred our student internships every year. There is a certain number on offer and we bid for that and we were successful and we were lucky enough to get Kate Arthur on board. So I would like to now introduce Kate without further ado. You can hear me yes, so I’m just here to kind of, and let me just get my start box.

Let me go just that there we go sorry about everybody, yes, so, and thank you very so, as I said before, and I came in with kind of an irony of you to really get to grips with how how impact is evidence – and I suppose that my And my view was actually an advantage to me because I came at it from the same perspective as a researcher in my Jew who hasn’t has created this great research project but they’re not quite sure how to evidence the impact of it.

And so I went about it by looking at essentially all the evidence, that’s available at the moment for how to evidence the impact, and so that was by looking at guides that were already available and searching as you can see on the screen and the ref impact. A studies that are available as well, and it was particularly through the use of these they’re, looking at really really great examples of when an impact has been evidence well and what this looks like and essentially how those researchers went about doing it as well.

And so just a kind of echo what those before as well researchers seem to know what what kind of evidence they need, but there isn’t there’s no really explicit examples of how to do that. Guys this, how it really simply concisely, go about that, and so that’s something that I set out to do so just a backtrack a little bit and I took a look at the impact case studies and I looked at these – are like a really key resource and Understanding whatever what this evidence again pad, looks like in really good case studies and, and also it really really interesting, because there was a wide variety of research domains.

Obviously, all different types of research, which was and really relevant to different kind of evidence, thinkers, obviously impact evidencing, is really different. Depending on what kind of research you have and which is again, I think that that is liked by researchers perform, so something that I find. I found really kara’s and getting impact evidence and guides which really appeal to everybody and a really clear, straightforward for to research can understand how they applies to them and another said yeah these flights, the most widely used and evidencing strategies across each different research domain and And so before I could create this how-to guide.

It was really important to gather all the different kinds of and impact evidence and strategies, and so these were emails. Testimonials public engagement surveys were really really good one, and so following events or and yeah like public engagement and events, it was, it seemed really useful to get feedback from from these members of the public that did attend whether this be one month later or immediately.

Following the event, or a little bit further down the line, so maybe six months on and and impact case studies that did this rip – that this is really really well seen to score really highly in the ref and to Google Analytics Twitter analytics and out metrics. They were really great users as well, and websites and articles social media comments on Facebook. Obviously, these are – and these seem to be perceived as a little bit more informal and maybe carrying less and I qualify and waiting.

But really there again, there are really great use of showing how people who may be outside the researcher may really feel about it and showing that your research is really generating that and that interest outside of places. You would typically look for it, and media outlets and indie in the UK really build on a CBC News and government documents, reports and, for example, a documenting policy changes that might come following some really good, really really great research or hand side, which seemed to be Quite unknown by the research that researchers that I communicated with, but it’s essentially an online documentation of where academic research has been a reference in the UK, Parliament and yes, so that, like that, is really quick overview of the kind of impact evidence in strategies that I Saw that we really seem to be really effective in showing how impact has really revolved around the research and yeah.

So, however, although defining these evidence, evidencing strategies helped give a clear and concise types of evidence. Researchers have pledged that they struggled with how to do this, and so they understand that, for example, it’s really great to have them a testimonial, or it’s really good, to and see your facebook comments that people have written, but they find it hard to access these mediums And these outlets to where they can do it, and so this is what the majority of my time was spent doing, was formulating and different ways for researchers to really grasp this, and and so after much that liaison with all the experts in the team.

I was working with and it we came up with a page for researchers at the University of Sheffield to learn more about how residents their impacts and we provided a range of explicit and simple how-to guides that are available to researchers, our university anytime and at all Points in the impact evidencing journey and and so for example, as you can see on the screen, there’s a little screenshot of one of our pages looks like, and so they keep the keying for.

This was and show researchers that it’s not because of the research see and the research that we did ourselves and showed that, and so there was so much information. There was so many guides that it was actually becoming quite difficult and a bit a bit laborious and a bit of a long task for researchers, because of so much information. It was kind of all gosh like where do we even start and – and so this? This is purposely clear, concise and short, and each of the guides that are given there, for example, on the places like and follow-up questionnaires or and practice professional body guidelines in with it, within each of these drop-down boxes and there’s like a simple how-to you guys and For each of the different places so, for example, hand solder that, as I mentioned before, then there’s a how-to guide of how to log on how to create an account and how to navigate that website itself.

Because, although it seems like quite a simple task, I found myself going on to it. That is actually it was actually quite difficult, and for providing this was actually really easy and so obviously, and with grant funding and other other respective and research development. It’s really important to evidence impact as you’ve established des, and so we found that these guys these guys were really easy and clear way of helping researchers to do that and and then finally, we just had another key part of my role in the project was creating A public engagement, follow-up and form like a survey and so we’re, and it was a framework – it’s really easy to use.

Researchers can tailor it to their own research as well, and so it’s really really accessible. Really easy and again, we’ve had really great feedback on that. From all the researchers that we’ve shown and this in year that that that looks great from our end, and so yes, we’re really pleased with it and I’ve stayed for it, as everyone else has said. If there’s any questions, please send them my way and I’m one and happy to answer.

Thank you so much key was excellent and thank you also to Fiona and Sarah switches back here. We go all right, so we’re now ready to take questions for our panelists. There have been a few submitted so far we’ll give everyone else a chance to send their. Is it as well? The first question is actually for all of our panelists we’ve been asked. What are some types of impact that humanities researchers tend to demonstrate in your experience? So what would be useful evidence to try to collect as a humanities researcher is in the process of his or her research? And I take this first column.

I think even within the humanities is quite a range of different kinds of impact that I’ve seen and I do hesitate to sort of pigeonhole certain types of impact, certain disciplines or fields, but a lot of a strong. We in the in our last reference. We saw impact, we saw economic impact within Africa, love English, someone who’d worked with Blackpool there. Specialism is in LA middle sort of working-class entertainment in the victorian and edwardian era.

So they work closely with Blackpool to help them understand their own heritage and to bring that to the fore and to really boost the attraction of that and preserve it. To increase tourist numbers, so it’s basically development for cultural heritage, understanding of and development of cultural heritage. We have had academics, who have shaped thought and debate. A lot of the humanities. Research is in areas that relate to fundamental questions that we ask ourselves in society.

Everyday. You know who are we: where did we come from? How do we think about certain issues? How do we think about ourselves, our own journeys, etc, etc? So there are lots of cases where research in these various fields has related in to those kinds of questions and fed into the debate and shape, thought around those areas and there’s quite a strong strand as well of working with cultural organisations such as museums, galleries, publishing Houses to help them understand and better target the archives.

They have the resources they have and to present to their service users to their customers to their visitors in a way that will really share the most recent cutting-edge, up-to-date understanding and and helps them enhance their customer experience and, in some cases, actually boost numbers. So those are just a few examples, but it can be really really kind of broad identify. Hope that answers your questions.

I think I would just agree with what Sarah said there, and I know that it’s hard, sometimes harder, especially about metric data, doesn’t necessarily always work for the Humanities and and a lot of metrics are sort of more base to your sciences, but in their cultural, societal And economic impacts that the humanities research has and when Sarah was talking about, she reminded me of a project we have here selling with the create project, which is a research and development in arts organisations like very clear Squires and lots of impact.

Like Sarah was talking about on Museum numbers and how they understood their customers and who they were coming to lots of information there that then be filtered up across creative and cultural industries in Scotland. Excellent. Thank you so much. I think I would add to that. Just briefly that there is a really great cultural impact report that was published. Unfortunately, the name of the agency within the UK is flipping my mind right now, but I’ll find that and send that out.

The report gives a lot of different examples of ways that people have collected evidence for demonstrating impact, and I think it could be. It’s pretty in-depth and it’s definitely written more for policy folks. But I think your average researcher who’s working and Humanities could also get a great deal out of it. So I’ll add that to the links that we send around after this webinar, we’ve got another question here about what evidence, one who might be a young researcher just starting out.

How do you gather evidence of impact even if you’re just really early in your career? And I think maybe the on ask part of that question is: I do have recommendations for ways to communicate your research so that you might have downstream impact, and this is again a question for all panelists. I think, and especially for the latter terms off and the question there it’s about and to get further impact from it’s about pushing those communications out.

So we talk to our researchers, about having active Twitter accounts, having active and online and social media presence, and putting your putting your in your research out there to be taken to be to be read, to be understood to be engaged with and with the way. The wider public society and people that you might want to to be in particularly engaging with it and same posting it to them so making it easy for them to find it physically, giving it to them and through directed tweets or in emails and different ways of Allowing them to actually access and something up the the realms off access, I think in for the young researcher, is hard to to think what impact have they had, and I remember doing my own PhD in thinking or what impact has it been to understand? Clear management of creatin cultural workers and there’s so much impact that you have that you don’t necessarily you not necessarily know about so by then pushing out in a communication formula, then also starting that the gathering journeys.

So I can then go on and find out when people have spoken about my research and and understood how they engage them. What their impact was, I think just finding the sources of where it’s been spoken about and by putting it out yourself to be spoken about, helps a lot as well yeah. I would totally agree with what Fiona said and about the importance of social media as a tool to get yourself ugly about and it can lead.

I know that I spoke to someone who’s recently completed their PhD here at Sheffield in the social sciences, and he did use social media actively and strategically and as a result of that, he got himself into conversations with a lot of his key stakeholders by actively following Them and they in return, followed him and he found that it opened up. Not only did it allow him to deliver impact, but it also opened up a lot of conversations with key stakeholders that actually really enriched his research.

He thought so it can have double benefits, and his recommendation to two peers in the same situation would be to accept. You know to not to be scared to engage in that, just because you’re starting out and to accept he he got an invitation to speak. The result of this to a group of stakeholders – and he did – and he said he it was the most terrifying experience of his life. But again he got lots of questions in that allowed him to really understand other perspectives, and he got a lot of contacts and networks that they then would use.

His research will follow his research and it was a real virtuous circle for him. So I think getting out there and engaging as much you can even more than you actually think you can and pushing yourself part of the best way to be able to do that excellent. So we have another question: how can impact administrators engage academics to regularly gather evidence of their own impacts and I think it’s audio status or I think for us that comes from being a part of the gathering yourself so and we’re actively communicating the research that is Going on here at stirling, using the electric data to explain the attention that researchers, however thing and just through doing that ourselves.

We can push further encouragement and to our researchers to also do the same and and by picking up things where we see it and provide. And helping them to source the evidence and just encouraging them to use our impact tool and we have in our research management system, i’m just showing them that we’re part of that journey with them. I think, really helps yes. I mean I find myself in a position. Usually, where I’m responding to academics, who want, who already want to be able to demonstrate their own impact and just want some pointers as to how to evidence it, we are engaging in quite regular style tactics, designers around the ref, where people are asked to think about Evidence so that has stimulated an interest in understanding how to do it properly and some of our departments as well.

I mean the best way to do it is to build it into SIDS chat, annual reviews and to persuade different departments or faculties. We don’t do it at a university level yet, but individual departments and some faculties are doing it, where you can talk about your impact as part of your performance review and for some practices, as well as part of the promotion criteria. So again, that is a driver for people to gather evidence and the second strand of that is providing a tool which we do as well similar to Stirling as part of our research management software, where they can easily store that kind of impact and order it and Keep track of it so that we segues nicely into our next question.

This is specifically for you, Sarah, what are some examples of the online tools that you mentioned that are available to researchers at Sheffield, to store and track evidence without metric one? Do you have other recommendations when we use that metric? Yes and we encourage our academics to do that? We have our metric embedded in our symplectic, we use. So I really, I think it’s called. I cannot I’m.

It is part of the it’s called my publications, so that is where we store all information, around grants and all information around professional activities and publications, and we now have the impact module to that. But that is because my publications was the system we were using anyway. I know that pure, I think it is have one. I know that versico ventures have developed an impact tool. Those are the three key ones that I’m aware of and I think help metrics works with all of those if I’m not mistaken, but today’s you can correct me on that.

If I’m wrong, so the one we provide for our staff, purely because it fits with our existing management systems, is my publications impact module, but altmetrics is a part of that excellent. Thank you so much to answer your question. Sarah. We do integrate with all the tools that you mentioned. Vertical Ventures are not sure about, however, I know they’re a relatively new player in the game and I don’t.

I don’t believe that we have a formal integration with them just yet. So we’ve got a question from Alejandra in Peru. She is part of a team that is designing an internal social impact policy for research to strengthen her institutions, relations with Peruvian society in general, and also to show what their researchers are already doing, they’re finding that their researchers are still hesitant about this approach.

So her question is: what benefits have you seen that researchers in the UK have had with collecting evidence of their impact and going through the evaluation process? So maybe a add-on to that question might be if you could give a brief explanation of how the ref funding process works and talk. Maybe a little bit about you know, impacts for researchers beyond simply getting a slice of the funding pie with a way that funding is distributed based on rough results in the UK.

Okay, yes, good question: actually I forgot that not everyone knows about the rest, because it leans so large in our lives. The research excellence framework is a mechanism used in the United Kingdom every five or six years, or so to rank the research active institutions as based on the quality or an excellence of their research, and that ranking depends or then informs how various chunks of funding are Divided over the next five years and the last time this happened back in 2014.

For the first time, impact of research was introduced for the first time and made up to 20 % of the overall ranking, so normally before that it had been research, outputs and publications and the quality of that. But whereas now we also had to demonstrate a certain amount of good impact case studies per number of full-time equivalent staff and it since it was a new measure – and it was the first time we’d had to evidence impact.

It was a massive learning curve for everybody involved and very interesting from many perspectives, but but quite arduous. So that’s the rare and the benefits from staff beyond the ref can be really numerous. I mean I it’s hard to identify the benefits of evidencing impact specifically and separately just to the benefits of engaging in impact activities and and generating impact, but in terms of evidencing for us it helps certainly in terms of staff profile.

We have lots of staff. Who’ve done public engagement, it on a high level or who have engaged with 18 apartments very successful in fruitfully outside academia, and this engagement and the fact that it was reported and the fact they could show the influence they’ve had has then led to other opportunities. It’s led to them being Vigo to expert in a certain field in terms of the media. They’re always asked for comment on a particular subject, and then it has led to maybe consultancy work, other external partners wanting to part fund and research, or go in jointly for a certain funding streams, and it’s just opened up a lot of possibilities for them professionally.

Quite apart from the benefits to their research in terms of having access to the expertise, the data, the equipment sometimes of these partners, if they do do collaborative research and of being able to use their platform to advocate in a whole range of ways for their field. For their discipline and for their own research, so I don’t know if that answers the question exactly because it’s more it’s more about generating impact as a whole, rather than just evidencing it.

But you really need to evidence it and be able to show that in order to we fully all of those benefits things, I went to Philly a school everything the theatre said, and there was a lovely explanation of the rest very good and helpful to everyone. Hopefully so I think on in addition to it, the evidencing and the benefits to that is it’s kind of just like looking back on and the reflection that you can have on the on your research, how it was done and how it was engaged.

But – and you can, they can have an influence, then on your future research. So we know the researchers as they talked to, and public people would be interested in their research. They might find other ways that they wish to take their research forward or and new avenues to explore and also through looking at the impact, any evidence that your impact is having you can find new collaborators, be that academic collaborators and stakeholders and participants other people that Are engaging with your research and just and it can have a lot of influence on your research going forward, which is a big benefit to it, excellent.

So with that, I would like to thank our panelists one final time. I think you all did great great strategies. We shared today for gathering evidence of impact and thinking strategically about doing so over time. It’s I think, is both Fiona Kate and Sarah have made clear: it’s not a end-of-the-line prospect to gather evidence of impact. It really is an ongoing effort and one that you should be thinking about from the very beginning of your journey in terms of getting funded and including that data in your funding applications and so on.

So, like I mentioned before, we’ll be making the recording of this webinar today available via article I’ll, send out that in the follow-up email in 24 hours or so, we’ll also share some links to some of the resources that were discussed in today’s webinar, as well as An infographic without metric has created for some of the different types of data that you can collect. The metrics that you can collect to use, as Fiona pointed out, contextually context, is king to demonstrate relative impact of your research.

So thanks all have a great day. Everyone – and we hope to see you online soon,


By Jimmy Dagger

Find out my interests on my awesome blog!

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