Everything you wanted to know about Research Impact (but were afraid to ask): a Handbook for Social Science Researchers and more

Welcome back everyone to what promises to be another eventful year. Change is certainly upon us here at the Faculty of Education and Arts, with the newly formed School of Creative Industries taking shape, bringing with it a cohort of researchers from the disciplines of design, communication and natural history illustration. It’s great news and can only contribute to an increasingly dynamic and interdisciplinary research environment. So a special welcome to all concerned here, in particular.

Things will also be heating up during the year as preparations for the next ERA (Excellence in Research Australia) 2018 get well and truly underway – combine this with the inaugural Engagement and Impact Assessment Pilot (EIAP) , which will involve multiple disciplines from FEDUA, including history; philosophy and religious studies; education; creative arts and writing plus language, communication and culture – and what you get are some busy but hopefully instructive times ahead. Both of these exercises demand a whole lot of reporting responsibility. However they will present us with a valuable opportunity to present and perhaps redefine the research threads within the Faculty. What’s new? How are we engaging with industry, with the ever important digital sphere?  You’ll hear more about this soon, but I will say that the measurements involved relate directly to many of the concepts we’ve been talking about in this blog since it started nearly a year ago. Speaking of which, we’ll continue to do our best to bring you informative and relevant posts on impact and research communications throughout this year as well!

To start on this we will ease you back into the fray after what was hopefully a relaxing Summer break. Followers of this blog will be aware of the LSE Impact Blog. Today’s post will give you the chance to have a good look at one of their truly valuable and comprehensive resources (if you haven’t already). The Handbook, Maximizing the Impacts of your Research  was produced with Social Science researchers in mind but I think the content is equally relevant and applicable across the breadth our disciplines. It’s a veritable Bible of ideas, strategies, tips and discussion around what Research Impact is and how it might be achieved.

As always, we encourage you to follow this great blog. Here’s what they had to had to say about it when it was first made public back in late 2011 as part of a consultation process:

Included under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

“There are few academics who are interested in doing research that simply has no influence on anyone else in academia or outside. Some perhaps will be content to produce ‘shelf-bending’ work that goes into a library (included in a published journal or book), and then over the next decades ever-so-slightly bends the shelf it sits on. But we believe that they are in a small minority. The whole point of social science research is to achieve academic impact by advancing your discipline, and (where possible) by having some positive influence also on external audiences – in business, government, the media or civil society.

For the past year a team of academics based at the London School of Economics, the University of Leeds and Imperial College have been working on a ‘Research Impacts’ project aimed at developing precise methods for measuring and evaluating the impact of research in the public sphere. We believe the our data will be of interest to all UK universities how to better capture and track the impacts of their social science research and applications work.

Part of our task is to develop guidance for colleagues interested in this field. In the past, there has been no one source of systematic advice on how to maximize the academic impacts of your research in terms of citations and other measures of influence. And almost no sources at all have helped researchers to achieve greater visibility and impacts with audiences outside the university. Instead researchers have had to rely on informal knowledge and picking up random hints and tips here and there from colleagues, and from their own personal experience.

This Handbook remedies this key gap and opens the door to researchers achieving a more professional and focused approach to their research from the outset. It provides a large menu of sound and evidence-based advice and guidance on how to ensure that your work achieves its maximum visibility and influence with both academic and external audiences. As with any menu, readers need to pick and choose the elements that are relevant for them. We provide detailed information on what constitutes good practice in expanding the impact of social science research. We also survey a wide range of new developments, new tools and new techniques that can help make sense of a rapidly changing field.

We hope that this Handbook will be of immediate practical value for academics, lead researchers, research staff, academic mentors, research lab leaders, chairs and research directors of academic departments, and administrative staff assisting researchers or faculty team leaders in their work.”

Download the Handbook in PDF format

Good reading!