There are a wide range of tools and planning templates available online, we recommend use of the Fast Track Impact templates as many School Impact Champions have received training and support in using these documents. By using these tools, they will help you to plan out the basis of Pathways to Impact statements as well as supporting the development of long-term impact plans beyond the life of research funding. These tools will help to structure your thinking in order to help you develop strong plans that are tailored, connecting research objectives to impacts goals, resourced and planned and are able to demonstrate the context and demand for your work.
These documents are worth revisiting periodically, storing them on an institutional repository such as Pure means that team members also on Pure can access the documents, update and store supporting information and evidence in an accessible location. Please see the Pure guidance pages for further information.
Identifying stakeholders, audiences and beneficiaries:
We recommend undertaking a stakeholder analysis in order to identify groups, organisations or persons who may be positively or negatively affected by your research; identifying those who may be influenced by your research as well as those who may positively/negatively influence your research. Fast Track recommend undertaking this work early in the research planning stage, and sharing your working with at least one key stakeholder group via interview/workshop for input and for a non-academic perspective (http://www.fasttrackimpact.com/single-post/2016/1/9/Who-will-benefit-from-your-research-and-who-will-block-it-How-to-identify-stakeholders-so-you-can-work-together-for-impact).
Here are a few prompts that may help you to identify stakeholders provided by the Research Impact Handbook (Reed, 2016):
-Who will be affected by the work?
-Will the impacts be local, national or international?
-Who has the power to influence the outcomes of the work?
-Who are potential allies and opponents?
-What coalitions might build around the issues being tackled?
-Are there people whose voices or interests in the issue may not be heard?
-Who will be responsible for managing the outcome?
-Who can facilitate or impede the outcome through their participation, non-participation
-Who can contribute financial or technical resources towards the work?
Alternatively, you could start by considering categories and thinking about if you can identify people/groups that may be influenced by your work, or may influence you work:
-Government departments and politicians
-Industry/producer representative bodies/associations
-Land Owners and managers
-Special interest/lobby groups
-National representative and advisory groups
-Professional groups and their representative bodies
-Representative groups e.g. for consumers or patients
Planning Impact activities (pathways):
Using your stakeholder analysis as a basis, Fast Track have produced an Impact planning template to help structure your thinking around Impact goals, activities to reach stakeholder groups, when these should occur, what resources you need to carry them out and how you can measure success. It is key to ensure that you are listing SMART objectives (specific, measurable, agreed upon, realistic, time-based) and that, where possible, your impact goals are a mix of ‘quick wins’ and longer term objectives.
The Research Impact Handbook (Reed, 2016) suggests some questions as prompts for identifying your potential impacts:
1. What aspects of your research might be interesting or useful to someone, or could you build upon to create something interesting or useful at some point in the future? (refer to your stakeholder analysis)
2. Going beyond your research for a moment, think of issues, policy areas, sectors of the economy, practices, behaviours, trends etc. that link in some way to your research. What problems of needs are there in these places, and what are the barriers that are preventing these issues from being resolved? Could your research help address these needs and barriers in some way?
3. What is the most significant area of current policy, practice or business that your research might change or disrupt?
4. Which are the individuals, groups or organisations that might be interested in this aspect of your research (whether now or in future)?
5. What aspects of your research are they likely to be most interested in, and what would need to happen for this to become more relevant to them? What could you do differently to make your work more relevant to these people? Who would you need help from?
6. If these people took an interest in or used your research, what would change?
7. Might you see changes in individuals, groups, organisations, or at a societal or some other level?
8. Would these changes be beneficial or might some groups be disadvantaged in some way as a result of your research?
Your Impact planning template should have been used to construct SMART Impact goals, the template below is a method for tracing progress, outcomes and evidence of Impact. The template can be modified to tailor it to your specific project needs.
Good indicators of Impact are:
-Accurate and bias free
-Relevant, reliable and consisted in a range of difference circumstances
-Robust and credible
-Independently verifiable and replicable
-Linked to clear targets or baselines