Research Impact

Research Impact
by Rebecca Sierig

By the end of this section on impact, you should be able to…

  • Give a definition of impact and know how it can be measured for an individual researcher
  • Understand the mutual beneficial relationship between researchers and research infrastructures

When a researcher produces any kind of scientific work – be it a thesis, an article or a dissertation, this is generally done with a short-term as well as a long-term motivation. Working on the publication itself, researchers are continually looking for new ways to shed new light on the topic of their research. When looking at the future, there are often greater aspirations at play, concerning what their research output will hopefully achieve. As pointed out by the Vitae Careers Research and Advisory Centre: “Most, if not all, researchers are motivated by the thought or hope that their research will make a real difference of some sort in the world, and this is fundamentally what is meant by saying your research has an impact.” (Vitae Careers Research and Advisory Centre (CRAC) 2018).

This section is about that longer term research goal: to create impact. According to the LSE Public Policy Group (2011: 5) this impact can be defined as a recorded or otherwise demonstrable occasion of influence academic research has on other researchers or research organisations (academic impact) or on actors outside academia (external impact). Useful as that broader working definition might be, it is important to point out that impact comes in many different forms. This section will give an overview of those forms of impact, while also providing insight in how your individual impact as a researcher can be measured. Lastly, this section provides you with some ideas on how research infrastructures can increase the impact of your work.